Could the horrors of Spanish colonialism be resolved when Mexico became a postcolonial republic? What did liberty mean for Indigenous peoples in the aftermath of independence from Spain? In the 1830s, Manuel Espinosa de los Monteros tried to answer these questions by reading ancient symbols high on the rock face of Tianguistepetl. Espinosa's reading of the rock face led to the most aggressive prediction of Indigenous political liberation in early Mexico. He produced a work of history and prophecy that probed the limits of the new nation to address the legacies of colonialism. Immersed in the wreckage of the past, an old man surveyed the ruins and imagined a future that looked nothing like the world outside his doors. This article analyzes Espinosa's prophecy and explores the methodological challenges of studying historical subjects who are at odds with their earlier selves.

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