Mexican anthropologist and historian Miguel León-Portilla is the newest recipient of the Library of Congress Living Legend Award for his work in studying the Náhuatl language and literature — the ancient, still-spoken tongue of the Aztecs. The award will be conferred upon León-Portill at the Library’s “Celebration of Mexico”on Dec. 12.
The Living Legend Award honors those who have made significant contributions to America’s diverse cultural, scientific and social heritage. León-Portilla is the world’s foremost authority on Náhuatl philology and philosophy. He has spearheaded an entire scholarly discipline to evaluate and understand Náhuatl literature and thought, extending from pre-Columbian times to the 1.5 million speakers of Náhuatl today. The language of the Aztecs, Náhuatl has been spoken in Central Mexico since at least the 7th century AD.
Subscribe to other podcasts and listen to interviews with select conference participants in advance of the celebratory event, including novelist/poet Carmen Boullosa and author Sandra Cisneros.
The first Living Legend awards were given in 2000 during the Library’s bicentennial (1800-2000) celebration. Recipients through the years have included artists, writers, filmmakers, physicians, entertainers, sports figures, public servants and musicians who have enriched the nation through their professional accomplishments and personal excellence. Madeleine Albright, Katharine Graham, B.B. King, David McCullough, Gordon Parks, Alan Lomax, I.M. Pei, Sally Ride, Martin Scorsese, Yo Yo Ma, Bill Cosby and Mario Andretti are among the more than 100 recipients.
“A Celebration of Mexico,” a two-day conference and accompanying display at the Library of Congress, will open on December 12, the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a popular national holiday in Mexico. For more information, visit the website.