Urban Indians in a Silver City
Zacatecas, Mexico, 1546-1810
Dana Velasco Murillo



Silver Veins, Urban Grids, and Layered Identities

In 1719, the mining town of Zacatecas, located in New Spain’s northern province of Nueva Galicia, was undergoing a particularly protracted and spectacular boom in silver production. Beginning in the first decade of the eighteenth century, this boom would not lose steam until the early 1730s. During this period, Zacatecas’s mines generated 25 percent of Mexico’s total silver production. With this prosperity, the city reached its population apex of forty thousand in 1732.1 The riches generated by the boom provided a lifestyle of opulence and splendor for some individuals, mainly Spanish producers and investors. But even non-Spaniards, including common workers, traders, and shopkeepers, benefited from the production and trade in silver. The scramble for resources and wealth led to inevitable contentions and challenges between different groups—miners and merchants, owners and laborers—and even between family members. In fact, in that year, 1719, a heated legal battle (which would last more than a decade) over the rights to the Los Remedios silver mine on the bluffs of the city erupted between two fictive kin, María Josefa León and Joseph de la Cruz, the godfather of her children.2 María Josefa accused Joseph of stealing her deceased husband’s 50 percent share in the mine. Joseph countered that María Josefa’s spouse had never owned the mine but was merely one of its many laborers.

The quarrel between María Josefa and Joseph was not particularly novel in a city where mines often lay abandoned or changed hands frequently without proper legal procedures. What makes this case noteworthy is the ethnicity of its protagonists and how they identified themselves. Both María Josefa and Joseph were indios, or indigenous people. But in an attempt to demarcate their long-term resident status in the city, they also made a point of adding another word, duly recorded by the Spanish notary: vecino, or municipal resident. María Josefa and Joseph were two Indians living in a Spanish city fighting over ownership to a mine as they proudly declared their civic status. This episode compels us to reexamine our notions about society, ethnicity, and the construction of indigenous communities in New Spain’s mining towns and cities and to consider how native peoples lived in urban centers as both indios and vecinos. It also serves as a microcosm for this book’s goal of recasting the history of colonial Mexico’s silver-mining district—long written as the story of Spanish miners and merchants—as one that is inclusive of the indigenous men, women, and children who lived and worked in the city and generated the wealth that fueled Spain’s transoceanic and transcontinental economies (see Map I.1).

The search for riches, particularly the siren call of gold, drove the Spanish invasion of the Americas. While the desire for gold never fully disappeared, by the 1540s Spaniards had discovered the value of other forms of wealth, such as indigenous tribute and labor, as well as other types of precious metals. Silver, mined by native peoples since precontact times, was about to become New Spain’s most important export, eclipsing gold as the source of the empire’s fortunes.3 In the colony silver created a small cohort of wealthy Spanish residents—mineros (owners of mines or refining mills), who developed production sites, and aviadores, who supplied or financed their projects.4 Yet the exploitation of minerals did more than fund personal and state coffers. Silver production served as a catalyst for northern expansion, creating mining towns that led to the development of new industries, markets, population clusters, and frontier institutions. Within these towns, the need for labor, raw materials, resources and foodstuffs brought together an array of different ethnic and social groups—Spaniards, Indians, Africans, and ethnically mixed individuals, or castas. While Spanish “miners and merchants” usually come to mind when we consider silver mining towns, often it was non-Spanish groups that formed the bulk of the population and labor force of these new urban ventures, contributing to the survival of these sites in their boom and bust periods.5

In the sixteenth century, Zacatecas was one of several new Spanish urban centers (many of them northern mining towns) that depended on the labor of its immigrant workforce.6 The discovery of silver veins in 1546 prompted prospective miners to create a town amid a barren, arid landscape then at the remote northern edge of the empire, more than 350 miles from the viceregal capital of Mexico City. The area that became Zacatecas served as one of the ancient settlement sites of a band of nonsedentary peoples known as the Zacatecos. Small in numbers, they offered the Spanish newcomers relatively little resistance and even less labor support, possessing no interest in adopting Spanish lifeways or mining ventures. Under these circumstances miners in Zacatecas, unlike other places in Spanish America, such as the Andean metropolis of Potosí, lacked easy access to a coerced labor pool.7 Faced with hills rich in ores and in need of a stable and skilled workforce, Spaniards, in a practice relatively uncommon to the period, offered incentives, wages among the most appealing of them, to encourage native peoples—men, women, and children—to migrate to the city. Freedom from draft labor and tribute requirements (through the eighteenth century) operated as additional lures or attractions, drawing large numbers of native peoples from their communities in central and western Mexico and the nearby hinterlands to the city. Indigenous immigrants arrived in Zacatecas from the late 1540s through the independence movements of the early nineteenth century. Men extracted silver from the mines, constructed the city’s principal buildings, and grew and imported its foodstuffs. Women ran markets, managed properties, cleaned laborers’ quarters, and cared for children. Spanish officials often commented that the city could not have survived or prospered without the labor of both its recent migrants and its long-term indigenous settlers.

MAP I.1. New Spain’s northern silver mining district, c. 1650

In spite of the importance of Native American emigrants, the mining historiography for Spanish America has concentrated on either the roles and activities of Spaniards or the impact of silver production on global markets.8 Studies of native peoples and silver mining are few, and primarily focused on men, their roles as temporary or coerced workers, and the hardships and exploitative conditions of mine labor.9 But mining towns were more than sites of production or the domains of itinerant, wage-seeking men. Women, children, families, and communities of long-term residents were ubiquitous features of Zacatecas’s social landscape. Moving beyond the study of mines and refining plants shifts the focus from indigenous peoples as laborers to native peoples as settlers and vecinos. Considering their experiences and roles enlarges the social footprint of New Spain’s silver-mining district, adds a much-needed ethnohistorical perspective to the scholarship on mining societies, and offers greater insight into the local dynamics and viceregal influences that shaped colonial societies in northern Mexico.10

“Urban Indians”

Zacatecas’s indigenous inhabitants were “urban Indians,” native peoples who lived in Spanish cities. The ethnic category of “Indian” was a colonial construction that conflated the diverse native groups of the Americas. It was a pejorative term in the colonial period and remains so in contemporary Mexico, where the word indígena (indigenous) is preferred. However, in this study, the use of the term “Indian” reflects the sociopolitical realities of Zacatecas’s colonial indigenous population. In areas of dense, primarily discrete native communities, indigenous peoples continued to distinguish themselves by their local ethnic affiliation, identifying, for example, as Nahuas or Tlaxcalans. As time passed, some native peoples used more collective expressions, such as timacehualtin (we commoners), or titlaca (we people), to distinguish themselves from Spaniards.11 But in places like Zacatecas, where a significant native-language corpus has yet to appear, the word “Indian,” unsurprisingly, predominates in the Spanish-language documentation. This trend speaks to the lack of Spanish interest in distinguishing the ethnic diversity of subject peoples. But it also reflects a conscious choice on the part of the native population.12 In multiethnic urban centers, “Indian” was an especially significant legal and juridical category.13 The appropriation of the term by the native population served as an important marker of ethnic and corporate status, affording them (theoretically, if not always in practice) certain privileges and protections from both local officials and the crown. This study’s use of the term then is purposeful. In regard to methodology, it most closely retains the original language used in the documents: indios.14 Yet it also employs “Indian” as an ethnic descriptor to indicate a common shared identity that derived from multiple ethnicities and cultural influences in the colonial urban context. A parallel can be drawn with Karen Graubart’s work on native peoples in the Peruvian city of Trujillo. There, Graubart found that from the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century, some native peoples had adopted the word solarero(a) to signal their status as urban indigenous property holders.15 The term also may have functioned as a mechanism for creating a larger urban group identity.16 Similarly, in Zacatecas, “Indian” was not just a Spanish administrative category but also an important marker of new and consistently evolving urban indigenous identities and institutions.

This book examines the active role that Zacatecas’s urban Indian population played in the development of municipal life in a colonial town. It argues that the adaptation of Spanish-style civic identities did not lead to the erosion of indigenous societies but actually facilitated their persistence. Like other immigrants before and after them (including their Spanish counterparts), native peoples relocated to the newly formed mining town with desires of establishing their own communities. They set about building their homes and tending their fields on the edge of the Spanish traza (center). Over time, four autonomous indigenous towns, or pueblos, developed at the borders of the city, serving as bastions of indigenous society. While some non-Indians lived in the towns, they retained a primarily indigenous character through the colonial period. Within the pueblos native peoples continued to speak indigenous languages such as Nahuatl and Purépecha, even keeping records in the former, which became the indigenous lingua franca of the city. Towns organized themselves politically around municipal councils, yet often employed preconquest practices of representation and rotation to elect and appoint Indian leaders and officials. Native peoples constructed churches and founded their own religious lay societies or confraternities. They used these buildings and institutions to create and express a sense of community among the multiethnic indigenous population and to delineate their autonomy from non-Indians. In constructing bonds based on common geographic and cultural features, native peoples developed new social relations through fictive kinship and formal and informal unions. But living and laboring together facilitated more than solidarity and community among the multiethnic Indian population; it created a broad Indian identity that separated native peoples from other non-Spaniards. How Zacatecas’s ethnically and linguistically plural native population successfully maintained its indigenous heritage within this colonial urban context forms the subject of this book.

We know relatively little about urban indigenous societies and communities in colonial Mexico because of a strong tradition of associating cities and towns with Spaniards. Studies have often focused on the viceregal capitals of Mexico City and Lima, on Spanish elites, and on colonial practices and institutions.17 Spaniards rarely lived in large numbers outside of urban centers. Yet while much about the colonial city was Spanish, much else was not. Although Spaniards clearly controlled the institutions of power and imposed their cultural, social, economic, and religious practices on marginalized non-Spanish subjects, cities also were among the Americas’ most multiethnic sites. Native peoples, Africans, and castas regularly outnumbered their colonizers. While many of these individuals came to cities under duress as temporary (draft) workers or coerced apprentices and servants, a greater number arrived searching for economic and professional opportunities. The colonizers’ dependence on their non-Spanish subjects to meet myriad labor, commercial, and agricultural needs often created opportunities for sociopolitical accommodations and negotiations. Ultimately, native peoples did not just work in cities. They lived in them as well. In the process, they shaped their own communities and lived experiences.

This book recognizes that “urban Indians” had a genuine and natural desire to take part in greater city life. Native peoples, particularly Zacatecas’s immigrant population, were no strangers to towns and cities.18 Accounting for their long history of urban traditions and lifeways allows us to frame their actions and experiences as more than just the products of coercion and acculturation. The creation of native towns in Zacatecas, in an area with no preconquest sedentary indigenous communities, was the direct result of the cataclysmic changes generated by colonial rule, particularly those driven by Spanish economic interests. The grim realities of an oppressive colonial system influenced the various political, social, and economic adaptations undertaken by the native population. Sheer necessity and survival often dictated adherence to colonial practices and institutions. But analyzing the responses of urban native peoples solely from a perspective of coercion and subjugation disregards their agendas and decisions, reducing their movements to a series of forced or perfunctory responses. Native peoples had some say in determining which Iberian institutions and practices they accepted and adopted.19 Interpreting the experiences of Zacatecas’s native population (or those of other urban native peoples) solely through the lens of Spanish domination fails to account for their active interactions with the urban environment or how their responses and approaches toward urban living, albeit in a Spanish framework, evolved over time. The development of indigenous society in Zacatecas was ultimately linked with the adaptation of Spanish institutions, organizations, and urban lifeways. But native peoples played an active role in the direction and development of their communities and institutions, taking the lead role in creating their municipal institutions—their towns, churches, confraternities, and municipal councils—and in forming them to retain indigenous features in spite of the colonial framework.

As the native pueblos grew into their civic identities, so too did indigenous peoples, who took great pride in identifying themselves as either vecinos of Zacatecas or its native towns. Vecinos or vecinas is often translated as “citizen,” an appropriate reading of the term in some historical and geographic contexts. But this interpretation homogenizes the multiple, and ultimately local, social and political connotations represented by the term. Glossing vecino as “citizen” limits our understanding of the more inclusive and nuanced civic statuses that the word conveyed.20 Who was recognized as a vecino varied in different periods and areas, with particular distinctions between Spain and the Americas, and in the latter, from one colonial jurisdiction to another. For the purposes of this study, I prefer to speak of vecinos as municipal residents, drawing on the term’s local and community connotations. Ciudadano—the word that currently serves as the most common translation of “citizen”—was available in the period, appearing in the Royal Spanish Academy’s authoritative early eighteenth-century Diccionario de autoridades as “vecino of a city.”21 Yet it does not define vecino in relation to a ciudad. Instead, it describes a vecino as “one who lives with others in the same barrio, house, or pueblo” and “one who has earned residency by having lived” there for the time determined by law, and “one who has a house and home in a pueblo and contributes to its taxes or assessments, although they do not currently reside there.”22 The Royal Academy’s description of the word, with its emphasis on local, domestic, and financial obligations, aligns with the micropatriotic tendencies typical of both Spaniards and Amerindians, explaining perhaps the continued preference of both groups to self-identify as vecino over ciudadano in countless colonial documents.23

Framing vecino within a context of civic and residency requirements, rather than with the more formal and legally charged “citizen,” allows us to understand how the term could encompass individuals from all social statuses and ethnicities. This inclusiveness diverges from scholarship that tends to equate “vecino” status exclusively with Spaniards or that defines it as the antithesis of “indigenous.”24 In many areas of New Spain vecindad was neither formal nor official and hence not legally restricted to Spaniards. Rather it was implicit, secured by the mere circumstance of birth for some and granted to others over time and through social consensus. Individuals earned vecindad by staying for long periods (officially around ten years, but often much less time in practice), paying their taxes, and actively participating in community and civic life (for men that could entail attending town meetings and holding office). While the conditions of vecindad varied from one location to another, nothing prevented Indians (or Afro-descended peoples, for that matter) from meeting these residency and municipal requirements. In Zacatecas, and in many other areas of the viceroyalty, native peoples adopted the term fairly early (by 1566 at least) to indicate their deep and long-standing civic identities.25 Nor did Spaniards contest native peoples’ appropriation of vecindad. Numerous documents produced by Spanish notaries or officials routinely and unremarkably record the term in association with native peoples through the colonial period. Rigid definitions of vecinos as Spanish property holders and heads of household fail to account for the activities and experiences of native men and women (and Spanish women and unmarried men) who considered themselves municipal residents and who, in participating in civic life, “exercised the full range of passive citizenship.”26

But if native peoples could be vecinos, could they still be Indians too? As municipal residents native peoples embraced the money economy and interacted with non-Indians—personally, professionally, and commercially—at unprecedented levels, practices that even in the colonial period were seen by some as repudiations of indigeneity. New descriptions appeared for Indians who had entered the Spanish world, such as indio ladino, indio criollo, or indio acholizado, which certainly implied a degree of alienation and cultural change. On the surface it appeared that these Indians had left the indigenous world behind them. They spoke Spanish, wore Iberian-style clothing, cut their hair in European fashion, worked in urban occupations, labored and fraternized side by side with non-Indians, and some even lived in Spanish households. In the early seventeenth century, the indigenous chronicler Felipe Guamán Poma de Ayala, wrote disdainfully of Indian men in Lima who “dress[ed] like Spaniards” and “Indian whores . . . with skirts, high shoes, and hair nets” who did not want to “leave the city.”27 These urban dwellers received scorn not only from native peoples but also from some Spaniards, who may have had feelings ranging from uncertainty to hostility about their successful entries into certain aspects of the Spanish world.28 For the micropatriotic, ethnocentric indigenous societies of the preconquest period, the dual processes of permanent detachment from the local community and relocation to a Spanish urban center may have appeared akin to “social death,” although we still lack substantial, quantifiable evidence of what native peoples who lived in rural or discrete communities thought of their urban counterparts.29

Scholarly studies have often concluded that those native peoples who were removed from their discrete communities soon substituted Spanish lifeways for indigenous ones. The thought being that Iberian cultural influences quickly undermined traditional and ancestral practices.30 The assumption that all urban native peoples became Hispanized often revolves around interpretations of the persistence or absence of certain benchmarks associated with indigenous society and culture.31 Individuals in the sources who did not speak native languages, dressed in Spanish clothing, had short hair, and lived outside of discrete communities appeared to have forsaken their indigenous roots, integrated into the general population, and disavowed their indigenous identities.32

Works that included native peoples within larger examinations of cities often perpetuated the stereotype of the biologically and culturally acculturated native person. These studies did not analyze urban native peoples as a social and cultural group. Instead, they integrated them in larger discussions of plebeian and casta populations.33 Their focus on how urban centers transformed ethnic practices and identities did not account for nuances in the evolution of urban indigenous societies. Under this model, native peoples who moved to cities quickly and frequently engaged in informal and formal unions with non-Indians. Over time, the descendants of urban Indian migrants became less and less racially pure until, biologically, they were not Indians at all.

Paradigms emphasizing the mestizaje, or miscegenation, of the Indian population in urban areas have had an equally long-standing and significant influence on the historiography.34 But indigeneity, or the construction and definition of indigenous identities, involves myriad factors, of which biology constitutes one among other important cultural attributes. When considering ethnicity, it is more instructive and reflective of local realities, as Sarah C. Chambers points out, to define it along the lines of a “shared group identity.”35 Because of their small numbers and close ties to other ethnic communities, mestizos did not develop a complex common cultural identity.36 The appearance of the term montañés to describe mestizos in late sixteenth-century Cuzco, perhaps speaks to the sense of otherness that might have existed for some mestizos in certain places and periods. The term’s limited usage within the greater population, however, suggests the inability of (or lack of incentive for) mestizos—or other ethnic groups for that matter—to delineate a separate cultural or corporate identity for themselves.37 Rather, their evolution as an identifiable colonial group was born of colonial legalese or scripted racial categories, often reflecting an administrative system that needed to classify individuals in order to determine their privileges (and, more often for subject peoples, their rights to amparo, or protection) and obligations. But in practice, mestizos developed a cultural identity in relation to other cohesive ethnic groups, such as Indians, Spaniards, or African and Afro-descended peoples.

To whom mestizos culturally adhered often depended on geography and local factors. In theory, they formed part of the república de españoles (Spanish republic) and some colonial policies banned them from participating in indigenous spheres.38 In the first two generations after the Spanish invasion, some mestizo offspring of Spanish conquerors and settlers enjoyed close Iberian ties, such as Don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.39 But by the 1560s and 1570s, changing demographics and political climates led to greater interactions between mestizos and native peoples.40 The settlement of mestizos in indigenous communities has led scholars to argue for their role as acculturating agents, while other works have stressed tensions and conflicts between the two groups over resources.41 But on the ground, many mestizos were firmly (and harmoniously) part of the indigenous world. In Zacatecas and throughout New Spain, mestizos lived and worked in indigenous communities and shared their cultural affinities.42 Nor was the presence of mestizos among the native population necessarily an index of the level of biological or cultural miscegenation within a given context. In some areas, we could even speak of the “Indianization” of the mestizo population.43

As such, standard approaches to the study of urban Indians that solely focus on acculturation and mestizaje (cultural or biological) do not adequately convey the processes of change and persistence that ultimately shaped urban Indian identities and practices. Dramatic, large-scale cultural transformations certainly occurred among urban or dislocated indigenous populations. However, in many cities and colonial outposts, ethnogenesis, or the evolution of new social groups and ethnic identities, proved far more nuanced and complex, resisting analyses that consider attributes like language, dress, and place of residence as the litmus tests of cultural persistence.44 The nature of urban indigenous ethnogenesis must be firmly rooted in interpretations of sources embedded in the local context. A thorough review of the documentation may reveal that native peoples continued to participate and fully identify as indigenous despite the new cultural elements of their environment and personal life. If native peoples could not determine many aspects of their new urban experiences, they were able to develop their own strategies based on their own perceptions of normativity and the resources available to them to engage in urban life.45 The Spanish crown, after all, was unable to control every aspect of its subjects’ daily experiences. As such, the impact of colonial rule, especially on the ground, was particularly uneven. For a native population whose “goals,” James Lockhart points out, “were indigenous rather than Spanish in inspiration,” the persistence and survival of certain preconquest features was inevitable when confronted with Spanish organizational models.46

Although persistence was certainly critical to the continuity and vitality of indigenous culture in Zacatecas—and the focus of my early research on the topic—it represents only half of a dynamic story of continuity and innovation within changing circumstances. Urban native peoples did incorporate Spanish practices into their lifeways. Instead of seeing these adaptations as signs of ethnic erosion, I argue for viewing them as processes of ethnic evolution.47 Behaviors and practices, such as learning Spanish or changing dress, that are often described as Hispanization or sometimes as the “tragedy of success,” were not only essential skills but also part of normative ethnic evolution in an urban context.48 Seen in this light, social change or acculturation does not equal cultural annihilation. It illustrates how a dynamic urban Indian culture with multilayered identities successfully incorporated and appropriated Spanish-style civic life as another facet of indigeneity. For Zacatecas, native peoples’ urban fluency—their ability to speak Spanish, their engagement with non-Indians, and their participation in commercial activities—speaks to the evolution of an urban Indian culture that embraced Spanish-style civic identities as it continued to develop indigenous communities, practices, identities, and associations. In arguing that native people were receptive to many social, economic, and political postconquest changes, this work seeks to complicate traditional paradigms about urban Indians and communities.49

The search for indigenous identities within the “Spanish city” is vital to a comprehensive understanding of the influence of colonial rule on native peoples in the postconquest period. Just as revisionist approaches such as the New Conquest History highlight how native allies were more than just auxiliaries, a growing number of recent studies on urban Indians complicate the standard narrative that native city dwellers—both long-term residents and recent migrants—arrived in cities, swiftly lost their indigenous identities, acculturated to Spanish practices, and became part of an amorphous casta or plebeian population.50 These works are also beginning to highlight the critical contributions of native peoples to the formation and persistence of cities. Native peoples were significant economic, demographic, political, and social agents. Their communities were vibrant elements of the urban and social landscape.

This book offers an alternative understanding of how to interpret the impact of urbanism on native peoples. It concerns itself both with the larger question of how native peoples responded to colonial rule and with specific questions about the native population of Zacatecas. How did native peoples become residents (vecinos) of Zacatecas? Did becoming a vecino mean that native peoples had to abandon their indigenous heritage? How did urban institutions and practices influence indigenous lifeways and identities? How did native peoples re-create indigenous communities and retain indigenous practices? As vecinos, how did native peoples affect Zacatecas’s municipal and economic development? While the book acknowledges the changes urban living brought to indigenous ethnicities and practices, it focuses on how native peoples exploited the urban milieu to create multiple statuses and identities that allowed native peoples like the quarreling miners María Josefa León and Joseph de la Cruz to live in the city as both indios and vecinos. In the process, Urban Indians redefines traditional notions about colonial cities, the indigenous urban experience, and silver-mining societies. In so doing, it contributes to a vibrant ethnohistorical scholarship on the native peoples of New Spain, which has cogently documented the survival and persistence of indigenous communities and local and quotidian practices after the Spanish conquest.51

This book is divided into five chapters—primarily following a narrative thread—from the city’s founding in 1546 to the early 1800s. A brief conclusion reflects on the fate of the native population during the independence period, considering how their disappearance from Zacatecas’s historiography resonates with trends surrounding mestizaje and migration in the contemporary period. In general, the chapters mirror the book’s longue durée approach, reflecting the evolution of societies, cultures, and institutions that developed both slowly or rapidly depending on circumstances. Each chapter takes on the dual goal of analyzing the most important sociopolitical developments in the creation of indigenous communities in Zacatecas while also illustrating the evolution of native identities and practices during that particular period.

The first three chapters focus on the settlement and development of indigenous communities in Zacatecas. Chapter 1 considers the pivotal roles that native peoples performed in the city’s foundational years as workers and settlers. It argues that the mining camp’s pressing labor needs in its early years created the conditions—financial incentives, recurring indigenous immigration, and relative latitude in Spanish and indigenous relations—that led to the development of a critical indigenous population mass. Chapter 2 considers how the evolution of indigenous communities, labor patterns, and sociopolitical organizations, such as cofradías, or lay brotherhoods, created ethnic cohesion among the immigrant native population. As the multiethnic native community began to put down long-term roots in Zacatecas, its residents looked to Spanish institutions to unify them and to create a corporate indigenous identity. The conversion of indigenous communities from barrios, neighborhoods with the jurisdiction of the Spanish city, to towns, and the creation of an Indian leadership cohort in the early seventeenth century are the subjects of Chapter 3.

Chapters 4 and 5 examine how native peoples responded to the changing political and economic vicissitudes of the mature and late colonial periods. Chapter 4 focuses on how indigenous society and culture weathered the cultural and demographic shifts that accompanied the early eighteenth-century mining boom. The maturation of indigenous civic identities at the personal and community levels provided both individuals and officials with the skills to engage with ethnic others and the money economy as they defended their corporate privileges. Chapter 5 considers the status of indigenous society from the mid- to late eighteenth century. It analyzes the challenges migrant and long-term vecinos encountered in the wake of the city’s late eighteenth-century mining revival and the implementation of the crown’s centralizing political and economic policies, commonly referred to as the Bourbon Reforms.

Missing from this chapter synopsis are familiar elements of mining histories, such as sections on labor and exploitation. These omissions are by design. This book rarely speaks directly of native “agency”—preferring to use less ambiguous terms such as experiences or activities. Yet it does focus more on native peoples’ active choices than on the exploitations they suffered under colonialism. As a mining town grounded in a (silver) money economy, Zacatecas epitomized some of the most dramatic changes and onerous features of colonial rule. Mine labor was among the colony’s most hazardous occupations. The work above and below ground frequently caused illnesses, injuries, and even death. The absence of repartimiento, or draft labor, in Zacatecas spared the native population from some of the grueling and arbitrary working conditions present in other areas of New Spain such as Taxco or the Andean metropolis of Potosí. Yet Zacatecas was not without its share of problems, including attempts at coerced labor, unlawful detentions, kidnapping of young children, delays or failures to distribute wages, long hours, and grueling conditions. These episodes of abuse and exploitation appear throughout the work, but they are not the central focus of this book. Nor would my discussion of these topics move the field forward in any new or significant way, as they are well and masterfully covered by the current mining historiography. Ultimately, I seek to round out the story of native peoples and silver mining by highlighting their experiences away from the mines and focusing on the choices they made in their daily municipal lives.

A Note on Sources and Approaches

The native population of Zacatecas—during both boom and bust periods—constituted anywhere from 30 percent to 50 percent of the city’s greater population. As with many other nonelite groups, their presence is not always readily apparent in the documentation. Most ethnohistories draw from a corpus of native- and Spanish-language documents. Spanish records suggest that native-language writings were commonly produced in Zacatecas. Yet the survival of only a few documents (the remainder of these sources have disappeared or were destroyed) prevents such an approach. The lack of native-language sources hides from view many large patterns and small details about the city’s indigenous population. One can only speculate about the information that the minutes of an indigenous confraternity or cabildo could offer about community life, or what glimpses into gender, household, and land patterns would emerge from Nahuatl wills. Native-language documents would also bring greater insight into the trajectory and conflation of individual ethnic identities. But until such sources come to light (if they still exist for Zacatecas at all), these details and trends elude us and must necessarily fall outside the purview of this book.

Reconstructing the history of native peoples in a multiethnic urban setting involved different methodologies and sources. I followed the approaches of ethnohistorians of northern New Spain, where the majority of native peoples did not leave a large body of written records.52 In these regions, scholars have had to re-create indigenous history, Susan Deeds explains, through the use of “dispersed, fragmentary record(s).”53 Uncovering indigenous voices, perspectives, and activities in Zacatecas required the compilation of a source base that included a broad range of Spanish documents. This Spanish corpus presented certain challenges, particularly the mediation of indigenous voices through a notary, and in some cases also through an interpreter. Yet in spite of their limitations, these documents revealed a great deal about the social and economic circumstances of the indigenous population.54 Many of these texts provide indirect information on the indigenous population. But a significant number of documents directly discussed or were produced by native peoples. Examples of “indirect” sources include religious and civil censuses, municipal council records, mining inventories, chronicles, and royal and viceregal reports, correspondences, and orders. Archival manuscripts that offer more direct access to indigenous voices included wills, land and property disputes, parish records, confraternity ledgers, civil and criminal proceedings, Inquisition cases, sundry notarial documents, and local and viceregal petitions. The collection of this varied documentation provided a more comprehensive and nuanced construction of the indigenous presence in the city. Examining these sources over the longue durée allowed for the recording of change over time as it established and corroborated the persistence of long-term trends and developments in the indigenous population.

The use of qualitative sources illustrated the full breadth of native peoples’ experiences in Zacatecas. But this study drew on quantitative approaches, especially demography, to illustrate the extent of their presence in the city. Fortunately, record keeping that involved counting was a common practice among Spaniards. In the absence of tribute rolls for Zacatecas, ecclesiastical and civil censuses provided invaluable estimates of the size of the native population in a given period. Information from other types of mundane documents was equally quantifiable. Inventories of cuadrillas, or labor gangs, for example, illustrated the significant number of women working at mining complexes. Chapters 4 and 5 drew from the nearly ten thousand marriage petitions that exist for Zacatecas and its adjacent mining towns in the period from 1680 to 1780. Of these, about eight thousand alone were made by native peoples, Afro-descended individuals, and castas. These nuptial requests provided a wealth of information on individual and societal trends relating to marriage, migration, kinship patterns, interethnic exchanges, demographic shifts, and social networks. For example, since local officials did not keep records of incoming migrants, I utilized the biographical information found in the petitions to arrive at immigration patterns. By interpreting these marriage petitions and other mundane sources using quantitative approaches, I arrived at trends that were not readily apparent in qualitative sources alone. Ultimately, this quantitative and qualitative approach facilitated greater insight into different types of indigenous experiences and practices, reflecting a more nuanced and balanced depiction of native agency and Spanish influence.


1. For production, see David A. Brading, “Mexican Silver Mining in the Eighteenth Century: The Revival of Zacatecas,” in Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas, ed. Peter Bakewell (Brookfield: Variorum, 1997), 307–8; for population, see José de Ribera Bernárdez, Descripción breve de la muy noble y leal ciudad de Zacatecas (México: Impressa por Joseph Bernando Hogal, ministro, e impressor del Real y Apostólico tribunal de la Santa Cruzada en toda esta Nueva España, 1732), 48.

2. See Archivo Histórico del Estado de Zacatecas (hereafter AHEZ), Bienes y Difuntos, box 17, expediente (exp.) 263, 1719, ff. 1–181. I discuss this case in greater detail in Chapter 4.

3. Preconquest indigenous mining developed in Peru, Colombia and lower Central America, and in central and western Mexico. For Mexico, see Adolfo Langenscheidts, “Las minas y la minería prehispánica,” in Minería prehispánica en la sierra de Querétaro, ed. Adolfo Langenscheidts (México: Secretaría del Patrimonio Nacional, 1970), 45–52; Miguel León-Portilla, “Minería y metalurgia en el México antiguo,” in La minería en México: Estudios sobre su desarrollo histórico, ed. Miguel León-Portilla, Jorge Gurría Lacroix, Roberto Moreno, and Enrique Madero Bracho (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1978), 7–36. For Spanish America, see Modesto Bargalló Ardévol, La minería y la metalurgia en la América Española durante la época colonial (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1955), 24–41. In precontact Zacatecas, there is evidence of mining in the Chalchihuites area around AD 350. These mines contained many minerals, including the blue-green stone of the site’s namesake, but very little evidence of silver ores. Other possible mining sites include Mazapil and Concepción de Oro. See Phil C. Weigand, “Mining and Mineral Trade in Prehispanic Zacatecas,” in Mining and Mineral Techniques in Ancient Mesoamerica, Anthropology, ed. Phil C. Weigand and Gretchen Gwynne, 87–134. Anthropology 6 (Stony Brook: Department of Anthropology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1982).

4. For a social history of these two groups in the Guanajuato area, see David A. Brading, Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763–1810 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971); for Zacatecas, Peter Bakewell, Silver Mining and Society in Colonial Mexico: Zacatecas, 1546–1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971); Frederique Langue, Los señores de Zacatecas: Una aristocracia minera del siglo XVIII novohispano (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1999); for Peru, John Robert Fisher, Minas y mineros en el Perú colonial, 1776–1824 ([Lima]: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1977).

5. For scholarship on mining and mining towns in Spanish America, see Robert C. West, The Mining Community in Northern New Spain: The Parral Mining District (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1949); Bargalló Ardévol, La minería y la metalurgia; Richard L. Garner, “Zacatecas, 1750–1821: The Study of a Late Colonial Mexican City” (PhD diss., University of Michigan, 1970); Bakewell, Silver Mining and Society; Brading, Miners and Merchants; Miguel León-Portilla, Jorge Gurría Lacroix, Roberto Moreno, and Enrique Madero Bracho, eds., La minería en México: Estudios sobre su desarrollo histórico (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1978); Phillip Hadley, Minería y sociedad en el centro minero de Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, 1709–1750 (México: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1979); Oscar Alatriste, Desarrollo de la industria y la comunidad minera de Hidalgo del Parral durante la segunda mitad del siglo XVIII, 1765–1810 (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1983); Gilda Cubillo Moreno, Los dominios de la plata: El precio del auge, el peso del poder: Empresarios y trabajadores en las minas de Pachuca y Zimapán, 1552–1620 (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 1991); Robert Haskett, “‘Our Suffering with the Taxco Tribute’: Involuntary Mine Labor and Indigenous Society in Central New Spain,” Hispanic American Historical Review 71.3 (1991): 447–75; Cheryl English L. Martin, Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996); Laura Pérez Rosales, Minería y sociedad en Taxco durante el siglo XVIII (México: Universidad Iberoamericana, 1996); Langue, Los señores de Zacatecas; Guadalupe Salazar González, Las haciendas en el siglo XVII en la región minera de San Luis Potosí (San Luis Potosí: Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí, 2000); Alejandro Montoya, “Población y sociedad en un real de minas de la frontera norte novohispana: San Luis Potosí, de finales del siglo XVI a 1810” (PhD diss., Université de Montréal, 2004). For the Andes, see Peter Bakewell, Miners of the Red Mountain: Indian Labor in Potosí: 1545–1650 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984); Enrique Tandeter, Coercion and Market: Silver Mining in Colonial Potosí, 1692–1826 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993); Jane E. Mangan, Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosí (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005); Nicholas A. Robins, Mercury, Mining, and Empire: The Human and Ecological Cost of Colonial Silver Mining in the Andes (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011). For general overviews, see Peter Bakewell, ed., Mines of Silver and Gold in the Americas (Brookfield: Variorum, 1997); Kendall W. Brown, A History of Mining in Latin America: From the Colonial Era to the Present (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2012).

6. These cities were “new” in the sense that they were not established on preconquest indigenous communities. Puebla, for example, was another significant urban center of this nature. Yet Puebla (and other sites in central Mexico) had the advantage of developing around large indigenous hinterlands. For Puebla’s evolution, see Miguel Ángel Cuenya Mateos and Carlos Contreras Cruz, Puebla de los Ángeles: Una ciudad en la historia (Puebla: Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, 2012), 15–37.

7. The Andean mining town of Potosí is located in contemporary Bolivia. It should not be confused with San Luis Potosí, which is located in northeastern Mexico. I will refer to these places using these exact names.

8. For Spaniards, see the many works in note 5. For global markets, see Earl J. Hamilton, American Treasure and the Price Revolution in Spain, 1501–1650 (New York: Octagon Books, 1965); Carlos Sempat Assadourian, El sistema de la economía colonial: Mercado interno, regiones y espacio económico (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1982); Pedro Pérez Herrero, Plata y libranzas: La articulacíon comercial del México borbónico (México: El Colegio de México, 1988), 113–253. Richard Von Glahn, Fountain of Fortune: Money and Monetary Policy in China, 1000–1700 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996); Stanley J. Stein and Barbara H. Stein, Silver, Trade, and War: Spain and America in the Making of Early Modern Europe (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2000); Charles R. Boxer, “Plata es sangre: Sidelights on the Drain of Spanish-American Silver in the Far East, 1550–1700,” in European Entry into the Pacific: Spain and the Acapulco-Manila Galleon, ed. Dennis Owen Flynn, Arturo Giráldez, and James Sobredo (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001), 165–86; John Tutino, Making a New World: Founding Capitalism in the Bajío and Spanish North America (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011).

9. For studies on indigenous peoples and mining towns, see Bakewell, Miners of the Red Mountain; Haskett, “‘Our Suffering with the Taxco Tribute’”; Tandeter, Coercion and Market; Celia Islas Jiménez, El real de Tlalpujahua: Aspectos de la minería novohispana (México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2008), 155–94; Dana Velasco Murillo, “Laboring Above Ground: Indigenous Women in New Spain’s Silver-Mining District, Zacatecas, Mexico, 1620–1770,” Hispanic American Historical Review 93.1 (2013): 3–32; Laurent Corbeil, “Identities in Motion: The Formation of a Plural Indio Society in Early San Luis Potosí, New Spain, 1591–1630” (PhD diss., McGill University, 2015).

10. Northern New Spain was a vast region, spanning the silver mining district to the current US borderlands. For some representative studies, see Evelyn Hu-Dehart, Missionaries, Miners, and Indians: Spanish Contact and the Yaqui Nation, 1533–1820 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1981); Michael M. Swann, “Tierra Adentro”: Settlement and Society in Colonial Durango (Boulder: Westview Press, 1982); Chantal Cramaussel, La provincia de Santa Bárbara en la Nueva Vizcaya, 1563–1631 (Ciudad Juárez: Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, 1990); Luis González Rodríguez, El noroeste novohispano en la época colonial (México: Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 1993); Martin, Governance and Society; Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwest Mexico, 1700–1850 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997); Leslie Scott Offutt, Saltillo, 1570–1810: Town and Region in the Mexican North (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001); Susan Deeds, Defiance and Deference in Mexico’s Colonial North: Indians Under Spanish Rule in Nueva Vizcaya (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003); José Cuello, Saltillo colonial: Orígenes y formacíon de una sociedad Mexicana en la frontera norte (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo y Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila, 2004); Chantal Cramaussel, Poblar la frontera: La provincia de Santa Bárbara en Nueva Vizcaya durante los siglos XVI y XVII (Zamora: El Colegio de Michoacán, 2006).

11. See Susan Schroeder, “Whither Tenochtitlan: Chimalpahin and Mexico City, 1593–1631,” in City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810, ed. Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2012), 67.

12. See also Irene Silverblatt’s discussion of how the category of “Indian” both reinforced and challenged Spanish rule in “Becoming Indian in the Central Andes of Seventeenth-Century Peru,” in After Colonialism: Imperial Histories and Postcolonial Displacements, ed. Gyan Prakash (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995), 279–98.

13. Olivia Harris argues that for the purpose of collecting tribute, it was also an important “fiscal category” as well. In Zacatecas, however, “Indian” did not have such urgent fiscal connotations because the native population was exempt from tribute. See Harris, “Ethnic Identity and Market Relations: Indians and Mestizos in the Andes,” in Ethnicity, Markets and Migration in the Andes: At the Crossroads of History and Anthropology, ed. Brooke Larson and Olivia Harris (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 354.

14. I do note specific ethnic affiliations whenever they appear in the documentation.

15. Karen B. Graubart, “The Creolization of the New World: Local Forms of Identification in Urban Colonial Peru, 1560–1640,” Hispanic American Historical Review 89.3 (2009): 477–87. See also Jane E. Mangan’s discussion of ethnic labels and indigenous and mestiza market women in Potosí in “A Market of Identities: Women, Trade, and Ethnic Labels in Colonial Potosí,” in Imperial Subjects: Race and Identity in Colonial Latin America, ed. Andrew B. Fisher and Matthew D. O’Hara (Durham: Duke University Press 2009), 61–80.

16. See Graubart, “Creolization of the New World,” 486–88.

17. For example, see Susan Migden Socolow, The Merchants of Buenos Aires, 1778–1810: Family and Commerce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978); Francisco de Solano, ed., Estudios sobre la ciudad iberoamericana (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1983); Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow, eds., Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986); Susan Migden Socolow, The Bureaucrats of Buenos Aires, 1769–1810: Amor al real servicio (Durham: Duke University Press, 1987); Angel Rama, The Lettered City, trans. John Charles Chasteen (Durham: Duke University Press, 1996); Richard Kagan and Fernando Marías, Urban Images of the Hispanic World, 1493–1793 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000); Eugenia María Azevedo Salomao, Espacios urbanos comunitarios durante el período virreinal en Michoacán (Morelia: Morevallado Editores, 2003); Jay Kinsbruner, The Colonial Spanish-American City: Urban Life in the Age of Atlantic Capitalism (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2005); Miguel Felipe de Jesús Vallebueno Garcinava, Civitas y urbs: La conformación del espacio urbano de Durango (Durango: Instituto de Cultura del Estado de Durango, 2005).

18. In the period before the Spanish invasion, the Mexica capital of Tenochtitlan was among the largest cities in the world. With an estimated population of 150,000 to 200,000 people, it eclipsed Milan, Venice, and Seville in demographic size. See Michael E. Smith and Frances F. Berdan, “Archaeology and the Aztec Empire,” World Archaeology 23.3 (1992): 354. The population of the Valley of Mexico was between one million and three million. See Charles Gibson, Aztecs Under Spanish Rule: A History of the Indians of the Valley of Mexico, 1519–1810 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964), 5. For Mexico City’s preconquest urban configuration, see Alfonso Caso, Los barrios antiguos de Tenochtitlan y Tlatelolco (México: Memorias de la Academia Mexicana de la Historia, 1956). For preconquest social dynamics in the Valley of Mexico, see Pedro Carrasco, Estructura político-territorial del imperio Tenochca: La triple alianza de Tenochtitlan, Tetzcoco y Tlacopan (México: El Colegio de México y Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996); Jorge Enrique Hardoy, Ciudades precolombinas (Buenos Aires: Ediciones Infinito, 1999), 136–202.

19. See James Lockhart, “Receptivity and Resistance,” in Of Things of the Indies: Essays Old and New in Early Latin American History (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 320.

20. See Helen Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain: The Habsburg Sale of Towns, 1516–1700 (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1990), 27–33; Tamar Herzog, Defining Nations: Immigrants and Citizens in Early Modern Spain and Spanish America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); Sean F. McEnroe, From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico: Laying the Foundations, 1560–1840 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 2–14. The term also had specific usage in census records. Recorders counted households by units, listing the head as the vecino. See Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain, xv.

21. See Real Academia Española Diccionario de Autoridades, facs. ed., O–Z (Madrid: Editorial Gredos, 1984), 428.

22. See Real Academia, 428.

23. It also surely reflects the fact that 80 percent of sixteenth-century Castilians still lived in small towns, not cities. See Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain, 245n28.

24. See Ross Frank, From Settler to Citizen: New Mexican Economic Development and the Creation of Vecino Society, 1750–1820 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); Herzog, Defining Nations. For the use of vecino by various scholars for northern Mexico, see Jesús F. de la Teja and Ross Frank, Choice, Persuasion, and Coercion: Social Control on Spain’s North American Frontiers (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005), 8, 19, 78–92, 97, 181–82, 195n2, and 208.

25. Peter B. Villella, for example, mentions an elite Indian who described himself as an important vecino of Singuilucan in central Mexico. See Villella, “Pure and Noble Indians, Untainted by Inferior Idolatrous Races: Native Elites and the Discourse of Blood Purity in Late Colonial Mexico,” Hispanic American Historical Review 91.4 (2011): 644. Sean F. McEnroe discusses native peoples’ adoption of the term as part of a larger Mexican identity in northern New Spain; see From Colony to Nationhood in Mexico, 6–14. In Zacatecas, Afro-descended individuals also identified as vecinos. For examples, see AHEZ, Notarías, Juan García Picón, protocolos 3, ff. 125v–126v, 1736; protocolos 3, ff. 134–35, 1736. For other examples in the Americas, see Kimberly S. Hanger, “Patronage, Property and Persistence: The Emergence of a Free Black Elite in Spanish New Orleans,” in Against the Odds: Free Blacks in the Slave Societies of the Americas, ed. Jane G. Landers (London: Frank Cass, 1996), 60; Jane G. Landers, Black Society in Spanish Florida (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 8; and Jane G. Landers, “Cimarrón and Citizen: African Ethnicity, Corporate Identity, and the Evolution of Free Black Towns in the Spanish Circum-Caribbean,” in Slaves, Subjects, and Subversives: Blacks in Colonial Latin America, ed. Jane Landers and Barry Robinson (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006), 113.

26. See Nader, Liberty in Absolutist Spain, 33.

27. As cited in Paul Charney, “Much too worthy . . .”: Indians in Seventeenth-Century Lima,” in City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810, ed. Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2012), 88.

28. See Kathryn Burns, Into the Archive: Writing and Power in Colonial Peru (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 157n42; also see Rolena Adorno, “Images of Indios Ladinos in Early Colonial Peru,” in Transatlantic Encounters: Europeans and Andeans in the Sixteenth Century, ed. Kenneth J. Andrien and Rolena Adorno (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 232–70; Thierry Saignes, “Indian Migration and Social Change in Seventeenth-Century Charcas,” in Ethnicity, Markets and Migration in the Andes: At the Crossroads of History and Anthropology, ed. Brooke Larson and Olivia Harris (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995), 184–85; Stuart B. Schwartz and Frank Salomon, “New Peoples and New Kinds of People: Adaptation, Readjustment, and Ethnogenesis in South American Indigenous Societies (Colonial Era),” in The Cambridge History of the Native Peoples of the Americas, vol. 3, South America, ed. Frank Salomon and Stuart B. Schwartz (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 454–55.

29. Apparently this sentiment remains in the contemporary period. Kevin Terraciano notes how at a 2001 conference in Mexico, indigenous peoples bemoaned the fate of native peoples who had “left their home communities to live in cities.” See Terraciano, “Concluding Remarks,” in City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810, ed. Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2012), 221. On social death, see James H. Sweet, Recreating Africa: Culture, Kinship, and Religion in the African-Portuguese World, 1441–1770 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 32–39; Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 38–65.

30. James Lockhart, for example, argues that “the moment an individual was detached from his or her cultural, social, and geographical setting, that person usually swung quickly to the acceptance end of the spectrum” (in this case, Spanish society). See “Receptivity and Resistance,” 316. See also Paul Charney, “El indio urbano: Un análisis económica y social de la población india de Lima en 1613,” Histórica 12.1 (1988): 5–33.

31. For examples, see Karen Spalding, De indio a campesino: Cambios en la estructura social del Perú colonial (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos 1974): 177–78; Steve Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993), 158–83; Martin Minchom, The People of Quito, 1690–1810: Change and Unrest in the Underclass (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), 189–90; Harris, “Ethnic Identity and Market Relations,” 358.

32. On the association between urban attributes and Hispanization, see Harris, “Ethnic Identity and Market Relations,” 357–59. On native peoples being “detribalized” because they no longer lived in indigenous communities, see Peter Stern, “Marginals and Acculturation in Frontier Society,” in New Views of Borderlands History, ed. Robert H. Jackson (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998), 162.

33. See Christopher Lutz, Santiago de Guatemala, 1541–1773: City, Caste, and the Colonial Experience (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994); R. Douglas Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660–1720 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994); Robinson A. Herrera, Natives, Europeans, and Africans in Sixteenth-Century Santiago de Guatemala (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003). John K. Chance’s study of Antequera, Oaxaca, however, offers greater insight into the dynamics of the city’s urban Indian population; see Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1978).

34. For mestizos in the colonial period, see Minchom, People of Quito, 153–99; Berta Ares Queija, “El papel de mediadores y la construcción de un discurso sobre la identidad de los mestizos peruanos (siglo XVI),” in Entre dos mundos: Fronteras culturales y agentes mediadores, ed. Berta Ares Queija and Serge Gruzinski (Seville: Escuela de Estudios Hispano-americanos, 1997), 37–59; Schwartz and Salomon, “New Peoples and New Kinds of People,” 477–94; Marisol de la Cadena, “Are Mestizos Hybrids? The Conceptual Politics of Andean Identities,” Journal of Latin American Studies 37.2 (2005): 259–84; Joanne Rappaport, The Disappearing Mestizo: Configuring Difference in the Colonial New Kingdom of Granada (Durham: Duke University Press, 2014).

35. For Sarah C. Chambers’s discussion of the status of mestizos in late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Arequipa, Peru, see “Little Middle Ground: The Instability of a Mestizo Identity in the Andes, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries,” in Race and Nation in Modern Latin America, ed. Nancy P. Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 33.

36. See Chambers, “Little Middle Ground,” 41–42, 49; John K. Chance, “On the Mexican Mestizo,” Latin American Research Review 14.3 (1979): 153–68. Both authors agree that not being Indian was the only shared attribute of mestizos.

37. Kathryn Burns argues that the term montañés did not “stick” or “enter into wider usage.” See Into the Archive, 50–51.

38. See Stern, “Marginals and Acculturation,” 160–61.

39. See Schwartz and Salomon, “New Peoples and New Kinds of People,” 479–80.

40. See Ares Queija, “El papel de mediadores,” 43–45. This shift reflected Spanish anxieties that some high-standing mestizos constituted potential political and social threats to Spanish rule.

41. See Claudio Esteva Fabregat, “Población y mestizaje en las ciudades de Iberoamérica: Siglo XVIII,” in Estudios sobre la ciudad iberoamericana, ed. Francisco de Solano (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1983), 597; Magnus Mörner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967), 98–100.

42. For further examples of the close connections between mestizos and native peoples, see Robert C. Schwaller, “The Importance of Mestizos and Mulatos as Bilingual Intermediaries in Sixteenth-Century New Spain,” Ethnohistory 59.4 (2012): 716–18; the examples in Aaron P Althouse, “Contested Mestizos, Alleged Mulattos: Racial Identity and Caste Hierarchy in Eighteenth-Century Pátzcuaro, Mexico,” Americas 62.2 (2005): 157–66; Mangan, “Market of Identities,” 71–76; Rappaport, Disappearing Mestizo, 61–87.

43. Berta Ares Queija employs the term indianizando to describe how the image of mestizos became associated with native peoples in late sixteenth-century Peru. See “El papel de mediadores,” 44.

44. For an excellent study of the evolution of cultural identities among Nahuas and Oaxacan ethnic groups who settled near Santiago de Guatemala, see Laura E. Matthew, Memories of Conquest: Becoming Mexicano in Colonial Guatemala (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

45. As John R. Wunder points out, “Acculturation has a native voice, native choices, and native strategies.” See “Native American History, Ethnohistory, and Context,” Ethnohistory 54.4 (2007): 600.

46. James Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), 57.

47. As Schwartz and Salomon point out, indigenous peoples and groups had undergone ethnic and cultural transformations prior to the Spanish invasion. See “New Peoples and New Kinds of People,” 445–48.

48. See Stern, Peru’s Indian Peoples, 165–69.

49. For Lockhart’s exposition of “receptivity,” see “Receptivity and Resistance,” 304–32.

50. The New Conquest History reconsiders the encounters of indigenous peoples and Spaniards in the Americas from distinct perspectives and trajectories. This approach places native peoples at the center of the narrative, questions the concept of conquest as a onetime military episode, and illustrates how indigenous peoples and institutions persisted under Spanish rule. See, for example, Matthew, Memories of Conquest. For urban Indians in Mexico, see John K. Chance, “The Urban Indian in Colonial Oaxaca,” American Ethnologist 3.4 (1976): 603–32; Luis Fernando Granados, “Cosmopolitan Indians and Mesoamerican Barrios in Bourbon Mexico City: Tribute, Community, Family, and Work in 1800” (PhD diss., Georgetown University, 2008); Felipe Castro Gutiérrez, ed., Los indios y las ciudades de la Nueva España (México: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, 2010); Margarita R. Ochoa, “Gender, Power, and Authority in Indigenous Mexico City, 1700–1829” (PhD diss., University of New Mexico, 2011); Dana Velasco Murillo, Mark Lentz, and Margarita R. Ochoa, eds., City Indians in Spain’s American Empire: Urban Indigenous Society in Colonial Mesoamerica and Andean South America, 1530–1810 (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2012); Corbeil, “Identities in Motion.” For the Andes, see Lyn Lowry, “Forging an Indian Nation: Urban Indians Under Spanish Colonial Control (Lima, Peru, 1535–1765)” (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1991); Jacques Poloni-Simard, El mosaico indígena: Movilidad, estratificación social y mestizaje en el corregimiento de Cuenca (Ecuador) del siglo XVI al XVIII (Quito: Editorial Abya-Yala, Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos, 2006); Karen B. Graubart, With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru, 1550–1700 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007).

51. Many of these histories focus on discrete native communities in central and southern Mexico composed primarily of ethnically homogenous indigenous populations. For some example of this voluminous literature for New Spain, see Gibson, Aztecs Under Spanish Rule; Luis Reyes García, Cuauhtinchan del siglo XII al XVI: Formación y desarrollo histórico de un señorío prehispánico (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1977); Nancy M. Farriss, Maya Society Under Colonial Rule: The Collective Enterprise of Survival (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984); Sarah L. Cline, Colonial Culhuacan, 1580–1600: A Social History of an Aztec Town (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986); Bernardo García Martínez, Los pueblos de la sierra: El poder y el espacio entre los indios del norte de Puebla hasta 1700 (México: El Colegio de México, 1987); Louise M. Burkhart, The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989); Susan Schroeder, Chimalpahin and the Kingdoms of Chalco (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991); Robert Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991); Lockhart, Nahuas After the Conquest; Margarita Menegus Bornemann, Del señorío indígena a la república de indios: El caso de Toluca, 1500–1600 (México: Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, 1994); Pedro Bracamonte y Sosa, La memoria enclaustrada: Historia indígena de Yucatán 1750–1915 (México: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 1994), 23–96; Susan Kellogg, Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500–1700 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995); María de los Ángeles Romero Frizzi, El sol y la cruz: Los pueblos indios de Oaxaca colonial (México: Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, 1996); Rebecca Horn, Postconquest Coyoacan: Nahua-Spanish Relations in Central Mexico, 1590–1650 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997); Matthew Restall, The Maya World: Yucatec Culture and Society, 1550–1850 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997); Susan Schroeder, Stephanie Wood, and Robert Haskett, eds., Indian Women of Early Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997); Peter Sigal, From Moon Goddesses to Virgins: The Colonization of Yucatecan Maya Sexual Desire (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000); Kevin Terraciano, The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca: Ñudzahui History, Sixteenth through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: University of Stanford Press, 2001); Stephanie Wood, Transcending Conquest: Nahua Views of Spanish Colonial Mexico (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2003); Brian Philip Owensby, Empire of Law and Indian Justice in Colonial Mexico (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008); Yanna Yannakakis, The Art of Being In-Between: Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008); Caterina Pizzigoni, The Life Within: Local Indigenous Society in Mexico’s Toluca Valley, 1650–1800 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012); David Tavárez, The Invisible War: Indigenous Devotions, Discipline, and Dissent in Colonial Mexico (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2013); Mark Z. Christensen, Nahua and Maya Catholicisms: Texts and Religion in Colonial Central Mexico and Yucatan (Stanford: Stanford University Press and The Academy of American Franciscan History, 2013). For northern Mexico, see Radding, Wandering Peoples; Deeds, Defiance and Deference; José Refugio de la Torre Curiel, Twilight of the Mission Frontier: Shifting Interethnic Alliances and Social Organization in Sonora, 1768–1855 (Stanford: Stanford University Press and The Academy of American Franciscan History, 2012); Raphael B. Folsom, The Yaquis and the Empire: Violence, Spanish Imperial Power, and Native Resilience in Colonial Mexico (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014).

52. Most of the northern provinces lack the rich corpus of native-language documents of central and southern Mexico. For a discussion of the challenges confronting ethnohistorians of northern Mexico, see Radding, Wandering Peoples, xv–xviii; Deeds, Defiance and Deference, 1–11.

53. Deeds, Defiance and Deference, 9.

54. Even James Lockhart acknowledged that the study of native peoples could “profit greatly from further research in relevant purely Spanish sources.” See Lockhart, Nahuas After the Conquest, 9.