Chichimeca

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Map of the location of prominent Chichimeca peoples around 1550. Map only reflects core areas, as these tribes moved freely back and forth from what is now southern Utah and had definite settlements in what is now Texas. ChichimecNations.png
Map of the location of prominent Chichimeca peoples around 1550. Map only reflects core areas, as these tribes moved freely back and forth from what is now southern Utah and had definite settlements in what is now Texas.

Chichimeca (Spanish Loudspeaker.svg [tʃitʃiˈmeka]  ) was the name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico generically applied to nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples who were established in present-day Bajio region of Mexico. Chichimeca carried the same sense as the Roman term "barbarian" to describe Germanic tribes. The name, with its pejorative sense, was adopted by the Spanish Empire. For the Spanish, in the words of scholar Charlotte M. Gradie, "the Chichimecas were a wild, nomadic people who lived north of the Valley of Mexico. They had no fixed dwelling places, lived by hunting, wore little clothes and fiercely resisted foreign intrusion into their territory, which happened to contain silver mines the Spanish wished to exploit." [1]

Nomad member of a community of people who live in different locations, moving from one place to another

A nomad is a member of a community of people without fixed habitation who regularly move to and from the same areas, including nomadic hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads, and tinker or trader nomads. As of 1995, there were an estimated 30–40 million nomads in the world.

Barbarian person perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive based on stereotypes

A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive. The designation is usually applied as generalization based on a popular stereotype; barbarians can be any member of a nation judged by some to be less civilized or orderly, but may also be part of a certain "primitive" cultural group or social class both within and outside one's own nation. Alternatively, they may instead be admired and romanticised as noble savages. In idiomatic or figurative usage, a "barbarian" may also be an individual reference to a brutal, cruel, warlike, and insensitive person.

Germanic peoples peoples who are, or are related to, native speakers of a Germanic language

The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethnolinguistic group of Northern European origin identified by their use of the Germanic languages. Their history stretches from the 2nd millennium BCE up to the present day.

Contents

In modern times, only one ethnic group is customarily referred to as Chichimecs, namely the Chichimeca Jonaz, a few thousand of whom live in the state of Guanajuato.

Chichimeca Jonaz group of indigenous people living in Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí

The Chichimeca Jonaz are an indigenous people of Mexico, living in the states of Guanajuato and San Luis Potosí. In Guanajuato, the Chichimeca Jonaz people live in a community in San Luis de la Paz municipality. The settlement is 2,070 m above sea level. They call this place Rancho Úza or Misión Chichimeca. They are descendants of the Pame people, who fought in the Chichimeca War (1550-1590) in the Chichimeca Confederation.

Guanajuato State of Mexico

Guanajuato, officially the Free and Sovereign State of Guanajuato, is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, are the 32 federal entities of Mexico. It is divided into 46 municipalities and its capital city is Guanajuato. The largest city in the state is León.

Overview and identity

The Chichimeca people consisted of eight nations that spoke different languages. As the Spaniards worked towards consolidating the rule of New Spain over the indigenous peoples during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Chichimecan nations resisted fiercely, although a number of native groups of the region allied with the Spanish. The most long-lasting of these conflicts (1550–91) was the Chichimeca War, resulting in the defeat of the Spanish Empire and a decisive victory for the Chichimeca Confederation.

Spaniards people native to any part of Spain or that hold Spanish citizenship

Spaniards are a Romance ethnic group and nation. They are indigenous to Spain and share a common Spanish culture, history, ancestry, and language. Within Spain, there are a number of nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history and diverse culture. Although the official language of Spain is commonly known as "Spanish", it is only one of the national languages of Spain, and is less ambiguously known as Castilian, a standard language based on the medieval romance speech of the early Kingdom of Castile in north-central Spain and the Mozarabic dialect of the Taifa of Toledo which was incorporated by the former in the 11th century. There are several commonly spoken regional languages, most notably Basque, Catalan and Galician. There are many populations outside Spain with ancestors who emigrated from Spain and who share a Hispanic culture; most notably in Hispanic America.

New Spain viceroyalty of the Spanish Empire (1535-1821)

The Viceroyalty of New Spain was an integral territorial entity of the Spanish Empire, established by Habsburg Spain during the Spanish colonization of the Americas. It covered a huge area that included territories in North America, South America, Asia and Oceania. It originated in 1521 after the fall of Mexico-Tenochtitlan, the main event of the Spanish conquest, which did not properly end until much later, as its territory continued to grow to the north. It was officially created on 8 March 1535 as a viceroyalty, the first of four viceroyalties Spain created in the Americas. Its first viceroy was Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, and the capital of the viceroyalty was Mexico City, established on the ancient Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

The Chichimeca War (1550–90) was a military conflict waged by Spain against the Chichimeca Confederation established in the lowlands of Mexico, called La Gran Chichimeca located in the West North-Central Mexican states. The region is now called the Bajío. It was recorded as the Spanish Empire's longest and most expensive war campaign against any indigenous people in the Americas. The result of the forty-year war was a Spanish Empire military and economic defeat.

Many of the peoples known broadly as Chichimeca are virtually unknown today; few descriptions recorded their names and they seem to have been absorbed into mestizo culture or into other indigenous ethnic groups. For example, virtually nothing is known about the peoples referred to as the Guachichil , Caxcan , Zacateco , Tecuexe , or Guamare . Others, such as the Opata or Eudeve, are well described in records but extinct as a people.[ full citation needed ]

Mestizo race

Mestizo is a term traditionally used in Spain, Latin America and the Philippines that originally referred to a person of combined European and Indigenous American descent, regardless of where the person was born. The term was used as an ethnic/racial category in the casta system that was in use during the Spanish Empire's control of its American and Asian colonies. Nowadays though, particularly in Spanish America, mestizo has become more of a cultural term, with culturally mainstream Latin Americans regarded or termed as mestizos regardless of their actual ancestry and with the term Indian being reserved exclusively for people who have maintained a separate indigenous ethnic identity, language, tribal affiliation, etc. Consequently, today, the vast majority of Spanish-speaking Latin Americans are regarded as mestizos.

Guachichil ethnic group

The Guachichil, Cuauchichil, or Quauhchichitl, are an Indigenous peoples. Pre-contact, they occupied the most extensive territory of all the indigenous Chichimeca Nations tribes in pre-Columbian Central Mexico.

Caxcan

The Caxcan were a partly nomadic indigenous people of Mexico. Under their leader, Tenamaztle, the Caxcan were allied with the Zacatecos against the Spaniards during the Mixtón Rebellion in 1540-42. During the rebellion, they were described as "the heart and the center of the Indian Rebellion". After the rebellion, they were a constant target of the Zacatecos and Guachichiles due to their ceasefire agreement with the Spaniards. Their principal religious and population centers were at Teul, Tlaltenango, Juchipila, and Teocaltiche.

Still other Chichimec peoples maintain separate identities into the present day, such as the Otomi , Chichimeca Jonaz , Cora , Huichol , Pame , Yaqui , Mayo , O'odham and the Tepehuan peoples.[ full citation needed ]

Cora people ethnic group

The Cora are an indigenous ethnic group of Western Central Mexico which live in the municipality El Nayar in the Mexican state of Nayarit and in a few settlements in the neighboring state of Jalisco. They call themselves náayerite, whence the name of the present day Mexican state of Nayarit. The 2000 Mexican census reported that there were 24,390 persons who were members of Cora speaking households, these being defined as households where at least one parent or elder claim to speak the Cora language. Of these 24 thousand, 67 percent (16,357) were reported to speak Cora, 17 percent were nonspeakers, and the remaining 16 percent were unspecified with regard to their language.

Pame people

The Pame are an indigenous people of central Mexico living in the state of San Luis Potosí. They call themselves Xi'úi. They speak the Pame languages, which belong to the Oto-Pamean group of the Oto-Manguean language family.

Mayo people ethnic group

The Mayo or Yoreme are an indigenous group in Mexico, living in the states of southern Sonora, northern Sinaloa and small settlements in Durango.

Etymology

The Nahuatl name Chīchīmēcah (plural, pronounced [tʃiːtʃiːˈmeːkaʔ] ; singular Chīchīmēcatl) means "inhabitants of Chichiman," Chichiman meaning "area of milk." It is sometimes said to be related to chichi "dog", but the is in chichi are both short while those in Chīchīmēcah are long, which changes the meaning as vowel length is phonemic in Nahuatl. [2]

Nahuatl, known historically as Aztec, is a language or group of languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Varieties of Nahuatl are spoken by about 1.7 million Nahua peoples, most of whom live in central Mexico.

In linguistics, vowel length is the perceived duration of a vowel sound. Often the chroneme, or the "longness", acts like a consonant, and may have arisen from one etymologically, such as in Australian English. While not distinctive in most other dialects of English, vowel length is an important phonemic factor in many other languages, for instance in Arabic, Finnish, Fijian, Kannada, Japanese, Old English, Scottish Gaelic and Vietnamese. It plays a phonetic role in the majority of dialects of British English and is said to be phonemic in a few other dialects, such as Australian English, South African English and New Zealand English. It also plays a lesser phonetic role in Cantonese, unlike other varieties of Chinese.

A phoneme is one of the units of sound that distinguish one word from another in a particular language.

The Nahua originally used the word "Chichimeca" to refer to their own ancient history as a nomadic hunter-gatherer group, in contrast to their later, more urban culture, which they identified as Toltecatl . [3] In modern Mexico, the word "Chichimeca" can have pejorative connotations such as "primitive," "savage," "uneducated," and "native."[ full citation needed ]

Ethnohistorical descriptions

The first descriptions of "Chichimecs" are from the early colonization period. In 1526, Hernán Cortés wrote a letter about the northern Chichimec tribes, who were not as "civilized" to him as the Aztecs. He commented that they might be enslaved and used to work in the mines.[ full citation needed ]

The Chicimec, Caxcanes and other indigenous people of Northern Mexico fought against Spanish military forces, such as Nuño Beltrán de Guzmán, when they began trying to enslave them. Their fight against Spanish military forces became known as the Mixtón Rebellion.[ full citation needed ]

In the late sixteenth century, Gonzalo de las Casas wrote about the Chichimec. He had received an encomienda near Durango and fought in the wars against the Chichimec peoples: the Pame, the Guachichile, the Guamari and the Zacateco, who lived in the area known at the time as "La Gran Chichimeca." Las Casas' account was called Report of the Chichimeca and the Justness of the War Against Them. He described the people, providing ethnographic information. He wrote that they only covered their genitalia with clothing; painted their bodies; and ate only game, roots and berries. He mentioned, in order to prove their supposed barbarity, that Chichimec women, having given birth, continued traveling on the same day without stopping to recover. [4] While las Casas recognized that the Chichimecan tribes spoke different languages, he considered their culture to be primarily uniform.[ full citation needed ]

In the late 16th century the Chichimeca did not worship deities as did many of the surrounding indigenous peoples [5] and in the eyes of the Franciscan priest Alonso Ponce this was an indication that the Chicimeca had a barbarous nature. Bernardino de Sahagún's Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España provides a fuller account: he describes some Chichimec people, such as the Otomi, as knowing agriculture, living in settled communities, and having a religion devoted to the worship of the moon.[ full citation needed ]

Early sources was typical of the era in their efforts to spread propaganda that the natives were "savages" - accomplished at war and hunting, but with no established society or morals, and prone to fighting among themselves. This stereotype became even more prevalent during the course of the Chichimec wars, acting as a justification for the wars.[ full citation needed ]

The first description of a modern objective ethnography of the peoples inhabiting La Gran Chichimeca was done by Norwegian naturalist and explorer Carl Sofus Lumholtz in 1890 when he traveled on muleback through northwestern Mexico, meeting the indigenous peoples on friendly terms. With his descriptions of the rich and different cultures of the various "uncivilized" tribes, the picture of the uniform Chichimec barbarians was changed – although in Mexican Spanish the word "Chichimeca" remains connected to an image of "savagery".[ full citation needed ]

The historian Paul Kirchhoff, in his work The Hunting-Gathering People of North Mexico, described the Chichimecas as sharing a hunter-gatherer culture, based on the gathering of mesquite, agave, and tunas (the fruit of the nopal), with others also using acorns, roots and seeds. In some areas, the Chichimeca cultivated maize and calabash. From the mesquite, the Chichamecs made white bread and wine. Many Chichimec tribes used the juice of the agave as a substitute for water when it was in short supply.[ full citation needed ]

Wars with the Spanish

Chichimeca military strikes against the Spanish included raidings, ambushing critical economic routes, and pillaging. In the long-running Chichimeca War (1550–1590), the Spanish initially attempted to defeat the combined Chichimeca peoples in a war of "fire and blood", but eventually sought peace as they were unable to defeat them. The Chichimeca's small-scale raids proved effective. To end the war, the Spanish adopted a "Purchase for Peace" program by providing foods, tools, livestock, and land to the Chichimecas, sending Spanish to teach them agriculture as a livelihood, and by passively converting them to Catholicism. Within a century, the Spanish and Chichimeca were assimilated. [6]

Related Research Articles

Otomi ethnic group

The Otomi are an indigenous people of Mexico inhabiting the central Mexican Plateau (Altiplano) region.

The Tlaxcalans, or Talaxcaltecs, are an indigenous group of Nahua ethnicity who inhabited the republic of Tlaxcala and present-day Mexican state of Tlaxcala.

La Gran Chichimeca was a term used by the Spanish conquistadores of the 16th century to refer to an area of the northern central Mexican altiplano (plateau), a territory which today is encompassed by the modern Mexican states of Jalisco, Aguascalientes, Nayarit, Guanajuato and Zacatecas. They derived the term from the Aztec who referred to the nomadic tribes of the area as “chichimeca”.

Zacateco ethnic group

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Chichimeca or Chichimeca Jonaz is an indigenous language of Mexico spoken by around 200 Chichimeca Jonaz people in Misión de Chichimecas near San Luis de la Paz in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The Chichimeca Jonaz language belongs to the Oto-Pamean branch of the Oto-Manguean language family. The Chichimecos self identify as úza and call their language eza'r.

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References

  1. Gradie, Charlotte M. "Discovering the Chichimecas" Academy of American Franciscan History, Vol 51, No. 1 (July 1994), p. 68
  2. See Andrews 2003 (pp.496 and 507), Karttunen 1983 (p.48), and Lockhart 2001 (p.214)
  3. This term caused confusion in later scholarship, as it was understood to refer to a specific ethnic group.
  4. As cited in Gradie (1994).
  5. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztecs/Chichimecas.pdf
  6. Powell, Phillip Wayne (1952), Soldiers, Indians & Silver, Berkeley: U of California Press, pp. 182-199; LatinoLA | Comunidad :: Indigenous Origins

Sources