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Map of Chichimeca nations during the 16th century

Of all the Chichimeca natives, the Guachichiles or Cuauchichil occupied the most extensive territory, stretching north to Saltillo in Coahuila and to the northern corners of Michoacán in the south. Considered both warlike and brave, the Guachichiles roamed through a large section of the Zacatecas, as well as portions of San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato and northeastern Jalisco.

The Guachichiles played a major role in provoking the other Chichimeca tribes to resist the Spanish settlement. The historian Philip Wayne Powell wrote, "Their strategic position in relation to Spanish mines and highways, made them especially effective in raiding and in escape from Spanish reprisal."[1][2]

Eventually Miguel Caldera (whose mother was a full-blooded Guachichil), played a role in ending the Chichimeca War.

Origin of name[edit]

The Guachichiles were known to paint their bodies, hair, and faces in red dye. For this reason they were called "guachichile" by the Mexica; from the nahuatl kua-itl (head) and chichil-tic (red), meaning "heads painted red".


Region Zacatecas
Extinct (date missing)
unclassified (Corachol?)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 None (mis)
Linguist list

The Guachichil language is now extinct and very little is known about it. It may have been an Uto-Aztecan language closely related to the Huichol language.


  • Miller, Wick. (1983). Uto-Aztecan languages. In W. C. Sturtevant (Ed.), Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 10, pp. 113–124). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.