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."
Origin of name
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".
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- 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.
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