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Quauhchichitl and Cuauchichil
Map of Chichimeca Nations
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Mexico (Zacatecas, San Luis Potosí),
Guachichil, Spanish
Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Other Chichimecas

Of all the Chichimeca natives, the Guachichiles, Cuauchichil, or Quauhchichitl 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]

These warriors were known to fight fiercely even if mortally wounded and were a key component in the Spanish defeat during the Chichimeca Wars. Eventually Miguel Caldera, a half-Guachichil mestizo, played a role in effectively ending the war by diplomatic and pacification policies instead of attempting to subdue the Chichimecs by brute force.

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
Glottolog None

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.