Indigenous peoples of Mexico

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Indigenous (Native American) peoples of Mexico
CuauhtémocBenito Juárez
Francisco Luna Kan
CajeméComandante Ramona
Lila Downs
Total population
15,700,000[1]
Regions with significant populations
Mexico
Languages
Nahuatl, Yucatec, Tzotzil, Mixtec, Zapotec, Otomi, Huichol, Totonac and other living 54 languages along the Mexican territory, as well as Spanish.
Religion
Christianity (Predominantly Roman Catholic, with an Amerindian religious elements, including Aztec and Mayan religion.)
Related ethnic groups
Other Indigenous peoples of the Americas

Mexico, in the second article of its Constitution, is defined as a "pluricultural" nation in recognition of the diverse ethnic groups that constitute it and in which the indigenous peoples[2] are the original foundation.[3] According to the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas, or CDI in Spanish) and the INEGI (official census institute), there are 15.7 million indigenous people in Mexico,[4] of many different ethnic groups,[5] which constitute 14.9% of the population in the country. The number of indigenous Mexicans is judged using the political criteria found in the 2nd article of the Mexican constitution. The Mexican census does not report racial-ethnicity but only the cultural-ethnicity of indigenous communities that preserve their indigenous languages, traditions, beliefs, and cultures.[6]

The indigenous peoples in Mexico have the right of free determination under the second article of the constitution. According to this article the indigenous peoples are granted:

  • the right to decide the internal forms of social, economic, political, and cultural organization;
  • the right to apply their own normative systems of regulation as long as human rights and gender equality are respected;
  • the right to preserve and enrich their languages and cultures;
  • the right to elect representatives before the municipal council in which their territories are located;

amongst other rights. Also, the Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Languages recognizes 62 indigenous languages as "national languages", which have the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken.[7] According to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Data Processing (INEGI), approximately 5.4% of the population speaks an indigenous language - that is, approximately half of those identified as indigenous.[8] The recognition of indigenous languages and the protection of indigenous cultures is granted not only to the ethnic groups indigenous to modern-day Mexican territory but also to other North American indigenous groups that migrated to Mexico from the United States[9] in the nineteenth century and those who immigrated from Guatemala in the 1980s.[10]

History of the indigenous peoples[edit]

Pre-Columbian Civilizations[edit]

The pre-Columbian, or Native American, civilizations of what now is known as Mexico are usually divided in two regions: Mesoamerica, in reference to the cultural area in which several complex civilizations developed before the arrival of the Spanish in the sixteenth century, and Aridoamerica (or simply "The North")[11] in reference to the arid region north of the Tropic of Cancer in which few civilizations developed and was mostly inhabited by nomadic or semi-nomadic groups.[citation needed] Mesoamerica was densely populated by diverse indigenous ethnic groups[11][12] which, although sharing common cultural characteristics, spoke different languages and developed unique civilizations.

One of the most influential civilizations that developed in Mesoamerica was the Olmec civilization, sometimes referred to as the "Mother Culture of Mesoamerica".[12] The later civilization in Teotihuacán reached its peak around 600 AD, when the city became the sixth largest city in the world,[12] whose cultural and theological systems influenced the Toltec and Aztec civilizations in later centuries. Evidence has been found on the existence of multiracial communities or neighborhoods in Teotihuacan (and other large urban areas like Tenochtitlan).[13][14] The Maya civilization, though also influenced by other Mesoamerican civilizations, developed a vast cultural region in south-east Mexico and northern Central America, while the Zapotec and Mixtec culture dominated the valley of Oaxaca, and the Purepecha in western Mexico.

Colonial Era[edit]

A 16th-century manuscript illustrating La Malinche and the contact of Spaniards and Aztecs.

By the time of the arrival of the Spanish in Mesoamerica, many of the diverse ethnic civilizations (with the notable exception of the Tlaxcaltecs and the Tarascan Kingdom of Michoacán) were loosely joined under the Aztec empire, the last Nahua civilization to flourish in Central Mexico. The capital of the empire, Tenochtitlan, became one of the largest urban centers in the world, with an estimated population of 350,000 inhabitants.[11] During the conquest of the Aztec Empire, the conquistadores, only ten to the millions of indigenous peoples, used the ethnic diversity of the country and exploited the discontentment of the subjugated groups, making important alliances with rivals of the Aztecs.[11] While the alliances were decisive to their victory, the indigenous peoples were soon subjugated by an equally impressive empire. Wars and forced labor were accompanied by the spread of European diseases previously unknown in the New World. Pandemics wrought havoc, killing between 90% and 95% of the pre-contact population according to some estimates.[11]

At first, the colonial system imposed a system of castes, in which the indigenous peoples were marginalized.[15] Nevertheless, a cultural symbiosis took place: the indigenous peoples adopted and syncretized Roman Catholicism, and a new ethnic group was born: the mestizo, of mixed European and indigenous ancestry.

Independence from Spain[edit]

Tzotzil Maya women from San Juan Chamula, Chiapas.

As the New Spain became independent from Spain, its citizens decided to name the new country after its capital city, Mexico City. Mexico declared the abolition of slavery and the equality of all citizens under the law. Some indigenous individuals integrated into the Mexican society, like Benito Juárez of Zapotec ethnicity, the first indigenous president of a country in the New World.[16]

The greatest change, however, came about as a result of the Mexican Revolution, a violent social and cultural movement that defined 20th century Mexico. The Revolution produced a national sentiment that the indigenous peoples were the foundation of Mexican society. Several prominent artists promoted the "Indigenous Sentiment" (sentimiento indigenista) of the country, including Frida Kahlo, and Diego Rivera. Throughout the twentieth century, the government established bilingual education in certain indigenous communities and published free bilingual textbooks.[17] Some states of the federation appropriated an indigenous inheritance in order to reinforce their identity.[18]

In spite of the official recognition of the indigenous peoples, the economic underdevelopment of the communities, accentuated by the crises of the 1980s and 1990s, has not allowed for the social and cultural development of most indigenous communities.[19] Thousands of indigenous Mexicans have emigrated to urban centers in Mexico as well as in the United States. In Los Angeles, for example, the Mexican government has established electronic access to some of the consular services provided in Spanish as well as Zapotec and Mixe.[20] Some of the Maya peoples of Chiapas have revolted, demanding better social and economic opportunities, requests voiced by the EZLN.[citation needed]

The government has made certain legislative changes to promote the development of the rural and indigenous communities and the preservation and promotion of their languages. The second article of the Constitution was modified to grant them the right of self-determination and requires state governments to promote and ensure the economic development of the indigenous communities as well as the preservation of their languages and traditions.

Demographics[edit]

Indigenous people from all parts of Mexican state of Oaxaca, participate wearing traditional clothes and artifacts, in a celebration known as Guelaguetza.

Definition[edit]

The number of indigenous Mexicans is judged using the political criteria found in the 2nd article of the Mexican constitution. The Mexican census does not report racial-ethnicity but only the cultural-ethnicity of indigenous communities that preserve their indigenous languages, traditions, beliefs, and cultures.[6]

Languages[edit]

The Law of Linguistic Rights of the Indigenous Languages recognizes 62 indigenous languages as "national languages" which have the same validity as Spanish in all territories in which they are spoken.[7] According to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Data Processing (INEGI), approximately 5.4% of the population speaks an indigenous language – that is, approximately half of those identified as indigenous.[8] The recognition of indigenous languages and the protection of indigenous cultures is granted not only to the ethnic groups indigenous to modern-day Mexican territory, but also to other North American indigenous groups that migrated to Mexico from the United States[9] in the nineteenth century and those who immigrated from Guatemala in the 1980s.[10]

Statistics[edit]

Huichol woman and child

According to the National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples (CDI) there are 14,850,000 indigenous people reported in Mexico in 2010,[21] which constitute 13% of the population in the country.

The absolute indigenous population is growing, but at a slower rate than the rest of the population so that the percentage of indigenous peoples is nonetheless falling.[8][22][23] The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in the central and southern states, that are generally the least developed, and the majority of the indigenous population live in rural areas.

Some indigenous communities have a degree of autonomy under the legislation of "usos y costumbres", which allows them to regulate some internal issues under customary law.

According to the CDI, the states with the greatest percentage of indigenous population are:[24] Yucatán, with 62.7%, Quintana Roo with 33.8% and Campeche with 32% of the population being indigenous, most of them Maya; Oaxaca with 58% of the population, the most numerous groups being the Mixtec and Zapotec peoples; Chiapas has 32.7%, the majority being Tzeltal and Tzotzil Maya; Hidalgo with 30.1%, the majority being Otomi; Puebla with 25.2%, and Guerrero with 22.6%, mostly Nahua people and the states of San Luis Potosí and Veracruz both home to a population of 19% indigenous people, mostly from the Totonac, Nahua and Teenek (Huastec) groups.[25]

The majority of the indigenous population is concentrated in the central and southern states. According to the CDI, the states with the greatest percentage of indigenous population are:[26]

Development and Socio-economic indicators[edit]

A community Purepecha language school in the Purepecha community of Janitzio, Michoacán.

All of the indices of social development for the Mexican indigenous population are considerably lower than the national average, although it varies between states and between rural and urban areas. In all states indigenous people have higher infant mortality, in some states almost double of the non-indigenous populations.[25]

Some indigenous groups, particularly the Maya in the Yucatán peninsula[27][28] and many of the Nahua peoples in the greater Mexico City area have maintained high levels of development while indigenous peoples in states such as Guerrero[29] or Michoacan[30] are ranked drastically lower than the average Mexican citizen in these fields.

Literacy rates are much lower for the indigenous in all states due to both a greater lack of access to education and a lack of the literature available in indigenous languages. Literacy rates are also much lower, with 27% of indigenous children between 6 and 14 being illiterate compared to a national average of 12%.[25] The Mexican government is obligated to provide education in indigenous languages, but many times fails to provide schooling in languages other than Spanish. As a result, many indigenous groups have resorted to creating their own small community educational institutions, however the quality of these schools is not regulated and many teach only basic math and language skills.[citation needed]

The indigenous population participate in the workforce longer than the national average, starting earlier and continuing longer, however, 55% of the indigenous population receive less than the set Mexican minimum salary, compared to 20% for the national average. A major reason for this is that significant number of the indigenous practice economically under productive agriculture and receive no regular salaries. Indigenous people also have less access to health care.[25]

Indigenous groups with a population of more than 100,000[edit]

Indigenous peoples of Mexico
Group Population Speakers¹
Nahuatl (Nāhuatlācah [naːwaˈt͡ɬaːkaʔ]) 2,445,969 1,659,029
(Yucatec) Maya (Maya’wiinik) 1,475,575 892,723
Zapotec (Binizaa) 777,253 505,992
Mixtec (Tu'un savi) 726,601 510,801
Otomí (Hñähñü) 646,875 327,319
Totonac (Tachiwin) 411,266 271,847
Tzotzil (Batzil k'op) 406,962 356,349
Tzeltal (K'op o winik atel) 384,074 336,448
Mazahua (Hñatho) 326,660 151,897
Mazateco (Ha shuta enima) 305,836 246,198
Huastec (Téenek) 296,447 173,233
Ch'ol (Winik) 220,978 189,599
Chinantec (Tsa jujmí) 201,201 152,711
Purépecha (P'urhépecha) 202,884 136,388
Mixe (Ayüükjä'äy) 168,935 135,316
Tlapanec (Me'phaa) 140,254 119,497
Tarahumara (Rarámuri) 121,835 87,721
Source: CDI (2000) [31]
Indigenous groups and languages of Mexico, only including groups with more than 100,000 speakers of a Native language.

¹Number of indigenous peoples that still speak their Indigenous language

Indigenous groups with a population of more than 20,000 and less than 100,000[edit]

Llengües indígenes de Mèxic
Group Population Speakers1
Mayo (Yoreme) 91,261 60,093
Zoque (O'de püt) 86,589 34,770
Chontal Maya (Yokot) 79,438 43,850
Popoluca (Tuncápxe) 62,306 44,237
Chatino (Cha'cña) 60,003 47,762
Amuzgo (Tzañcue) 57,666 48,843
Tojolabal (Tojolwinik) 54,505 44,531
Huichol (Wixárika) 43,929 36,856
Tepehuan (O'dami) 37,548 30,339
Triqui (Tinujéi) 29,018 24,491
Popoloca 26,249 18,926
Cora (Nayeeri) 24,390 19,512
Mame (Qyool) 23,812 8,739
Yaqui (Yoeme) 23,411 15,053
Cuicateco (Nduudu yu) 22,984 15,078
Huave (Ikoods) 20,528 16,135
Source: CDI (2000) [31]
Indigenous groups and languages of Mexico. Displaying groups with more than 20,000 and less than 100,000 speakers of a Native language.

1Number of indigenous peoples that still speak their Indigenous language

Indigenous groups with a population of less than 20,000[edit]

Llengües indígenes de Mèxic
Group Population Speakers1
Tepehua (Hamasipini) 16,051 10,625
Kanjobal (K'anjobal) 12,974 10,833
Chontal of Oaxaca (Slijuala sihanuk) 12,663 5,534
Pame (Xigüe) 12,572 9,768
Chichimeca Jonaz (Uza) 3,169 1,987
Guarijío (Makurawe) 2,844 1,905
Chuj 2,719 2,143
Chocho (Runixa ngiigua) 2,592 1,078
Tacuate 2,379 2,067
Ocuiltec (Tlahuica) 1,759 522
Pima Bajo 1,540 836
Jacaltec (Abxubal) 1,478 584
Kekchí (K'ekchí) 987 835
Lacandon (Hach t'an) 896 731
Ixcatec 816 406
Seri (Comcáac) 716 518
K'iche' (Quiché, Q'iché) 524 286
Motocintleco (Qatok) 692 186
Kaqchikel (K'akchikel) 675 230
Paipai (Akwa'ala) 418 221
Tohono O'odham (Papago) 363 153
Cucapá (Es péi) 344 206
Kumiai (Ti'pai) 328 185
Kikapú (Kikapooa) 251 144
Cochimi (Laymón, mti'pá) 226 96
Ixil 224 108
Kiliwa (Ko'lew) 107 55
Aguacatec 59 27
Other groups2 728 337

2 Includes Opata, Soltec and Papabuco

Source: CDI (2000) [31]
Indigenous groups and languages of Mexico. Displaying groups with less than 20,000 speakers of a Native language.

1Number of indigenous peoples that still speak their Indigenous language

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Población de 3 años y más en entidades federativas seleccionadas y su distribución porcentual según condición de autoadscripción étnica para cada entidad federativa, sexo y condición de habla indígena". Censo de Población y Vivienda 2010. Cuestionario ampliado (in Spanish). INEGI. 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  2. ^ "Indigenous peoples" is the preferred term in Mexico to refer to the Amerindian ethnic groups in North America
  3. ^ Constitución Política de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos Art. 2
  4. ^ Defined as persons who live in a household where an indigenous language is spoken by one of the adult family members, and or people who self identified as indigenous ("Criteria del hogar: De esta manera, se establece, que los hogares indígenas son aquellos en donde el jefe y/o el cónyuge y/o padre o madre del jefe y/o suegro o suegra del jefe hablan una lengua indígena y también aquellos que declararon pertenecer a un grupo indígena."[1])AND persons who speak an indigenous language but who do not live in such a household (Por lo antes mencionado, la Comisión Nacional Para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas de México (CDI) considera población indígena (PI) a todas las personas que forman parte de un hogar indígena, donde el jefe(a) del hogar, su cónyuge y/o alguno de los ascendientes (madre o padre, madrastra o padrastro, abuelo(a), bisabuelo(a), tatarabuelo(a), suegro(a)) declaro ser hablante de lengua indígena. Además, también incluye a personas que declararon hablar alguna lengua indígena y que no forman parte de estos hogares [2])
  5. ^ "Síntesis de Resultados". Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. 2006. Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  6. ^ a b [dead link]National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples
  7. ^ a b Ley General de Derechos Lingüísticos de los Pueblos Indígenas
  8. ^ a b c Indicadores seleccionados sobre la población hablante de lengua indígena, 1950 a 2005
  9. ^ a b Kikapú
  10. ^ a b Aguacatecos, cakchiqueles, ixiles, kekchíes, tecos, quichés. (Chiapas)
  11. ^ a b c d e Hamnett, B (1999), A Concise History of MEXICO, Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, UK
  12. ^ a b c Manuel Aguilar-Moreno (2004) A Handbook to Life in the Aztec World Facts of Life, Inc., USA
  13. ^ The Quest for Aztlan
  14. ^ New Tomb at Teotihuacan
  15. ^ Colonialismo y modernidad: la enseñanza del español en la Nueva España, "...El racismo y la estratificación de la población de la Nueva España fueron las características de la organización social del Virreinato..."
  16. ^ Seminario sobre Participación y políticas públicas para pueblos indígenas.
  17. ^ Programa Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas 2001–2006
  18. ^ Hamnett, Brian (1999) A Concise History of Mexico, Cambridge University Press, UK, p. 3, "... the Maya inheritance has been appropriated by the national states to reinforce their historical identity and legitimacy."
  19. ^ Pobreza y patrones de exclusión social en México
  20. ^ Oaxaca se moderniza, p. 56, "Se trata de una terminal de cómputo, parecida a un cajero automático, que en español, mixe y zapoteco ofrece el servicio de..."
  21. ^ http://www.conapo.gob.mx/work/models/CONAPO/indigenas_2010/Proyindigenas.pdf
  22. ^ "INEGI: Cada vez más mexicanos hablan una lengua indígena - Nacional - CNNMéxico.com". Mexico.cnn.com. 2011-03-30. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  23. ^ National Commission for the Development of the Indigenous Peoples
  24. ^ "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. México". Cdi.gob.mx. Retrieved 2011-12-10. 
  25. ^ a b c d http://www.inegi.org.mx/prod_serv/contenidos/espanol/bvinegi/productos/censos/poblacion/poblacion_indigena/Pob_ind_Mex.pdf
  26. ^ "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. México". Cdi.gob.mx. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  27. ^ http://www.cdi.gob.mx/cedulas/2010/YUCA/yuca2010.pdf
  28. ^ http://www.cdi.gob.mx/cedulas/2010/QUIN/quin2010.pdf
  29. ^ http://www.cdi.gob.mx/cedulas/2010/GUER/guer2010.pdf
  30. ^ http://www.cdi.gob.mx/cedulas/2010/MICH/mich2010.pdf
  31. ^ a b c "Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. México". Cdi.gob.mx. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 

References[edit]

CIA [US Central Intelligence Agency] (2008). "Mexico". The 2008 World Factbook (online ed.). Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency. OCLC 34199805. ISSN 1553-8133. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 
Lizcano Fernández, Francisco (May–August 2005). "Composición Étnica de las Tres Áreas Culturales del Continente Americano al Comienzo del Siglo XXI" (PDF online reproduction by UAEM). Convergencia (Toluca, Mexico: Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México). Año 12 (38): 185–232. ISSN 1405-1435. OCLC 61659674.  (Spanish)
Martínez Novo, Carmen (2006). Who defines indigenous? Identities, development, intellectuals and the State in Northern Mexico. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 
Martínez-Torres, María Elena; Rosaluz Pérez Espinosa, and Aldo González Rojas (2008). "Mexico" (PDF online edition). In Katherin Wessendorf (compilation and ed.). The Indigenous World 2008. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs yearbooks (ISSN 1024-0217). Alejandro Parellada (regional ed.). Copenhagen: IWGIA, distributed by Transaction Publishers. pp. 78–89. ISBN 978-87-91563-44-7. OCLC 30981676. 
Navarrete Linares, Federico (2008). Los pueblos indígenas de México (PDF online facsimile). Pueblos Indígenas del México Contemporáneo series. México, D.F.: Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. ISBN 978-970-753-157-4. OCLC 319215886.  (Spanish)

External links[edit]