|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2013)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Mexico (Oaxaca, Puebla, Guerrero),
United States (primarily California)
|Roman Catholicism with elements of traditional beliefs|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Mixtec //, or Mixtecos, are indigenous Mesoamerican peoples inhabiting the region known as La Mixteca which covers parts of the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Guerrero and Puebla. The Mixtec region and the Miextec peoples are traditionally divided into highland Mixtecs or mixteca alta in northeast Guerrero and western Oaxaca, and Lowland Mixtecs or mixteca baja northwest Oaxaca and southwest Puebla and Coastal Mixtecs inhabiting the pacific slope of southern Oaxaca and Guerrero. The Mixtecan languages form a major branch of the Otomanguean language family. In precolumbian times, a number of Mixtecan city states competed with each other and with the Zapotec kingdoms. The major Mixtec polity was Tututepec which rose to prominence in the 11th century under the leadership of Eight Deer Jaguar Claw - the only Mixtec king to ever unite the Highland and Lowland polities into a single state. Like the rest of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, the Mixtec were conquered by the Spanish invaders and their indigenous allies in the 16th century. Today there are approximately 800,000 Mixtec people in Mexico, and there are also large populations in the United States.
Nomenclature and etymology
The term Mixtec (Mixteco in Spanish) comes from the Nahuatl word mixtecah [miʃˈtekaʔ], "cloud people" . The area in which Mixtec is spoken is known as the Mixteca. The Mixtecs call themselves ne'ivi davi[pronunciation?]; they call their region Ñuu Savi[pronunciation?], Ñuu Djau[pronunciation?], Ñuu Davi[pronunciation?], etc., depending on the local variant of their language; they call their language sa'an davi[pronunciation?], da'an davi[pronunciation?] or tu'un savi[pronunciation?].
In pre-Columbian times, the Mixtec were one of the major civilizations of Mesoamerica. Important ancient centres of the Mixtec include the ancient capital of Tilantongo, as well as the sites of Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huajuapan, Mitla, Tlaxiaco, Tututepec, Juxtlahuaca, and Yucuñudahui. The Mixtec also made major constructions at the ancient city of Monte Albán (which had originated as a Zapotec city before the Mixtec gained control of it). The work of Mixtec artisans who produced work in stone, wood, and metal were well regarded throughout ancient Mesoamerica.
At the height of the Aztec Empire, many Mixtecs paid tribute to the Aztecs, but not all Mixtec towns became vassals. They put up resistance to Spanish rule until they were subdued by the Spanish and their central Mexican allies led by Pedro de Alvarado.
Today, Mixtecs have migrated to various parts of both Mexico and the United States. In recent years a large exodus of indigenous peoples from Oaxaca, such as the Zapotec and Triqui, have emerged as one of the most numerous groups of Amerindians in the United States. As of 2011, an estimated 150,000 Mixteco people were living in California, and 25,000 to 30,000 in New York City. Large Mixtec communities exist in the border cities of Tijuana, Baja California, San Diego, California and Tucson, Arizona. Mixtec communities are generally described as trans-national or trans-border because of their ability to maintain and reaffirm social ties between their native homelands and diasporic community. (See: Mixtec transnational migration.)
The Mixtec area, both historically and currently, corresponds roughly to the western half of the state of Oaxaca, with some Mixtec communities extending into the neighboring state of Puebla to the north-west and also the state of Guerrero. The Mixtec people and their homelands are often subdivided into three geographic areas: The Mixteca Alta or Highland Mixtec living in the mountains in, around, and to the west of the Valley of Oaxaca; the Mixteca Baja or Lowland Mixtec living to the north and west of these highlands, and the Mixteca de la Costa or Coastal Mixtec living in the southern plains and the coast of the Pacific Ocean. For most of Mixtec history the Mixteca Alta was the dominant political force, with the capitals of the Mixtec nation located in the central highlands. The valley of Oaxaca itself was often a disputed border region, sometimes dominated by the Mixtec and sometimes by their neighbors to the east, the Zapotec.
Language, codices, and artwork
The Mixtecan languages (in their many variants) were estimated to be spoken by about 300,000 people at the end of the 20th century, although the majority of Mixtec speakers also had at least a working knowledge of the Spanish language. Some Mixtecan languages are called by names other than Mixtec, particularly Cuicatec (Cuicateco), and Triqui (or Trique).
The Mixtec are well known in the anthropological world for their Codices, or phonetic pictures in which they wrote their history and genealogies in deerskin in the "fold-book" form. The best known story of the Mixtec Codices is that of Lord Eight Deer, named after the day in which he was born, whose personal name is Jaguar Claw, and whose epic history is related in several codices, including the Codex Bodley and Codex Zouche-Nuttall. He successfully conquered and united most of the Mixteca region.
They were also known for their exceptional mastery of jewelry, in which gold and turquoise figure prominently. The production of Mixtec goldsmiths formed an important part of the tribute the Mixtecs had to pay to the Aztecs during parts of their history.
- Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indios (CDI) (2000): Lenguas indígenas de México. Viewed 2006-11-30.
- Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior: Lazos. Síntesis informativa, 2005-1-24. Viewed 2006-11-30
- Claudio Torrens (1011-05-28). "Some NY immigrants cite lack of Spanish as barrier". UTSanDiego.com. Retrieved 2013-02-10.