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date: 09 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides an overview of research produced since the 1950s on Indian allies who actively shaped the successive borderlands north of Mexico-Tenochtitlan after 1521, as well as an in-depth discussion of sixteenth-century instances based on primary sources. The emphasis is placed on Otomí allies in the sixteenth-century conquest of central Mexico and the area that came to be known as the Gran Chichimeca; Nahuas and Purépechas who went to the Tierra Nueva of Cíbola under the command of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado (1540–1542), and the many groups of different ethnic origins who took part in the Mixtón war (1541–1542) and the conquest of Nueva Vizcaya in the early 1560s. The Indians’ mixed motivations to get involved in conquest and colonizing campaigns alongside Spanish individuals, besides the privileges and material benefits they obtained and the threats of Spanish authorities and encomenderos—or the desire to escape Spanish oppression—were also determined by local and regional articulations of native politics that predated the arrival of Europeans. Therefore, their participation as conquerors must be understood as integral to a complex realignment process rather than as a mere reaction to colonial imposition.

Keywords: Indian allies, Gran Chichimeca, Jilotepec, Cíbola, Tlaxcala, Otomí, Purépecha, Mexicas

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