Abstract and Keywords
This chapter examines Spanish-indigenous co-colonization projects in northern Mexico and Central America. From the early sixteenth century, Nahuas, Otomis, Zapotecs, and Mixtecs helped to extend the Spanish colonial system south into Maya lands, and north into the Gran Chichimeca. The parallel history of these widely separated frontiers was shaped by early colonial compacts that linked the Indian settlers’ political status to their military service. Late imperial administrative reforms often affected both frontiers simultaneously, especially when new models of taxation, military service, or labor organization threatened older understandings of settler privilege. The communities most successful in defending their status were those whose continuing military service remained vital to the empire. In northern New Spain, Nahua settlers remained key contributors to regional defense long after their Central American counterparts. Consequently, their settler privileges lasted longer and had more enduring political effects.
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