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date: 09 May 2021

(p. 862) (p. 863) Glossary

(p. 862) (p. 863) Glossary

  • Acequia:

    Community irrigation canal or system of ditches with local governing regulations.

  • Agroforestry:

    Long-fallow agriculture in the form of shifting cultivation, also known as forest colonizing.

  • Aguardente (Portuguese):

    Alcohol made with sugar cane.

  • Alcabala:

    Sales or excise taxes.

  • Alcalde mayor:

    Political authority inferior to the governor, with jurisdiction over a province or district. In some cases, the alcalde mayor also had military authority.

  • Aldeamento (Portuguese):

    A nuclear settlement in the colonial sphere, overseen by missionaries or civil authorities.

  • Amo:

    Employer, master.

  • Aviadores:

    Creditors who financed mining production.

  • Azoguero:

    Ore refiner who manipulates mercury in a particular refining technique widely used in the Americas during colonial times.

  • Barretero:

    Mining ore excavator.

  • Biome:

    Plant and animal community of a major climatic zone or habitat.

  • Boiling stones:

    A method used to boil water quickly with hot stones or balls of fired clay in order to cook food, including liquids.

  • Cabecera:

    Head town or village within a mission province (cabecera de doctrina) or a locally governed indigenous jurisdiction (cabecera de gobierno), usually with religious or administrative faculties over a number of dependent settlements or sujetos. Some towns were both cabecera de doctrina and cabecera de gobierno.

  • Cabildo:

    Town council.

  • Cacique:

    Caribbean term for Indian chief that was disseminated throughout Spanish America.

  • Capitulaciones:

    Contracts between the Monarch and individuals to carry out expeditions.

  • Catchment area:

    A space that a collector would walk for a day to gather food supplies and break even in terms of energy expenditure.

  • Collera:

    Chain gang of unfree laborers.

  • Cuadrillas:

    Labor teams, often used in reference to mining.

  • (p. 864) Cull killing:

    Practices among hunter and gatherer societies to reduce their longevity, including human sacrifice, lethal witchcraft, homicide, suicide, and senilicide.

  • Ecotone:

    A transitional area between two or more ecological communities.

  • Encomienda:

    A grant of native people for tribute or service to a colonial grantee with the requirement of providing for their needs including Christian doctrine.

  • Enganchadores:

    Mine labor recruiters.

  • Entrada:

    Conquest expedition.

  • Forzado (noun):

    Forced laborer.

  • Frontera de Arriba:

    Territory south of Araucanía, bordered by the Tolten River. Huilliches, Osornos, and Juncos inhabited this region, whose only Spanish presence was in Chiloe Island.

  • Gastos de indios:

    “Indian expenses.” It refers to a budgetary category in Spanish America to pay for the expenses incurred by colonial authorities for hosting and entertaining visiting Indians in order to maintain peace.

  • Gente de razón:

    “People of reason.” Non-indigenous peoples. In Sonora, Mexico, it referred to people who were not subject to the authority of the missionary.

  • Gentío (Portuguese):

    Literally, “gentiles,” referring to non-Christian Indians.

  • Guachinango:

    Colonial Cuban term for indigenous or mestizo migrant from New Spain/Mexico.

  • Hacienda de minas:

    Silver refining plant.

  • Hidalgo/Hijodalgo:

    Lower nobility title that came from male linage and gave its holders certain privileges such as tax exemptions.

  • Kelp highway:

    A sea route with marine resources.

  • Landscape:

    Lived spaces created by human labor that hold both material and symbolic significance for their inhabitants.

  • Lienzo:

    Indigenous pictorial document drawn on cotton or agave cloth.

  • Língua geral (Portuguese):

    The Tupi-based lingua franca devised by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century and widely used in the Brazilian Amazon through the eighteenth century.

  • Living fencerows:

    A line of trees planted along a riverbed in order to protect agricultural fields from floodwater, to trap sediment, shelter insect-eating birds, and to provide firewood.

  • Maloca:

    An extended family group or band. In the South American frontiers the term also referred to expeditions cinducted by the Spanish to kill, harm or enslave Indians.

  • Malones:

    Fast surprise attacks that Araucanos and other autonomous indigenous groups conducted against Spanish forts in the South American borderlands.

  • Mato (Portuguese):

    Forest or jungle.

  • Milpa:

    Cultivated plot of land, in which maize is intercropped with other cultigens.

  • (p. 865) Minero:

    The owner of a mine or a silver refining plant.

  • Mobile of Aysén:

    Name given to the “endless islands to the Strait of Magellan,” or the insular southernmost part of South America, which was inhabited by maritime hunter-gatherer natives commonly known as austral canoeros.

  • Nação (Portuguese):

    An Indian nation, based on the classification of indigenous groups according to phenotypic, territorial, or linguistic criteria.

  • Nahuatlato:

    Native language interpreter in New Spain. The term derives from Náhuatl, the language that was adopted as lingua franca in this viceroyalty.

  • Nixtamalization:

    Alkalinizing process by which dried maize is turned into hominy by boiling it in a weak solution of potash, lime, or alkaline salts to remove the pericarp.

  • Padrón:

    Civil or ecclesiastical census.

  • Partido (pepena):

    As part of their labor arrangement, a laborer’s share of ore.

  • Patente:

    A military commission, often bestowed upon indigenous leaders who allied with the Portuguese.

  • Postura:

    The price on goods set by authorities.

  • Presidios:

    Frontier military garrisons.

  • Principal:

    A native headman or ruler.

  • Pueblo:


  • Pueblos sujetos:

    Villages under the jurisdiction of a head village, or cabecera.

  • Raised fields:

    Orderly rows of elevated soil, with swales for drainage, that enabled the cultivation of swampy or seasonally flooded land and maintained it fertile.

  • Rancherías:

    Name given by Spaniards to small non- or semi-sedentary indigenous settlements.

  • Rancho de carbón:

    Charcoal production site.

  • Real cédula:

    Royal charter or ruling.

  • Real de minas:

    Mining camp, center for processing mining ore.

  • Real Sala de Crimen:

    Royal criminal chamber of the high court.

  • Real situado:

    Royal revenues that the viceroyalties of Peru, New Spain, New Granada, and Río de la Plata destined to finance frontier defenses against internal and external enemies.

  • Reducción:

    The concentration or resettlement of indigenous peoples into villages or mission pueblos.

  • Regidor:

    An officer of a Hispanic town council who assists the alcalde in the administration of the town.

  • Relación de méritos:

    Service and merit record usually presented in proceedings related to support the request made by a petitioner to the Crown.

  • (p. 866) Repartimiento:

    Forced recruitment of indigenous peoples to labor in haciendas and mines for stipulated periods of time and a statutory wage.

  • República de indios:

    A jurisdictional and administrative entity by which indigenous peoples were ruled.

  • Road food:

    Rations of food supply packed by hunters and travelers, which allowed them to last weeks or months in their expeditions.

  • Saçemis:

    Organized physical fighting between native peoples.

  • Sertão (Portuguese):

    Backlands, wilderness, or frontier.

  • Síndico:

    A member of the town council (cabildo), who defended the interests of the vecinos.

  • Subsistence routines:

    Survival practices that use natural resources through foraging, hunting, land-based gathering, maritime gathering, swiddening, and nomadic pastoralism.

  • Swidden:

    Small forest clearings with alternating periods of planting and fallow.

  • Tenatero:

    Carrier of ore.

  • Terracing:

    Soil management system for planting crops on mountain slopes, by erecting stone and rubble dikes or building dams across ravines to trap fertile earth and silt.

  • Theorem of net energy:

    Principle used by anthropologists to define the limits of a human catchment area. It states that the energy expended to obtain a food cannot exceed the energy generated metabolically.

  • Tierra adentro:

    The northern interior provinces, used primarily in New Spain.

  • Toldería:

    A semi-sedentary indigenous village in the Spanish American southern frontier. The term comes from toldo, which is a tent built with a wooden structure covered with hides.

  • Vecino:

    In relation to a census, a householder; non-indigenous landholder with civic status.

  • Visita:

    Administrative tour inspection done by representatives of the Crown or ecclesiastical authority.

  • Visitador:

    Inspector of a high court or district, diocese or religious order.