Unformatted text preview: Copyright by Patricia Martinez 2004
The Dissertation Committee for Patricia Martinez Certifies that this is the approved version of the following dissertation:
"Noble" Tlaxcalans: Race and Ethnicity in Northeastern New Spain, 1770-1810
Committee: Susan Deans-Smith, Supervisor Jonathan C. Brown Mauricio Tenorio-Trillo Susan Kellogg Martha Menchaca
"Noble" Tlaxcalans: Race and Ethnicity in Northeastern New Spain, 1770-1810
by Patricia Martinez, B.A., M.A.
Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate School of The University of Texas at Austin in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
The University of Texas at Austin August 2004
There are many individuals whom I would like to thank, most notably my dissertation advisor, Professor SusanDeans-Smith. I appreciate all of her
comments and assistance. Professors Jonathan C. Brown, Martha Menchaca, Susan Kellogg, and Mauricio Tenorio also provided astute observations that I hope to fully address in a later monograph. Other faculty members who provided invaluable assistance and much-needed moral support include Professors Antonia Castaeda, Ricardo Romo and David Montejano. In the early stages of my
research I was able to profit extensively from conversations with scholars in Mexico, such as Miguel Soto, Ignacio del Rio, Martha Rodrguez, and Carlos Manuel Valds. I would also like to acknowledge the fact that I could not have been able to complete this work without the priceless input and emotional support of family and friends. Those graduate school classmates that I was grateful also became personal friends include; Theresa Case, Adriana Ayala, Rachel Pooley, Doug Sofer, Ramona Houston, Greg Cancelada, and Jacqueline Woodfork. I would like to express my gratitude to my recent friends, Susan Kearns, Allan Altamirano, Jaime Olivares, and Diana Michael. They got to know me during this final frantic year when I was completing my dissertation and still managed to like me for some reason. Finally, I would like to thank Mary Helen Quinn. Although she is no longer in the department, those of us who worked with her and whom
she guided during the most hectic times are infinitely grateful that she was here and that she was such a good friend.
"Noble" Tlaxcalans: Race and Ethnicity in Northeastern New Spain, 1770-1810
Patricia Martinez, Ph.D. The University of Texas at Austin, 2004
Supervisor: Susan Deans-Smith This dissertation reconstructs how one late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century northern Mexican indigenous community, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, gave meaning to their world. San Esteban was home to Tlaxcalans who resettled from central New Spain in 1591. Although other works allude to the importance of the Tlaxcalans who populated this region, there has been little detailed historical research about their activities and the impact they had on colonial society. My work provides the most thorough analysis yet of this community by utilizing a rich array of Spanish-language sources by and about the Tlaxcalans of Coahuila, including legal cases, criminal records, parish birth, marriage and burial records, census data, testaments, and municipal records. Although colonial scholars who have used native-language sources helped reshape our understanding of indigenous life and culture, we must also consider vi
official documentation and the voluminous Spanish-language resources produced by indigenous people in order to gain a more complete understanding of how indigenous peole viewed and interacted with the colonial world. These sources are especially important as, unlike many other indigenous communities, most documents produced by the Tlaxcalans of San Esteban in the late colonial period are in Spanish. This research thus indicates that Tlaxcalans actively questioned colonial policies, but Tlaxcalan elites also forged alliances with Spaniards both to help their own interests and those of the community. In addition, Tlaxcalans vehemently defended the noble status first given to them by the king in exchange for their help in conquering the northern provinces. This defense of communal rights and status ideology became part of their ethnic identity. Consequently, the Tlaxcalan elites' behavior ultimately both challenged and helped facilitate Spanish colonial rule. Moreover, by buying into Spanish notions of race and status Tlaxcalans supported this society's racial hierarchy.
Table of Contents
List of Tables .....................................................................................................ix List of Maps.......................................................................................................xii List of Illustrations .......................................................................................... xiii Introduction .........................................................................................................1 Chapter 1 Tlaxcalan Migration and Settlement in Northern New Spain .............29 Chapter 2 Political Life .....................................................................................56 Chapter 3 Petitions and Legal Disputes .............................................................90 Chapter 4 San Esteban's "False Titles" ............................................................127 Chapter 5 Race, Class and Gender in Northeastern New Spain ........................159 Chapter 6 Tlaxcalan Ethnic Identity ................................................................201 Chapter 7 Life in the Community of San Esteban ............................................238 Chapter 8 Resistance and Adaptation ..............................................................270 Conclusion .......................................................................................................305 Appendix A List of Original Tlaxcalan Inhabitants of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala ................................................................................................310 Appendix B Marriage Dispute Documents ......................................................314 Appendix C Limpieza de Sangre Documents, Parras 1788................................320 Appendix D 1793 Saltillo Census.....................................................................328 Bibliography ....................................................................................................332 Vita ................................................................................................................359
List of Tables
Table 1: Table 2: Table 3: Table 4: Table 5: Racial Designations in the Villa de Saltillo, 1777 Census.............163 Racial Designation in the Villa de Saltillo, 1793 Census ..............163 Racial Breakdown of Saltillo Neighborhoods, 1793 .....................165 Distribution of Occupations by Race, 1777 ..................................169 Male Heads of Households (whose occupation was specified) Given "Don" Status ..............................................................172-173 Table 6: Male Heads of Households (whose occupation was specified) Not Given "Don" Status ........................................................174-175 Table 7: Table 8: Table 9: Table 10: Table 11: Table 12: Table 13: Table 14: Table 15: Table 16: Table 17: Table 18: Table 19: Table 20: Saltillo Burials, 1774 ...................................................................177 Saltillo Burials, 1780 ...................................................................178 Race and Gender of Saltillo Population, 1777 ..............................183 Female Headed Households in Saltillo, 1777 ...............................183 Marital Status in Saltillo, 1777.....................................................185 Marriage Patterns in Saltillo, 1777 ...............................................186 Marriage Patterns in Saltillo, 1793 ...............................................186 Rate of Exogamy in Saltillo, 1793................................................186 Spanish Population, 1777 (females) .............................................187 Spanish Population, 1777 (males) ................................................187 Marriages, 1760 ...........................................................................188 Marriages, 1774 ...........................................................................188 Marriages, 1780 ...........................................................................188 Marriages, 1790 ...........................................................................189 ix
Table 21: Table 22: Table 23: Table 24: Table 25: Table 26: Table 27: Table 28: Table 29: Table 30: Table 31: Table 32: Table 33:
Marriages, 1800 ...........................................................................190 Marriages, 1810 ...........................................................................190 Marriages, 1815 ...........................................................................190 Marriages, 1821 ...........................................................................192 Saltillo Births, 1774 .....................................................................194 Saltillo Births, 1780 .....................................................................194 Saltillo Births, 1790 .....................................................................194 Saltillo Births, 1800 .....................................................................195 Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1770-1771 .............241 Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1780 ......................242 Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1790 ......................243 Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1800 ......................244 San Esteban Children with Godparents from the Villa of Saltillo, 1777-1780....................................................................................245
Table 34: Table 35: Table 36: Table 37: Table 38: Table 39: Table 40: Table 41: Table 42:
San Esteban Children with Godparents from Saltillo....................252 Parish of San Esteban, Average Age at Marriage .........................255 San Esteban, Burials, 1663-1770..................................................258 San Esteban Burials, 1770............................................................258 1828 San Esteban Census.............................................................261 1830 Villa Longn Census (formerly Pueblo of San Esteban) .......262 1829 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo) ............................262 1830 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo) ............................263 1828 San Esteban Census.............................................................265
Table 43: Table 44: Table 45:
1830 Villa Longn Census (formerly San Esteban)- Occupations .265 1829 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo)- Occupations.......266 1830 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo)- Occupations.......266
List of Maps
Map 1: Map 2: Map 3: Tlaxcalan Colonies in Northern Mexico .........................................26 Settlement of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala ............................27 Saltillo and San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala at the end of the Eighteenth Century ........................................................................28
List of Illustrations
Illustration 1: The Destruction of Mission San Saba of Texas and the Martyrdom of Fathers Alonso de Joseph Santesteban, 1765 ...219
This dissertation reconstructs how the indigenous community of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala gave meaning to their world at the end of the colonial period. San Esteban was located in the northeastern provinces of New Spain, in the modern-day state of Coahuila. It was the site of a sixteenth century colonization project designed by Spanish authorities to help pacify nomadic groups who made it almost impossible for the area to be economically viable for European settlers. Hence, the Tlaxcalans migrated from their native home in central Mexico and remained in the north for centuries as a coherent group.1 My work provides a thorough analysis of the community of San Esteban by utilizing a rich array of Spanish-language sources by and about the Tlaxalans of Coahuila, including legal cases, criminal records, parish birth, marriage and burial records, census data, testaments, and municipal records. Although there are Nahuatl-language documents available with which to study Tlaxcalan society, they are primarily for the period prior to the mid-eighteenth century. Thus, Spanish-language sources proved to be
the best way to develop an understanding of this indigenous society in the late colonial period. This study does not see Tlaxcalans as passive victims of European conquest, but neither did they remain unaffected by the colonization process. Tlaxcalans actively questioned colonial policies, but Tlaxcalan elites also forged alliances with Spaniards, both to help their own interests and that of the community. In addition, Tlaxalans vehemently defended the noble status first given to them by the king in exchange for their help in developing settlements in the northern provinces. This defense of communal rights and status ideology became part of their identity. Hence, the Tlaxcalan elites' behavior both challenged and helped facilitate Spanish colonial rule. Moreover, by buying into Spanish notions of race and status Tlaxcalans supported this society's racial hierarchy. The Tlaxcalan colonization project in the north has been discussed by a variety of scholars, but not in great detail. Charles Gibson's seminal study of Tlaxcala in the sixteenth century addressed this northern venture as part of the ongoing relationship between Tlaxcala and Spanish colonial authorities. He concludes that the privileges "given" to the Tlaxcalans when they offered the Spanish military aid had to be continuously negotiated.2 David B. Adams' studies
David Frye analyzes some of these modern-day Tlaxcalan communities in, Indians into Mexicans: History and Identity in a Mexican Town (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998). 2 Charles Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952).
on the Tlaxcalans in the north and on the township of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala are the most thorough studies yet on this settlement, but even these only provide a cursory analysis of San Esteban and the impact they had on northern society.3 Elizabeth Butzer's recent social history of a Tlaxcalan community in Nuevo Len also makes a notable contribution to this scholarship.4 Other historical studies on these northern communities speculate as to their role and place within Mexican society. Andrea Martnez-Baracs' work addresses how Tlaxcalan privileges benefited them, but she concurrently surmises that the Tlaxcalans of San Esteban lost much of their biological identity and that "the essence of their `community' was historic."5 Thus, she argues that Tlaxcalans maintained their identity because of the privileges and sovereignty given to them by the Crown. In her study of San Esteban testaments, Leslie Offutt notes that the language in these records reflected an increasing awareness by Tlaxcalans of the
David B. Adams, "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (1993): 39-51; "Embattled Borderlands: Northern Nuevo Len and the Indios Barbaros, 1686-1870," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 95 (1991): 205-220; Las colonial tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila y Nuevo Len en la Nueva Espaa: Un aspecto de la colonizacin del norte de Mxico (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, 1991); "The Tlaxcalan Colonies of Spanish Coahuila and Nuevo Len: An Aspect of the Settlement of Northern Mexico," Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Texas at Austin, 1971; Eugene Sego includes a chapter on San Esteban in his study. It is primarily based on secondary works, such as David B. Adams'. Aliados y adversaries: los colonos septentrional de Nueva Espana (San Luis Potos: El Colegio de San Luis, 1998). Elizabeth K. Butzer, Historia social de una comunidad tlaxcalteca: San Miguel de Aguayo (Bustamante, Nuevo Len), 1686-1820 (Bustamante, N.L.: Presidencia Municipal de Bustamante, 2001). 5 Andrea Martnez-Baracs. "Colonizaciones Tlaxcaltecas," Historia Mexicana xliii: 2 (1993): 230.
Spanish world.6 Her research thus supports this dissertation's conclusion that residents of San Esteban were keenly aware of events taking place around them and had increasing contact with outsiders in the eighteenth century. This was certainly not a closed-off community. In his anthropological analysis of Mexquitic, San Luis Potos, another northern Tlaxcalan community, David Frye discusses the importance that historical interpretation had on identity formation in these Tlaxcalan settlements.7 Although most of these works speculate over whether the Tlaxcalans gained any advantages by forging an alliance with Spanish authorities, they do not question how the contact itself influenced Tlaxcalan identity formation and the community in general. I would argue that this relationship or pact between Tlaxcalans and Spanish authorities deeply affected Tlaxcalan ethnic identity and consequently also determined what types of choices they made.
Ethnic Identity This study argues that as Tlaxcalans came into closer contact with other social groups in the late colonial period, conflicts developed over the use of land and resources. As a result, Tlaxcalans grew weary of outsiders and reinforced the social boundaries that defined them as a special or
Leslie Offutt, "Levels of Acculturation in Northeastern New Spain: San Esteban Testaments of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl 22 (1992): 409-443. 7 David Frye, Indians into Mexicans.
distinct community deserving of privileges and protection from Spanish colonial authorities.8 Thus, their re-identification with their ethnic group was not due to isolation or because they believed they could live in a closed-off community. They identified with an ethnic community because they were keenly aware of conditions and changes taking place around them and thus they sought to protect themselves by identifying with their self-defined group. Moreover, ethnicity is developed through the interplay between broader social beliefs and ideas, as well as human agency. The process of ethnic identity formation is not static or achieved; it is constantly being redefined. It is an ongoing dialogue amongst communities and between subordinate and ruling social groups. Frederik Barth argues that it is not the internal dimensions of ethnicity that are of necessary importance, but the boundaries erected by groups as a result of interaction amongst them. In recent years his theories regarding ethnic identity have found greater resonance for current scholars of indigenous societies.9 Perhaps this is because his ideas capture the interrelated nature of identity formation and the fact that ethnic groups did not disappear as communities came into closer contact with one another.10 It is worth emphasizing that this study is primarily concerned with
For a discussion on his notion of ethnic boundaries, see Frederik Barth, "Introduction," Ethnic groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969). 9 See Kevin Terraciano, The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca; Ana Mara Alonso, Thread of Blood.
analyzing ethnic boundaries or the political identity of the Tlaxcalans; not the internal dynamics of ethnicity. An individual's everyday, lived identity is much more complex and fluid. It is affected by a multitude of factors and is not the primary focus of this study. What is of concern is how Tlaxcalans chose to use terms like "noble" in public documents, how they fought to retain such a status, and what notions regarding noble status said about this community's understanding of their place in these northern territories. This analysis thus seeks to understand Tlaxcalan life and culture and how social, economic, and political forces shaped these dynamics. The eighteenth century was a time when market forces deeply affected indigenous communities. What effect did this have on ethnicity? Was it the case that as society became more driven by a market economy that ethnicity and ethnic affiliation amongst indigenous groups was less influential?11 In actuality, for some indigenous communities the opposite was true. As the market system placed greater pressures on indigenous groups, ethnic affiliation became more important because it was the primary way in which they protected the self-defined groups' interests. In addition, as the colonial state became stronger, ethnicity served as a way
John Rex, Race and Ethnicity (Milton Keynes, England: Open University Press, 1986). See Steve Stern's, Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest: Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1982).
in which groups sheltered themselves from increasingly negative Bourbon policies that interfered in their lives. The growing market system did not erase ethnicity. Instead, the growing state and increasingly competitive economic system only triggered greater competition amongst groups and created more defined ethnic and class divisions in society. However, for most of the colonial period the state was relatively weak. This did not imply that colonial policies did not have an impact on people's lives- even in the rural northern provinces. In his recent study of popular participation in Mexico's Independence movement, Eric Van Young writes, For people even to conceive of the state, or of its active intervention in altering social distribution of wealth or property, they are required to have a cognitive map that includes a view of a wider world beyond locality, and of the integuments that hold it together. For much of the population of late colonial Mexico, such a vision did not could not- exist, and to assume its presence is anachronistic. What seemed to have mattered most to the vast majority of rural people was not the state, but community.12 It is my contention that peasants did not need to have a concept of the state to be influenced by its actions. The residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala may have fought to preserve their community's lands and rights, but they were not closed off. Indeed, at the end of the colonial period they
Eric Van Young, The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001): 442.
reached out to their parent community in central New Spain when they needed assistance to stave off political and economic changes that threatened their way of life. Furthermore, it is especially difficult to understand the process of ethnic identity formation without taking into account the historical impact that state policies had on indigenous communities. I argue that the Tlaxcalans' pact with the colonial state, that they would help colonize the north in exchange for special privileges, deeply affected this northern society and the process of identity formation.13 Anthropologist Joanne Rappaport emphasizes this concept when she writes about indigenous groups in Colombia, Indigenous identity in Latin America can only be understood in relation to the dominant society...It has become a truism to make this assertion in anthropological writing. Nevertheless, it bears restatement from a variety of vantage points. First, the historical depth of this relationship is frequently passed over by ethnographers who have not carefully traced the paths by which cultural forms evolve in relation to the dominant society. Second, it is precisely by articulating their cultural, intellectual, and political agendas within a practice that locates indigenous demands and projects in relations of equivalence with that
Cynthia Radding refers to this relationship between indigenous communities in Sonora and Spanish authorities as a "colonial pact." She writes, "The colonial pact signifies the political ties between the Spanish Crown and Indian communities through which the communities asserted certain basic claims to their means of livelihood and to a degree of local autonomy for their internal governance. Indigenous community leaders understood this relationship as begin regulated by a reciprocal arrangements through which Indians provided labor for Spanish enterprises and auxiliary warriors for military defense in return for protection from enslavement and the loss of village lands. Such a pact could not be assumed nor was it consistently observed; rather, it had to be negotiated and tenaciously defended over two centuries of colonial rule." "The Colonial Pact and Changing Ethnic Frontiers in Highland Sonora, 1740-1840," In Contested Ground: Comparative Frontiers on the Northern and Southern Edges of the Spanish Empire, edited by Donna J. Guy and Thomas E. Sheridan (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998): 53.
of other social movements in opposition to the overwhelming power of the state that indigenous public intellectuals are forging a pluralist politics in relation to their allies. Since the colonial period of the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries when the population of indigenous communities in what is today Colombia was decimated by disease and war, and then was regrouped into urban units and isolated from colonial society in order to ensure the population's availability as a source of labor and its undivided attention directed at resident Catholic missionaries, indigenous identity has existed in relation to the dominant society.14 The Tlaxcalans' relationship with the state, as well as with other sectors of society shaped who they were and their political culture.15 Furthermore, when Tlaxcalans (as well as other groups) participated with the Spaniards in their attempts to pacify the region, this kept them from developing strategic relationships with other communities and might have hindered the development of cross-ethnic associations that could have coalesced into a broader movement against the colonial order. Indeed, Spanish authorities' alliances with different indigenous communities deeply divided colonial society.16 Spaniards learned how to use pre-existing animosities amongst groups to facilitate rule. Yet, this does not imply that
Joanne Rappaport, "Redrawing the Nation: Indigenous Intellectuals and Ethnic Pluralism in Contemporary Colombia," In After Spanish Rule: Post Colonial Predicaments in the Americas. Edited by Mark Thurner and Andrs Guerrero (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003): 313-314. 15 E.P. Thompson defines political culture as the "expectations, traditions, and, indeed, superstitions of the working population most frequently involved in actions in the market; and the relations sometimes negotiations- between crown and rulers..." Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York: The New Press, 1993): 260. 16 See Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997).
indigenous people could not have chosen a different path or that they did not play an active role in shaping this society.17 It does mean that their ability to unite across ethnic lines was severely hampered. Groups were unwilling to create alliances with neighboring communities because they feared they would be mistreated by Spaniards or would be given less land or other resources. Thus, without an assessment of state policies and their historic impact on indigenous communities one might erroneously assume that indigenous people's apparent isolationaism approximated "something approaching racist beliefs...towards non-native groups."18 Indigenous people's behavior could hardly be considered racist in light of their history in colonial Latin America. Scholars note that in marginal areas of Spanish America (like Central America and other peripheral regions) the state was relatively weak. Consequently, it relied on local officials and developed ways to play one entity off each other.19 Spanish authorities took advantage of pre-existing linguistic and cultural differences, as well as animosities
Ana Mara Alonso writes, "The construction of ethnicity and the definition of state policy were also products of the actions of social groups on the frontier. The efforts of mixed bloods and Hispanicized `Indians' to exploit opportunities for access to honor and to `bleach' themselves contributed to the redefinition of the inscription of ethnicity." Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995): 71. 18 Eric Van Young, The Other Rebellion, 474. 19 See Marc Macleod, "The Primitive Nation State, Delegations of Functions, and Results: Some Examples from Early Colonial Central America," In Essays in the Political Economic and Social History of Colonial Latin America, edited by Karen Spalding (Newark: University of Delaware, 1982).
amongst ethnic groups and used these to their advantage. In his analysis of Oaxacan rural society Ronald Spores points out that, Societal conflict throughout the colonial period involved vertical, rather than horizontal, cleavages in Oaxacan rural society. Disputes were far more frequent between Indian communities (usually over lands or scarce resources), between caciques and communities, or between two or more caciques than between Indians and Spaniards.20 Although his analysis deals with southern Mexico, in her study of northern indigenous groups Susan Deeds also documents how the state maintained order by playing one community against another. She writes, The ability of Spaniards to exploit previous Indian enmities and enlist Indian allies was another important factor affecting the outcome of first-wave revolts. The Acaxes supported the Spaniards in the Xixime revolt. At first the Tepehuanes attracted such broad support from old enemies and maintained such internal cohesion that their rebellion had the most potential for obliterating the Spanish presence in Nueva Vizcaya, but by 1617 Spaniards were able to erode that support through a combination of force and gifts.21 Indigenous groups in the north had long-standing animosities that were exacerbated by their relationship with Spanish authorities. The
Ronald Spores, "Differential Responses to Colonial Control among the Mixtecs and Zapotecs of Oaxaca," In Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in New Spain, edited by Susan Schroeder (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998): 45. 21 Susan Deeds, "First Generation Rebellions in Seventeenth-Century Nueva Vizcaya," In Native Resistance and the Pax Colonial in New Spain, edited by Susan Schroeder (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998): 28; On this same subject Murdo Macleod writes, The Crown rewards and exempts in return for loyalty and support. It becomes the interest of the exempted classes to suppress those who do not share in these privileges, i.e. to help the state in its task of maintaining
Conchos in Nueva Vizcaya, for example, served as auxiliaries for Spaniards who helped them fight against unfriendly native groups.22 Indeed, in the northern region of Chihuahua this distinction, between ally and enemy, was usually made along cultural lines.23 Hence, sedentary groups would not be treated like nomadic groups who were engaged in long-standing wars with Spaniards. Because the Tlaxcalans agreed to help colonize northeastern New Spain they had a different status in the region. They were indigenous peoples, but concurrently they were also "civilized" conquerors. Ethnicity was therefore not developed just along ethnic/racial lines. Spanish authorities were primarily interested in pacifying groups they considered to be "savages" or "barbaraians," like the Apaches, and thus they treated the sedentary Tlaxcalans differently. Ana Mara Alonso argues that during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the Tarahumaras and Apaches resisted Spanish attempts at colonization. Consequently, this "shaped a `barbarous' state policy that posited the social exclusion of
social control over potentially hostile groups." "The Primitive Nation State, Delegations of Functions, and Results: Some Examples for Early Colonial Central America," 57. 22 Susan Deeds goes on to say, "In all the rebellions, Conchos (whose role in Nueva Vizcaya was similar to that of the Tlaxcalans in New Spain) served as Spanish auxiliaries as well as rebels. The Spanish policy of recruiting native soldiers was always most significant in the early period of contact when Spanish numbers were relatively small. Inernecine warfare was certainly not eliminated by Spanish colonialism, as so often happened when Europeans expanded, indigenous warfare was transformed to serve the intruders' interests." "First Generation Rebellions in Seventeenth-Century Nueva Vizcaya," 28. 23 Ana Mara Alonso, Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995): 59.
Indians through their destruction or containment in social enclaves and made Indianness ideologically other."24 Therefore, the northern Tlaxcalans vehemently fought to preserve their noble/hidalgo status so that they would not be treated as nomadic peoples. Nomadic groups were captured in "just" wars and (if they were not killed) they had to work for Spaniards as punishment for their rebelliousness against the Spanish state. These colonial policies encouraged groups to remain focused on protecting their particular community's concerns and to distance themselves from another group's struggles. The study of indigenous identity formation has been a focus of study in recent works on the northeastern provinces of New Spain. Although earlier scholarship on this region tended analyzed civil and religious institutions, recent studies address a multitude of historical topics. Works that discuss Spanish and mixed society in the north include Leslie Offutt's study of Saltillo, Cheryl English Martin's and Chantal Cramaussel's on Chihuahua, and Jess F de la Tejas's on San Antonio.25 Cecilia Sheridan's study of the interaction between northern tribes and Spanish society in colonial Coahuila analyzed the impact violence had on
Mara Alonso, Thread of Blood, 71. Offutt, Saltillo, 1770-1810: Town and Region in the Mexican North (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001); Cheryl English Martin, Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996); Chantal Cramaussel, Provincia de Santa Barbara en Nueva Vizcaya, 1563-1631 (Chihuahua: Universidad
the everyday lives of settlers.26 Ana Mara Alonso and Susan Deeds both broached the topic of identity formation, but for different time periods. Susan Deeds' recent work analyzes relations between nomads, Spaniards and casta groups, as well as the development of ethnic identity amongst the nomadic peoples of Nueva Vizcaya in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Deeds' primary concern is to understand how demographic changes and labor relations affected ethnic identity. She argues that the groups that survived and retained their identity did so because they relocated to areas that were fairly isolated and did not have much contact with Spanish settlers. Although this might hold true for the seventeenth century, this does not seem to be a reason why the community of San Esteban, for example, survived and retained a sense of ethnic consciousness through the end of the colonial period. The residents of San Esteban, for example, lived very close to non-indigenous settlers and their town was adjacent to the Spanish settlement of Satillo. Deeds does not consider why some indigenous groups retained an ethnic cohesiveness in the eighteenth century when they had greater contact with non-native peoples, nor what impact the presence of transplanted sedentary groups had on the process of indigenous identity formation (or even on the
Autnoma de Ciudad Juarez, 1990); Jess F. de la Teja, San Antonio de Bexar: A Community on New Spain's Northern Frontier (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995). 26 Cecilia Sheridan, Annimos y desterrados: la contienda por el `sitio que llaman Quauyla' (siglos svi-sviii) (Mxico: CIESAS, 2000).
extinction of nomadic groups). In the region currently under analysis people seemed to have greater interaction with other nearby (and sometimes far off) areas, as well as with travelers passing through the region. This aspect of peasant life has not been given adequate attention. Indeed, scholars note that indigenous people had an almost obsessive interest in the indigenous village and thus use this as further evidence to suggest that indigenous people had a very localistic view.27 At least in the north, indigenous people traveled to sell their wares and for other reasons. Moreover, the town of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala sent members of the community to other regions to establish settlements throughout Nueva Vizcaya, Coahuila and Nuevo Len. In addition, royal edicts were issued requiring indigenous people to carry a passport when they traveled, thus indicating that colonial authorities wanted to control their behavior and that movement was taking place.28 Many indigenous groups fought to keep their lands and to maintain their ethnic identity because they were affected by and were aware of the changes taking place
27 Eric van Young refers to this as campanilismo or "...the tendency of villagers to see the social and political horizon as extending metaphorically only as far as the view from their church bell tower..." The Other Rebellion, 483-484. 28 William Taylor writes, "The fierce corporate identity of many land holding villages was inevitably inconsistent with the peasant condition within the imperial system, sometimes sharply so. Peasants' strongest allegiances were to community and family, but these local groups were never entirely closed or isolated from the larger social order." Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979): 27; On the notion of interaction amongst groups and missions in the north, see Susan Deeds, Defiance and Deference in Mexico's Colonial North.
around them.29 Indigenous people did appear to lack an "overreaching identification with any entity beyond the local cah (altepetl or indigenous pueblo)", but this did not mean that they did not have contact with outsiders or did not increasingly leave their villages to find work in larger cities at the end of the colonial period.30 It is cultural assignations and constraints on individual choices that shape people's lives.
Rebellions The study of indigenous political culture and ethnicity also informs our understanding of rebellions and insurrections in Spanish America (or the lack of them).31 Although scholars indicate that New Spain was not characterized by widespread rebellions after the initial contact period, they have noted that indigenous peoples did rebel if and when they were pushed by local authorities. In the eighteenth century indigenous groups rose up for a variety of reasons; they did so when they were unfairly taxed
Frederik Barth arguest tha if ethnic groups remain it not because of isolation, but because of the constant interaction amongst ethnic groups of unequal power. "Introduction," In Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, 9-38. 30 Kevin Terraciano, The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca, 330; On the migration of indigenous women from local villages to Mexico City at the end of the colonial period, see Juan Javier Pescador's, "Vanishing Woman: Female Migration and Ethnic Identity in Late-Colonial Mexico City, " Ethnohistory 42:2 (fall 1995): 617-626. 31 William Taylor writes, "Both [rebellion and insurrection] are violent political acts, but rebellions are localized mass attacks, generally limited to restoring a customary equilibrium. They do not offer new ideas or a vision of a new society. Insurrection, on the other hand, are regional in scope, constitute part of a broader political struggle between various segments of society, and aim at a reorganization of relationships between communities and powerful outsiders." Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages, 114.
and when local officials overstepped their jurisdictional boundaries. In the latter half of the colonial period some groups rioted when the Jesuits were expelled and because of Bourbon policies which imposed new rules and regulations.32 Nevertheless, there is scant evidence to suggest that Tlaxcalans in the north ever took up arms against Spanish colonial authorities. They helped fight off nomadic attacks as part of their contract with Spanish officials, but did not attack local government officials. Why was this the case? One explanation for this might be that we simply have not found the sources that document these rebellions. Even so, after considering voluminous amounts of documentation about the Tlaxcalans from the town of San Esteban, but also from surrounding areas like Parras and Los Alamos, there is no evidence to suggest that Tlaxcalans rose up against local authorities or the colonial state. There are a variety of reasons why this might have been the case. Tlaxcalan identity was deeply tied to notions of being "civilized" conquerors. Thus, this in itself might have stunted the possibility of a violent reaction to colonial policies. Although other indigenous communities increasingly rioted to protest the local implementation of state policies (Bourbon reforms) at the end of the
See William Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion; Friedrich Katz, ed. Riot, Rebellion, and Revolution: Rural Social Conflict in Mexico (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988); John Tutino, From Insurrection to Revolution: Social Bases of Agrarian Violence, 1750-1940 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986).
colonial period, Tlaxcalans seemingly reacted through some forms of passive resistance or through legal channels- which was the primary way they had reacted historically. In addition, colonial authorities may have been more than willing to negotiate with the Tlaxcalans because they were necessary allies who justified their behavior towards other indigenous groups in the north. Consequently, Tlaxcalan threats of violence might have been all that was needed when problems and tensions arose amongst these groups. The expulsion of the Jesuit Order in 1767, another act that provoked popular protest in other regions, did not directly affect the community of San Esteban, as they were served by the Franciscans. The Jesuit mission was located in Parras. Indeed, indigenous insurrection was especially improbable because of this indigenous group's historic relationship with the state and their identification with an ethnic group. Tlaxcalans fought to protect the group's rights because this limited agenda served them best, yet by identifying culturally with their own group they did not form alliances with other indigenous or mixed caste peoples. This reduced the possibility of developing more widespread movements against the colonial state.
Sources and Method This study was influenced not just by works on peasant rebellions, but by scholarship concerning indigenous societies in the Americas. These analyses directly shaped my use of sources. Therefore, this historiography is worth discussing in greater detail. Initially, studies on indigenous society chronicalled the conflict that erupted between Indians and Europeans during initial contact phase in the sixteenth century. Later, Robert Ricard focused less on conflict, but on the displacement of indigenous institutions by European ones. Ricard primarily used institutional Spanish-language documents, which consequently influenced his analysis. Charles Gibson's study of Tlaxcala changed the direction of the study of indigenous peoples and showed that many indigenous elements were able to survive those initial years of contact between native groups and Europeans. Until this point, scholars primarily used Spanishlanguage sources to tell the story of native groups.33 It was James Lockhart's work and those of his students that developed a more complex analysis of indigenous peoples by using native-language records to study their life and culture, thus showing that native society was vibrant and ever changing. Lockhart argued that, "language itself turns out to be an
33 For a discussion of the aforementioned literature, see James Lockhart, "Introduction," The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992).
irreplaceable vehicle for determining the nature and rate of general cultural evolution."34 Although it would have been preferable to study Tlaxcalan life in the north by utilizing Nahuatl-language documents, this was not possible. Because my work focuses on analyzing the lives of Tlaxcalans in the north during the eighteenth century, a majority of the sources produced by the community are in Spanish.35 Despite of this fact, the Spanish-language documents produced by the residents of San Esteban tell us much about their world-view and concerns. James Lockhart thus acknowledges the difficulties faced by scholars and the realities of archival research when he writes, This is not to say that sources in Spanish lack value for Nahua history. Rarely does one find in the archives a whole dossier in Nahuatl. Rather a dossier with Nahuatl documentation usually contains one, two, or at most a few items in Nathuatl, presented as primary evidence, whereas the whole lawsuit with its explanatory apparatus is in Spanish. It would be self-defeating not to take advantage of the context...I have no doubt, however, that the history of Nahuas can profit greatly from further research in relevant purely Spanish sources.36 Every attempt was made to use a variety of documents by and about the residents of San Esteban. Petitions and land titles, for example, were
Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest, 8. There are Tlaxcalan testaments for the town of San Esteban that are in Nahuatl. By the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries most of these are in Spanish. Leslie S. Offutt, "Levels of Acculturation in Northeastern New Spain: San Esteban Testaments of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Estudios de Cultura Nhuatl 22 (1992): 409-443. 36 Lockhart, 8-9.
complemented with census data and parish records. Further research on this topic will include an analysis of cofrada, notary and testament records. Furthermore, the works of E.P. Thompson, James C. Scott, as well as Joan Scott's analysis of gender also influenced this study's method (despite of the fact that gender is not a focus of analysis throughout the dissertation). Their attempt to include culture along with the study of economics in order to understand social change clearly shaped my own views regarding historical analysis. Yet, this study does not negate the fact that material forces restricted the choices that were available to indigenous people, but the primary concern is to locate indigenous people's interpretation of social change, as it was this realm that shaped their political world.37 It is through the inclusion of new research, as well as divergent viewpoints and methodologies that we come to a deeper understanding of the human condition. I would thus concur with Joan Scott when she argues for the inclusion of gender as a category of analysis. She writes, I make no claim to a total vision, nor to having found the category that will finally explain all inequality, all
See John Leddy Phelan, The People and the King: The Comunero Revolution in Colombia, 1781 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1978); William Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages; Sarah C. Chambers, From Subjects to Citizens: Honor, Gender, and Politics in Arequipa, Peru, 1780-1854 (Philadelphia: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999); Ward Stavig, The World of Tupac Amaru: Conflict, Community, and Identity in Colonial Peru (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999).
oppression, all history. My claim is more modest: that gender offers both a good way of thinking about history, about the ways in which hierarchies of differenceinclusions and exclusions- have been constituted, and of theorizing (feminist) politics. Such an admission of partiality it seems to be, does not acknowledge defeat in the search for a universal explanation; rather it suggests that universal explanation is not, never has been possible. Indeed, it turns critical attention to the politics (that is, the power dynamics) of `totality' whether advanced as (mono) casual analysis or master narrative whether invoked by historians or political activists.38 Organization of Study This dissertation is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter, "Tlaxcalan Settlement in Northern New Spain," provides a general introduction to the history of the Tlaxcalans in central New Spain and the resettlement of Tlaxcalan peoples in the north. Chapter Two, "Political Life," analyzes Tlaxcalan and Spanish political government in the towns of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala and Saltillo. These indigenous and Spanish settlements were situated next to one another and arguably neither of these towns' histories can be told without referencing the other. This chapter suggests that Tlaxcalan political life was shaped by government ritual, which helped Spanish colonial authorities rule. Yet, local Spanish authorities often had to
Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988): 10.
negotiate with the Tlaxcalans and developed compromises with this settlement. The primary goal of Chapter Three, "Petitions and Legal Disputes," is to analyze the language and purpose of Tlaxcalan petitions and local disputes so as to understand the changes that affected this indigenous society, as well as how they reacted to them. Chapter Four, "San Esteban's `False Titles'," attempts to decipher local custom through an analysis of indigenous land titles. These land title documents are also relevant for my broader argument as they emerged with greater frequency in the latter half of the colonial period and thus help to illustrate the increasing number of conflicts between indigenous villages, local landowners and Spanish townships at this time. They illuminate the power struggle that dominated this eighteenth century society. Chapter Five, "Race, Class and Gender," uses census data and parish records to develop an understanding of how race, class, and gender intersected in the Spanish community of Saltillo in the late colonial period. It is through an exploration of how this regional enclave gave meaning to race, class and ethnicity that we can comprehend the Tlaxcalans' perspective regarding ethnic identity, as these outside perceptions shaped the process of ethnic identity formation in San Esteban. Racial ideology 23
(or racism) and ethnicity are two interrelated concepts. It would be nonsensical to speak of indigenous ethnicity without concurrently discussing the broader culture and the Tlaxcalans' place within it. Chapter Six, "Tlaxcalan Ethnic Identity," analyzes Tlaxcalan definitions of their own ethnic identity by examining how they used the term noble or hidalgo in public records. Although Tlaxcalans were given privileges and a noble status by Spanish authorities when they agreed to colonize the north, it was at the end of the colonial period that Tlaxcalans' fought to reinstate the rights that were associated with hidalgo status in colonial society. Thus, this dissertation argues that Tlaxcalans defended the noble status first given to them by the king in exchange for their help in conquering the northern provinces. This defense of communal rights and status ideology became part of their ethnic identity. Chapter Seven, "Life in the Community of San Esteban," uses parish records for the township of San Esteban to examine how members of this indigenous community lived their lives. This research thus shows that Tlaxcalan elites forged alliances with Spaniards and hence had social contact with non-indigenous peoples. This counters previous scholarly assumptions about indigenous communities during the colonial period. Chapter Eight, "Resistance and Adaptation," considers the Tlaxcalans' behavior during the Independence period (1810-1821). The 24
primary concern here was not simply to analyze indigenous rebellions (as there were no Tlaxcalan insurrections or riots), but to study indigenous political culture at this time. Indeed, as has been previously discussed, there is no evidence to suggest that Tlaxcalans planned to rebel in the time period under question or that they supported either the insurgent or royalist movement. This last chapter further speculates as to the reasons why Tlaxcalans did not resort to violence as a response to economic changes and Bourbon policies.
Map 1: Tlaxcalan Colonies in Northern Mexico Map Appears in David B. Adams, Las colonias tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila y Nuevo Len en Nueva Espaa (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, 1991): 121. Changes made by the author.
Map 2: Settlement of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala Map appears in Eugene B. Sego, Aliados y adversarios: Los colonos tlaxcaltecas en la frontera septentrional de Nueva Espaa (San Luis Potos: El Colegio de San Luis, 1998): 279. Changes made by the author.
Map 3: Saltillo and San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala at the end of the Eighteenth Century Map appears in Sego, Aliados y Adversarios, 280. Changes made by the author.
CHAPTER 1 Tlaxcalan Migration and Settlement in Northern New Spain
Tlaxcalans played a pivotal role in the settlement of the northern provinces during the sixteenth century. They were able to bring a measure of stability to a region that had been ravaged by frontier wars with native communities of the north for most of this period.39 The Spanish had hoped they could subdue these nomadic peoples and consequently use them to work in the silver mines. When this failed, colonial officials then embarked on a plan to "peacefully" settle the region through diplomacy and religious conversion. Out of this effort grew the mission system, but part of this plan also involved the introduction of sedentary indigenous groups to help with the colonization project. Royal officials wanted Tlaxcalans to serve as an example to the Chichimecas and other nomadic groups. In time, royal officials hoped these northern groups would be incorporated into Tlaxcalan society or form sedentary communities of their own. Although the residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala tried to emulate their parent colony in the north, Tlaxcalan society and culture was shaped by the very frontier they
On the Chichimeca Wars see, Philip Wayne Powell, Soldiers, Indians, and Silver: The Northward Advance of New Spain, 1550-1600 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1952).
were trying to contain, but conversely Tlaxcalans also deeply influenced northern society. Pre-Conquest Tlaxcalan Society and the Arrival of the Spanish Indigenous groups of central Mexico are commonly referred to as the Aztecs, but this name mistakenly implies that they had a national unity. The Tlaxcalans shared a common culture and the Nhuatl language with other central Mexican indigenous peoples, yet they, along with other native communities, managed to retain a separate ethnic identity. In addition, pre-conquest indigenous groups of central New Spain were not unlike Spanish society in that they recognized different social ranks. The pilli or nobility stood atop their civilization, whereas commoners, or macehualli, made up the bulk of the population. Maceguales primarily lived off the land, but they also included merchants and craftsmen. They could also rise to be part of the nobility if they accumulated enough wealth. After the arrival of the Spanish there was less of an attempt to distinguish between commoners and the descendants of nobility, as colonial authorities did not want to give tribute exemptions. Commoners seemed to promote this change, as they wanted to have fewer obligations to their nobility.
In difficult times, commoners more often came to rely on Spanish leaders than on their own native rulers.40 Tlaxcalan land-holdings were more corporate than they were communal. Households or individuals worked arable lands and thus could inherit this property. Individuals therefore could have their own plots of land, yet the corporate unit was involved in the management and sometimes the reallocation of such land. Authorities could not interfere if there were living relatives who inherited the plots and continued to work it. After the conquest indigenous cabildos or town councils continued to manage community lands even after independence.41 Native religion was highly complex and included many deities that were celebrated in festivities and processions. These gods gave unity to the altepetl (ethnic state) and temples built specifically for these entities came to symbolize its autonomy. Religion, therefore, was central to the sociopolitical unit.42 After the arrival of the Spanish many churches were in fact built on the same ground where pre-Columbian temples existed. This did not mean that native deities were displaced; they were instead incorporated into the pre-existing religious beliefsystem. James Lockhart writes:
James Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest: A Social and Cultural History of the Indians of Central Mexico, Sixteenth Through Eighteenth Centuries (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992): 112-113. 41 Lockhart, The Nahuas After the Conquest, 142-163. 42 Ibid, 203-204.
For the people of pre-conquest Mesoamerica, victory was prima facie evidence of the strength of the victor's god. One expected a conqueror to impose his god in some fashion, without fully displacing one's own; the new god in any case always proved to be an agglomeration of attributes familiar from the local pantheon and hence easy to assimilate. Thus the Nahuas after the Spanish conquest needed less to be converted than to be instructed.43 As the Tlaxcalans began to prosper they attracted the interest of other groups, like the Mexica (most commonly referred to as the Aztecs). Although there is evidence to suggest that the Mexicas and the Tlaxcalans may not have been enemies in prior times, by the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries they were in a constant state of political and military strife.44 A primary reason why the Mexicas may have been attracted to the region of Tlaxcala was because they developed extensive trade routes that allowed them to accumulate great wealth. The wars between these two groups may have thus started one hundred years before the arrival of the Spanish.45 Moreover, the object of said conflict was neither to destroy nor defeat, but merely to "conquer" the area for a time. Yet, this constant struggle between the Tlaxcalans and the Montezuma dynasty left Tlaxcalans in a dire state by the time Corts arrived in 1519. As Corts and his army advanced on to Tenochtitlan to wage battle against the Mexicas he had to contend with other indigenous groups, some of which believed that it was in their best interest to aid this new conqueror and a multitude
Ibid, 203. Ibid, 1.
of others who fought to stop the Spaniard's advance. As Corts arrived in the outskirts of Tlaxcala his native advisers from Zacatln-Ixtacmaxtitln warned him about them, as the guide believed the Tlaxalans would provide a formidable challenge to the Spaniards.46 Neither his advisors nor Corts knew about the deteriorated state of Tlaxcala. Yet, like many other indigenous groups the Tlaxalans believed that they could defeat the Spanish and stop their advance. Despite of their willingness to challenge the Spanish advance, the Tlaxcalans were defeated in their first battle. Tlaxcalans consequently began to wonder if they should surrender. After extensive debates between the four Tlaxcalan cabecera leaders it was decided that they would invite Corts to enter the city in the fall of 1519, thus buying time to rebuild their forces and attack the Spaniards once again.47 Although both sides claimed to have peaceful intentions, fighting ensued until it became evident to the Tlaxcalans that they could not defeat Corts and his army. There was much disagreement amongst the Tlaxcalans, but in the end the elder cabecera leaders, Xicotencatl, and Maxixcatzin of Ocotelulco decided that they needed to bring peace to the region and thus decided that they would surrender.48
Charles Gibson. Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952): 14. 46 Gibson, 16. 47 Ibid, 18. 48 Ibid, 21.
Tlaxcalans therefore formed an alliance with the Spanish out of political and military expedience. They accompanied Corts to Pnuco in 1522; Pedro de Alvarado to Guatemala in 1524; and Nuo de Guzmn to western Mexico.49 This alliance appeared to closely tie the Tlaxcalans with the Spanish and also to give them certain privileges that should have elevated their status in comparison to other indigenous groups. Yet, these "privileges" only came after extensive negotiations between the Tlaxcalans and Spanish officials. Charles Gibson notes that the Tlaxcalans were able to derive some concessions because they had a "well-organized native government," and quickly became versed in the intricacies of Spanish law.50 Gibson writes, ...even the unquestionable military aid and the widely accepted tradition of Corts' promise would hardly have been sufficient to inspire the later fueros of Tlaxcala. The fact is that privileges were granted in the Spanish world to those who took the pains to ask for them. If the Tlaxcalans themselves had not brought their conquest service to the king's attention, the king might never have been aware of them. If the Tlaxcalans had not campaigned for privileges, the privileges would not have been forthcoming.51 Hence, Tlaxcalans fought for and were able to attain a series of special rights and privileges, such as the suspension of tribute payments and noble status.52 Indeed, even though Tlaxcalans were exempted from paying tribute for a time because of the military aid they gave to Corts (as well as in other military
Ibid, 23. Ibid, 63. 51 Ibid, 161.
campaigns) these rights were not guaranteed nor were the Tlaxcalans excluded from providing Spaniards with other services. For example, they were not given a wage for their military aid. They also paid the tithe to the church, worked for the religious orders, and helped construct municipal buildings.53 One such service given by the Tlaxcalans was helping to colonize frontier regions of New Spain. Northern New Spain Before the arrival of the first European settlers in the region that today is referred to as Coahuila, it was populated by many nomadic indigenous groups. The primary or largest groups were the Coahuiltecan, Chichimeca and Guachichil Indians. The first explorers that came in contact with these groups in Coahuila and Texas did so in the 1530's. Alvar Nuez Cabeza de Vaca's stories of great wealth initially aroused some interest in these northern enclaves, but by and large Europeans did not think the northeastern provinces were of great importance and thus did not plan major colonization projects for much of the sixteenth century. Unlike San Luis Potos and Zacatecas, Coahuila did not have great mineral deposits, so Spaniards did not see the immediate economic importance of colonizing this area. As one Jesuit in Nueva Vizcaya bemoaned, "the Indians tended to be unbelievers...and because Spaniards had not found silver, they had
As evidence of the fact that Tlaxcalans struggled to gain certain rights from the Spanish government Charles Gibson notes that Tlaxalan privileges were not "given" to them immediately after the conquest. Royal edicts supporting these claims were issued from 1535-1585. Ibid, 169. 53 Ibid, 170.
no interest in settling here."54 This attitude would soon change with the discovery of the Zacatecas silver mines in 1546.55 The relationship that Spanish colonial officials developed in the first half of the sixteenth century with native groups of the north was shaped by the European settler's primary goal: to extract valuable mineral deposits from the area. That was the main reason Spaniards initially began to travel along these northern territories. For the most part they were not able to make any major discoveries until silver was found in Zacatecas, Nueva Galicia in the mid sixteenth century. Consequently, Zacatecas attracted many hopeful settlers who dreamed of becoming instantaneously wealthy. Hence, the years 1549-50 saw the beginning of a serious Spanish migration north. What followed in those years was an intensification of conflicts between Europeans and nomadic groups. In 1568 the new viceroy, Don Martn Enrquez de Almanza, began his twelve-year tenure. During this time his primary concern was the consolidation of Spain's military gains in the northern provinces.56 The enslavement of Indians in fact appeared to be actively promoted by viceregal authorities that knew that settlements, farms, and silver mining endeavors could not prosper unless Spaniards had access to indigenous labor.57 Officials also
Vito Alessio Robles. Coahuila y Texas en la Epoca Colonial. 2nd. ed. (Mxico: Porrua, c.1938, 1978): 46. 55 Powell, Soldiers, Indians, and Silver, 3. 56 Ibid, 105. 57 Ibid, 109.
began to build a line of presidios and Spanish settlements along the MexicoZacatecas route. This policy was difficult and expensive to maintain. Soldiers had to be paid and Spanish settlers could not rely on the labor and agricultural production of indigenous groups who barely cultivated enough to sustain themselves. The Villa de Santiago de Saltillo, located in the northern region of Nueva Vizcaya, was one such town that was founded as part of this early colonization project. It is unclear what specific purpose the Spanish settlement of Saltillo served, but it most likely was a defensive settlement against indigenous raids of mining towns. Saltillo was one of the first towns established in the northeastern part of Nueva Vizcaya (it became the southern part of Coahuila in 1786), yet it was not founded until 1577.58 Saltillo's first settlers were in fact soldiers from Nueva Vizcaya. When the first permanent European settlers came it was most likely to take advantage of the fertile land. Those who did come to Saltillo probably hoped to profit from its proximity to rich mining regions, but these areas, like Durango and Zacatecas, could not support an agricultural and ranching economy.59 Consequently, most Spaniards became farmers or ranchers during these early years and remained so throughout the colonial period. Saltillo's main purpose soon became to serve as a grainery for mining regions. Those initial
Jos Cuello, "The Persistence of Indian Slavery and Encomienda in the Northeast of Colonial Mexico, 1577-1723," Journal of Social History 21:4 (summer 1988): 685. 59 Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas, 86.
settlers faced a difficult existence as they lived amongst an unfriendly indigenous population. An increasing number of Spaniards advanced into the northern provinces of New Spain in the sixteenth century searching for mineral wealth and thus they became involved in drawn out military engagements with the dozens of nomadic indigenous tribes that populated the area. What came to be referred to as the Chichimeca territory was an expansive region that was home to a variety of seminomadic tribes. They included the Pames, Gamares, Zacatecos, and Guachichiles. As could be expected, the more adamant the Spanish were in their attempt to establish permanent Spanish towns, the more they had to deal with indigenous reprisals. By the end of the 1560's, miners and Spanish priests pleaded with royal authorities so that decisive action would be taken to pacify these nomadic groups. Although many continued to push for harsher policies to pacify the provinces, by the 1580s most believed that changes needed to be made in the method and approach taken by the Crown. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries officials had maintained military outposts in order to fight the wars against the Chichimecas (1550-1590), but officials decided that it would be less expensive and would not provoke indigenous groups as much if they supported a
mission system. The Orders of New Discovery issued in 1573, which called for a peaceful colonization strategy, also influenced this decision.60 The new viceroy, Alonso Manrique de Ziga, arrived in New Spain in the fall of 1585 and consequently tried to end previous military and administrative policies that were clearly not helping colonial authorities accomplish their primary goal; to make the area safe enough for economic development to take place.61 The viceroy consolidated military administration under the hands of Diego Velasco, who now became the lieutenant captain of Nueva Vizcaya, Nuevo Len, and Nueva Galicia. The viceroy also tried to stop corruption and overspending by adopting more stringent accounting methods. He also hoped to end the capture of indigenous peoples for the purpose of enslavement. This last goal was not very successful, as the illegal enslavement of native peoples continued until the seventeenth century.62 Neither could he fully abandon the presidio system completely. The Viceroy's attempt to negotiate a peace settlement with the tribes in exchange for gifts, food, and clothing did prove to be somewhat more successful. Yet, the central focus of his new administration would be to encourage the development of permanent settlements along the Chichimeca
Weber, David. The Spanish Frontier in North America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992): 212. 61 Powell, Soldiers, Indians, and Silver, 182-183. 62 Cuello, "Persistence of Indigenous Slavery"
territory. This colonization project included a plan to send Tlaxcalans to help establish towns that would in time incorporate nomadic groups.63 The Tlaxcalans therefore entered the north, not as colonized peoples but as colonizers.64 Because Spanish settlements in the 1500s still remained fairly small, by the end of the sixteenth century it was clear to these struggling Spanish enclaves that they needed to increase their numbers so they could better protect themselves against indigenous attacks that constantly threatened these frontier towns. Although northern settlers and colonial authorities might have preferred Spanish colonizers, they appeared to be equally satisfied with the thought of welcoming friendly and Christianized Tlaxcalans into the region. Northern Tlaxcalan Settlements After being petitioned by Spanish military personnel from the north who requested that Tlaxcalans be sent to their provinces, Viceroy Velasco asked for volunteers from Tlaxcala to help settle these territories. The Tlaxcalans would thus introduce Spanish governmental organization and Christianity. This would in turn help to convert and "civilize" the nomadic northern tribes. The Spanish expected that the Tlaxcalans would teach the Chichimeca and Guachichil Indians, as well as other northern tribes, about agriculture, animal management, the
Primo Feliciano Velzquez, ed. Coleccin de documentos para la historia de San Luis Potos (San Luis Potos: Archivo Histrico de San Luis Potos,1985): 204. 64 Andrea Martnez-Baracs, "Colonizaciones Tlaxcaltecas," Historia Mexicana 43 (1993): ?.
building of permanent homes, weaving, Christianity, and about monogamous family life.65 Initially the viceroy did not receive a very enthusiastic response from Tlaxcala and evidently did not get any volunteers from the city. The Tlaxcalans had strong reservations about how this migration would take place. This northern journey created many problems for them. In practical terms, the Tlaxcalans worried about the safety of the women and children who would be asked to make this journey. How would they be protected? Would they even be able to undertake such a difficult endeavor? In particular, who would receive the lands and homes left behind by such a large number of people?66 Although they had sent men to fight along with the Spanish before, they had never been asked to send whole families to be relocated and who would never return home. The Tlaxcalans only seriously began to consider this migration after prospects diminished in their homeland. By the 1580s and 1590s the Tlaxcalan economy had started to deteriorate. Consequently, Tlaxcalans began to seriously consider this migration. Eventually four-hundred and one families (or single men) were recruited for the colonization project and were relocated to areas such as San Luis Potos, Zacatecas and Nueva Vizcaya. In 1591 the Tlaxalans began their trek north.
Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 183. Actas de Cabildo, acta del 15/6/1560. Andrea Martnez Baracs. "Colonizaciones Tlaxcaltecas," 203.
The four-hundred and one Tlaxcalan families that made the northern journey arrived in Cuicillo, Zacatecas, where they were assigned to five colonies by Rodrigo de Ro de Loza, governor and military captain of the Nueva Vizcaya provinces. Captain Miguel Caldera had jurisdiction over San Miguel de Mizquitic (San Luis Potos), San Andrs de Tel (between Zacatecas and Durango), and San Luis Colotln (Zacatecas). Captain Juan de la Hija led those that would reside in San Sebastin Agua del Venado (San Luis Potos). Captain Francisco de Urdiola, lieutenant governor and captain of the province of Nueva Vizcaya, was in charge of the Tlaxcalan settlement in the southern part of Nueva Vizcaya, which came to be called San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala.67 Captain Francisco de Urdiola played a significant role in organizing the Tlaxcalan settlement. He took eighty Tlaxcalan families to an area near the Spanish settlement of Saltillo where they joined twenty Spanish families. Captain Urdiola's primary role was to help organize the Tlaxcalan town and to serve as the official representative of the crown. Francisco de Urdiola was himself a wealthy landholder in the region who had a vested interest in the success of this colonization project. He was a Basque immigrant born in 1552, who had initially built his fortune in the mining regions of Nieves in northeastern New Spain. With this money he began to buy tracts of land and obtained a land grant for the estancia of San Francisco de los Patos in 1583. This was to become the initial
Martnez-Baracs, 'Colonizaciones Tlaxcaltecas," 221.
holding that would eventually comprise the Marquesado de Aguayo, which came to dominate the region of Coahuila and Nueva Vizcaya in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In 1603 Urdiola was consequently appointed governor of Nueva Vizcaya. Throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth century his estates were primarily devoted to cattle ranching, but the haciendas of Patos and Parras also grew grain, which supplied the mining regions of Zacatecas, Mazapil and Sombrerete.68 Urdiola therefore served as a pivotal actor in the pacification of the northeastern provinces. Captain de Urdiola helped survey the surrounding region of Saltillo and let the Tlaxcalans choose the site for their settlement. The pueblo of San Esteban de Nueva Tlaxcala was officially founded on September 13, 1591.69 It appears that most of the original settlers of San Esteban came from the area of Tiztlan in Tlaxcala. The town was therefore named after San Esteban Tiztlan.70 Four of the neighborhoods in San Esteban were also named after original settlements from Tlaxcala. The neighborhood of La Concepcin was named after Santa Mara Concepcin Atlihuetzian, San Buenaventura was named after San Buenaventura Atempan, and the fifth neighborhood was named La Purificacin.71 Once the initial decision concerning the location of public buildings was made, each family
Altman, "The Marques de Aguayo," 4. Vito Alessio Robles, Francisco de Urdiola y el Norte de la Nueva Espaa (Mxico: Imprenta Mundial, 1931): 184. 70 Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 186. 71 Martnez-Baracs, "Colonizaciones Tlaxcaltecas," 225.
chose a parcel of land where they could build their homes and farms. The community also chose the location of their town square and the sites for the church and Franciscan monastery. As the official representative of the crown, Captain Urdiola approved all of these decisions. There were eventually eighty-seven families that settled in San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala. Although the townships of San Esteban and Saltillo were only divided by one street, they would have a drastically different political existence. Saltillo was under the political and administrative government of Nueva Vizcaya, with its capital in Durango. Judicially it was under Nueva Galicia, with its capital in Guadalajara. San Esteban was under the direct jurisdiction of the viceroy of New Spain and under the judicial jurisdiction of Mexico's Real Audiencia, as had been the case for its parent colony.72 Just as they had been in their original communities, the Tlaxcalan inhabitants of Coahuila and most of Nueva Vizcaya were under the religious authority of the Franciscans. The Franciscans had a long history in the north. One of the first Franciscan monasteries in the northeast was established in Saltillo in 1582, although it was soon abandoned because of indigenous attacks on the settlement. Missions were established in the province of Coahuila starting in 1673 under the guidance of the Colegio de Santiago de Jalisco. They remained in the area until 1781, when the missions were turned over to the Colegio de
Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas, 188.
Pachuca.73 With the arrival of the Tlaxcalans the Franciscans were able to develop a more permanent presence in the area. By late eighteenth century there were seven Franciscan missions in the Province of Coahuila (Saltillo/San Esteban and Parras, which had formed part of Nueva Vizcaya, were incorporated into Coahuila in 1786). They included San Miguel Aguayo, Santa Rosa de Nadadores, San Bernadino, San Francisco Vizarrn, Dulce Nombre de Jess, and San Juan Bautista.74 There was also a Jesuit mission in the nearby town of Parras. It was established in 1598 and served as the main religious center for the Tlaxcalans that helped settle Parras until the Jesuits were expelled in 1767. Many Tlaxcalans lived and helped maintain these missions, presumably to help incorporate nomadic groups, but they also provided much needed labor for the religious orders. Most of the missions of the northeast began the process of secularization (bringing the missions under diocesan control) by the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1802 there were only four remaining Franciscan missions ministered by the Colegio de Pachuca; Peyotes, Vizarrn, San Bernardo, and San Juan Bautista.75 Consequently, after the religious orders left the region the Tlaxcalans relied on parish priests.
Lino Gmez Canedo, Evangelizacin, cultura y promocion social: Ensayos y estudios criticos sobre las contribucin Franciscana a los origines cristianos de Mxico (siglos XVI-XVIII) (Mxico: Editorial Porrua, 1993): 490. 74 Cecilia Sheridan, Annimos y desterrados: La contienda por el 'sitio que llaman de Quauyla (siglos xvi-xviii) (Mxico: CIESAS, 2000): 332. 75 Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982): 331.
Tlaxcalan Privileges Whether or not Tlaxcalans were able to attain great advantages by migrating north is debatable. Tlaxcalans were expected to sacrifice their peaceful stability and land in order to take part in this dangerous colonization project. In exchange, they were given the following concessions: 1. The Tlaxcalans in the Chichimeca country and all their descendants would be hidalgos in perpetuity, free from tributes, taxes, and personal service, for all time. 2. They were not to be compelled to settle with Spaniards, but would be allowed to live apart from them and have their own distinct barrios. No Spaniard would be allowed to take or buy any residential property within the Tlaxcalan districts. 3. The Tlaxcalans were to be, at all times, settled apart from the Chichimecas; and this distinction was to apply to all of their lots, pastures, wooded lands, rivers, saltbeds, mills, and fishing rights. 4. No grants of land for the larger livestock [horses, mules, oxen] would be allowed within three leagues (9 miles) of the Tlaxcalan settlements; the limit for such grants for the smaller livestock [sheep, swine] was two leagues (6 miles). 5. None of the smaller livestock would be allowed pasturage on the grain lands of the Tlaxcalans without their permission or that of their descendants. 6. All lands granted individually or in community to the Tlaxcalans were not to be alienated because of non-occupation, during a period of five years, renewable if necessary 7. The markets in the new settlements would be free, exempt from all forms of taxation, for a period of thirty years. 8. The Tlaxcalan colonists and their descendants, besides being hidalgos and free from all tribute, would henceforth enjoy all exemptions and privileges already granted, or to be granted in the future, to the province and city of Tlaxcala. 9. The chief men (principales) of Tlaxcala who go to the new settlements, and their descendants, would be permitted to carry arms and ride saddled horses without penalty. For the northward journey itself, the Tlaxcalans would be given the necessary provisions and clothing, and this shall continue for two years. In addition, they shall 46
receive aid in the cultivation of their fields for the same amount of time. 10. The Tlaxcalans would be given a charter of written guarantees and a royal provision commanding that these capitulations be observed.76 Yet, some argue that the end of the sixteenth century was actually the most difficult for the Tlaxcalans. Not only did they give up four-hundred and one families, but the Spanish also forced them to pay tribute and imposed the servicio de tostn.77 Tlaxcalans, aided by the Franciscan friars, were able to renegotiate several points. The viceroy conceded to giving the Franciscans jurisdiction in these territories instead of the Jesuits. He also allowed them to have twenty-five Tlaxcalans for the construction of their own cathedral in Los ngeles, Puebla.78 Even so, Charles Gibson argues that most of the privileges given on paper rarely materialized in practice.79 One of the privileges given to the Tlaxcalans was that they would be hidalgos. What did it mean to be an indigenous noble? During the eighteenth century there were a series of requests made by the residents of San Esteban to central authorities of New Spain requesting confirmation of their noble status. This insistence on maintaining or reviving their hidalgo rights appeared to be an act of resistance and also part of the ongoing development of Tlaxcalan ethnic
Philip Wayne Powell, Mexico's Miguel Caldera (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1977): 149. 77 Martnez Baracs, "Colonizaciones Tlaxcalatecas," 219. 78 "Memoria de las cosas que piden los indios de la provincia de Tlaxcala que han de ir a las nuevas poblaciones Chichimecas," In Carlos Sempat Assodourian and Andrea Martnez Baracs, coords. Tlaxcala: Textos de su historia, siglo XVI. Vol. 6 (Tlaxcala: Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala, 1991): 532-536.
identity. Economically and socially Tlaxcalans did not seem to be doing much better than castas or other indigenous groups. Noble status did not give them any real privileges. Even so, Tlaxcalans spent much time and effort protecting this status. Hence, much of the documentation available on the township of San Esteban relates to their constant struggles to maintain these royal promises. This was a central facet of eighteenth century Tlaxcalan society and will consequently be discussed in greater detail in the following chapters. The Northern Provinces in the Eighteenth Century With the ascension of the Bourbon monarchs in 1700, Spain decided that the northern provinces needed to be more efficiently managed so they would be more profitable. The Marqus de Rub was sent by Charles III to inspect this northern territory in 1766. After a 2-year tour Rub came to the conclusion that Spain had left itself open to northern attacks and therefore needed to fortify the region in order to protect Louisiana, which it had recently acquired from the French.80 Indigenous retaliation against Spanish encroachment of their land had increased throughout the eighteenth century, a time when Spanish defense expenditures had also doubled.81 The wars with the Apaches proved costly for Spain and consequently they were unable to support permanent civilian settlements in the north.
Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 26. Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America, 205.
In addition, nomadic indigenous tribes for the most part did not want to be confined to missions. By the late seventeenth century many of these were destroyed in Florida and New Mexico, as well as in areas of northeastern New Spain. Indeed, although the Apaches had requested a mission and presidio in the mid-eighteenth century that was built along the San Saba River in Texas, the Comanches, along with Tonhawa and Hasinais Indians, burned the mission down in 1758.82 They killed eight people including fray Alonso Grivaldo de Terreros, who was in charge.83 Because of this and other violent episodes colonial authorities began to fortify the northern territory. By the mid-eighteenth century Spain focused less on supporting missions and instead built presidios as a form of colonial defense. By the 1760s presidios had become the dominant form of frontier institution.84 This renewed effort to militarize the frontier reflected a growing interest in protecting the northern territory by the new Bourbon monarchs. In 1772 royal authorities developed a set of new policies for the north that in many ways were very similar to the changes recommended in 1729 by the previous inspector, Pedro Rivera.85 That plan called for the construction of fifteen permanent outposts, each in one hundred-mile intervals spanning an area from Sonora to the
Ibid, 205. In 1756-57 some Tlaxcalans were sent to San Saba to help pacify the Apaches. Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 188. 83Ibid, 189-190. 84 Weber, The Spanish Frontier in North America, 214. 85 Ibid, 214-215.
Texas gulf coast. Under Rivera's plan many of the existing garrisons would either be moved or be shifted down to follow the new line of defense. In all there would be seventeen presidios. The Marqus de Rub apparently saw the same problems in the 1760s that Rivera had reported about in 1729 and consequently had similar advice for Spanish officials. He believed that the Spanish should follow a "continuous offensive war" in order to exterminate the Apaches. He also recommended that the Spanish should develop alliances with Comanches and other Apache enemies.86 One of the first changes enacted under the Regulations of 1772 was the appointment of a comandante inspector (chief inspector) who would have the power to plan and implement these offensive strategies. The first appointee was lieutenant colonel Hugo O'Conor, who tried to implement Rub's line of presidios, but not surprisingly the outcome of this new strategy was that indigenous raids actually increased in some areas.87 In 1776, Chareles III created the Comandancia General de las Provincias Internas, which placed the northern territories under the crown's direct control. Teodoro de Croix consequently became the new head of the Comandancia. De Croix had jurisdiction over a vast area that included Texas, Coahuila, New Mexico, Nueva Vizcaya, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Alta and Baja California.88 Like Rub, de Croix believed that the only solution to the "Indian problem" was to
Ibid, 220. Ibid, 224. 88 Ibid, 224-225.
follow an offensive war against unfriendly tribes. He toured the region extensively and realigned some presidios he felt were not strategically located. De Croix also increased the number of soldiers in the provinces from 1,900 to 2,840 and began to develop alliances with the Comanches, the Apaches' historical enemy. De Croix also recruited other native allies from the northern nations. This plan might have been successful, but it was interrupted by renewed conflicts in Europe. The regiments that were to be sent to the provinces were needed for Spain's war with England. Instead of following an offensive strategy, as de Croix had hoped, Spain was forced to follow a defensive strategy in the north once again.89 Tlaxcalans thus provided military aid to the Spanish who had to fight off attacks by nomadic tribes. In 1663, the Tlaxcalans assisted with an expedition led by the governor of Nuevo Len, Martn de Zavala, against the Coahuiltecans.90 Between 1664 and 1670 the residents of San Esteban claimed to have participated in twenty-eight expeditions against the Chichimecas.91 After the reorganization of the northern provinces and the creation of military units under Teodoro de Croix between 1777-1782, residents of San Esteban contributed 55 men to the militia headquartered in Saltillo.92 Throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth
Ibid, 226. David B. Adams, "The Tlaxalan Colonies of Spanish Coahuila and Nuevo Len: An Aspect of the Settlement of Northern Mexico." Ph.D. Dissertation. The University of Texas at Austin, 1970: 219-220. 91 Adams, "The Tlaxalan Colonies," 219. 92 Ibid, 224-225.
centuries Tlaxcalan residents of San Esteban and Parras contributed men for the defense of the northern provinces in areas such as Texas and the mining regions of Zacatecas and the Bolson de Mapim.93 In 1759, under Diego Ortiz de Padilla, the commander of the presidio of San Saba, Tlaxcalans contributed ten men from each of their three colonies in Coahuila to help mount an expedition against the nomadic groups in Texas.94 Spanish efforts to subdue the northern peoples formed part of a seemingly never-ending project that depleted much of their resources. Spain's war with England also made it impossible for the crown to provide the resources necessary so the provinces could subdue the Apaches. Jos de Glvez consequently urged Teodoro de Croix to achieve peace through gifts and trade.95 This policy would thus ensure Apache dependency on the Spanish and in time they would adopt a European way of life. Bernardo de Glvez, Jos de Glvez's nephew, officially implemented this trade policy when he became the viceroy of New Spain in 1785.96 In the Instructions of 1786 three new policies were emphasized; the continuation of military pressure on the Apaches, the continued development of alliances with Indian tribes and the creation of a dependent relationship between peace-seeking Indians through gifts and trade.97 Some Apaches accepted
Ibid, 223. Ibid, 227. 95 Ibid, 227. 96 Ibid, 228. 97 Ibid, 229.
settlement in reservation-like towns by the 1790s.98 By 1793, 2,000 Apaches had settled in eight of these areas. Spanish officials thus hoped that indigenous peoples would congregate in townships, devote themselves to farming, and adopt Christianity. Yet, many Apaches and Comanches were unable to adopt this way of life and oftentimes moved away from these settlements. Consequently, fighting between the Spanish and the indigenous people of the north continued until the nineteenth century.99 Continuing hostilities deeply influenced the development indigenous settlements in the north of New Spain. Spain's renewed interest in these provinces and their growing concern with accumulating and protecting their wealth refocused their interest in subduing northern nomadic tribes. This new military activity allowed for Spanish settlements to grow dramatically during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Tlaxcalans helped fight in these indigenous wars and protected Spanish settlements. Consequently, their communities were forever changed by frontier wars, economic expansion and demographic growth. The Settlement of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala Despite of ongoing hostilities in the north, the settlement of San Esteban seemed to prosper throughout the seventeenth century and was able to provide
Ibid, 253. On the continuation of hostilities and eventual extermination of nomadic groups in northeastern Mexico during the nineteenth century see, Martha Rodrguez. Historias de resistencia y exterminio. Los indios de Coahuila durante el siglo xix (CIESAS-INI: Mxico, 1995).
settlers for other townships in Nueva Vizcaya and Coahuila. Tlaxcalan settlers helped found Parras, San Miguel de Aguayo, San Francisco, and La Candela. The original San Esteban colonists also settled other towns in northern areas of present-day Coahuila, as well as in Nuevo Len. In Coahuila they included: San Andrs de Nava (along the Rio Grande/Bravo river), Santo Nombre de Dios (near the Sabinas river), San Miguel de Aguayo, Nuestra Seora de la Victoria de Casafuerte, San Francisco de Nueva Tlaxcala (near Monclova), and San Bernardo Candela.100 During the seventeenth century the Governor of Nuevo Len, Don Agustn de Echeverz Espinal y Subiza, the first Marqus de Aguayo, encouraged the development of two Tlaxcalans settlements in the north. The Tlaxcalans, who petitioned the Crown for permission to establish these townships, settled near Boca de Leones (the site of a mining camp) and Echeverez also helped them to establish a settlement in San Miguel de la Nueva Tlaxcala (San Miguel de Aguayo), as well as San Juan de Carrizal (located northwest of the town of Monterrey) in 1683.101 They also assisted the Canary Islanders as they made their way to their permanent settlement in San Antonio de Bexar.102 These settlements helped the Spanish establish rule in the north, but Tlaxcalans were also able to relieve some of the social and economic pressures that might have developed in the original settlement of San Esteban if they were restricted to this enclave.
Eugene B. Sego. Aliados y adversarios: Los colonos tlaxcaltecas en la frontera septentrional de Nueva Espaa. San Luis Potos: El Colegio de San Luis, 1998: 292. 101 Ida Altman, "The Marqueses de Aguayo: A Family and Estate History," B.A. Thesis, The University of Texas at Austin, 1970: 18-19.
Conclusion The alliance or pact established between the Tlaxalans and the Spanish state was not unique. The Tarascans in Nueva Vizcaya and the Opatas and Pimes of Sonora also developed these types of ties with colonial authorities.103 Cynthia Radding refers to this association as the "colonial pact" between indigenous people and the colonial state. Although this pact gave certain groups that were willing to cooperate with colonial authorities more rights, it was continuously negotiated. Hence, this "contract" may not have allowed Tlaxcalans to live the life of hidalgos, but it did affect them, as much of their history involves a struggle to maintain or reinstate these rights.
Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, Presidencia Municipal, c1, e32, d9, 2f; AMS, PM, c1, e32, d17. See Susan Deeds, Defiance and Deference in Mexico's Colonial North: Indians under Spanish Rule in Nueva Vizcaya (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003) and Cynthia Radding, Wandering Peoples: Colonialism, Ethnic Spaces, and Ecological Frontiers in Northwestern Mexico, 1700-1850 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.
CHAPTER 2 Political Life
Indigenous peoples retained a certain level of autonomy by maintaining their own town councils and by having jurisdiction over most civil and criminal matters within their own communities, yet they clearly did not avoid the influence of the colonial government. By the eighteenth century the residents of San Esteban had learned to live under Spanish colonial authority, but this did not mean that they did not question and challenge laws and acts that were detrimental to their community. This chapter suggests that colonialism was not a system that was imposed during those first decades after the arrival of the Spanish in the New World and was completed by a certain date. Instead, this was a society that was maintained by constant negotiation between Spanish elites, colonial authorities, and subordinate groups. Royal authorities understood that they needed to incorporate all sectors of society in order to limit dissent.104 Consequently, state ritual played an important role in preserving the colonial system. By studying the
104 Susan Kellogg writes, "In the final analysis, Spanish rule did not rest solely on Spanish arms. Nor could European microorganisms reduce Indians to subjugation. So, too, internal divisions among the Indian population offer an insufficient explanation for the stability of Spanish rule in the central regions of New Spain. Instead, the explanation lies in something more subtle: a crosscultural process of accommodation and negotiation that forged cultural hegemony." Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500-1700 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995); xxxiii.
"rituals of everyday political life" we will be able to have a greater understanding of indigenous peoples' lives and the colonial world in general.105
Spanish and Indian Towns Although Spanish authorities initially thought it was in their best interest to encourage native people to live amongst Spaniards in order to best assure that they would learn to adopt European ways, they soon changed their minds and became convinced that this close contact in fact had a negative effect on indigenous communities. The Franciscans were especially indignant by the manner in which encomenderos abused Spanish laborers and consequently in 1530, the government decided to supplant the encomienda system with the corregimiento system for the administration of its colonies in New Spain.106 Franciscan missionaries like, Jernimo de Mendieta, hoped that Indians could be Christianized but not concurrently Hispanicized, as they believed that Spaniards did not provide a good moral example.107 The beginning of this new more humanitarian royal policy was further supported by a Papal decree in 1537 that declared that Indians were in fact rational beings. Soon after, in 1549, the crown issued a decree, which ordered that Indians be placed in their own townships.108
Mario Gngora, Studies in the Colonial History of Spanish America ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975): 79 106 Mrner, Magnus. Estado, razas y cambio social en Hispanoamrica colonial (Mxico: Secretara de Educacin Pblica, 1974): 12-13. 107 Mrner, Estado, razas y cambio social, 16. 108 Ibid, 29.
By forcibly placing Indians in their own towns, Spaniards believed that they could better govern them as they were organized in accordance to the more familiar Spanish town and village structure. Yet, because there were both Indian and Spanish towns they could still maintain a social distance between themselves and the indigenous population. Spanish and Indians towns each had their own town councils, land tenure system and church.109 The lands were allotted collectively to each Indian village, but each family was given an individual parcel in which to farm and live. The town council was in charge of paying tribute to the crown and of determining rules regarding local commerce, public buildings, such as jails, water distribution and roadways.110 On the religious front, these townships were supposed to have a regular priest, but more often then not it was the religious orders that were in charge of the villages' religious life. It was these clerics who eventually took it upon themselves to teach the Indians how to govern.111 The northern colonies followed previous settlement statutes agreed upon with the Spanish crown. The 1560 settlement agreement for Xilotepec (in the modern-day state of Mexico) stated that the Tlaxcalan town would have a regular indigenous government that included a gobernador, alcaldes, regidores, and alguaciles. In that case, the crown also agreed that the settlers should be given
Ibid, 23-24. Ibid, 21. 111 Ibid, 22-23.
oxen and plowing equipment and that Spaniards would not be allowed to settle in Tlaxcalan lands. Tlaxcalans were also exempt from paying tribute for at least sixteen years.112 The Tlaxcalan settlements in the north designed their town governments as they were organized in Tlaxcala. They had their own gobernador, alcalde, regidor alguacil, and escribano. They also chose their own leaders in annual elections.113 The viceroy approved San Esteban's town council elections until 1786. The general commander of the region approved them after the creation of the Internal Provinces.114 The governor of Nueva Vizcaya assigned them an Indian protector (capitn protector de Indios). Later the governor of Coahuila made these appointments when the area of Parras and Saltillo became part of that region. It was his responsibility to protect the Tlaxcalans' rights in local inter-community matters with neighboring Spanish townships. The protector would often be a cause of strife for the Tlaxcalan communities who at times complained about their negligent or incendiary behavior. Finally, Tlaxcalan land would be clearly identified as belonging to them and neither Spaniards nor other Indian groups would be allowed to reside within three leguas of the Tlaxcalan pueblos.
Charles Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952): 183. 113 Ibid, 187. 114 Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982): 221.
The San Esteban Cabildo The town of San Esteban transferred its political organization from central Tlaxcala and consequently it maintained its own government throughout the colonial period.115 Like its parent colony in Tlaxcala, the residents of San Esteban fought to remain under the Crown's rule, apparently because they believed that if this was the case they might have greater freedom in deciding their own affairs. Throughout much its history the residents of San Esteban maintained an active town council. Unlike other municipalities (even non-indigenous villas) San Esteban generally kept their posts filled.116 They elected a gobernador, or an indio principal. Gobernadores were directly responsible for protecting the town's interests and were involved in spearheading litigation for the town.117 Two alcalde ordinarios were also chosen. Their official role was to administer justice, but in practical terms they also were pivotal in leading the litigation process to protect the town's rights, as well as other practical matters like administering the town's landholdings. 118 The regidores were under the direction of the alcaldes.
Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 187. Cheryl English Martin notes that although the residents of San Felipe el Real de Chihuahua took their civic duties very seriously, they had difficulty in maintaining their council positions filled. Governance and Society in Colonial Mexico: Chihuahua in the Eighteenth Century (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996): 88-89. 117 Robert Haskett. Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca. (Albaquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992): 99-100. 118 Haskett, Indigenous Rulers, 105.
The regidores were in fact in charge of governing the city or town.119 Between two and four regidores were chosen, as well as an alguacil mayor (a town constable), a teniente de alguacil mayor, and a procurador mayor. The parish priest, scribe, and protector were also important parts of the San Esteban ruling structure. Each of the elected members of the council could only serve for one yearly term and each election had to be validated by royal officials.120 Although this seemingly allowed for much higher turnover in the council membership, many of those serving in one capacity one year would oftentimes continue to serve in the council in another council seat the following year. For example, in 1770 Francisco Rugello was the gobernador of the San Esteban council and then served as a regidor in 1771. This was also the case for Luis Xavier, who served as the alcalde ordinario in 1770 and then as a regidor in 1771. A more common practice was for a council member to skip one or several years between his tenure in the council. Juan de los Santos was a regidor in 1772 and then once again in 1775 and 1780. Yldefonso Matheo was a regidor in 1773, 1776, then a procurador mayor in 1800, and once again served as a regidor in 1805. Francisco Salvador served in the council on four occasions. He was gobernador in 1774, 1778 and 1784, and was a regidor in 1776.
Gngora. Studies in the Colonial History of Spanish America, 100. PM, c1, e 47 and AMS, PM, c39/1, e49. Ildefonso Dvila del Bosque. Los cabildos tlaxcaltecas (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, 2000): 73.
The San Esteban council was composed of highly experienced men who appeared to have learned much about town government through years of service in council posts. An analysis of the governors between 1770 and 1810 and testament records reveal that many served in this position during the later years of their lives. Salvador Ramos, for example, was governor in 1772 and an inventory of his possessions (taken after his death) was taken in 1777, as he did not draw up a testament before he died.121 Lorenzo Mathas Ramos, governor in 1774, left his last will and testament in 1781.122 Gobernador Juan Magno Delgado served his term in 1798 and an inventory of his possessions was taken in 1802.123 In 1776 the serving gobernador, Blas Dionicio, died while serving his term and his successor, Salvador Ramos, passed away a month after completing his term in February 7, 1777.124 Several other gobernadores went on to live for years after leaving office, like Joseph Joaquin Ramos, who served in 1773 and did not draw up his testament until 1816 and Pedro Santiago Garcia who served in 1775 and did not have an inventory of his possessions taken until 1798.125 Yet, it does appear that the person who served as the gobernador was a town elder. A more extensive study tracking the life-span and activities of Tlaxcalan governors using birth and death records would shed light on council membership and activities,
January 17, 1777. Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, Testamentos, c17, e4, 2f. December 12, 1781. AMS, T, c18, e16, 17f. 123 October 14, 1802. AMS, T, c22, e139, 6f. 124 Dvila del Bosque, Los cabildos Tlaxcaltecas, 71. 125 November 13, 1816. AMS, T, c25, e54, 2f; October 7, 1798. AMS, T, c22, e53, 2f.
yet this initial evidence does indicate that the input of elders was highly valued. Indeed, in an accord from 1784 that resolved a boundary dispute the escribano writes that the "town council, justice, and administration, in a meeting celebrated with the rest of the elders of this town, resolved that a street that begins at the corner of the house belonging to the heirs of the deceased Salvador Ramos should continue until the main street."126 Matters of importance to the town required the input of the most experienced members of the community. Age and experience were not the only qualities that were valued by the residents of San Esteban. Several of those who served as gobernadores had previously been the town council's scribes. Scribes obviously had to know how to read and write in Spanish, as they recorded important transactions. It was important for the community to have leaders who were able to communicate in Spanish, as much of their time serving in the council was spent pursuing and following up legal cases, as well as preparing petitions and correspondence designed to influence royal authorities. Ascencio Victoriano Ramos, who served as San Esteban's governor in 1805, was also listed as the escribano from 1762 until 1790.127 Carlos Marcelo Snchez also was a scribe before becoming
"...el cabildo, justicia y regimiento, en junta celebrada con los demas ancianos de este pueblo, resolvi que un callejn que principia en la esquinade la casa de los herederos del difunto Salvador Ramos, saliera hasta la calle Real." May 24, 1784. AMS, T, c19, e10, 1f. 127 Ascencio Victoriano Ramos is listed as the escribano who prepared testaments more than twenty times. A few cases include: April 3, 1762. AMS, T, c13, e14, 2f; April 7, 1762. AMS, T, c13, e15, 2f; March 21, 1772. AMS, T, c15, e40, 2f; April 18, 1772. AMS, T, c15, e42, 2f; March 25, 1782. AMS, T, c18, e19, 2f; February 18, 1785. AMS, T, c18, e29, 2f; October 7, 1785. AMS, T, c19, e44, 14f; February 27, 1790. AMS, T, c20, e37, 2f.
gobernador in 1808.128 There are also several instances where Mathas Valentn Ramos was listed as the escribano during the 1780s.129 He served his term as gobernador in 1806.130 The San Esteban council not only fulfilled an important civic role, as it brought order to the community and represented its needs when dealing with individuals or groups, but it also met a symbolic role. One of the first acts performed by Francisco de Urdiola in 1608 was to confirm the election of San Esteban officials.131 During the seventeenth century Tlaxcalan elections were authenticated with regularity by outside authorities.132 This was not simply a rubber stamp on local events by royal officials. The validation of San Esteban elections by the lieutenant captain of Nueva Vizcaya or Nueva Galicia gave the San Esteban council the "right to govern their towns and the power to rule."133 Although outsiders were not to intervene or influence Tlaxcalan elections, as intervention in indigenous pueblos was outlawed in 1620, the residents of San Esteban still at times faced problems keeping interlopers out of their community's
January 5, 1781. AMS, T, c18, e2, 7f. The exact spelling of the name for an escribano Mathas Valentn Ramos is used in two instances: July 6, 1782. AMS, T, c18, e20, 2f; July 4, 1784. AMS, T, c19, e13, 3f. 130 It is unclear if the Mathas Valentn who served as gobernador was the same Matas Valentn Ramos or Matas Valentno Ramos, who were also listed as scribes. 131 12/1/1608. Catlogo de fondo de testamentos, Tomo1 (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, 1998); 1. 132 Validation of local elections appeared in the testamentary catalogue for the years of 1609, 1613, 1616, 1618, 1623, 1626, 1643, 1646, 1655, 1662, 1670, 1679. Catlogo de fondo de testamentos. 133 "Domingo de Lazaranzu, teniente de capitn del reino de la Nueva Galicia, confirme la eleccin del pueblo de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, dndoles poder y facultades para que los desempeen." Catlogo de fondo de testamentos, 8.
matters. In 1742, the cabildo turned to the Audiencia de Mxico to complain that the election had been tainted because of outside interference. The Audiencia responded by ordering that the lieutenant (presumably of Saltillo) could not have any say in San Esteban's elections. The only one who could legally take part in the process was the parish priest. In addition, they stressed that under the law no outside governor or judge could have say over civil or criminal matters in an Indian pueblo. Outsiders did not have jurisdiction over ordinary criminal matters, but they could become involved in such affairs if they involved drunkenness, minor injuries, when it was a mater of correcting or inculcating positive behavior on the Indians, or when dealing with testaments.134 As the Audiencia de Mexico pointed out in this 1742 case, the town priest was the one person who was legally allowed to be part of an indigenous community's election process. Although there is little evidence that directly outlines what roles priests played in San Esteban elections, evidently their presence and influence in other related religious and political matters was of notable importance. In his study of Indian villages in colonial Cuernavaca Robert Haskett found evidence that priests and friars had great influence over elections and oftentimes interfered in the election process.135 Tlaxcalans also complained to religious authorities about improprieties in their parish, but also about the political situation. In one instance, taking place in 1679,
AMS, PM, c10, e11. Tmas del Virreinato, 46. Robert Haskett, Indigenous Rulers: An Ethnohistory of Town Government in Colonial Cuernavaca (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991): 43.
bishop Don Juan Santiago de Len wrote the northern enclaves ordering that indigenous peoples should not be mistreated.136 Local unrest during San Esteban elections is not documented, but royal edicts were issued and publicized in Saltillo and San Esteban that tried to stamp out possible irregularities in indigenous election process. In a 1779 message sent to the northern provinces, Teodoro de Croix, the General Commander of the Provinces, stated that he was well aware that in the Indian towns many were serving longer than their one-year terms.137 He ordered that the elections be carried out as had been stipulated in the Leyes de Recopilacin and that each election result be sent to his government so that they could be officially confirmed. Indeed, after 1770 priests and royal officials monitored more elections and non-Indians were encouraged to oversee the electoral process in Indian tows. By 1773 priests took censuses in order to record the exact number of voters and candidates in pueblos, thus "ensuring that only qualified individuals participated in elections."138 Robert Haskett surmises that by the latter half of the eighteenth century colonial officials who had previously believed that outsiders could only corrupt the electoral process had now concluded that "incapable indigenous voters needed very strict supervision to carry out a valid election."139
"The bishop of Nueva Galicia recommends that the Indians be treated better and condemns the excesses committed against them," Valds, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 115-122. 137 AMS, PM, c31/1, e45. Tmas del Virreinato, 57. 138 Haskett, Indigenous Rulers, 54. 139 Ibid, 55.
The Civic Duties of San Esteban's Town Council If the voluminous number of legal cases and complaints to royal authorities are any indication of the town council's commitment to their constituents- then it is clear that they took their jobs very seriously. In one such example of a letter written by the cabildo they write to royal authorities asking that royal privileges given to the original four-hundred Tlaxcalan colonizers that came north be extended to the current population of San Esteban. They begin this 1781 petition by writing: Don Sebastin Hernandes son of the Cabezer, son of Don Andrs de Caderes, and Don Domingo de Ramos, son of Don Andrs and the deceased malsehualtain indigenous to the Pueblo of San Esteban del Saltillo in the Chichimeca frontier. We write representing ourselves and representing the other inhabitants of said Pueblo where we are the actual Alcalde, Regidor and Escribano. For whom we lend our voice and prudence.140 They go on to argue that their ancestors had given their services to the crown and had helped pacify the northern territories and should consequently receive the privileges allotted to the original settlers from Tlaxcala. They continued to support this argument by saying that, ...the four-hundred males under which their parents were to be included who went to those settlements...were well-known Principales (leaders) from the four cabeceras from that city and region (Tlaxcala) they owned lands and homes and did not
"Don Sebastin Hernandes Hijo de Cabezer, hijo de Don Andrs de Caderes, y Don Domingo de Ramos, hijo de don Andrs y masehualtain difuntos, Naturales que somos del Pueblo de San Esteban del Saltillo Frontera de las Chichimecas. Por nos y en Nombre de los dems naturales de dicho Pueblo de donde somos Alcalde, Regidor y Escribano actuales. Por quien prestamos voz y caucin en forma como mejor haya lugar de Derecho y al mo. convenga." AMS, PM, c33/1, e50. Temas del Virreinato, 84.
recognize of pay tarrasgo because they were principales and as the current maseguales had and continued to do in said province because of their previously mentioned calidad (social standing).141 The cabildo demanded that the original documents that spelled out their privileges be copied and transferred to San Esteban. What followed was a detailed retelling of the privileges given to the Tlaxcalans. Although it is unclear why it was that the cabildo of San Esteban demanded such documentation at this time, one can only surmise that it was because they needed to support their rights or property claims in local disputes. The Tlaxcalan cabildo oftentimes demanded that colonial authorities restate their primordial rights during the latter half of the eighteenth century. This particular document and others requested or presented by the residents of San Esteban will be discussed in further detail in a later chapter. The 1629 document, which was presented as a copy of the original rights given to the Tlaxcalans who settled in the north, was transferred from Tlaxcala to San Esteban in 1782. The residents of San Esteban therefore assumed that local authorities and even royal authorities had to abide by what was spelled out in such documentation. The cabildo members certified that nothing in the said document had been changed or added and that all had been done legally.142 This document,
141 "...las cuatrocientas Personas Varones en cuyo nmero entran los dichos nuestros padres que fueron a la dicha Poblacin eran y fueron Principales conocidos de las cuatro cabeceras de esta Ciudad y provincia y tales personas que tenan casas y tierras suyas proprias que no reconocan ni pagaban terrasgo por ser principales como lo hacan y hacen los maseguales en esta provincia Por ser de la calidad referida." AMS, PM, c33/1, e50. Temas del Virreinato, 84. 142 AMS, PM, c33/1, e50. Temas del Virreinato, 90.
along with many others, were then placed in the town's archive and were taken out and used as evidence to support the residents of San Esteban in later legal disputes.143 These type of documents (or copies of original documents) and edicts were highly valued by the residents of San Esteban and other indigenous groups. These records became one of the primary ways in which they could defend themselves in the colonial world. James Lockhart writes, ...it seems as if the local people are using the Spanish paraphernalia as magic, as something efficacious rather then understood. They appear to have believed that if one only shouted out the right abracadabra of years, names, and titles, the genie would deliver eternally unchallenged possession of one's territory.144 Spanish ritual surrounding such documents could only support indigenous peoples' belief that these papers held some kind of mystical role in Spanish society. The Saltillo Cabildo In many respects, the Saltillo town council represented the colonial state to northern settlers. Although they spent an extensive amount of time dealing directly with royal governors and writing the viceroy and even the king in Spain,
143 These legal conflicts will be discussed in the following chapter. One such dispute included: AMS, PM, c1, e7. Valds, 285-297. 144 James Lockhart, "Views of Corporate Self and History in Some Valley of Mexico Towns: Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," In The Inca and Aztec States, 1400-1800 (New York: Academic Press): 390.
it was the Saltillo council and the actions of its members (who were oftentimes also the town and region's wealthiest landowners) that most directly touched the lives of the residents of San Esteban. In her study of the Saltillo merchant class in the late colonial period, Leslie Offutt notes that by the early eighteenth century even Crown-appointed district magistrates were local residents.145 Saltillo's town council was composed of a number of alcaldes and regidores, as well as a procurador and a scribe. The council was responsible for regulating the marketplace, administering the town's land and water, maintaining public buildings, providing for defense of the community, collecting taxes, and assessing fines for criminal and civil charges. The Saltillo town council was composed of both elected members and propertied officeholders who bought their positions. Two alcaldes ordinarios, two regidores, and a sndico procurador were officials chosen in annual elections. The alfrez real, alcalde provincial, the regidor fiel ejecutor, the alguacil mayor and the regidor depositario were posts that were auctioned to the highest bidder. Although the scribe was also a member of the town council he did not have a vote. Members of the council could run for reelection two years after serving their terms.146 The elected officials were chosen from candidates selected by the
Leslie Offutt. Saltillo, 1770-1810: Town and Region in the Mexican North (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001): 138-139 146 Offutt, Saltillo, 1770-1810, 140-141.
most senior cabildo official, who could nominate friends, allies, business partners, and relatives.147 Saltillo also did not have difficulty maintaining council posts filled at the end of the colonial period. Unlike other northern towns, this period appeared to be a time of economic growth and increasing political importance for the Villa of Saltillo.148 Indeed, Saltillo was one of the towns that received a treasury office at the end of the eighteenth century.149 Moreover, membership in the council garnered one respect in the community, but also had the added benefit of possibly helping to enrich the officeholder. In fact, the regidor posts were auctioned and by the end of the eighteenth century the posts of alguacil mayor and regidor depositario general were proprietary- or sold to the highest bidder.150 Consequently, more often than not, by the end of the eighteenth century there was much less turnover in council members. Those elected to the Saltillo council served an important political and economic role in the region. By the late colonial period a majority of cabildo members were in fact merchants.151 Indeed, not only was the cabildo made up of
Ibid, 140. Cheryl English Martin notes that the greatest interest in cabildo membership was in Chihuahua's heyday, during the mining boom of the 1730s, and that although townspeople continued to value serving in public office later in the century, they did have more difficulty filling council posts at that time; 88-89 149 Offutt, Saltillo, 1770-1810, 170. 150 Ibid, 139. 151Leslie Offutt notes that between 1772 and 1810 56 of the 102 members of the elected cabildo were merchants, 25 were agriculturalists and 21 had unknown occupations. In that same time
the most economically prominent members of the community, but by the 1760s there was also a notable peninsular presence amongst Saltillo's town council members. Of the one-hundred and fifteen elected and propertied officers, thirtythree were peninsular Spaniards, twenty-seven were Creoles, one was from Italy, and fifty-four of the members' birthplaces were undetermined.152 In addition, many of these peninsulares came from the region of Castille. Although it is difficult to fully comprehend the attitudes and motivations that drove the Saltillo city council, we can develop a clearer picture of this cabildo by analyzing their origins, occupations and other information available about them in the census and in municipal records. Cabildo members were usually peninsular Spaniards, older, married, had children and servants. They were the leading members of society who upheld its values. In the period between 1770 and 1810 Juan Landn, for example, purchased the post of regidor fiel ejecutor, which he held from 1770-1793. He was originally from Galicia, Spain and was married twice. Landn's primary occupational interests were commerce, agriculture and ranching. Juan Antonio Gonzlez Bracho was also from Spain, from the town of Ruiloba in Burgos. He served as the teniente de alcalde mayor from 1784-1789 and then again in 1792 and 1796. In 1801 he returned to the city council and was the alcalde ordinario de primer voto.
period 10 of the 13 of those who held propertied office were merchants, 2 were agriculturalists and one had an undetermined occupation. Saltillo, 1770-1810, 152. 152 Offutt, Saltillo, 1770-1810, 152-153.
Gonzlez Bracho also married twice, the second time to Mara Gertrudis de Aguirre, who was the mother of three of his children. He also had a daughter from his first marriage.153 In the 1777 census his age is listed as being 45, his wife was 33, and his children (beginning with the ages of his daughter from his first marriage) were 17, 5, 4, and 2. There were also two female servants in his household; a 21 year old young woman listed as a coyota and a 13 year old girl classified as a loba. Bracho's primary occupations dealt with commerce and agriculture. Pedro Jos de la Pea served as the alcalde ordinario de segundo and primer voto in 1774, 1775 and 1782. He then served continuously in the town council in some capacity from 1784 to 1802. De la Pea purchased the office of regidor alcualcil mayor and served in this capacity until his death. He was a Spaniard who listed Saltillo as his town of origin. Pedro Jos de la Pea married Mara Josefa Valds and had eight children with her. He was employed in agriculture and ranching. When the previously discussed Juan Antonio Gonzlez Bracho, the alcalde oridinario de primer voto passed away in 1801, it was Pedro Jos de la Pea who served as the interim mayor.154 Francisco de Aguirre, also a Spaniard from Saltillo, served as the alcalde ordinario de segundo voto in 1799 and the alcalde ordinario de primer voto in 1800. He married Mara Ygnes
Ildefonso Davila del Bosque, coord. Alcaldes de Saltillo: La autoridad local, desde Alberto del Canto a los actuales municipies, 1577-1999 (Saltillo: Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, 1999): 81. 154 Dvila del Bosque, Alcaldes de Saltillo, 91.
Morales, who was also Spanish. Francisco de Aguirre was 46 years old and Mara Ygnes was 25. There were six offspring in the household, ranging in ages from 20 to one year. One must therefore assume that Mara Ygnes was Francisco de Aguirre's second wife. There was also a 20-year old free mulatta in the home, named Josepha, who was the wet nurse (for Francisco and Mara Ygnes's baby). Josepha's one-year old son also lived in the household. Ignacia, another servant living in the home, was a 25-year old unmarried Indian woman who had her twelve-year old and four-year old sons living with her. Francisco de Aguirre's primary occupations were also listed as being commerce and agriculture. Although it is unclear why these men were chosen (or chose) to become involved in the political life of the town, it is clear that they were considered to be the town's most prominent citizens. They had common occupations and although they were divided by the fact that some were Peninsular Spaniards and some were Creoles, none (as far as the current research indicates) of the cabildo members were from mixed caste groups, Indians, or black. Whether they were in fact the most prominent citizens because of the fact that they were Spanish, or were able to claim a higher status because of their wealth (or both) is unclear. What is evident is that there was a social hierarchy in the region and they- as Creole and peninsular men- sat atop this power structure. The dynamics of this arrangement was not something that was hidden. An important part of the symbolic role they served in the town council was to uphold and reenergize this social hierarchy. 74
The Ritual of Government The symbolic presence of the king was visible even in these peripheral northern enclaves. Not only did elections in San Esteban need to be sanctioned by higher authorities in order to be valid, thus connecting this town to the broader colonial system, but the presence of the king was also evident in many other ways. For example, when an edict from the viceroy or another high colonial authority arrived and was read it was then kissed (much like a religious item) and lifted above the local government officials head, to show due reverence. Juan Martnez Guajardo, the Teniente General de Alcalde Mayor and General Captain of Saltillo writes in 1720: ...today, the 12th of August at around noon I was given a letter by Joseph de Quiintanilla Falcon, who brought it in the name of the Excelentsimo Seor Marqus de Balero Viceroy, Governor, and General Captain of this New Spain and was intended for the Alcalde Mayor of this said Villa. And since the Theniente General is absent...I opened it and in it I found a dispatch sent to the said Alcalde Mayor with the date of the 16th of July of this present year. It contained a letter from said Excelentisimo Seor, dated the 27th of July of this year. And having seen the orders from said office I stood up and raised above me as it was a command from His Majesty, may God save him, and in order to carry out its message and orders, I ordered for the Capitn Protector of the Tlaxcalan Indians from San Esteban del Saltillo, Don Sanchez de Robles, is to appear before me and he is to be informed of the Royal Edict sent by His Majesty, may God save him...155
155 "...oy doze de agosto como a las dose del dia se me entrego una carta por Joseph de Quintanilla Falcon quien me entrego y truxo devaxo Governador y cappitan General de esta Nueva Espaa para el alcalde mayor de esta villay y como su theniente general por su ausencia para dal las providencias, que contubiese dicho pliego lo abri y en el alle un despacho que se comete dicho alcalde mayor su fecha de dies y seis de julio de este presente ao con carta adjunta de dicho exelentisimo seor su fecha de veynte y siete de julio de dicho ao y aviendo en el pie y magestad que Dios Guarde y cumplimiento de lo que se contiene y manda para su execusion y
These types of civic rituals remind ruling groups of their place in society, as well as vividly expressing relations of rank and power for other groups to emulate. Rituals needed to be reenergized so that society as a whole was constantly reminded of the importance of colonial leaders. The following document was located in the Libro de Gobierno of the Cathedral Church of Saltillo and it describes a visit by the General Commander of the Internal Provinces to the church of Chihuahua. It starts by noting that the celebration is conducted in a similar fashion in the church of Durango. Evidently, Saltillo was supposed to imitate this ritual act. It begins: ...in the first entrance to the town the Illustrious Gentleman was received by the venerable gentlemen of the town council in the following manner: There was a buffer placed in the main side of the Church where a small cross was placed over a cushion and inside the Church were the priests of the Villa who were standing behind the cross and ciriales (wax candles). The parish priest and curate wear a cape and his subdeacon wears ornamental Dalmaticas, white in color and of the highest quality. Later the Commander enters from the street where the Church is located, the church bells are rung, the priest kneels and presents the cross, which the Commander kisses, then the priest puts holy water on the Commander's forehead with the hisopo (sprinkler). After this is done, the priest sprinkles the onlookers as usual and while the Commander is still on his feet, the priest begins to sing the Fe
devido cumplimiento mando paresca ante mi el capppitan Don Francisco Sanchez de Robles cappitan Don Francisco Sanchez de Robles capittan protector de los yndios tlaxcaltecos del pueblo de San Estevan del Saltillo con junto a esta villa y se le aga notorio la Real Sedula de su magestas que Dios guarda y lo determinado por el Exelentisimo seor Marques de Valero y su respuesta y exelentisimo Virrey como se manda y para que conste su devido obedesimiento lo puse por dilixencia y lo firme con dos testigos de asistencia a falta escrivano publico..." In Valds, 145. Cheryl English Martin notes a similar show of reverence displayed by the town council of San Felipe el Real, Chihuahua toward royal decrees; 74.
Deuni gaudamos and the cantores accompany him with music. The procession made its way to the main altar, the aforementioned General Commander stands to the right of the priest until they finish playing the Fe Deum...once this is finished they go outside as far as the door and say their farewells, without carrying a cross, ciriales or any other ceremonial courtesy. In the other days the following was observed: At the door two chaplains wait for him [the Commander] wearing the surplice (loose fitting ecclesiastical gown worn over a cassock); on these days they administer holy water; the church bells are chimed when he [Commander] enters and leaves the Church. In the prayed Mass: The same chaplains accompany him [the Commander] until his seat, where they take his confession. Once they finish they leave and nod their head signaling that he is forgiven. After they read from the Gospel, one of the chaplains takes a missal (a book of prayers and responses necessary for celebrating the Mass) -not the one used to say Mass- so that he [the Commander] may kiss the Gospel. An acolyte (one who assists in celebrating the performance of liturgical rights) returns it to its place. In solemn Mass After the General Commander has taken his seat, the prayed Mass is said. The priest and deacons of the vestry, now arriving at the altar, pay homage to the sacred rubrics, whether or not they are deposited in the Altar of the Holy Sacrament. Once the priest completes this he and the deacons express their forgiveness [of the Commander] by nodding their heads and they begin the Mass. Two chaplains of the vestry, wearing the surplice, emerge and take his [Commander's] confession, as was done in the prayed Mass. The Gospel is sung and the deacon lit the incense, while this is taking place he [the deacon] and the subdeacon remain facing the Altar. Then the deacon takes from the acolyte the book of the Gospel, or the Mass that is about to be said, he takes it and accompanied by the two acolytes, who do not have any candles, to the General Commander. Once they reach the General Commander they do not nod their head in forgiveness until the book of the Gospel has been kissed...once the deacon has returned to the Altar the creed is sung and then the same chaplains say it on 77
each of their sides (to the right and then the left) as if during confession...156 It is telling that copies of this document were sent to various churches throughout the north in the 1790's. One has to wonder if perhaps these kinds of rituals of respect towards colonial officials had been given less attention by colonials and local officials had to be reminded of the acts in an attempt to impose a hierarchical system on an increasingly diverse and complex society. In her study of the Corpus Christi festival in colonial Mexico City, Linda Curcio-Nagy argues that it was the ruling elite's fear of growing instability that brought about the creation of policies to counter social dissent. Festivals helped to combat these social stresses as "diverse ethnic groups were captivated, entertained, and acculturated by state and church in order to counteract potential dissidence and to reaffirm institutional legitimacy in a time of social change."157 During the Bourbon period the state tried to "implement a new social morality" as the "status quo was now perceived as capable of restructuring, albeit temporarily, the social hierarchy."158 James Scott calls these overt expressions of governmental power "public transcripts." He notes that they are rigidly controlled by elites, who do
"Ceremonial que se observa en esta Iglesia Parroquial de Chihuahua cada vez que viene ella el Seor Comandante General de las Provincias Internas, Don Pedro de Nava," August 23, 1794. Libro num. 2 de Gobierno, Iglesia Catedral de Saltillo. 157 Linda A. Curcio-Nagy, "Giants and Gypsies: Corpus Christi in Colonial Mexico City," In Rituals of Rule, Rituals of Resistance: Public Celebrations and Popular Culture in Mexico. Edited by William H. Beezley, Cheryl E. Martin and William E. French (Wilmington, Delaware: SR Books, 1994): 2. 158 Curcio-Nagy, "Giant and Gypsies," 19.
not want anything to detract from the idealized version of society presented in ritual acts.159 In a way, this ritual seems to further substantiate the importance of these local leaders in the eyes of their social inferiors, but as James Scott notes, "elites are also consumers of their own performance."160 Like most public rituals, this event had a public component intended to amaze and subjugate non-elites. Yet, most of it took place within the confines of the church, where only a section of society (most probably its most illustrious members) would be present. Therefore, it also was clearly intended to reaffirm the importance of the Spanish elites' role in the colonial system. As we will see, this process also needed to be confirmed, so that members of the elite would not disrupt the colonial hierarchy. Even though this performance was designed to establish a racial and class hierarchy that subservient groups were supposed to emulate, this hegemonic ideology rarely remained unquestioned by other social groups. Spanish settlers knew how their society was governed and the roles they were expected to play. This did not however mean that they did not at times write out a different script and gave different meanings to these government rituals. The colonial elite was not always a coherent group. This is vividly exemplified in a 1737 dispute involving the capitn protector of San Esteban, and the town councils of both
James C. Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990): 50. 160 Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, 49.
Saltillo and San Esteban, over seating arrangements in public gatherings.161 This episode also outlines the Tlaxcalans' place in this region's social hierarchy. In May of 1737 the town council of Saltillo met to discuss a problem they believed threatened to disrupt the structure of their society. The matter that needed to be resolved was where the capitn protector of San Esteban would sit during public events. Evidently, the town councils San Esteban and Saltillo, as well as the capitn protector, Juan Antonio Fernandez de Casafernisa, had previously agreed that he would sit at the front of the church with the other two cabildos. The captain insisted that it had been his understanding that he would sit in a bench preceding both councils. The Saltillo council argued that Casafernisa had misunderstood the arrangement and that he was only allowed to sit in the front when the most important members of the Saltillo council could not attend an event. They were indignant that he would even believe that it was proper for the council to sit behind him. They said that his interpretation of the agreement was, "incompatible and opposed to all reason and laws."162 They scoffed at his presumption and said that it was only because of "politics" that he had been allowed to even sit with the cabildo of Saltillo. This probably meant that the protector had not been elected, but because he was well-connected he had therefore been able to garner a royal appointment. They concluded this meeting
David B. Adams mentions this episode in, "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (fall 1993): 45-46. 162 "...incompatible y opuesto a toda razon y leyes que de esto tratan..." 1737, AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f.
by agreeing that Casafernisa needed to be called in to the next council meeting where with "all urbane communication and peaceful tranquility" he would be made to understand the genuine wisdom of the celebrated agreement.163 Their conspicuous use of the word "urbane" is reminiscent of what Cheryl English Martin discusses in the northern enclave of Chihuahua. In her research she encounters the use of the words, "poca urbanidad" ("little urbanity') and "palabras urbanas" ("urbane words") used to describe "polite interpersonal exchanges" amongst Spanish settlers.164 That appears to be the manner in which the Saltillo town council is using the word "urbane." In the Chihuahua example, officials used the word "urbane" to describe the acts of subordinate groups, like Indians. The Saltillo council is speaking about a man that is in their own social circle, but who is acting contrary to what they believe to be the proper behavior of one of their own class. It is meant to rein in someone from their own status who could not be readily dismissed as someone from a subordinate class might have been. In a way, Casafernisa's behavior was much more dangerous than having someone from another (clearly subservient) group question their authority, The protector's behavior evidently had great symbolic meaning. The council of Saltillo could not have been more explicit about this fact when they
"...con toda urbana correspondencia y tranquila paz se le de a entender la genuina inteligencia de el celebrado trado..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f. 164 Cheryl English Martin, Governance and Society, 76-80.
spelled out exactly how seating was to be arranged and alluded to why this had to be so. They stated: ...in the occasions he [the capitn protector] goes to the Church for a solemn event, even though he is given a seat in the bench of the town council [Saltillo's] he is to sit behind the Justices, if the Alcalde Mayor or the Lieutenant attend, he will sit behind the Alcalde Ordinario de Primer Voto, and if he does not attend he will sit behind the Alcalde de Segundo Voto, and if he does not attend he will sit behind the most senior Regidor. Only in this conformity will this agreement be valid. The said capitn protector should also be advised that it is his fault that this agreement has been defaulted upon, since one of the points of the agreement was that the Repblica de Indios should have their own seat in another bench independent of the one belonging to the town council [of Saltillo]. Theirs should either be in front or behind the bench belonging to the town council or alongside that of the Spaniards: this was not the way things were practiced in the Pueblo's [of San Esteban] Church, instead he wants for this town council and that of said Republic's to sit on the same bench...165 Evidently, Casafernisa's questioning of the seating order had broader social implications, as it also confused race and class hierarchies. As a Spaniard it was his responsibility to abide by what the Saltillo town council decreed, as it further affirmed the roles played by Spanish and indigenous members of this society. The public transcript was fractured when elites failed to "create the appearance of
"...en las ocasiones que concurriese en la iglesia a alguna solemnidad, aunque se le dara asiento en el escanlo de cabildo a de ser precediendo la justicia esto es que si el Seor Alcalde Mayor ni su Theniente concurriesen, precedira al Seor Alcalde de Segundo ya falta de este el Seor Regidor ms antiguo, y que en esta conformidad y no de otra tendra validacion el combenio celebrado, y tambien se le adbierta a dicho Capitn Protector, que no a dejado de adbertirse en este cabildo el que que por su parte se a faltado a lo tratado, pues siendo uno de los puntos de la escritura que la Republica de los Naturales a de tener su asiento en otra banca independiente de la de el cabildo o ya sea enfrente al lado de la epistola o ya seguida a la de los espaoles, no lo a practicado as en la iglesia de aquel Pueblo, sino quiere que en una misma banca tenga asiento este cabildo y aquella Republica..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f.
unanimity amongst the ruling groups."166 This public exercise in hegemonic domination was for a moment broken, because of this minor act of "rebellion." On June 29, 1737, the town council met again to discuss this matter in greater detail. In this meeting Casafernisa stated that it was his understanding that he would sit in the front area during a public event and that what they wanted to do was solely based on a particular interpretation they wanted to give to the previous agreement and consequently he was determined to defend his stance "with all due force."167 The town council minutes read: ...all of this was attended to by the said town council in the best possible wisdom and attention and they tried not to injure his pride: they advised him that what was proposed and was previously agreed upon by the Seores Capitulares was very fitting and that the rest was a monstrosity that they could not allow it as it was opposed to the laws of the kindgom. They did not think that he should go to Church if he wanted to follow etiquette that was so far outside what was appropriate: what kind of terms could there be in order to decide this point without causing a disruption in the Church. The best thing would be for the said capitn protector to excuse himself from meeting with this town council...168 They concluded by citing a dispatch that had been sent by the viceroy back in 1735. In it the viceroy apparently stated that the capitn protector should not be
Scott, 55. "...el dicho Capitn Protector, oponiendose a dicho cavildo dijo que este cabildo se haba dado posesin de asiento preferente a los Seores Alcaldes, y que este lo avia de mantener as eran o no el Seor Alcalde Mayor o su Theniente por que de esa manera entenda la escriptura, y que lo deamas era interpretacin que le quera dar y que esto lo defendera a toda fuerza, como mejor pudiera a su modo..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f. 168 "...advirtiendole que lo que se propona, y acordara por los Seores Capitulares era muy ajustado, y que lo dems era una monstruosidad que no podan permitir por oponerse a las leyes del Reyno, y que tendran muy a mal el que se fuerla a la Iglesia a que ver hazerla por letra de etiqueta tan fuera de proposito, que terminos avia para decided el punto sin estrepito en la Iglesia, y que el mejor medio sera la instancia por sus terminos regulares..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f.
allowed to "innovate in any manner that is not customary over the issue concerning seating arrangement and questions of jurisdiction" and if he did so he would be fined 1,000 pesos.169 The town council then concluded the meeting and asked all of their members to sign off on the document describing the events that took place at said meeting (this was done in all council meetings.). As if to confirm the fears of the Saltillo council, one other member refused to abide by their orders. Francisco Xavier de la Zendeja, one of the regidores, stated that he would not sign his name to this document because "he was not opposed to the previous decree agreed upon and celebrated between this town council and the capitn protector." The Saltillo council asked him if he was aware of the royal dispatch that they had just cited and he responded that, ...he was well aware of said dispatch and that it was not present at the time the said agreement was celebrated, and that it was also true that all that was convened upon in the aforementioned decree from the town council supposedly occurred how it was recorded in the meeting, but even with all this he does not want to sign.170
"...y as mismo se le hizo constar que se hallavan con despacho de el Exelentsimo Seor Virrey de estos reynos librado a diez de Marzo de el ao pasado de 1735 en ordern y en razon de que el Capitn Protector del Pueblo de San Esteban no inobe en cosa alguna de lo que a sido costumbre sobre la preferencia de asiento y competencia de Jurisdiccin bajo de la pena de mil pesos..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f. 170 "Al tiempo de firmar este auto de cabildo el Seor Regidor, Don Francisco Xavier de la Zendeja, Fiel Executor que se hallo presente en dicha junta, dijo que no quera firmar porque no se opone a la escritura de combenio celebrada entre este cabildo y el Capitn Protector, y aviendole recombenido si no tena presente que se hallavan los Seores Capitulares con un despacho de el Seor Arzobispo Virrey de estos reynos en orden, a que guarde la costumbre sobre la preferencia de asiento y competencia de jurisdiccin: dijo que tiene muy presente el dicho despacho, y que no se tubo presente al tiempo de celebrar la dicha escritura de compromiso, y que tambin es verdad que todo lo que se contiene en dicho auto de cavildo pas segn y como en la junta, pero que con todo no quiere firmar todo lo cual pas la presencia de los Seores de Justicia y Regimiento..." AMS, PM, c14, e13, 5f.
It is unclear what motivated Casafernisa to so vehemently challenge the Saltillo council. He had just recently taken his post and apparently he was still a young man ("un mozo"), so perhaps he was attempting to extend his own power in both communities and had not expected that his act would create such agitation. A few weeks later, on July 11th, Casafernisa once again came before the council to present a petition drawn up by him and by the council of San Esteban in which the Tlaxcalan cabildo expressed their dismay over the present discord between the two councils, especially since they thought an agreement had already been reached. The San Esteban council said that they could not understand why Saltillo now wanted to annul the agreement and that they had written evidence that His Excellency decreed that in these types of cases the Tlaxcalans should do what was convenient for them and could choose to ask for arbitration from the Viceroy if they so desired. The San Esteban council said that they were in no way opposed to the previous agreement, which appeared just to them and asked for copies of the written testimony from the previous council meetings about this topic. Clearly, neither the capitn protector nor the Saltillo cabildo were willing to back down. Yet, on the 22nd of July, the Saltillo council did agree that said written testimony of the meetings and the Viceroy's dispatch should be presented to the Tlaxcalans, but only that dealing with the matter at hand. A week later, on the 30th of July, the Saltillo council met once again. They agreed that there could 85
only be "damaging consequences" if Casafernisa was allowed to go forward with this case. His "whim" was threatening to develop into a more serious matter because of the capitn's "stubborn character." They concluded that the root of the problem was that Casafernisa was convinced that he was the Justicia Mayor (highest justice) of San Esteban, as well as the protector. This apparent double royal appointment was the reason why no judge from Saltillo could contain or punish him. Consequently, they called witnessed to attest to the captain's "excesses." In addition, they would consequently bring this matter to the attention of the Alcaldes Presidentes, as well as the Presidentes and Oidores from the Real Audiencia located in Guadalajara. What followed could perhaps be seen as a very modern "campaign to discredit" the capitn protector.171 The first to testify was Don Joseph Ramon Ramos, a Spanish resident of Saltillo. He claimed to have known Casafernisa since the protector's birth, as he was also originally from the Villa. The protector of San Esteban had always lived with his widowed mother, Doa Antonia Mara Guajardo. In 1736 Casafernisa was made protector and consequently he and his family moved to San Esteban. Ramos stated that he had known four other
In their discussion of the mass media and propaganda Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky note that "it is their (mass media) function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill this role requires systematic propaganda." Campaigns to discredit or support other countries or ideas are used by the media to in a subtle but effective manner to support the views of the ruling elite or to discredit those that oppose them. This is the media's
previous protectors of San Esteban and none had claimed to be the high justice or war captain. The witness then stated that only Casafernisa's father-in-law, who was also a capitn protector, had tried to claim such powers. Like his father-inlaw Casafernisa claimed that Saltillo's judges did not have jurisdiction over him and neither did the Real Audiencia (appellate court). Ramos also claimed that the protector gambled, placed bets on horse races, and started fights in public streets. In one instance Casafernisa threatened Juan Miguel Ramrez after a cockfight. Said Ramos, "if Casafernisa's tyrannical behavior is not curbed there will be pernicious consequences to the public good, as all this news reaches the miserable Indians."172 He was presumably speaking about the Tlaxcalans. The second witness was Don Andres Galindo, also a Spaniard from the Villa. Galindo was a former alcalde mayor and was one of the "principal members of the republic." His initial testimony was an almost exact restatement of Ramos's. Galindo said that Casafernisa's behavior was insufferable, as he played naipes (card games) and acted as if he were a judge who could preside over civil and criminal matters. The final witness was Don Juan Figeno, a 35-year old peninsular Spaniard from Seville. He stated that it was unbelievable that a pueblo that was almost
intention, how individuals interpret these images is debatable. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (New York: Pantheon Books, 1988): 1. 172 "...todo lo cual haya este testigo que es causa de una continua inquietud y que sino se remedia servira de que se originen muy perniciosas consecuencias a estare publica y as mismo a los Tribunales que deba proteger por la tirana con que con ellos se porta pues llegan a la noticia de todos los lamentos de los miserables indios..." 1737, AMS, PM, C14, e13, 5f.
inside the Villa could have its own high justice and did not have to consult the judges of Saltillo or the Real Audiencia. Don Figeno said that it was well-known that Casafernisa was very "rebellious." Casafernisa spent much time in the Villa where he entered gambling houses, attended cockfights and horse races. He fought and argued at every event and at one time he tried to pummel Miguel Ramrez after a cockfight. Casafernisa took Ramrez's money and afterwards said that if someone wanted to take it away they could try, but he did not recognize or have to abide by the rulings of any judge other than his Excellency (the king). Juan Figeno pointed out that it was also well-known that the mulatto, Miguel Gonzales, who was jailed in Saltillo because he was an accused murderer had escaped and was protected in the church of the pueblo of San Esteban. They consequently placed guards in front of the church. Figeno said he could site many more instances in both the Villa and San Esteban when Casafernisa had claimed to have jurisdiction over civil and criminal matters. In his letter to the governor, Casafernisa argued that said witnesses were biased and could therefore not provide an accurate account of events or his character. He once again restated the agreement reached by him, Saltillo and San Esteban and complained that the Saltillo council had issued a ruling that stated that anyone who violated their previous agreement after he had sat with the Saltillo council would be fined. In the end the governor issued what could at best be considered a split decision in the case and said that Casafernisa had to pay the 88
1,000 peso fine, but that he could sit next to the Saltillo council as had been agreed by said parties. Conclusion Although Tlaxcalans had their own government and claimed that only the king and viceroy had jurisdiction over them, the council of Saltillo still played an important role in San Esteban's political life. In essence, Saltillo represented the colonial state. Spaniards did not try to establish authority over Tlaxcalans by force, but by imposing their notions of government. It is therefore understandable that one of the witnesses in the Casafernisa case was so preoccupied that news of their conflict and the protector's insolence would reach the Tlaxcalans. News of this event would diminish the Spaniards' status and power in the eyes of San Esteban.
CHAPTER 3 Petitions and Legal Disputes
Although indigenous people in past times left little record of their personal thoughts and beliefs, they did leave behind a vast paper trail of official documentation. The Tlaxcalans of San Esteban wrote extensively to colonial authorities, usually asking for help in deciding local disputes. Along with these petitions, we also have an extensive number of legal cases that involved the residents of San Esteban and other frontier settlers. These types of sources are not transparent, as indigenous people manipulated them to best influence their outcome.173 Yet, neither are they so flawed that we are unable to develop an understanding of local conflicts and the Tlaxcalans' daily concerns. These sources describe how Tlaxcalans lived in these frontier towns and how they were able to negotiate their status in colonial society. Indeed, although at first these petitions and disputes might seem to reveal that indigenous peoples passively accepted their lot in life, the mere fact that the Tlaxcalans and other indigenous groups were so litigious and learned to maneuver within the Spanish legal system
173 On official documents produced by indigenous communities, see Arthur J.O. Anderson, Frances Berdan and James Lockhart, eds. Beyond the Codices: The Nahuas View of Colonial Mexico (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976).
gives testimony to their resiliency. Native peoples helped define colonial life. Indigenous actors "responded to events in ways that helped to determine large parts of their social and cultural reality."174 Furthermore, these cases illustrate how indigenous communities were in constant contact with the outside world and how they developed mechanisms to protect their community's needs. Complaints and legal suits that involved the residents of San Esteban in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries can be divided into three major categories. A large group involved petitions to royal authorities where they complained about excessive labor and church costs.175 Tlaxcalans felt that local priests unfairly collected rents to maintain the church. They argued that since they performed most of the labor to fix the church building, then they should be exempt from paying for certain religious ceremonies. Moreover, the Tlaxcalans also tried to excuse themselves from paying for the performance of the sacraments, a charge that was paid by all.176 The second group includes
174 Arij Ouweneel, "Altepeme and Pueblos de Indios: Some Theoretical Perspectives on the Analysis of the Colonial Indian Communities," In The Indian Community of Colonial Mexico: Fifteen Essays on Land Tenure, Corporate Organizations, Ideology and Village Politics. Edited by Arij Ouweneel and Simon Miller (The Netherlands: CEDLA, 1990): 3. 175 Tlaxcalans complain to the king about high tribute payments and rents imosed by authorities in New Spain,1703. Silvio Zavala and Mara del Carmen Velzquez, eds. Temas del Virreinato: Documentos del Archivo Municipal del Saltillo (Saltillo, MX: Gobierno del Estado de Coahuila, 1990), 49; Edict issued regarding the Indians of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala,1740. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 58-59. 176 Decree by Don Francisco de Berdn y Molina stating that the residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala do not have to pay for the fbrica, 1669. Ibid., 65-67; Resolution reached by the bishop of Guadalajara, 1670. Ibid., 67; Letter by the council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala to the bishop of Guadalajara, 1670, Ibid., 67-68; Letter by the Council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, Ibid., 68-69; Order by the viceroy of New Spain stating that the church should not charge the fbrica, 1677. Ibid., 34-35; Order issued by the bishop of Guadalajara stating that
complaints, and at times criminal cases, that involved the Tlaxcalans' capitn protector. Finally, there are several legal cases and petitions relating to the use of land. Hostilities developed between the residents of San Esteban and individual landowners as land and resources became limited in the eighteenth century, but it was the municipalities of San Esteban and Saltillo who most often came into conflict over these matters. This chapter therefore discusses both Tlaxcalan and Spanish petitions and legal disputes that involved the residents of both San Esteban and Saltillo. This is because the primary goal is to analyze and understand the daily concerns and problems faced by the Tlaxcalans. In addition, these documents also illustrate how Tlaxcalans utilized and learned to manipulate images, language, and the judicial system to best serve their community. In order to avoid any confusion each document is clearly denoted as being either a legal dispute or petition and its author is also listed. Each section is organized in chronological order, so as to demonstrate how these problems developed over time. Language and Structure of Sources The residents of San Esteban wrote extensively to royal authorities, even to the king, throughout the colonial period. These letters and petitions usually discussed disputes over water rights, land, and other civic matters. Tlaxcalans
colonials should not make undue payment and labor demands on the Indians, 1679. Ibid., 59-65; Certification of services given to the church by the residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala,
would often refer back to the original sixteenth century documents that were signed by the king and Captain Francisco de Urdiola, who first brought the Tlaxcalans to Nueva Vizcaya in the sixteenth century. In these petitions they asked that the king step in to defend their rights when the Tlaxcalans felt that local Spanish officials were not acting as the crown intended. More often than not the crown's response was to let the matter resolve itself of its own accord, but at times they also tried to appease the residents of San Esteban by siding with them. Even when the crown did not rule in favor of the Tlaxcalans they apparently were able to ignore many of these rulings, as the same cases keep reemerging. The Tlaxcalans' manipulation of language reveals how they understood colonial norms and how they defined their relationship with the king and the colonial state. The town council of San Esteban ordered and worded the petitions so as to influence the outcome of the disputes. Their language therefore had a self-consciously deferential tone. Indigenous communities appeared to have a clear understanding of how they were viewed by colonial authorities and consequently they tailored the language and the style of their petitions to make the most use of this identity.177 In addition, as Matthew Restall points out, this
1713. Ibid., 35-37. 177 In this respect they were not unlike other indigenous groups. Matthew Restall notes that there were common stylistic aspects in Maya petitions when they adressed high-ranking Spaniards. He writes that the Maya letters were "overtly deferential and self-deprecating in character..." The Maya World: Yucatec Culture and Society, 1550-1850 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 16.
deferential tone was, "undoubtedly descended from preconquest tradition of rulerly address."178 Indeed, the following Nhuatl petition to the king from 1560 is not unlike the ones written by the residents of San Esteban. That one begins: Catholic Royal Majesty Our lord sovereign, you the king Don Felipe our lord, we bow low in great reverence to you in high dignity, we prostrate and humble ourselves before you, very high and feared king through omnipotent God, giver of life. We do not deserve to kiss your feet, only from afar we bow down to you, you who are most high and Christian and very pleasing to God our Lord, for you are his true representative here on earth, you also govern us and lead us in things of Christianity. All of us creatures and subjects of the lifegiving God, we vassals and servants of your majesty...179 Contrast that sixteenth century indigenous petition to one written in the late seventeenth century by the council of San Esteban. In this 1679 appeal to the king the Tlaxcalans complain that local priests required excessive payments for church services. They write: ...we ask and plead that Your Illustrious Honor protect us in this cause and that you execute a decree that will so accomplish this...despite of the fact that the priest has issued his own petition...and in so doing Your Illustrious Honor will do us a great good and will bring us justice...we protest any prejudices that might be enacted towards us, and we also ask that you order that this petition be sent back to us so that we can later use it to ask for justice when it is necessary...180
178 Restall, The Maya World, 252. 179 Anderson, Berdan, and Lockhart, Beyond the Codices, 178-179. 180 In the following Spanish quotes I have kept the original spelling. "...pedimos y suplicamos como a quien viene cometido por Su Seora Ilustrsima sin embargo de la apelacin el mandamiento de Su Seora Ilustrsima sin embargo de la apelacin interpuesta a l por el dicho cura doctrinero, pues en este caso no se le debe admitir por la obediencia que prometi tener a Su Seora Ilustrsima por razn de dicha doctrina, que en hacerlo as Vuestra Majestad nos har bien y merced con justicia la cual pedimos y de los contrario, hablando con el debido acatamiento protestamos el perjuicio que se nos pudiere seguir, sirvindose Vuestra Majestad de mandar que se
In this excerpt the Tlaxcalans refer to the king as their community's "father." This type of address seems to have a clear purpose. By referring to the king as their father, the Tlaxcalan council hoped that, as their ruler, the king would step in to aid them in their time of need, as a responsible parent would do for his children.181 Indeed, in a 1781 letter to their parent colony in Tlaxcala the residents of San Esteban use very similar language as that used when speaking to the king. They write, The governor, town council, judges, and administration of this puelo and province of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxala of Saltillo and the rest of the community, with the most solemnity prostrate ourselves befor you greatness.... In whose attention, we expect the highest protection and solace and as we have spoken about certools that will help us defend our privileges and...every time that they infringe on us, as has been done by them [Villa] in the past, and in these terms we explain all that has befallen us, and so we will be able to restore our dishonor. As your sons it should be that you participate in helping us attain these wishes and pleasures, and so we are obliged every time we see your letters...We do not wish to bother you but we ask and plead that you see us as your sons and will be served to acknowledge these complaints, as they are many, because of the loyalty that we have always professed.
nos devuelva esta peticin original con lo provedo a ella y las diligencias fechas en esta razn para ocurrir a pedir nuestra Justicia a donde ms nos convenga y pedimos Justicia en todo lo necesario..." Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala,1679. Zavala and Velzquez, Tmas del Virreinato, 60. 181 Matthew Restall writes, "The Maya thought of rulers as protectors-a Mesoamerican image, as we have seen-and it is in this spirit that the appeal of these petitions is made; in the ideal world of petitionary hopes, good rulers protect the people from the bad rulers, the latter defined in turn by their failure to protect." The Maya World, 259.
May God Our Father always protect your important and great lives so that you will be able to help us, your humble sons, may we both have years of happiness. Main hall of this Pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala of Saltillo, August, 15, 1781. 182 The Tlaxcalans also emphasized their dire economic circumstances and continuing poverty as reasons why they needed the king's protection. Although the residents of San Esteb an certainly faced difficult conditions in northern New Spain, they also use this information strategically in order to sway the official's rulings. In a 1794 legal dispute between San Esteban and Saltillo, the Tlaxcalan council writes: "...because we [Tlaxcalans] are poor, they make us wait as long as they wish, all they would need to do is send an official or a mayor to let us know
182 "El Gobernador, Cabildo, Justicia y Regimiento de este pueblo y provincia de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala del Saltillo y dems comn...con la ms debida solemnidad postrados ante la grandeza de ustedes... En cuya atencin, esperamos el mayor amparo, y consuelo como tenemos referido de algunos instrumentos, en que podemos defender nustros privilegios. Cada que nos ofrezca (contravencin), en donde como en los dems que da l han procedido, y en estos trminos explicamos todo lo que nos ha acaecido, y restituimos nuestra deshonras. Porque como hijos de ustedes es fuerza que sean participen en nuestros gustos y placeres, y quedamos obligados cada que veamos las letras de ustedes, la que rendidamente, y con todo nuestro fraternal amor ejecutamos. Omitmos el molestar refirindoselos con mayor expresin y pediimos y suplicamos que mirndonos como a sus hijos, se sirvan de admitir estos nuestros descargos por bastantes en virtud de la ya consabida lealted que siempre profesamos, y lo ms que pedimos, y hacemos patente a ustedes en esta nuestra consulta que ser como siempre lo mejor. Dios Nuestro Seor guarde la importante vida de la grandeza de ustedes para amparo de stos, sus hijos humildes, en ambas felizidades muchos aos, Sala Capitular de este Pueblo de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala del Saltillo, y Agosto, quince de mil setecientos ochenta y uno." Last letter sent by the 400 families descendant from Tlaxcala to their parent community. August 15, 1781. Coleccin de documentos para la historia de Tlaxcala y Mxico. Por el Coronel Miguel Lira y Ortega. Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala. (Tlaxcala: FONAPAS, Coordinacin General de Desarrollo Municipal); 193199.
if the matter is of importance...if it was of great importance then we would all attend these meetings..."183 In a 1679 letter, where they complain about high church costs, the San Esteban council discussed how these payment requirements were excessive, in light of their poverty. They write: We received the dispatch from Your Honor with much joy and since you are like a father you have therefore deemed it correct to consider our misery and unhappiness as this land is harsh and difficult to work in. It is full of gentile Chichimecas and we are often among them. It has been sixty-nine years since our ancestors settled this town and they have left us with the same miseries and we have never paid fees to the church...and until this day we repair and fix said church, making sure it looks well in all aspects, adorning it on holidays, and the priest still wants us to pay...184 In this passage the Tlaxcalans also discuss their primary role- to help pacify the Chichimecas. The Tlaxcalans were conscious of what was expected of them by royal authorities. Although the Tlaxcalans were sent to Christianize and
183 "...dicho seor Alcalde por cosas muy leves sin ms mrito de irnos aser presentes y de all mal despachadas como cosa de irricin y como quiera que somos pobres de ningn caudal nos obligan a estar esperando hasta las horas que sus mercedes les antoja, pues con que vaian un regidor o un Alcalde vastar para saber si algo se ofrecia en el oficio y cuando se ofreciera cosas grandes fueramos todos." Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcalan to the governor of Coahuila, 1794, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila. Fuentes Documentales/Biblioteca Tlaxcalteca, ed. Carlos Manuel Valds Davila and Ildefonso del Bosque (Mxico: El Colegio de San Luis/Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala, 1999): 257. 184 "Recibimos el despacho de Vuestra Seori Illustrsima y en ello mucho gusto en haber merecido enviarnos el mandamiento de Vuestra Seora Illustrisima y al fin como padre y Seor nuestro se ha condolido de nuestras miserias y desdichas en esta tierra tan corta y tan trabajosa de enemigos chichimecos genditles donde estamos casi entre ellos cada da con mil susidios; hace sesenta y nueve aos que nuestros antepasados poblaron este pueblo y en l nos dexaron siempre conforme hoy con las mesmas miserias y jams hemos pgado obenciones a los mnistros de doctrina, ...y hasta el da de hoy la estamos reparando y aderezando procurando su lucimiento en todo lo que en ella se ofrece, adornndola los das festivos y con todos estos ciudados queres nuestros padres ministros de doctrina les paguemos sus obenciones sin que les falte ni un real..."
acculturate nomadic indigenous groups, this did not take place. The Tlaxcalans remained ethnically united and the community did not appear to have incorporated other native peoples. Finally, in a 1742 petition where the Tlaxcalan council complained about their capitn protector they write: ... as our only wish is to be able to live in peace, which is why we protest as we do, in order to blindly obey the superior's mandates as we have always done ...we therefore need to petition superiors as we are fearful and need protection...we request your royal interference because as ministers of the king you will be able to attend to our needs with charity, piety and under the watchful eye that our helplessness demands as is the royal spirit of your majesty as God keeps it because we do not have any protection under the human world at this time, this gentleman has absolute power in this town and we have nowhere else to turn because of our orphan status...we hope that Your Honor will intervene to mediate this injustice...We are very poor, so we plead that Your Honor will provide and decide in our favor and in so doing we will receive the reward of justice as we so petition...we plead that you accept this petition even though it does not have a royal stamp.185
Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1679. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 61. 185 "Motivos todos que nos ynstimulan el temor a ser los patentes a Vuestra Merced para que en aquel modo que en derecho pueda y deve lo contenga para que nos deje vivir en pas que solo eso es nuestro animo protestando como protestamos a obedeser siegamente los superiores mandatos de los superiores como lo emos echo siempre sin que se entienda bulnear la jurisdicion y aunque conosemos que la de Vuestra Merced no se entiende a tanto...La necesidad de careser de superior recurso por la gran distancia en que de el estamos el temor nos unstimula a ampararnos bajo la protecion de Vuestra Merced ynplorando su real empleo para que como ministro de nuestro Seor el Rey nos atienda y mire con la caridad, piedad, y selo que pide nuestro desamparo como es el real animo de su magestad que Dios guarde porque devajo de lo humano no tenemos por aora otro rrecurso por considerarse este cavallero absoluto en este pueblo sin tener nuestra orfandad a quien ocurrir que lo contenga en bista de todo lo qual por conbenir a nuestro derecho se a de servir Vuestra Merced justicia mediante mandarnos dar zertificacion de todo lo acaesido sobre este asunto que a Vuestra Merced, Consta, como asi mismo de aberse empeado ha nuestra suplica ynterponiendo sus respectos para con dicho seor theniente nuestro protector a fin de que nos dejara bivir en pas sin bolentarnos sobre este asunto asta tanto que lo determinase el Superior Govierno...A Vuestra Merced pedimos y suplicamos se sirva prover y determinar como pedimos que en aserlo asi resiviremos merced con justicia la que devidamente ymploramos en el Real empleo de Vuestra Merced que atendiendonos con la caridad, y Zelo que pide materia tan piadosa
The Tlaxcalans refer to themselves as "helpless," but as we will see this does not accurately describe their behavior. It appears to be a self-conscious attempt to play on the Spanish view that indigenous people were "childlike" and needed protection from royal authorities. Indigenous people were neither childlike nor helpless, despite of how they were treated by colonial authorities. Magnus Mrner notes that in the sixteenth century indigenous peoples' status was in many ways equal to that of minors. They were obliged to pay tribute and labor for Spaniards by force, but they were also excused from paying certain taxes. They did not have to serve in the military, but could not carry arms or ride on horseback (in this case the Tlaxcalans were an exception, as one of the privileges given to them by the king was that they could carry firearms). They had special "protectors" (like a capitn protector) and could not be tried by the Inquisition, but they could not enter into contracts or buy liquor. Later in the colonial period indigenous communities were created, in part to distance them from the corrupt influence of Spanish settlers. Yet, these Republicas de Indios were also easier to control by the Spanish colonial state.186
nos proteja resiviendonos vajo el amparo Real en aquel modo que le puede ser permitido en derecho sin que se entienda en esta suplica ynobediencia en nosotros ni bulnerar la jurisdizion pues solo asemos por alcansar justicia juramos en evida forma costas protestamos y en lo nesesario y otro si a Vuestra Merced suplicamos nos admita este escrito en el presente papel por no aberlo del sello que le corresponda sin perjuicio del Real derecho utsupra." Tlaxcalan petition to viceroy, Town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala issue complain against their protecting captain, 1742. Ibid., 163-171. 186 Magnus Mrner, Estado, razas, y cambio social en la Hispanoamerican colonial (Mxico: Secretara de Educacin Pblica, 1974): 29, 91-92; In her recent study of race in colonial Mexico
Another way the Tlaxcalans supported their legal claims was to remind the crown of their loyal service. They believed that they had a reciprocal relationship with their ruler and that their efforts to help the Crown should be rewarded in kind. There are several royal certifications given by the Crown to the residents of San Esteban in recognition of their help in establishing other colonies in the northeast.187 In a 1728 petition they write: ...we solicit the greatness and sovereign attributes, charity and conscientiousness [of the king] so that we will receive justice [from him] and so we have said for one-hundred and thirty seven years, since our ancestors, the original Tlaxcalatecas of the Gran Tlaxcala[.] In virtue of this Royal Edict that we are supposed to enjoy and which we present with veneration so that your Illustrious Lordship will be aware of what has been allotted to us since this Pueblo was founded. In virtue of said decree our ancestors and we, as fronterizos that we are, have helped maintain Your Majesty's dominions in war and peace...we have suffered robberies and thefts from the rebellious Indians and we have redeemed many of these barbarians by leaving our town and have populated the Reyno de Len; a town in Real de San Pedro de Boca de Leones named San Miguel de Aguayo and other towns in
Laura A. Lewis argues that inidgenous groups were both infantilized and feminized by colonial authorities. Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft, and Caste in Colonial Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 57-60; On perceptions of indians as "children" in the colonial world see, Louise Burkhart, The Slippery Earth: Nahua-Christian Moral Dialogue in Sixteenth-Century Mexico (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1989, 17; Inga Clendinnen, "Disciplining the Indians: Franciscan Ideology and Missionary Violence in Sixteenth-Century Yucatan," Past and Present 94 (1982): 43; Woodrow Borah, Justice by Insurance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983): 30. 187 Certification issued by the capitn protector and mayor of Saltillo, Don Buenaventura de Aguirre, in recognition of help given by the Tlaxcalans of San Esteban to the Canary Islanders who were on their way to San Antonio, 1731. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 153-155; Certification issued to the Tlaxcalans after they helped establish the settlements of Nuestra Seora de la Purificacin and Nuestra Seora de San Juan de Carrizal, 1749. Ibid., 181-184; Certification given by the authorities of Nuestra Seora de la Purificacin for help given by the residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala in establishing their town, 1749. Ibid., 185-188; Certification issued to the Tlaxcalans of San Esteban for helping to establish the settlement of Parras, San Francisco de Coahuila, Nuestra Seora de la Candela, San Miguel de Aguayo, Guadalupe de la Purificacin, and Concepcin, 1760. Ibid., 213-216.
Nuestra Seora de la Purificacin, as well as another in Nuestra Seora de la Concepcin and another in Nuestra Seora de Guadalupe and in the province of Coahuila the pueblo of San Francisco and San Fernando de la Candela. Likewise this town has colonized the Valle de Santa Mara de las Parras... 188 As we will see, Spanish settlers also outlined their loyal service to the Crown to support their legal cases.189 Perhaps the Tlaxcalans were following the example set by European settlers. By the eighteenth century colonial authorities apparently placed less emphasis on this type of information and considered written documents as more valid sources to support land claims. This will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapter. In light of these examples, we must therefore read and consider the following case studies as deeply complex documents that both tell a story about
188 "...solicitando de la Grandeza de su soberano atributo y carydad y buen celo el alivio que con justicia debamos gozar y decimos que ha ms de ciento y treinta y siete aos que por nuestros causantes Naturales Tlaxcaltecas de la Gran Tlaxcala, en virtud de Real Cdula por Su Magestad que Dios guarde se pobl este Pueblo concedindonos los Privilegios que por dicha Real Cdula consta debemos gozar, la que presentamos con debida veneracin para que a su Seora Illustrisima le conste lo que se nos es concedido y desde eltiempo que se fund este Pueblo en virtud de dicha provisin nuestros antepasados y nosotros, como fronterizos que somos, hemos mantenido en paz y en guerra estos Dominios de Su Magestad a nuestra costa y mencin y a costa de nuestras vidas, y padecer robos y latrocinios de los Indios rebeldes de Real Corona, habindose utilizado de este Pueblo la redencin a muchos brbaros saliendo a poblaciones de este dicho Pueblo la redencin a muchos brbaros saliendo a poblaciones de este dicho Pueblo al Reyno de Len naturales e hijos de este Pueblo; un Pueblo al Real de San Pedro de Boca de Leones que se intitula San Miguel de Aguayo y otro Pueblo en Nuestra Seora de la Purificacin y otro que Nuestra Seora de la Concepcin y otro en Nuestra Seora de Guadalupe y en la Provincia de Coahuila el Pueblo de San Francisco y el de San Fernando de la Candela. Como asimismo se pobl de este Pueblo el Valle de Santa Mara de las Parras..." Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala to the bishop of Guadalajara, 1728. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 39. 189 The town council of Saltillo files suit against the authorities of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1660. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 91.
conflict and survival, but also describe an indigenous society that struggled to seek justice and to preserve the most valued aspects of their culture. Complaints Relating to Excessive Church Costs and Unpaid Labor Religion played an important role in the lives of the residents of San Esteban. Their participation in church life, as well as their individual devotion to the Catholic faith was central to their world. Yet, the Tlaxcalans' apparent acceptance of Christianity did not deter them from questioning the actions of the local clergy. They did not hesitate to seek outside help when they felt their local parish priest was treating them unjustly. For instance, in 1669 the San Esteban town council complained to authorities in Guadalajara that the Franciscan priest then in charge, Antonio de Ulibarri, demanded that they help maintain the church, as well as perform other types of labor, but had refused to pay them for these services.190 The Tlaxcalans argued that they made daily repairs and decorated the church during every holiday, but the priest still required that they pay the fbrica (money paid to the church by parishioners to help maintain the building). Tlaxcalans felt that they should be excused from paying for baptisms, marriages, and funeral proceedings because, in their eyes, they provided free labor to the
190 "...os ruego y encargo que reconoscais los aranceles de los derechos de los curas y aberiguareis si exiden de ellos, o si son excessivos, y en caso de serlo los hareis minorar para aliviar a los indios...", Order issued by the bishop of Gadalajara, 1669. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 65.
priest and had already paid a five hundred peso yearly rent fee.191 The Tlaxcalans felt that it was their church and because they worked to maintain it any additional payments were unfair.192 Consequently, Father Ulibarri refused to perform any more religious ceremonies until he received these dues. The Tlaxcalans went on to say that although a child from their community had recently died Father Ulibarri refused to bury him until he was paid for the four pesos and two tomines. In addition, the priest no longer allowed the Tlaxcalans to light candles or make offerings of wine and bread for their deceased in the cemetery. Indeed, in a record that lists the payments made by the Tlaxcalans to the church it does appear that they could not afford to pay these minimal charges. In one such example, Pablo Serrano, a resident of San Esteban, paid two pesos for the burial of his son, but because he could not pay the other one peso he had to bury his son outside of the church cemetery.193 The Tlaxcalan council highlighted these unfair and, in their view, irregular practices in the following letter. They write: Likewise, we declare that our guardian priest, the Cura Vicario Fray Antonio de Ulibarri, on the Day of the Dead displeased the residents of this town by not letting us light candles before mass, being that each person makes offerings [ofrendas]of candles, bread, and whatever else they can afford, and our priest sends people to blow out these candles saying that the wax used for the candles is of the wrong kind194...the residents are unhappy because
191 Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala to the bishop of Gadalajara, fray Juan de Santiago de Len Garavito, 1679. Ibid., 69. 192 Ibid., 68.. 193 Ibid., 66. 194 Castilian wax was apparently the only kind that could be used in altars. In a 1772 petition, local officials in Saltillo complained that there was a lack of Castilian wax. Officials at that time
they see that their ofrendas are taken away from the graves of their parents and relatives...Illustrious Lord may you order that the sons of Your Illustrious Lordship are not distressed, what is stated above is the truth and we swear to God and the cross that this is the truth...and seeing as we are poor and we do not have anyone else to turn to...we are subject to the conditions of war continually, leaving our region seeing as we must to punish our enemy, as is certified that we have left said Pueblo to perform services for God and Our King... 195 Although excessive church payments were the Tlaxcalans' primary concern in this petition, they also took this opportunity to detail how authorities in Saltillo harassed them. They write: Seor, we dare to notify you with this petition that we are not allowed to enter the countryside to collect firewood or to let our cattle graze, they have even restricted us from collecting water [.] We therefore also turn to Your Majesty in order to notify you that the lieutenant [from Saltillo] has let us know that we are not to leave the area without his permission and if he finds us in the countryside we will find ourselves hanging from a tree or he will send men out to beat us....196
decided that altars only needed to have six candles made of pure Castilian wax. Archivo de la Iglesia de la Catedral de Saltillo, Libro numero 2 de Gobierno, June 19, 1772, 2. 195 "Asimismo decimos y declaramos como nuestro padre Guardin Cura Vicario doctrinero frai Antonio Ulibarri, el da de la conmemoracin de los fieles difuntos, da poco gusto a los vecinos deste Pueblo no dejando encender luces antes de Misa, siendo as que muchas personas llevan sus ofrendas de cera y pan en lo que pueden cada uno, y que se pone de cera, por ser menuda no lo contenta. Otros: manda meter las ofrendas de cera y pan en el altar mayor y muchos de los vecinos estn descontentos en ver quitar sus ofrendas sobre las sepulturas de sus padres y parientes. -Illustrisimo Seor mandar que no sean desconsolados los hijos de Vuestra Ssa. Illma. que esta es la verdad que ha dicho y declarando lo arriba referido y jurar a Dios y a la Cruz ser cierto su declaracin, y agora que ms convenga en todas nuestras necesidades y trabajos y pobreza, y siendo as que somos pobres no tenemos de donde poderlos adquirir que es la tierra corta. Otros: estamos sujetos a la conduccin de las guerras continuamente saliendo a nuestra costa y mencin cada y cuando que se ofrece para castigar al enemigo, como consta de las certificaciones que tenemos en dicho Pueblo a los servicios hechos a Dios y al Rey nuestro Seor que dios guarde muchos aos..." Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 67. 196 "Seor atrevernos notificando por auto el no pasar el monte por lea quitndonos el pasto que no pasemos con nuestros ganados hasta el agua nos han impedido, siendo as que estamos acudiendo enlos servicios de Su Magestad y tambin nos notific dicho teniento no salgamos sin licencia suya al campo ni aun una cuarta de legua si nos cogiere en dicho campo que nos dejar
As we will see later in this chapter, access to land and water was necessary for survival in this frontier society and bitter disputes developed over these resources. Father Ulibarri asked that justice be served in this matter and argued that he was only abiding by previous decrees issued by a royal tribunal in Mexico City that required payment by all groups for the sacraments. Despite his protests, in this instance, the bishop of Guadalajara supported the Tlaxcalans. He addressed this matter in a 1679 letter where he advised local priests that they should not mistreat or make undue demands on their parishioners and neither should they require excessive payments for the sacraments. He wrote, "I plead and ask that an inquiry be made to find out if the church tariffs are excessive and if they are they should be lessened so as to lighten demands on the Indians."197 The Tlaxcalans thanked the bishop for the his help, but also reminded church authorities that the Tlaxcalans in the north should not be confused or placed on equal standing with the "indios laboros" (working Indians) when the church decided how much each group would pay for religious services.198 The San Esteban council writes, "...thank you for sending help at such a favorable time...do send an edict where we are not confused in status with the indios
colgados en una palma o que nos mandara apelotear..." Letter written by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala to the bishop of Guadalajara, 1679. Ibid., 61-62. 197 Edict issued by the bishop of Gadalajara, 1679. Ibid., 59-60. 198 Letter by the town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala to the bishop of Gadalajara, 1669. Ibid., 68.
laboros."199 "Working Indians" were possibly the nomadic indigenous peoples that were placed in missions, worked in the mines, lived in people's homes as servants, or were enslaved.200 The Tlaxcalans distinguished between themselves, those who made their living off the land and not from the labor they performed for others, and other indigenous groups that were not able to have their own family farms. In this same document the Tlaxcalans discuss their poverty, but also their special privileges and exemptions. The Tlaxcalans' belief that they were special or distinct from other northern indigenous groups becomes even stronger later in the colonial period, as the term "Indian" acquired a more negative connotation. The residents of San Esteban, or at least the town council and other town leaders, fought to preserve their privileges by advocating that they were in fact not simply "Indians," but had primordial rights and a noble status that made them different. The Tlaxcalans are not fighting to protect the rights of indigenous people, but of their self-defined community. When the bishop visited in 1682 he issued a new decree that required all frontier residents to pay for the sacraments, as this was what the bishops in Mexico City had previously mandated.201 This ruling did not stop the town council of San Esteban from petitioning church authorities once again in 1728, to
199 "...muchas gracias en habernos enviado a tan lindo tiempo el remedio...mandando hacer arancel que haya y que no se nos entremeten en igualdad los indios laboros." Ibid., 68. 200On Indian slavery in the north see, Jos Cuello, "The Persistence of Indian Slavery and Encomienda in the Northeast of Colonial Mexico, 1577-1723," Journal of Social History 21:4 (1988).
complain about these payments. This issue continued to be a point of discord between the church and the Tlaxcalans for many years, as church leaders continually reissued orders that spelled out payment requirements for each parish and costs that needed to be paid by each casta.202 Complaints against the Capitn Protector de Indios of San Esteban Another source of frustration for the residents of San Esteban was their relationship with their official protector, or the capitn protector de Indios. Conflicts with these colonial appointees are documented in petitions filed by the Tlaxcalans or by the protector himself. Such episodes were also recounted in criminal records or by complaints made by the town council of Saltillo. There were several edicts issued by colonial authorities concerning the activities and jurisdiction of the capitanes protectores. 203 In 1630, the viceroy, Don Rodrigo Pacheco y Osorio, issued a brief in response to complaints made by the general captain of Nueva Galicia, Agustn de Cavala Caballero. In this decree he admonished both the capitanes protectores, as well as the mayors of Spanish townships, and stressed that they needed to stay out of each other's
201 Edict issued by the bishop of Gadalajara, fray Francisco de Rivera, 1682. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 38-39. 202 Archivo de la Iglesia de la Catedral de Saltillo, Libros de Gobierno. 203 Statement discussing the jurisdiction of thecapitn protector de indios, 1630. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 87-90; Edict issued against the abuses of the Protectores de Indios, 1720. Ibid., 141-146; Viceroy issues decree against the actions of the capitn protector by request of the Indians, 1732. Zavala and Velzquez, Tmas del Virreinato, 47-48.
jurisdictions.204 These types of royal decrees did not seem to deter either party from harassing indigenous peoples. In 1720 another Real Cedula was issued reminding local officials of the Recopilacin de Indias, which forbade Spanish settlers from directly associating with indigenous groups or from buying their property.205 It advised the capitanes protectores of this fact and reminded them that they needed to protect the indigenous population from the abuses of Spanish settlers.206 This edict was issued in response to ongoing complaints made by indigenous communities about their protectores and it concludes by saying, "the capitanes protectores should be notified and should abide by his majesty's orders."207 The capitn protector's primary role was to protect the Tlaxcalans from harm, but at times he created problems in both the communities of San Esteban and Saltillo by trying to extend his powers. In an incident that took place in 1739,
204 Statement discussing the jurisdiction of the capitn protector de Indios,1630. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 87-90. 205 Edict issued discusses the abuses committed by the Protectores de Indios, 1720. Ibid., 141146. 206 "...por las leyes sincuenta y cuatro y sincuenta y sinco del libro segundo titulo de dies y seis de la rrecopilasion de ella que proiven que los presidentes ministros alcaldes ni oficiales no traten ni contraten ni se cirvan de los yndios ni conpren casas chacanas estansias guertas ni tierras y resuelto por mi Real decreto de onze de este mez ordenar que las personas que obtubieren los referidos oficios de protectores de yndios esten conprendidos en la prohivision de penas que sealan las expresadas leyes con la comun limitasion de las asiendas heredadas para ympedir no yncurra en semejantes abusos respecto de la maior facilidad que les dara el tener a los yndios devaxo de su mano por tanto mando a mis virreyes de amvos reynos de Nueva Espaa y el Peru y..." Indigenous uprising in Castao and Monclova. Citation in recognition of help given by a Tlaxcalan, 1720. Ibid., 147-151. 207 "...para que se le haga notorio a los cappitanes protectores de yndios que hubiere en dicho partido que guarden puntualmente lo que se magestad manda sin yncurir en cosa alguna debajo de
and that is described in a petition written by the San Esteban town council, the protector went on a drunken rampage that started on September 9th of that year and did not end until two days later when he was incarcerated on the eleventh of September. This was only after said capitn protector, Don Cristobal de los Santoscoy, attacked the mayor of Saltillo, Don Antonio Fernandez, who had earlier jailed Santoscoy's brother. The mayor imprisoned Santoscoy, but only after he received a bloody nose in a scuffle with him. Santoscoy was released from jail the following day, but this only slowed him down for a short while. The protector and two other men went on a drinking binge the following night, but this time they brought their guns with them and demanded to see the mayor. After declaring that the "judges in the villa [of Saltillo] did not have jurisdiction over him," Santoscoy was arrested once again. Santoscoy was indignant and demanded to be informed why he had been jailed in the first place.208 The mayor of Saltillo chastised Santoscoy for harassing the residents of San Esteban and for generally providing a bad example in their township and in the area at large. A few years after this episode the Tlaxcalans again complained about the behavior of their capitn protector. In 1742 the Tlaxcalan governor and town council contacted royal authorities to protest about the abusive behavior of Mauricio Delgado, the current captain. Delgado had apparently seized the cattle
los apersevimientos que refiere dandome cuenta de las dilixensias que hiziere." Edict issued against the abuses incurred by the Protectores de Indios, 1720. Ibid., 141-146.
that belonged to the residents of San Esteban and then imprisoned the Tlaxcalan governor and some of the members of the town council. When the Tlaxcalans demanded that they be released, Delgado took hold of one Tlaxcalan by his hair and tried to beat him. He imprisoned members of the San Esteban town council and threatened to remove them from their posts. Finally, on the third day of this debacle, the mayor of Saltillo, Don Christobal Snchez, was able to negotiate the release of the Tlaxcalan governor and town council members who were also imprisoned. Captain Delgado demanded fifteen pesos from the governor of San Esteban to pay for the expenses incurred by their imprisonment. Blas Dionicio, the Tlaxcalan governor, then told Delgado that he did not have such money. Delgado continued to demand this payment and to threaten the citizenry of San Esteban. This Tlaxcalan petition therefore asked that the viceroy step in to protect his vassals by removing this individual from his post. Delgado continued to threaten the Tlaxcalans and warned them not to seek help from other authorities, for council or protection. It is unclear how this matter was resolved, as there is no record of a response from the viceroy.209 Complicated disputes over who had ultimate authority in San Esteban seemed to form a central part of the Tlaxalans' lives. Although the townships of San Esteban and Saltillo were only divided by one street, they were different
208 Criminal case against Don Cristobal de los Santoscoy, protector of the Tlaxcalan Indians, 1739. Ibid., 157-161.
political entities and were under different colonial jurisdictions. Saltillo was under the political and administrative government of Nueva Vizcaya, with its capital in Durango. Judicially it was under Nueva Galicia, with its capital in Guadalajara. San Esteban was under the direct jurisdiction of the viceroy of New Spain and under the judicial jurisdiction of Mexico's Real Audiencia.210 Later in the colonial period this chain of command became even more complicated when Saltillo and Parras were incorporated into the region of Coahuila and the Internal Provinces were created. The question of who had ultimate authority created much confusion amongst Spanish settlers and was even more problematic for indigenous groups who oftentimes did not speak Spanish and were unfamiliar with Spanish government. Local officials in the north and at times the Tlaxcalans themselves tried to take advantage of the confusion created by this complex system of government. In 1746, Don Diego Phelipe Zains de las Cortes, another capitn protector of San Esteban, petitioned royal authorities because he believed that he should have singular administrative power in the town and not the mayor of Saltillo, the governor of Nueva Vizcaya, or the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara. The residents of San Esteban themselves did not explicitly support his petition. Yet, there are
209 The authorities of the town of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala issue a formal complaint against their protector, 174. Ibid., 163-171. 210 Vito Alessio Robles, Coahuila y Texas en la epoca colonial (1938; reprint, Mxico: Editorial Porrua, 1978): 188.
no existing documents where the Tlaxcalans express their opposition.211 The capitn protector reasoned that he was the only one who truly protected the Tlaxcalans from the encroachment of hacendados, as well as from the actions of the Saltillo city council. De las Cortes argued that since 1591 it had been customary for the town of San Esteban to only allow the capitn protector to negotiate on their behalf. Even though the Tlaxcalans themselves had very little to say in this petition, he used their long history of service to the Crown to support his claim.212 De las Cortes states, ...this town of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala has never avoided or expressed any reservations in the occasions that have emerged when the [crown] needed their military service and have provided their assistance in the most efficient manner and have maintained a cavalry unit at their own expense, which today exists to meet the urgencies of war...and so they cannot and should not allow any outside intervention and it is my obligation to defend them as their representative...Saltillo officials have tried to exclude and harass the members of my jurisdiction and have tried to impose their ways in the town of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala.213
211 It is worth noting that the Tlaxcalans kept an "original" edict from the Viceroy of New Spain dated from 1746. It states that the capitn protector had jurisdiction over other entities within San Esteban. In 1777 the Tlaxcalans used this document to petitioin the viceroy to ask that he appoint a capitn protector they aproved of beforehand. Viceroy appoints a capitn protector to San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1746. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 92-93; The residents of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala write the Viceroy requesting the appointment of Don Felix Francisco Pacheco as the capitn protector of their town, 1777. Ibid., 93-95. 212 Statement discussing the legal separation of Saltillo and San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1750. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila,189-200. 213 "...este Pueblo de San Estevan de la Nueva Tlaxcala nunca se a excusado, ni reservado en las ocasiones, y tiempos, que se han ofrecido a la assistencia, ni al ejercicio militar con el empeo, y prontitud mas eficaz, manteniendo desde su fundacin un cituado de Caballada competente a su costa, que oy existe para las presisas urgencias de guerra a que han concurrido sin intermisin alguna con el seguro de gosar su fuero y demas pribilegios, que en semejantes actos corresponde, y en su consequencia no pueden, ni deven permitir yntroducion contraria, y es correspondiente a mi obligacion su defenza en las correspondientes representaciones. Para la presente me han
He argued that Captain Francisco de Urdiola himself had given Tlaxcalans the right to use lands for their orchards, farms, and homesteads. In addition, Urdiola legally separated the towns of San Esteban and Saltillo and had stated that the capitn protector had jurisdiction in all cases within the political boundaries of San Esteban. De las Cortes also stated that although San Esteban and Saltillo were close to one another, they always had separate jurisdictions. He was correct in this respect, but his assessment that his, "predecessors had always exercised jurisdiction without opposition or contradiction as it is conceded by their title," was more difficult to prove.214 De las Cortes concludes by saying that, "as frontier peoples, and as prompt contributors of military service, the Indians of this town have always remained under the jurisdiction of the capitn protector."215 The royal response that came later that same year decreed that things should continue as had been customary. The mayor of Saltillo was to be notified that he did not have any say in the town of San Esteban and if he intervened in the Tlaxcalans' matters a fine would be levied in the amount of 200 pesos. This case is telling because, although the Tlaxcalans were not directly involved in this matter, it does appear that the capitn protector is speaking on behalf of the community of San Esteban. If the Tlaxcalans supported such a
mobido todo el expresado, y el veer que con novedad la justicia de la Villa de el Saltillo, ha pretendido, y pretende, excluir y pertubar mi jurisdicion, y sujetar a la suya a los naturales de este pueblo de San Estevan de la Nueva Tlaxcala..." Ibid., 189-200. 214 "...y en cuia conformidad mis antesesores la han exercido libremente sin ninguna oposicin, ni contradicin, como que les es concedida por el mismo ttulo y patente." Ibid., 189-200.
petition perhaps it was because they felt it was in their best interest to allow the capitn protector ultimate jurisdiction in their town, so they could limit the influence of the Saltillo council in their community. In her analysis of the 1680 Pueblo revolt in New Mexico Lauren Benton points out that indigenous people understood that there were tensions between colonial authority figures or entities and they consequently became adept at exploiting these tensions. Native groups became "astute legal strategists" and often filed legal suits. They complained that they had not been paid for their services and quickly learned to appeal to secular authorities to report the abuses of the friars.216 This seems to reflect how the residents of San Esteban learned to deal with colonial officials in the north. The fact that they sought out the input of the king, viceroy, governor, the capitn protector, and at times even the Saltillo town council's help would indicate that they were trying to create a type of "jurisdictional confusion."217 Thus this frontier situation might have allowed the Tlaxcalans to have some measure control over their own community.
215 Ibid., 189-200. 216 Lauren Benton, Law and Colonial Culture, Legal Regimes in World History; 1400-1900 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002): 99. 217 Benton writes, "Jurisdictional confusion was often a source of disorder. To the extent that it promoted order, it did so not by consistently producing consensus or even a mechanism for institutional adjustment, but by structuring similar conflicts across culturally and economically diverse regions. Patricipants understood the contests to be simultaneously about definisions of culture and racial distance and about control over resources. These interconnections gave jurisdictional issues their special, central place in the political order of sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury Spanish America." Law and Colonial Culture, 101.
Municipal Discord and Disputes over the Use of Land Throughout the colonial period the residents of San Esteban competed for resources with large landowners and their neighbors in Saltillo. On three different occasions, for example, the hacendado, Juan Recio de Leon, was advised by the Crown to leave the Tlaxcalans alone in their own lands and to stop harassing these groups.218 In the last royal brief Juan Recio was told, in no uncertain terms, that he needed to vacate the lands that belonged to the residents of San Esteban.219 Although there are no more decrees issued by the viceroy about this matter, Juan Recio was not the last landowner that tried to encroach on Tlaxcalan lands. One bitter clash between hacendados and Tlaxcalans occurred with a descendant of Captain Urdiola, Doa Isabel de Urdiola, whose hacienda surrounded the township of Parras. Tlaxcalans from San Esteban originally settled Parras in 1598. During the 1770's the Tlaxcalan residents of Parras, who had lost all of their pasturelands, were faced with the prospect of losing their water supply, which was pivotal in maintaining their community's farms. Doa Isabel's goal was to divert all of the water in the nearby area for use in her hacienda. The Tlaxcalans were able to rebuff this powerful landowner's legal attack and maintained partial use of their water rights.220
218 1716, Archivo General de la Nacin, Fondo de Indios, vol. 41, e. 71, f. 90-92v; 1720, AGN, Indios, vol. 43, e. 309, f. 413-413v; 1725, AGN, Indios, vol. 49, e. 86, f. 99-101v. 219 1725, AGN, Indios, vol. 49, e. 86, f. 99-101v. 220 Ida Altman, "The Marqueses de Aguayo: A Family and Estate History," Master's thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1972: 6.
The Tlaxcalan council's main source of frustration was their seemingly never-ending conflicts with Saltillo over the use of land and resources. These problems might have developed because Spaniards and Tlaxcalans had very different notions about what encompassed common lands. Nevertheless, discord between these two municipalities only seemed to worsen over time. This was because there were fewer areas that remained unoccupied by the end of the colonial period. Residents of both Saltillo and San Esteban complained to royal authorities and condemned each other's behavior and what they believed to be the inappropriate or unfair use of these increasingly limited resources. One such example is a 1660 legal suit brought forth by the Villa of Saltillo. They wanted to stop what they referred to as the Tlaxcalans' "brazeness," as the residents of San Esteban were taking over lands in surrounding areas and building individual homesteads. Saltillo's town council also wanted the Tlaxcalans to fence in their ejidos and their ranch animals. Saltillo's mayor, Don Fernando de Ascue y Armendariz, writes, "...we ask and plead that in light of this petition Your Honor will order the said Tlaxcaltecos and their town council to not make use of the said pathway or utilize the lands despite of any excuses they might come up with against this Villa [Saltillo]."221 They go on to say, "We ask that your honor will
221 "A vuestra merced pido y suplico sea servido en vista de esta peticin mandar a dichos tlaxcaltecos y su cabildo no pasen de dicho camino a laborear tierras con ningun genero de pretexto acia esta parte de la villa y todo el asta su longtitud como el que no provean a la billa mas casas de la dicha ermita de ospital para abajo por ser en perjuicio de los vezinos de ella y que de continuar de ello se den por propias de la villa y perdidas de ellos como lo que sembraren por ser tierras de la villa siendo viscaya quererlo introducir por Nueva Espaa que en aserlo asi vuestra
be well served to order that said Tlaxcalans and their town council do not use lands from the path that leads to the outskirts of this Villa to the home of Licenciado Corts."222 The council of Saltillo argued that although the Tlaxcalans had been given certain privileges by the Crown when they first arrived in the frontier, at that time they only numbered a few dozen, but by 1660 there were more than eight hundred Tlaxcalans. They said that they hoped the Crown would support Saltillo's petition, as they had served the king well by helping to pacify the rebellious Indians and still continued to defend this "important frontier" without incurring any costs on the crown. They asked that royal authorities be sent to survey and make appropriate and fair allotments of such lands without "prejudicing the rights of the residents of Saltillo." The Saltillo council writes, I ask and plead that in light of said supplication Your Honor will send someone to measure the [lands] that are next to said Tlaxcalans without prejudice of the rights of minorities or privileges of this Villa which was first established and has greater rights and as the Spanish are the conquerors and having done this at their own expense...and they have supported this region for such a long time and that you tell them [Tlaxcalans] to abstain from using the measurements they outlined in their petition and that they free up and make available the lands of the Villa [Saltillo] and that the egidos and as far as water rights are concerned we ask that they also be curtailed and although initially water was to be used by the community as a whole, there were then only 12 people and now there are more than 800. There are more than 100 families with 2, 4, 8, or 10 children, as well as widows and single people. You
mersed revisar esta villa bien y mersed con justicia la qual pido en lo nesesario etcetera." The Villa of Saltillo files suit against San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1660. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 91-102. 222 "...siendo vuestra mersed servido de servir mandar a dichos tlaxcaltecos y su cabildo no pasen a laborear tierras desde el camino que salde de esta villa por la ermita del licenciado Cortes..." Ibid., 99.
must take this frontier region into consideration as we border the Nuevo Reino de Leon on one side and the Real de Mazapil on the other and we help out all of these regions when they are attacked by rebellious Indians that are allied with the Salineros. These numerous nations have killed, robbed and brought fear to the Real de Mazapil, Cuencame and all of the lands reaching as far as the outskirts of Zacatecas. The people of this region have done all of this at their own expense from the time they first came here when they first waged war against the Guachichil Indians.223 There is no record of a royal response to this dispute, but nine years later the Tlaxcalans wrote the governor of Nueva Vizcaya and asked him for help in resolving a legal case that once again concerned the use of land. The Tlaxcalans stated that the town council, mayor, constable, and the parish priest of Saltillo had presented them with an edict from the general captain of the region, Juan Antonio de Savia that stated that the Tlaxcalans could not to go into the brushland for
223 "A vuestra merced pido y suplico cea cerbido de mandar en busta de este y de dichas mercedes midan las que le competen a dichos tlaxcaltecos sin perjuisio del derecho de menoridad y pribilejio de esta dicha villa como primera en tiempo y mejor en derecho y cer conquistadores los espaoles y averla echo a su costa y ser la de su magestad y sustentandola tanto tiempo y mandarles con pena se abstengan en aquellas que expresen sus medidas y dexen libres y desenbaarasadas las de la villa y sus egidos y en quanto a la merced de las aguas fecho en las asiendas lo bindieron como consta de la escriptura que ante vuestra merced demostre y de la del agua que ce le ase de la del cerbisio desta villa en su nombre protesto asi en lo uno como en lo otro no le pare perjuicio ni en el criado del molino por que lo que es de la comun y necesita de ello no puede darlo a otro el cavildo maiormente quando en la conciderasion de sus antiguos se jusgaron como doze y oi ai mas de ochocientas personas y el derecho de vecindad y villa nunca se lo pudieron quitar y cer una de las mas importantes fronteras que su magestad que dios guarde tiene y se compone de mas de cien familias de ombres actuales casados y estos con dos quatro ocho y dies ijos sin las de las biudas y solteros y cer frontera de mucha considerasioin en estas partes pues anpara por la una la del nuevo Reino de Leon y por otra la del Real de macapil y sus contornos que es de la galicia y por otra la del Balle de Parras dando los socorros necesarios a dichas partes y rreparando por otra los asaltos y correrias de los yndios alsados que asisten en la probincia de coahuila aliados con los salineros que son muchisimas naciones de donde salen a aser muertes y rovos y tener infrstado y atemorisado al Real de Masapil, Cuencame sonberete y toda la tierra asta llegar a las goteras de Sacatecas, y averlo echo a su costa los vezinos de ella y de los
firewood. They also could not let their cattle or horses graze on the pastures that were in the vicinity of Saltillo or to use their water. If the Tlaxcalans did so they would be fined sixty pesos. The Tlaxcalans' petition states, The town council and administration of the Pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala appear before Your Honor and we say that we were notified by the town council of the Villa de Santiago del Saltillo of the said edict decreed by Your Honor, in which you order us to appear with the original foundation documents and the land measurements that we now possess and which we now make part of our town and which justify and support our ownership [of this land] during all of these years and we have owned it without contradiction or aversion We ask that Your Honor send an inspector to visit and provide justice for which we ask for and protest said town council's damaging costs and other expenses that this legal dispute incurs and so we ask for justice."224 The Tlaxcalans concluded by saying, ...as the gentleman that he is, we ask for the most Christian resolution that is most convenient for the service of God and the king, and so we inform our Excellency so that he may resolve this issue and in doing so his most humble children of this cabildo and
guachichiles." The town council of Saltillo files suit against the authorities of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1660. Ibid., 91-102. 224 "El cabildo y reximiento de este pueblo de San Esteban de la nueva Tlaxcala paresemos ante vuestra merced y desimos que se nos fue notificado por el cabildo de esa villa de Santiago del Saltillo a pedimento del dicho cabildo un auto probeydo por vuestra merced, en que mandaba paresieremos con los paperles de la fundacion y medidas de las tierras que oy poseemos de que asemos poblazion ante vuestra merced por las quales consta la justificazion y razon con que las poseemos y tantos aos ha las hemos poseydo sin contradizion ni repugnancia alguna atento a todo lo qual. A vuestra merced pedimos y suplicamos las mande ver y visitar provea de justicia la qual pedimos y protestamos al dicho cabildo las costas daos y menos cabos que de este pleyto se nos recreciere y en todo pedimos justicia y en lo necesario etcetera." Ibid., 91-101. "...para la camara de su magestad y asi suplicamos a vuestra exelencia vera como caballero tan cristiano aquello que mas convenga para el servicio de Dios y del rey nuestro seor, ynformamos esto a vuestra exelencia para que ponga el remedio que manda dios nuestro seor que en aserlo asi recibiran vien y justicia sus muy humildes hijos este cavildo y regimiento de San Estevan de la Nueva Tlaxcala..." The town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala write the governor of Nueva Vizcala, 1669. Ibid., 103-107
administration of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala will receive justice...225 The governor of Nueva Vizcaya, Antonio de Oca Sarmiento, sent his reply eight days later from the mining town of San Joseph de Parral. In it he decreed that the alcalde mayor and lieutenant captain of Saltillo, Joseph de los Santoscoy, was not to aggravate or bother the Indians of that jurisdiction and that they should do as the Tlaxcalans preferred. The residents of San Esteban should therefore be left alone in their lands and towns and should be allowed their privileges, grazing areas, and wilderness.226 He wrote, ...the mayor of the Villa of Saltillo and the lieutenant captain of that frontier should not offend or bother the Indians of that jurisdiction and should treat them as the [Tlaxcalans] see fit, and should let them have access to their lands and town allowing them their privileges, just as had previously been done with their ancestors...227
225 "...para la camara de su magestad y asi suplicamos a vuestra exelencia vera como caballero tan cristiano aquello que mas convenga para el servicio de Dios y del rey nuestro seor, ynformamos esto a vuestra exelencia para que ponga el remedio que manda dios nuestro seor que en aserlo asi recibiran vien y justicia sus muy humildes hijos este cavildo y regimiento de San Estevan de la Nueva Tlaxcala..." The town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala write the governor of Nueva Vizcala, 1669. Ibid., 103-107. 226 "...que el alcalde mayor de la villa del Saltillo, y theniente de cappitan general de aquella frontera, no agravie ni moleste a los yndios y pueblo guardandoles sus fueros segun y como alla fecho asta aqui sus antesesores dexandoles sus tierras, pastos, aguas y monttes libres no ynobando en sosas, yntterin que su santisima desembarasado que sea vaya en la vista general y provera de justicia y el remedio combeniente y en quanto a la discencin que a tenido dicho theniente de capitn general como el capitn protector sobre los asientos, yntterin su santisima lo rreconoce la justicia mando que no concurran juntos los dichos a en esto, ninguno en la yglesia del seor San Francisco de la Nueva Tlaxcala. Y pena de mil pesos en reales que aplico por mitad real camara de su magestad y gastos de justicia en que condeno al que lo contrabiniere el seor Don Antonio de Oca Sarmiento, cavallero del orden de Santiago governador, y capitn general de este reyno de la Nueba Viscaya lo mando y firm..." Statement issued by the governor of Nueva Vizcaya, 1669, Ibid., 103-107. 227 "...que el alcalde mayor de la villa del Saltillo, y theniente de cappitan general de aquella frontera, no agravie ni moleste a los yndios de aquella jurisdiccin como prefieren y los dexe en
He finished by threatening to fine those who disobeyed his orders one thousand pesos. The courts ultimately determined that the Tlaxcalans needed to survey the lands that they had originally been given and that they should keep those original allotments. If they failed to abide by this ruling they were to be fined 150 pesos. This order did not deter the Tlaxcalans, as Saltillo and Esteban continued to clash over the use of land and resources for the next 150 years. There are several reasons why these disputes continued for several generations and increased in the eighteenth century. One factor was that it was difficult to determine which were private and which were public lands. Tlaxcalans appear to be building homesteads on territories that the council of Saltillo does not consider to be private holdings, and the residents of Saltillo are using lands to graze their animals in territories the Tlaxcalans' consider to be their own. Malcolm Elbright discusses the legal difficulties faced by settlers in New Spain. He writes, Under Spanish law and custom, public land was owned either by the monarch (tierras realengas or tierras baldas) or by a town or village (tierras concegiles). The tierras baldas were available for everyone's use, either in common as grazing land, for example, or
sus tierras y pueblo guardandoles sus fueros segun y como alla fecho asta aqui sus antesesores dexandoles sus tierras, pastos, aguas y monttes libres no ynobando en cosas, yntterin que su santisima desembarasado que sea vaya en la visita general y provera de justicia y el remedio combeniente y en quanto a la dicencion que a tenido dicho theniente de capitan general como el capitan prottector sobre los acientos, yntterin juntos los dichos a en esto, ninguno en la yglesia del seor San Francisco de la Nueva Tlaxcala. Y pena de mil pesos en reales que aplico por mitad real camara de su magestad y gastos de justicia en que condeno al que lo contrabinere el seor Don Anttonio de Oca y Sarmiento, cavallero del orden de Santiago governador, y capitan general de este reyno de la Nueva Viscaya..." The town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala issue complain to the governor of Nueva Vizcaya, 1669. Ibid., 103-107.
by a few individuals who would plant a portion of the baldas but whose rights to it depended on continued usage. Royal grants of land to individuals or communities were made from the baldas. The tierras concegiles of the towns and villages fell into two main categories. One was common property set aside for use by all the heads of families (vecinos) in the community. These were the exidos, the montes, the dehesas, and the prados, each a different type of common land with a specific purpose. The other kind of property owned by a community or municipality were the propios. These were lands, or other kinds of property, owned by the town or village as private property and usually rented out by the municipal council with the proceeds going toward public works in lieu of taxes...The legal differences between propios and common property was clear in theory, but in practice the same piece of land would be treated both as propios and as common property.228 Another reason why these conflicts continued was that both settlements experienced notable population growth in the eighteenth century. David B. Adams notes that the pueblo of San Esteban was overcrowded despite of the hardships faced by the community and many landless Tlaxcalans had to work as day laborers in Saltillo or in nearby haciendas.229 Although the 1669 dispute seems to have been resolved in favor of the Tlaxcalans, this was probably only slight relief since they were facing a series of other problems at this time. In August of 1669, the king ordered that the customary maize and meat that was stored and then redistributed to the township
Malcolm Elbright, Land Grants and Lawsuits in Northern New Mexico (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1994): 87-88. 229 David B. Adams. "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (fall 1993): 44-45.
of San Esteban continue.230 These food allotments were promised to them under the original charters of 1591 when the Tlaxcalans first migrated to the north, but the Tlaxcalans should have been able to grow the provisions necessary to support their town by this point. The residents of San Esteban were apparently having a difficult time sustaining themselves. Eleven years earlier, in 1658, they petitioned the Real Audiencia in Guadalajara asking them to send fifteen more families from Tlaxcala in order to bolster their township.231 The Tlaxcalans' difficulties during these early years were clearly exacerbated by the tensions they faced when dealing with the residents of Saltillo. Disputes between these two towns and over the use and access to land and water continued to preoccupy both parties for the rest of the colonial period. One legal case in fact provided fodder for other disputes, as the Tlaxcalans presented legal papers produced in one to support future cases.232 The documents produced in the 1669 legal dispute, for instance, became part of another legal battle that took place in 1794. The San Esteban council presented the 1669 decree and claimed that since the time it was issued the Tlaxcalans' were allowed continuous access to the outlying territories, but that the Saltillo council was now trying to deny them this right. They petitioned the governor of Coahuila (San Esteban and Saltillo were now under the jurisdiction of Coahuila and not Nueva Vizcaya) and
230 August 5, 1669, AGN, vol. 24, e. 268, f. 170v-171r. 231 August 29, 1658, AGN, Indios, vol. 23, e. 149, f. 142-144v.
said that the lieutenant of Saltillo had posted guards in certain areas in order to stop them from harvesting firewood from the countryside. The San Esteban council said that they were not only denied access to this area, but they also claimed they were beaten and that that their farming equipment was taken away. This happened to the Tlaxcalan governor himself, Juan de Dios Valverde, as well as to several other men from the town. The Tlaxcalan council claimed that they had reached an oral agreement with the residents of Saltillo. In it the residents of San Esteban were allowed to collect firewood and the residents of Saltillo could freely collect tacotes, rocks, and sand from land that was purchased by the Tlaxalans. The residents of Saltillo used the resources from this land extensively, as the Tlaxcalans complained that, "they were no longer even owners of their own lands" as these neighbors took their cattle into it whenever they pleased.233 Yet, the council of Saltillo now denied San Esteban the use of their land. Indeed, there was greater dissatisfaction and discord amongst the residents of San Esteban and Saltillo towards the end of the colonial period.234 These eighteenth century conflicts and land titles produced by the Tlaxcalans to protect their claims will be discussed in greater detail in the following chapter
232 An extensive 1809 legal case will be discussed in the preceding chapter. It clearly exemplifies the use and meaning of such documents for the residents of San Esteban. 233 "Seor es tanto lo que padece este cabildo y comn, que no somos dueos ni de nuestros agostaderos, pues a ttulo de fortiquerias meten las muladas y otros bienes de ganados, bueyadas y dems bagajes los vecinos de la villa sin consentimiento nuestro sin hallar remedio ni amparo como se ha experimentado por el seor Aldalde Don Juan de Gorivar el mes pasado de julio..." The town council of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala seek help from the governor of Coahuila, 1794. Valds and del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 256.
Conclusion In 1584, when asked why indigenous people litigated so much, the Indio principal of Mexico City responded: Because you don't understand us and we don't understand you and don't know what you want. You have deprived us of our good order and system of government, [and the one you have given us we don't understand]; that is why there is such great confusion and disorder.235 Indigenous communities spent an extensive amount of time and energy fighting court battles to protect their interests. In so doing, they helped define their relationship with outside entities. There is little record of riots in San Esteban throughout the colonial period. They apparently preferred to use legal means as a form of protest. 236 These sources therefore record the Tlaxcalans' understanding of their ruler's obligations. By presenting their cases and fighting to establish the "rules of engagement" the Tlaxcalans helped to define the social norms of this
234 These eighteenth century cases will be discussed in the following chapter. 235 Translated quote appears in, Rik Hoekstra, "A Different Way of Thinking: Contrasting Spanish and Indian Social and Economic Views in Central Mexico (1550-1600)," in The Indian Community of Colonial Mexico, ed. by Arij Ouweneel and Simon Miller (The Netherlands: CEDLA, 1990): 60; Original Spanish quote appears in, Alonso de Zorita, Breve y sumaria relacin de los seores de la Nueva Espaa (Mexico City: Ediciones de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma, 1942): 51-52. 236 Sergio Serulnikov argues that indigenous groups may have viewed legal maneuvering and rebellion as related strategies. "Disputed Images of Colonialism: Spanish Rule and Indian Subversion in Northern Potos, 1777-1780," Hispanic American Historical Review 76 (2); E.P. Thompson argues that riot was a social calamity for peasants. He writes, "...grievances operated within a popular consensus as to what were legitimate and what were illegitimate prices in marketting, milling, etc. This in its turn was grounded upon a consistent traditional view of social norms and obligation, of the proper economic functions of several parties within the community, which, taken together, can be said to constitute the moral economy of the poor. An outrage to these moral assumptions, quite as much as actual deprivation, was the usual occasion for direct
society. As Susan Kellogg asserts, although indigenous groups did not win every time, the victories did "establish restraints on the authority of Spaniards."237 Indigenous groups had to learn to maneuver within the Spanish colonial system. It was certainly the only way they could survive. Despite the fact that many did not speak Spanish and struggled to ebb out an existence, their town councils spent extensive time and resources petitioning and fighting legal battles to protect what they believed to be their community's rights. Scholars have used legal disputes that involved indigenous actors extensively, but perhaps we have failed to note the importance these events had for indigenous peoples' themselves. These cases oftentimes went on for years and even generations. If indigenous communities placed such great importance on these legal conflicts it was perhaps because they were fighting over the very boundaries of colonial society.238 The petitions and legal suits chronicle discord between indigenous groups and their European cohorts, but also the deep impact that the process of colonization had on indigenous communities.
action." "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," in Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York: The New Press, 1993), 188. 237 Susan Kellogg, Law and the Transformation of Aztec Culture, 1500-1700 (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995), xxiv. 238 Benton, Law and Colonial Culture, 126.
CHAPTER 4 San Esteban's "False Titles"
In 1809 the residents of San Esteban presented the alcalde mayor of Saltillo with an edict issued by Spanish authorities. Tlaxcalans hoped that this 1631 decree would help resolve their land dispute with the Villa de Saltillo. It began: ...I [the lieutenant governor] will send an order stating that no judge can innovate in anything that has been established since its [San Esteban's] settlement until today ...I therefore issue a decree stating the following: The lieutenant governor and general captain states that an order should be given so that the alcaldes mayores of the Villa de Santiago de Saltillo comply and follow custom relating to the amount of water that has been given to said Indians without prejudicing the Villa and in the matter of not allowing them to go to the forests to cut wood they should once again follow the custom that has been established until today...239
239 "...mandare dar mandamiento para que ningun alcalde ynoben en cosa de las que se han usado desde su fundacin hasta agora ni quite a los naturales...provey un auto del tenor siguiente=El seor teniente de governador y capitan general dixo que se de mandamiento para que los alcaldes mayores de la villa de Santiago de Saltillo guarden y cumplan y hagan guardar y cumplir la costumbre que se ha tenido en razon del agua que se les ha dado a los dichos yndios sin perjuicio de la villa y en razon de impedirles, en no dexarles yr a los montes a cortar lea se guarde assi mismo la dicha costumbre que se ha tenido hasta oy y en razon de las mulas que los labradores les quitan a los dichos yndios las minifiesten luego que las cojeren ante la justicia el qual les haga tasar y pagar el dao que hubieren causado en sus sementeras sin las matar ni quitar ni maltratar castigandoles a quien lo contrario hiziere con todo rigor y assi lo proveyo..." AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Carlos Manuel Valds Dvila and Ildefonso Dvila del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila (San Luis Potos: El Colegio de San Luis/Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala, 1991): 290.
Although the outcome of this legal matter is unknown, it was most likely the case that this decree was dismissed by local Saltillo authorities, as that is what was done with previous ones.240 Saltillo officials found it very difficult to believe that these were in fact original royal documents or faithful copies of royal decrees that preserved Tlaxcalan lands or rights. It was not in their best interest to take edicts presented by the residents of San Esteban very seriously. Until recently these types of records have received little attention from scholars. James Lockhart surmised that it was because these papers were "patently inaccurate, poorly informed, false, and even in some sense deliberately falsified, often in the most transparent fashion."241 Although scholars still debate whether or not the documents are real, their actual value lies in the fact that they can tell us much about indigenous beliefs and the problems that affected indigenous people. Indeed, some scholars do not view them as "falsified" titles, but as indigenous creations- a new mode of expression.242 These records are of great historical value, not because they are "real," but because they express the
240 In a 1768 land dispute case the Saltillo town council demanded that the Tlaxcalan council present the original titles and decrees issued by Spanish officials to prove that they owned their land. This was despite the fact that the residents of San Esteban had previously already done so, most notably in a 1729 case that will be discussed in this chapter. The town council of Saltillo then presented the residents of San Esteban with their own set of settlement documents from 1591. AMS, PM c1, e3. Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 11-52. 241 James Lockhart, "Views of Corporate Self and History in Some Valley of Mexico Towns: Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," Colonial Latin American History Review 1 (1982): 371. 242 Joaqun Galarza. Lienzos de Chiepetlan (Mxico: Mission Archologique et Ethnologique Franaise au Mexique, 1972): 23.
communities' own understanding of history and local custom. For indigenous people history was not apolitical, it had a clear purpose- to record past wrongs and past resistance to these transgressions.243 This chapter analyzes three documents presented by the Tlaxcalan council in legal cases between the towns of Saltillo and San Esteban. They range in date from 1729 to 1809. In these cases the residents of San Esteban tried to defend themselves from the encroachment of land and the usurpation of water or other rights by those outside the town of San Esteban. Like other similar indigenous documents, such as primordial land titles, it is unclear if the San Esteban records were in fact real or created by the town council of San Esteban to help support their claims. Although this chapter will address this issue, its most pressing goal is to decipher what these documents tell us about the community of San Esteban (as they were in fact the most likely authors of these chronicles). An analysis of these records will help us understand the Tlaxcalans' concerns, the political dimensions of written and oral history and the Tlaxcalans' understanding of local custom.
243 David Frye states, "...I would contend, the memories of Patricio Jimnez and of the struggle over the appropriation of the canal both derive from an oral tradition of recalling and reinterpreting acts of resistance to the power of the haciendas. The history presented in the petition may be chronologically inaccurate, even self-servingly so, but it faithfully depicts an enduring antagonism between the people of Corte and the large landowners." Indians into Mexicans: History and Identity in a Mexican Town (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996): 179.
The Primordial or "False" Titles Genre These San Esteban documents are not unlike the land title deeds presented by other indigenous towns to Spanish colonial authorities during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Scholars refer to such documents as "primordial titles."244 Indigenous peoples claimed that these records were the original or copies of original foundation documents where the Spanish decreed that their pueblo owned the land under dispute. Many of the central Mexican examples were written in Nahuatl and usually spoke about the territories that historically belonged to the community from pre or post- conquest times. In addition, they discussed the arrival of the Europeans, land allocation by colonial authorities, the construction of important buildings, and other matters important to the community.245 These titles also discussed the indigenous communities' adherence to Christianity and their "claim that the ancestors gained their right to the town's territory 'through war and dying.' "246 Furthermore, the primordial titles expressed the communities' own version of their local history. These highly politicized records tell us much about indigenous peoples concerns during the second half of the colonial period. Moreover, it is worth noting that their appearance at this time
Lockhart, James, "Views of Corporate Self and History in Some Valley of Mexico Towns"; Robert Haskett, " Visions of Municipal Glory Undimmed: The Nahuatl Town Histories of Colonial Cuernavaca," Latin American Historical Review 1 (1992); Stephanie Wood, "El problema de la historicidad de los ttulos y los Cdices de Techialoyan," In De tlacuilos y escribanos. Estudios sobre documentos indgenas coloniales del centro de Mxico. Edited by Xavier Noguez and Stephanie Wood (Zamora, Michoacn: El Colegio de Michoacn,1998). 245 Wood, "El problema de la historicidad," 167-168. 246 Lockhart, "Views of Corporate Self," 386
was probably due to the changes in land ownership laws during the seventeenth centuries. Seventeenth Century Changes in the Land Tenure System In 1660 the procurador general (attorney general) of Saltillo, Francisco de Trevio, asked the alcalde mayor and capitn de guerra of Nueva Vizcaya to stop the residents of San Esteban from using land that they argued was in Saltillo's jurisdiction. They said that the Tlaxcalans were using this land for farming and to build their homesteads. Not surprisingly, the alcalde mayor of Salillo, don Fernando de Azcue y Armendariz, sided with the residents of the Villa. In response, the Tlaxcalans wrote Saltillo authorities and stated: The town council and administration of the pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala appear before Your Honor to say that we were notified by the town council of the Villa of Santiago de Saltillo about the decree sent by Your Honor, where you order that we appear with the foundation papers and the land measurements for the land that we now possess and where we reside[.] It is a fact that we possess them for many years and we have possessed them without contradiction or repudiation. We ask and plead that Your Honor send someone to visit and provide us with justice...247
"El cabildo y reximiento de este pueblo de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala paresemos ante vuestra merced y desimos que se nos fue notificado por el cabildo de esa villa de Santiago del Saltillo a pedimento del dicho cabildo un auto probeydo por vuestra merced, en que mandaba paresieremos con los papeles de la fundasion y medidas de las tierras que oy poseemos de que asemos poblazion ante vuestra merced por las queles consta la justificazion y rason con que las poseemos y tantos aos ha las hemos poseydo sin contradizion ni repugnancia alguna atento a todo lo qual. A vuestra merced pedimos y suplicamos las mande ver y visitar porvea de justisia la qual pedimos y protestamos al dicho cabildo las costas daos y menos cabos que de este pleyto se nos recreciere y en todo pedimos justicia y en los nesesario etcetera." AMS, PM, c1, e37, Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 96.
What made this dispute different from previous ones was that the Tlaxcalans were asked to present written documents that certified that they owned the land where they resided or had chosen to use as the town's population grew. The residents of San Esteban most likely began to create their own documents certifying that they owned the land in question soon after receiving this request from authorities in Saltillo. H.R. Harvey believes that since most of these "falsified" land title documents began to emerge at a similar time, the midseventeenth century, that there was one event that might have influenced their emergence. This event was that of composicin, or the "review of land titles and a monetary assessment by the Crown in return for the granting of a clear title," in 1643.248 Other studies seem to support Harvey's assessment. Kevin Terraciano and Lisa M. Sousa have not found an example of this type of "false" title that predates the mid-seventeenth century.249 The request made by the Saltillo town council in 1660 therefore came at around the same time that royal authorities began to require titles to substantiate ownership of land. Although the composiciones might have been the primary reason that indigenous groups started to produce documents that certified their land ownership, legal disputes over land also started to emerge with greater frequency in the seventeenth century thus making the creation of these records necessary.
H.R. Harvey, "Techialoyan Codices: Seventeenth-Century Indian Land Titles in Central Mexico," Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians: Ethnohistory, vol. 4 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986): 162-163.
An increase in litigation is evident in many indigenous communities. William Taylor has thus noted this phenomenon in Oaxaca and points out that in 1799 the Viceroy of New Spain bemoaned the "endless stream of Indians descending on Mexico City" to engage in lawsuits.250 The cause for this increased litigation appeared to be an increase in the total population of New Spain and the expansion of haciendas, which strained indigenous lands and resources.251 The Documents The documents discussed in this chapter range from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. I selected records from such a broad timespan in part because they give us a clearer insight of the Tlaxcalans' understanding of their
249 Kevin Terraciano and Lisa M. Sousa. "The 'Original Conquest' of Oaxaca: Mixtec and Nahua History and Myth," UCLA Historical Journal, vol. 12 (1992): 32. 250 William Taylor, Landlord and Peasant in Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1972): 83. 251 Eric Van Young, The Other Rebellion, 392; Terraciano and Sousa, "The 'Original Conquest' of Oaxaca," 33; Robert Haskett, "Visions of Municipal Glory Undimmed: The Nahuatl Town Histories of Colonial Cuernavaca," Colonial Latin American Historical Review, 1:1 (1992), 34; Enrique Florescano, "El canon memorioso forjado por los Ttulos primordiales," Colonial Latin American Review 11 (2002), 184; Richard Salvucci writes, "...population growth among Mexico's native peoples, for whom maize was a staple, slowed after 1750. If agricultural supply did not decrease (costs were not increasing) and if the growth of demand moderated (population increase slowed), there was no reason for the price of maize to rise. Still, rise it did...You would expect an increase in demand to be at the root of the change, but no such increase occurred. Yet there is an explanation. In the eighteenth century, the big fish ate the smaller one. Haciendas expanded at the expense of peasant farmers. In economic terms, monopolists, who could set prices, swallowed up peasant farmers, who merely took what they could get. Later in the century, when the weather was especially bad, haciendas could set prices with even greater impunity, for they could store grain and peasant farmers could not. In other words, what [Richard] Garner calls 'changing land-use patterns' explains why cereal prices rose even though there was no obvious shortage of arable land. As the production of cereals became more concentrated, prices increased even more rapidly. It wasn't diminishing returns, but diminished competition that was to blame." "Economic Growth and Change in Bourbon Mexico: A Review Essay," The Americas 51:2 (1994): 223.
own history and the problems they faced in the northern provinces. In addition, the mere fact Tlaxcalans pointed to the sixteenth century privileges that were allotted them when they first settled in the north whenever they felt that Spaniards infringed on their rights tells us much about their understanding of history and the methods they use to protect their interests. Tlaxcalans did not see their presentday problems as existing outside of broader historical traditions. As Steve J. Stern points out, oftentimes when analyzing "peasant" societies it might be best if the historical timespan was expanded in order to explain what the motives were behind a social movement. He writes: Peasants, almost by definition, interact with state structures and overlords, and in many culture areas this political inheritance embraces centuries and partly defines the issues at stake in rebellion. When the Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata was asked why he and his peasant armies were fighting, he pointed to a box of old colonial land titles. For the peasants of Revolutionary Morelos, the relevant time scales included not only the changes introduced under the recent rule by Porfirio Daz (1876-1910), not only the immediate policies of their Constitutionalist contemporaries, who betrayed the peasants' version of the revolution, but also a centuries-long struggle over land that defined the peasants' aspirations and understandings of proper rights and obligations in their relations with the state.252 The records in question are similar in that they were most likely part of legal conflicts over resources between the Saltillo and San Esteban. The 1729 and 1809 cases are clearly part of a litigation process. The 1781 chronicle does not directly address why the town leaders produced these papers, but it almost
certainly resulted from land disputes. The 1729 case contains a copy of royal decree that restates Tlaxcalan royal privileges and is said to be from 1607.253 Amongst other topics the decree discusses how the Tlaxcalans arrived in the north, their royal privileges and the original town leaders. The 1781 chronicle begins by describing how the present town council of San Esteban traveled to Tlaxcala to copy royal decrees that outlined their primordial rights. This document does not present an extensive discussion of the Tlaxcalan's history in San Esteban, but it does explicitly point out that those current members of the council were related to those original four-hundred settlers.254 They copied two documents, one dating back to 1591 and the other from 1629.255 In the 1809 case the Tlaxcalans address the governor of Coahuila and in their petition they present excerpts of documents ranging in dates from 16071691.256 They also discuss the Tlaxcalans' history in the region, their primordial rights, and what they believe is previously established customary practice relating to land and water use.
Steve J. Stern, ed. Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987): 12. 253 AMS, PM, c11, e27. Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 69-81 254 It reads, "...como las cuatrocientas Personas Varones en cuyo nmero entran los dichos nuestros padres que fueron a la dicha Poblacin eran y fueron Principales conicidos de las cuatro cabeceras de esta Ciudad y provincia..." 255 AMS, PM, c33, e50. Silvio Zavala and Mara del Carmen Velzquez, eds. Temas del Virreinato: Documentos del Archivo Municipal del Saltillo (Saltillo, MX: Gobierno del Estado de Coahuila, 1990): 84-90. 256 AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Ibid, 285-297.
Authenticity of San Esteban Documents There is evidence to suggest that the records presented by the San Esteban council were influenced by the Tlaxcalans, who paid for the transcription of the documents, and by their immediate concerns, namely to uphold their legal case. For example, by continually insisting that what was included in each document was real and had not been changed in any way the author is expressing their understanding that Spanish authorities doubted the record's veracity, but at the same time they cast even greater doubt on their authenticity. The 1781 document reads, And so it should be clear that the previously discussed information and original decrees that remain in my power and...this transfer is true and real, and I followed said request and order in the city of Tlaxcala on the ninth day of the month of June of 1629, Pedro Xaramillo y Lopes Sanches and Christbal de Urdanivia, residents of this city, were witnesses to its extraction and correction. I vow that this is true. -Before me Pedro de la Gasca, public scribe. I took six pesos and not any more. I attest. It concurs with the original' We the governors, town council members, and the justice and administration of this Pueblo of San Esteban de La Nueva Tlaxcala of Saltillo say: that having taken these [documents] out and transferred the Royal Privileges that belonged to the Caciques of this said pueblo and the information they contained for the Principales of the illustrious and loyal city of Tlaxcala [and] who by our order was told to take extract and not add, change or cross out in any way this said town council certifies that it was extracted faithfully and legally. The witnesses were don Josef Martn Balverde and Christbal de Len, neighbors and residents of this said pueblo, who signed along with us and before the scribe who attests to this on this fifth day of March of 1781. And so that it is
evident wherever it is required that these nine pages are of common paper that is real.257 In an 1809 legal case the Tlaxcalans present decrees by royal administrators, such as Captain Urdiola, to support their land claims. The edict, which is dated May 9, 1607, reads, ...and some of the neighbors and people from said Villa [Saltillo] and its jurisdiction have intended and intend to enter into said town [San Esteban] to take away some [lands] because they say they are not theirs and that the lands do not belong to them [Tlaxcalans] but said Indians have many titles detailing the privileges and land distributions I made when this town was founded, as well as to the donations that the said town council and neighbors made and later were purchased and they asked me to protect them and to not allow for those lands to be taken away for any reason, not any part of them nor allow their possession to be disrupted as they owned them and continue to own them.258
'Y segn consta y parece por la dicha Informacin y autos originales que quedan en mi poder a que me refiero con los cuales se corrigi este traslado y va cierto y verdadero, y de el dicho Pedimento y Mandamiento d el presente en la Ciudad de Tlaxcala a Diez y nueve das del mes de Junio de mil seiscientos y veinte y nueve aos siendo testigos al verlo sacar y corregir Pedro Xarrillo y Lopes Sanches y Christbal de Urdanivia Vecinos de esta Ciudad.- En testimonio de verdad.- Ante m Pedro de la Gasca Escribano Pblico.- Lleve seis pesos Derechos y no ms.- Doy Fee.- Concierta con el Original.' Nos el Gobernados, Cabildo, Justicia y Regimiento de este Pueblo de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala de el Saltillo Decimos: que habiendo sacado el escribano de este Cabildo el presente treslado del Real Privilegio que les pertenece a los Caciques de este dicho Pueblo y las informaciones insertas contenidas por los Principales del muy insigne y leas Ciudad de Tlaxcala quien por Nuestra Orden fue mandado sacar a la letra sin que para ello se haya visto aadir quitar o tildar cosa alguna en cuya consecuencia zertificamos nos dicho Cabildo haberlo sacado fiel y legalmente. Fueron testigos al ver corregir y consertar Don Josef Martn Balverde y Christbal de Len vecinos y moradores de este expresado Pueblo quienes firmaron con nosotros y por ante el Escribano de quien da fee y es dicho en cinco das del mes de Marzo de mil setecientos ochenta y un ao.- Y para que conste donce convenga va en estas nueve foxas escritas de papel comn ser cierto. Ut surpa." AMS, PM, c33, e50. Zavala and Velzquez, eds. Temas del Virreinato,,90. 258 "...y algunos vecinos y personas de esta dicha villa y su jurisdicion han pretendido y pretenden entrarseles en ellas y quitarles algunas por decir son suyas y pertenecerles teniendo como tienen los dichos yndios titulos de ellos muy bastantes a que de las mercedes y repartimiento que les hize al tiempo de su fundacin como de las donaciones que el dicho cavildo y vecinos les hicieron y de las que despues han comprado y me pidieron les ampare en ellas y no concienta que en ninguna manera se les quiten ni ninguna parte de ellas ni sean perturbados en las posecion que de ellas han
This passage reveals much about the Tlaxcalans' eighteenth century concerns and the lengths that they are willing to go to defend their lands. What is also evident is that the territory the Tlaxcalans possessed had been given to them, perhaps in a very informal manner, and was paid for later- either with money or through their labor. Consequently, they came to possess their lands through mutual agreement and no written title was drawn. This social arrangement might have worked in earlier times, when there were vast amounts of land, but seventeenth century legal and demographic changes made this type of agreement obsolete. In addition, all the documents claim to be copies of original foundation documents, but there is different information in each. The privileges discussed are similar, but each record includes different ones or at times certain privileges are not even discussed or are only mentioned briefly at the end. As we will see, this was probably because the San Esteban council tailored the records to fit their present needs. Yet, the differences in each document could also be attributed to the fact that many sixteenth century documents were in bad shape and consequently unreadable. Another possibility was that the scribe had decided to or had been forced to summarize the original document's content.259 One could conclude that these documents are reconstructed stories created to support the Tlaxcalans' legal cases, but also that these stories were probably
tenido y tienen." AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 287.
derived from the town's own oral history that was passed down from generation to generation. Although there are discrepancies, the amount of similarities would seem to indicate that the community of San Esteban had a collective memory and that these historical events played a role in defining their local identity.260 San Esteban's View of Tlaxcalan Origins in the North Although some of the information in these papers is inaccurate or incongruous they by and large retell a foundation story that had apparently become ingrained in the community's memory and was passed down from one generation to the next. The story presented in the records usually begins when the viceroy bemoans the miserable and dangerous situation in northern New Spain, as nomadic Indian tribes violently destroyed, killed, and robbed Spaniards when they made their way to the mines. Viceroy Velasco thought it best that the leaders of these tribes (caudillos/captains) bring their people together in towns where they could be policed and taught the Christian doctrine. After these "infidels" were baptized they would develop a sedentary life, would devote themselves to a life of agriculture and in turn would leave Spanish settlers alone. Velasco asked that four-hundred families (or single males) from Tlaxcala resettle in the lands of the
259 Kevin Terraciano and Lisa Sousa have found such summaries in their analysis of Oaxacan titles. 'The 'Original Conquest' of Oaxaca," 52. 260 James Lockhart, "Views of Corporate Self and History in Some Valley of Mexico Towns: Late Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries," In The Inca and Aztec States, 1400-1800. Edited by George A. Collier, Renato I. Rosaldo and John D. Wirth (New York: Academic Press, 1982): 367393.
Chichimeca and develop law-abiding Christian towns under the tutelage of the religious orders. This process would peacefully subdue the Chichimecas who would then become loyal vassals of the king. The foundation story described in the 1729 document begins by discussing the original intention the Spaniards had for Tlaxcalan colonization. It states that Tlaxcalans were sent north to pacify the Guachichil Indians and convert them to Christianity. The Tlaxcalans therefore sent four-hundred married Tlaxcalans north, with the aid of the Franciscans. Captain Francisco de Urdiola, as the representative of the king, then distributed land to the Tlaxcalans as they saw fit. Spanish settlers were therefore to abide by the original land distributions made by Captain Urdiola. Urdiola then named the San Esteban town government. The Tlaxcalans then spoke about their role in the wars against the nomadic Indians where many died. The document concludes by stressing that the land and water rights allotted to the Tlaxcalans by the king not only belonged to the original settlers, but to their descendants in perpetuity. In addition, if anyone disobeyed the decree they would be fined. The document mentions the names of the principal Tlaxcalan settlers who went north in 1591. These names are listed as: Pedro de Murga, Buena Bentura de Paz, Xiconcatl, Don Juachin de Velasco,
Governor Gaspar Cliofas, Regidor, Don Antonio de Naveda, alcalde, Lorenzo de Xardillo, fiscal, Gaspar Duarte, escrivano.261 [See Appendix 1] The third document is from an 1809 legal case and contains copies of records that span the period between 1607 through 1631. This collection of papers was once again accumulated as a result of a dispute and consequent litigation between Saltillo and San Esteban. As in previous occasions, the Tlaxcalans attempted to reconcile the conflict by producing copies of their foundation documents. Yet, the San Esteban town council chose not to present copies of the 1591 titles despite of the fact that they most probably were stored in their archive, as they had paid to get those copies during the previously discussed legal cases of 1729 and 1768. These copies once again discuss how Francisco de Urdiola had allotted land and water rights to the Tlaxcalans in the name of the king, but it dates the settlement of the town to 1607 and not 1591. Pedro de Carvajal is a primary figure in this process, although it misspells his name as "Carvijal." The documents go on to discuss how the residents of Saltillo could not let their grazing animals enter Tlaxcalan areas or they would be fined if they did so. The copy of the 1631 document states that Saltillo should follow the previously established "custom" with regards to water rights. It then discusses how the king had not intended to harm the Tlaxcalans. Tlaxcalan privileges
Enrique Florescano notes that in the "titles" genre there is a focus on tracing the genealogical antecedents of the town's caciques. He argues that this was so indigenous groups could legally prove that they held those lands were ancestral property "possessed since time immemorial." "El
therefore needed to be protected because they had helped many regions in the north, including Nuevo Len, Parras, the rest of Coahuila, and Texas in many ways, such as by participating in wars against the nomadic Indian tribes. The Tlaxcalans go on to say that as conquerors they expected assistance from the crown, as they had helped the Spanish in the region by providing funds for firearms and horses to fight in the Indian wars. Finally, the copy of a 1691 document states that Saltillo did not have jurisdiction over San Esteban and that Tlaxcalans should be treated as conquerors. These chronicles are very telling; as they give us an idea of the problems the residents of San Esteban faced in the latter half of the colonial period. One of their main concerns was the greater role the council of Saltillo increasingly played in their own affairs. The San Esteban council oftentimes expressed their dismay over what they perceived to be a radical change in their status. Furthermore, the Tlaxcalans did not view themselves as conquered peoples and in fact used this to defend their rights and status.262 In their version of their community's history, they saw themselves as active participants, not as passive actors. This is not unlike how other indigenous groups recorded events dealing with the Spanish conquest. Kevin Terraciano and Lisa Sousa point out that there "was a healthy disregard for the Conquest's negative repercussions...the actual Spanish Conquest
canon memorioso forjado por los 'Ttulos primordiales'," Colonial Latin American Review 11:2 (2002); 219.
is either denied or completely ignored."263 They defined what it meant to be Tlaxcalan, what parts of their culture and history they would leave behind or coopt from the Europeans in order to survive and succeed in this society.264 Robert Haskett writes, ...their [Nahuatl groups of Cuernavaca] loyalty to the colonial regime was proof of the entire ruling group's loyalty and, by extension, of the loyalty of the altepetl itself. For in the process of assembling shreds of a collective memory of bygone times of municipal reorganization and Christianization, the title's authors fashioned a pedigree of corporate worth that was true to colonial realities.265 The Tlaxcalans' histories or accounts were not simply recollections of unrelated events, but reflected their keen understanding of local politics and colonial society. History and Power History or historical reconstruction (or myth) was not apolitical for either the Tlaxcalans or the Spanish. They were patently aware that the privileges or
Enrique Florescano notes that the Titulos p'urhpechas did not present a negative picture of the conquest, European settlement or of Christianity. "El canon memorioso forjado por los Ttulos primordiales," 188. 263 Terraciano and Sousa, "The `Original Conquest' of Oaxaca," 69. 264 In reference to primordial titles used by the indigenous peoples of Cuernavaca, Robert Haskett writes, "A second characteristic trait of all the titles is an emphasis on the ready acceptance of the Spanish conquerors and their Christian faith (glossed as tlaneltoquiliztli by Cuauhnahuac's nobility). They aided rather than fought the Spaniards, in one picturesque tale giving food and drink to a weary Corts seated at a place that came to be known as the 'cross of the marqus.' Indeed, the ttulos authors typically suffer no anguish over the fact of conquest and political subordination inherent in the triumph of the Spaniards." "Visions of Municipal Glory Undimmed: The Nahuatl Town Histories of Colonial Cuernavaca," 7. 265 Ibid, 29.
favors given to them by royal authorities shaped how the Crown viewed them and this influenced their own history. Anthropologist Thomas A. Abercombie calls this, "a struggle to mark out relatively autonomous spheres in which to gain control over the meanings of their [European and Indian] lives." A community's history was especially important for indigenous people, as it was through the reconstruction and retelling of history over generations that a collective identity was developed and maintained.266 These documents therefore acquire an added importance, as it is through the commemoration in writing of oral history that indigenous communities transmit their story through time and space.267 The residents of San Esteban helped maintain the memory of historical events alive. These stories helped shape how Tlaxcalans reacted to the challenges they faced in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Historical memory therefore played a pivotal role in developing a sense of intergenerational ties and of identity. Indeed, although historians had previously dismissed these types of documents because of the very fact that they were "reconstructed" by indigenous groups to support their legal battles, these titles have an even greater value because indigenous groups may have played an active role in developing them. These chronicles give us an idea of who indigenous communities think they are
Thomas A. Abercombie. Pathways of Memory and Power: Ethnography and History Among an Andean People (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998): 22. 267 Jacques Le Goff. History and Memory. Translated by Steven Rendall and Elizabeth Claman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992): 58-59.
and who they want to continue to be.268 That is ultimately their greatest value, not whether or not they are "real." Finally, they attest to the importance of historical memory for the residents of San Esteban. It was through this singular way that they protected their rights, status and autonomy within these northern townships. As E.P. Thompson notes, "the popular memory, especially in pre-literate society, is extremely long."269 Indeed, a traditional way Tlaxalans defined their community was to point out that what they were fighting for was and had always been the customary way things had been done for centuries. They could not have defended custom without knowing their own history. Primordial Rights and Eighteenth Century Realities The royal decree that the residents of San Esteban most often used to buttress their complaints against local authorities was the one issued in 1591 by Viceroy Velasco. In it he gave the Tlaxcalans in the north the "rights that only peninsulares were permitted."270 These passages tell us much about San Esteban's concerns. The privileges in the 1729 case are: [That] all of the Indians from the province of Tlaxcala and traveled to be with the Chichimecas will always be (along with their descendants) hidalgos free of tribute payments, taxes and personal service requirements...they will not be sent to settle amongst
268 Marcello Carmagnani writes, "En efecto, la reapropriacin de los derechos sobre el territorio signific para la sociedad india recobrar todos los derechos sobre los recursos que permitiran reproducir la comunidad en el futuro." El regreso de los dioses: El proceso de reconstitucin de la identidad tnica en Oaxaca, siglos xvii y xviii (Mxico: Fondo de Cultura Econmica, 1988): 91. 269 E.P. Thompson. Customs in Common, 226. 270 AMS, Presidencia Municipal (PM), c11, e27. Valds and del Bosque. Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 69-81.
Spaniards and Spaniards will not be allowed to take or buy land in a Tlaxcalan neighborhood. That the distribution of land for settlement be distinct, one made for Tlaxcalans and another for the Chichimecas...so that for all time the lands, pastures, brushlands, rivers and salt mines, quarries, mills and any other type of land will be separate and that at no time will one Indian [group] be able to buy the other group's land... That land used for grazing cattle (ganado mayor) not be allotted within five leguas of a settlement...that said cattle does not enter an Indian settlement without the voluntary approval of Indians. That the Tlaxcalan Indians and their descendants will not only be hidalgos, free of all forms of tribute payments, but will also enjoy all the freedom, exemptions, and privileges that are currently enjoyed and will be enjoyed by the city of Tlaxcala...and that the principal Indians of said city who left for these settlements (as well as their descendants) will be able to own and carry firearms and can ride on horseback...I order that all said Indians of the city of Tlaxcala who went to the Chichimeca regions, along with their descendants, will retain these hidalgo privileges in perpetuity. ...that neither Chichimecos or Spaniards be allowed to settle amongst them [Tlaxcalans] because this could only cause problems.271 The 1781 document also claims to be a copy of a royal decree that spells out Tlaxcalan privileges. It is not from 1591, but it instead claims to be a copy of a 1629 record. The first two privileges are very similar to the ones from the 1720 case. It states: That all Indians that were from the city and province of Tlaxcala and who left to settle amongst the Chichimecas will be, along with their descendants, hidalgos forever, free from all tribute payments, taxes, and personal service requirements...that they will not be sent to settle amongst the Spaniards.
AMS, PM, c11, e27. Ibid,, 69-81.
That land distributed for homesteads be separate and distinct between the Tlaxcalans and Chichimecas...in such manner that for all time and forever the said lands, pastures, wilds, rivers, salt mines and mills, as well as other types of Haciendas be demarcated so that at no time will one Indian [group] be able to buy lands or own land belonging to the other... The question of the Chichimecas was also of prime importance to the San Esteban council. Spanish authorities wanted the Tlaxcalans to incorporate other indigenous groups, as this was a primary reason why they had initially been sent north. It is unclear if they simply did not want to share their resources with the Chichimecas and other indigenous groups or if they did not have enough land and resources to share.272 In a 1768 legal case brought against San Esteban by Saltillo, the Saltillo town council also addresses this issue. They state: It is also evident that...that three parts of the water from the well used by this Villa was not only designated for use by the Pueblo de Tlaxcaltecas, as they so choose to believe, but it is also intended for use by other pueblos of Guachichil Indians and other nations from the region. It is also evident that the land that the designated land is only to be theirs for a time and is only to be under their jurisdiction (...it is not intended to be property, as they so believe either because of ignorance or malice...)273 The document continues to list the other rights issued by the Crown. Most of them dealt with land and issues concerning municipal jurisdiction. They write,
272 Kevin Terraciano and Lisa Sousa discuss a somewhat similar case of ethnic discord. They note, "Like the Nahuatl title don Diego's story attempts to portray an early-colonial consensus among the Mixtecs and Spaniards. The Nahuas are conspicuously absent, undermining their claim of rescuing the Zapotecs from the Mixtecs. On the contrary, the Nahuas appear as uninvited meddlers who disturbed a peaceful status quo." "The 'Original Conquest' of Oaxaca," 53. 273 AMS, PM, c1, e3. Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 14.
That land allotments for cattle (ganado mayor) will be at least five leguas from a settlement. That cattle are not allowed to graze in 'tierras de Pan' belonging to the aforementioned settlement without the permission of the Indians and their descendants. That the lands and farms given to the Tlaxcalans and intended for individuals- and which are designated for their convenience- not be taken away if they are not being occupied. That the allocations made to said settlements be free of taxes That the Tlaxcalan Indians and their descendants will not only be hidalgos free of al tribute payments, but will enjoy all the freedoms, exemptions and privileges that are currently enjoyed and will be enjoyed by the said city of Tlaxcala and which were given by the Kings of Castille, my progeny and successors. That the principal Indians of said city who left for the settlements, as well as their descendants, can own and carry firearms and ride on horseback...and in their journey they will be given the necessary supplies and clothes for a period of two years, and they will also be given aid when initially sowing their lands. That they be given a letter and royal decree ordering that these edicts be followed...274 All three documents (1729, 1781, and 1809) discuss the special privileges that were allotted to the leading members of the Tlaxcalan community. Although the town council of San Esteban was supposed to represent all of its members, the council does distinguish between their role in their community and the status of the other citizens of San Esteban. One must therefore wonder if the council's primary interest was to protect their needs or those of the community at large.
Stephanie Wood found that titles served the interests of the caciques within the indigenous community, as they most often held the town's best lands.275 Perhaps the interests of the town became indistinguishable from those of the elites.276 The 1809 document once again expresses the Tlaxcalans' concern over issues of land ownership and water rights. It's worth discussing in greater detail, as it tell s much about the Tlaxcalans and their expectations. In Defense of Local Custom On a variety of occasions colonial authorities would try to resolve conflicts between San Esteban and Saltillo by instructing them to follow local custom or by instructing them to do as was customarily done in the community in such events. Each community had their own version of custom and of local history. Consequently, these royal edicts did not stop local conflicts. In the 1729 and 1781 documents the San Esteban council indirectly spoke of the importance of customary practice by attempting to establish that their rights extended to the time when the town was originally founded. In the records presented for the 1809 dispute the San Esteban council is clearly trying to support much of their case by arguing that it was important that they abide by what they consider to be
AMS, PM, c33, e50. Zavala and Velzquez, Temas del Virreinato, 84-90. Stephanie Wood, "The Cosmic Conquest: Late Colonial Views of the Sword and Cross in Central Mexican Ttulos," Ethnohistory 38:2 (1991); 189; See also, Florescano, "El canon memorioso...," 210-203; Mary Elizabeth Smith, Picture Writing from Ancient Southern Mexico. Mixtec Place Signs and Maps (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1923): 169. 276 David Frye, Indians into Mexicans: History and Identity in a Mexican Town (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996): 76.
customary practice in the region. The problem therein lies in that San Esteban and Saltillo had different notions of what encompassed local custom. E.P. Thompson notes that, In the eighteenth century custom was the rhetoric of legitimation for almost any usage, practice, or demanded right. Hence uncodified custom- and even codified-was in continual flux. So far from having the steady permanence suggested by the word 'tradition', custom was a field of change and of contest, an arena in which opposing interests made conflicting claims.277 Indeed, the Spanish word costumbre (custom) and the word moral or moralidad (morality) are very interrelated. One definition of moral is the act of "conforming to good custom" (conforme a buenas costumbres). Although language is oftentimes redefined through time and by different communities, the San Esteban documents seem to record the Tlaxcalans' understanding of what was legitimate and illegitimate in their society.278 In this letter to Tlaxcala, as well as in other documents, the residents of San Esteban say that things "had always been done in this way" when they are fighting to defend their rights. Although a study of the recent history of San Esteban shows that Tlaxcalans fought to maintain their privileges they write that, "until this day they [local authorities] have supported our rights." Scholars note
E.P. Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crown in the Eighteenth Century, " In Customs in Common: Studies in Traditional Popular Culture (New York: The New Press, 1993): 6. 278 Thompson, "The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the Eighteenth Century," 188.
that peasant or "traditional" communities oftentimes defended themselves by adhering to custom. In effect E.P. Thompson notes that, ...plebian culture is rebellious, but rebellious in defense of custom. The customs defended are the people's own, and some of them are in fact based upon rather recent assertions in practice. But when the people search for legitimations for protest, they often turn back to the paternalist regulations of a more authoritarian society, and select from among these those parts most calculated to defend their present interests...Nor is the social identity of many working people unambiguous. One can often detect within the same individual alternating identities, one deferential, the other rebellious.279 Although indigenous peoples oftentimes innovated, their negation of change is perhaps one of the few safe ways they could defend it. Innovation becomes much safer when you hide behind the curtain of tradition. How else could peasants justify their actions, but through the defense of custom? Tlaxcalans also appeared to believe that rights given to central Tlaxcalans or to them at any time would be valid for all times. In a 1781 letter to their parent colony the residents of San Esteban write, ...it appears most beneficial to recount to your greatness all that is happening to us, so that seeing us as your sons you will dignify us by favoring us, and sheltering us, by providing us with royal edicts that speak in our favor, as our ancestors have formerly favored us by presenting us with royal provisions that we have in our archive...in the year 1629, on the 10th of June, being governor of said city, Don Gregorio Nacianceno, and other judges and administrators, they included the information of the seores of the city for Don Juan Bautista de Salazar and Don Pedro Altamirano; and Don Juan Hernndez, heads of the cabeceras of Tizatln, and
of Tepectipac in before Don Pedro de la Gasca, the public scribe, the same information that said city asked for at the time that the 400 families left so that they would guarantee us our agreements and until now they have preserved our privileges, excemptions, and liberties that that city [Tlaxcala] enjoys and will enjoy. That they will in no time be able to impede or take away anything...280 Eric Van Young proposes that, "time immemorial...turned out very often to have been measured by local political events, and the latter anchored in the domination of a communal political space legitimated in the sacral order."281 Hence, there is also a political dimension to the struggle over who would be able to define custom or the "traditional."282 Although Tlaxcalans were being asked to forego more land, resources and personal rights at the end of the colonial period, there is scant evidence that they rioted or otherwise used violent means to support their claims. In effect, they
280" ...pues nos ha parecido por conveniente de participar a la Grandeza de Uds. todo lo que pasamos, para que mirndonos como a sus hijos, se dignen de favorecernos, y ampararnos con algunos Reales Cdulas, que hablaren a nuestro favor, como se dignaron, nuestros antecesores de intimarnos una Real Provicin que tenemos en nuestro archivo; como es constante, en el ao de mil seiscientos y veinte y nueve, a los diez y nueve das del mes de Junio, siendo Gobernador de la Dcha. Ciudad don Gregorio Nacianceno, dems Jueces y Regimiento, inserto las informaciones de los seores de la Ciudad a Don Juan Bautista de Salazar; y Don Pedro Altamirano; y Don Juan Hernndez, principales de las cabeceras de Tizatln, y de Tepectipac, ante Don Pedro de la Gasca, escribano pblico, la misma que pidi la (?) expresada ciudad en el tiempo que salieron las cuatrocientas familias, para que nos guardasen las Capitulaciones, como convenga, en lo cual hasta la presente nos han guardado los privilegios, exenciones, libertades, que la esa Ciudad goze, y en adelante gozara. Sin que en ningn tiempo nos puedan impedir, o quitar, cosa alguna,..." Coleccin de documentos para la historia de Tlaxcala, 193-199. 281 Eric Van Young, The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press): 486-487.. 282 Eric Hobsbawm writes, "Students of peasant movements know that a village's claim to some common land or right 'by custom from time immemorial' often expresses not a historical fact, but the balance of forces in the constant struggle of village against lords or against other villages." Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, eds. The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983): 2.
attempted to defend their rights in other ways. One such way was by establishing that previous custom supported their actions. In effect, "customs may provide a context in which people may do things it would be more difficult to do directly...they may keep the need for collective action,...and collective expressions of feelings and emotions within the terrain and domain of the coparticipants in a custom..."283 For instance, the 1809 case includes documents from 1607, 1631, 1651, 1653, and 1691. The Tlaxcalan council presented these documents in an attempt to establish how custom had been followed throughout the seventeenth century. The 1607 edict is one issued by Captain Francisco de Urdiola who discusses transgression committed by the Saltillo town council against the residents of San Esteban. Urdiola ultimately ordered that the residents of Saltillo should not let grazing animals enter Tlaxcalan areas. The following document is from 1609 and it is issued by Don Hipolito de Velasco, Marques de Salinas, who was the governor and general captain of Nueva Vizcaya at the time. In it the Marques discusses how the Tlaxcalans appeared before him and issued a petition against the town of Saltillo, but also against an individual landowner, Pedro de Vega. In this decree the governor states, ...I give license to any one of the Indians who finds a beast or oxen or any other such cattle in their farm or orchard can enclose the animal and then they should inform the alcalde mayor of the Villa
Gerald M. Sider. Culture and Class in Anthropology and History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986): 940.
and notice of the damage that they caused...and the owner of such animal shall pay a fine of 200 pesos...284 In the documentation from 1631 don Bartolome Salbago de Aumada, the current lieutenant governor and general captain of Nueva Vizcaya, notes that fray Juan Manuel, the attorney general from Zacatecas, came before him to discuss how the Tlaxcalans were being harassed by the town of Saltillo. The Villa did not want to allow the residents of San Esteban to cut firewood or use of their allotted water rights. In a copy of a 1607 edict presumably issued by Captain Francisco de Urdiola he states, "I order that no person shall be allowed to enter or take any lands or water that belong to said Indians and have belonged to them since the town was founded."285 It begins, The licenciado don Bartolome Salbago de Aumada, lieutenant governor and general captain of this kingdom of Nueva Vizcaya, appointed by Your Majesty, make it known to the justices of Santiago del Saltillo as was done on the fifth day of this present month of July because of a petition that was presented to me by father Juan Manuel, the attorney general of the Province of San Francisco de Zacatecas, informed me that the Indians native to the Pueblo of Tlaxcala, near the Villa de Santiago del Saltillo, that they are being notably bothered by the alcaldes mayores of said Villa and in different occasions and times they took away and
"...doy licencia a qualquiera de los yndios de el que en su milpa sementera o huerta o de otro qualquiera se hallare bestia buey e otro qualquiera ganado mayor o menor para que la pueda encerrar y poner arrecaudo y luego acudir a dar aviso a el alcalde mayor de esta villa y noticia del dao que huvieren echo a quien mande y haga tasar por personas desinteresadas y lo que assi tasaren con pena por todo vigor de derecho al dueo cuyo pareciere ser de ganado o bestia que huviere el dicho dao a que lo pague so pena de doscientos pesos para la rial camara y gastos de justicia..." AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 288. 285 "Y por my visto le mande dar este por el qual os mando que no permitais que ninguna persona de ninguna calidad se les entre ni tome ningunas tierras ni aguas de los que los dichos yndios tienen y han tenido egosado en qualquier tiempo despues que el dicho su pueblo se fund..." AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Ibid, 287.
water rights that were given to them when the Pueblo was founded and they want to stop them from cutting firewood from the wilds of said Villa, which has harmed them notably, and in this way they are bothered by farmers from said Villa who take away their mules and horses and abuse said Indians because they claim that they damage their farmlands...they asked and pleaded that I issue an order so than no judge will innovate in any matter that has taken place since its original settlement until today, nor are they to take away their water rights nor should they impede them from entering the wilds to cut firewood and if they are farmers and they find animals belonging to said Indians they should bring said animal to the Villa and they shall be paid for their damages thus imposing some monetary penalties...286 Pedro de Vega, was singled out, as he was supposed to give the Tlaxcalans ten days of water use, as this had been established by a previous legal dispute that he lost. The de Aumada edict reads: The lieutenant governor and general captain issues an order so that the justices of the Villa del Saltillo make said people give and themselves give said Indians the water that is customarily given to them and that this should be followed without innovating from custom, as it has protected said Indians punishing those who act against custom that conforms to justice (or the law)...287 Later, this same edict seems to be reworded, but this time it makes a point of stating that the governor does not want to impose on the rights of the residents of Saltillo. It reads,
AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Ibid, 290-291. "El seor theniente de governador y capitan general mando que se de mandamiento para que la justicia de la villa del Saltillo hagan dar y den los dichos yndios el agua que se les a acostumbrado a dar lo qual se guarde y cumpla sin ynobar en la costumbre que en el se a tenido amparando en ella a los dichos yndios castigando al que fuere contra la dicha costumbre conforme a derecho lo qual se siga sin perjuicio del que tubiere mejor derecho y assi lo proveyo y firm. El licenciado Don Bartolome de Salbago de Aumado..." AMS, PM, c1, e7. Ibid, 292.
The lieutenant governor and general captain having seen the order included in this petition issued by the Marques de Guadalcasar, former Viceroy of New Spain, order that, without prejudicing the rights of the Villa de Santiago del Saltillo and those of their alcaldes mayores, have practices customary until today and so said order orders that this should be followed until it is determined who is right...288 Perhaps the Tlaxcalan council decided to include this passage so as not to further provoke the Saltillo council. The 1691 document is said to be a decree from the president of the Real Audiencia and royal governor of Nueva Vizcaya, Don Gaspar de Sandoval Zerda Silva y Mendoza. Having reviewed the Tlaxcalan's petition he supports their assertion that they should be given special privileges and should be excused from continuously helping nearby areas, like Nuevo Len, Parras, Coahuila, and Texas. The edict asserts that the Tlaxcalans had always helped northern areas at their own cost and had not been paid the same amount as the Spaniards involved in such endeavors. They argued that those who should first be asked to help should be from the nearest parishes and that this request should not harm such towns economically. The Tlaxcalans had helped with the conquest of this empire and established the town of San Esteban. Consequently, such demands should not be placed on them. Finally, the Tlaxcalans should be compensated just like the Spanish as they "incur the same costs when purchasing firearms and horses and when they send men to help out they are not able to attend to their fields and are
AMS, PM, c1, e7. Ibid,, 293.
thus left without the means to support their families."289 He concludes by stating that, ...the natives' (naturales) claims are reduced to two points, the first is that the justices of the Villa de Saltillo should not have authority over them, the second, addresses their present poverty and diminution and for which they have come so that some relief is provided, and so I state that the privileges that correspond to them, as they are settlers and conquerors, should be protected so that their population is maintained, and so that they are able to survive and thrive as this is of great benefit to the country's defense...290 Conclusion The San Esteban edicts that were used to substantiate land ownership were a clear expression of the community's historical consciousness and of local culture. In addition, although indigenous title documents vary widely, one of the unifying aspects of these documents is their focus on defending their land. This struggle became an integral part of an indigenous pueblo's identity.291 The defense of he community or altepetl probably dated back to pre-Columbian times, yet this identity was continually ingrained as population and social changes during the colonial period increasingly threatened the group's landholdings. In
"...no solo por ser yndios dejan de tener el mismo gasto de armas y caballos y perden las conveniencias asistir en sus siembras y exercicios y han de dexar con que mantener sus familias." Ibid, 295. 290 "...a dos puntos se reduce la pretencion de estos naturales el primero a que las justicias de la villa del Saltillo no tengan autoridad sobre ellos, el segundo a que atenta su presente pobreza y disminucion a que han benido se les releve de algunos socorros y se les guarden como a conquistadores y pobladores los privilegios que les corresponden y que para todo se les libre despacho con penas para el cumplimiento y como quiera que el mantener la poblason de los suplicantes y procurar su conservacion y aumento conviene mucho para la defenza de el paiz y de la cordillera y paraje..." AMS, PM, c1, e7, 16f. Ibid, 296.
effect, the unexpected consequence of Spanish insistence on written documentation to support land claims was that we now have a written record of a process that for the most part took place in oral form. Although the history that the residents of San Esteban tell in the documents is presented in legal disputes is tailored for their audience (Spanish officials), you cannot recount (or create) what is not part of your cultural consciousness. These stories are told because they are integral for community cohesion. It was the town elders who served in the San Esteban cabildo and consequently they had a vested interest in passing on the town's history. In effect, other codices, like the Ttulos Nahuas or the Cdices Techioaloyan, are written in popular Nahuatl and this would seem to indicate indigenous cabildos were conscious of the fact that they had a dual audienceSpanish authorities and their own community.292 Although the San Esteban documents were recorded in Spanish, the existence of common historical themes (from documents dating from 1729-1809) does indicate that these stories were passed down from one generation to the next. By recounting and retelling their town's history indigenous communities forged and maintained the group's identity.
Florescano, "El canon memorioso"; Lockhart, "Visions of Municipal Glory Undimned"; Frye, From Indians into Mexicans. 292 Florescano, "El canon memorioso," 196-197.
CHAPTER 5 Race, Class, and Gender
The study of history is the study of another culture. So it is that the study of race and race relations in past times is complicated by our own present-day ideas concerning race. As other elusive concepts, like the study of gender and class, race is a difficult topic to fully comprehend because by and large everyone (each social or ethnic group) defines it differently. This is further complicated by the fact that language is constantly changing and developing. In colonial Latin America words like morisco or coyote may have been used with great frequency in one generation, but later were dropped from the vocabulary entirely or were given different meanings. When census officials wrote the instructions for the 1777 Saltillo census, they advised the interviewer that he should record each person's clase, estado and casta (class, estate and caste). One could perhaps assume that class would be corraleted with a person's occupation, but it clearly also denoted a person's wealth or even racial status.293 Estate (or condition/status) seemed to be a term interchangeable with the word calidad, or a person's race. By extension, castas were mixed groups (whether mestizo, castizo, mulatto...). The statistical evidence for the township of Saltillo suggests that this was a society that was becoming more racially mixed, but where there was barely any
Robert McCaa, "Calidad, Clase, and Marriage in Colonial Mexico: The Case of Parral, 178890," Hispanic American Historical Review 64:3 (1984): 478.
upward social movement for non-Spanish groups. Whiteness may not have guaranteed success, but it did make it more of a possibility. Casta groups could at times move up occupationally, but they could not achieve the status of a Creole or a Peninsular Spaniard. Consequently, "whitening," or proving ones limpieza de sangre and attempting to "pass," became one of the only ways an individual could hope to move up socially in this regional enclave. The language of race may have been laced with class overtones, but however subtely (whether one spoke of a person's legitimacy, honor, occupation...) all of these factors spoke to the continuing importance of whiteness. Consequently, the ideas discussed in this chapter are a necessary prelude for understanding Tlaxcalan identity formation (which will be discussed in the following chapter). The primary sources used in this chapter will be the 1777 and 1793 census, as well as birth, marriage, and burial records from the town of Saltillo for the period spanning 1760-1821. Although we can learn much about local society through an analysis of statistical sources, they are wrought with inconsistencies and consequently create a whole new set of problems for historians. Indeed, the entries for the 1777 and 1793 census are oftentimes incomplete. In these records a person's occupation regularly goes unlisted, as well as their racial status (especially for women and children). One might expect that parish birth, marriage, and burial records would be more accurate, but these documents are only as reliable as the person recording the information. Parish priests or visiting clerics each had different methods of recording data. The burial records appear to be especially problematic, as the number of parishoners who paid for a burial
ceremony varied grearly from year to year. For instance, in 1774 there were 159 total people buried, in 1780 there were 473, in 1790 there were 179, and finally in 1800 there were 210. Despite the inherent problems in these types of colonial documents, they still provide one of the best ways to understand broader population changes and perhaps also ideological changes regarding race. The document itself presents invaluable information about the social changes that were taking place in Spanish America as a whole during the eighteenth century and that consequently were manifested at the local level in these northern communities.294
Census Data Along with the rest of New Spain, northern enclaves experienced population growth at the end of the colonial period.295 Although statistical information about these towns varies, sometimes dramatically depending on the source, most agree that there was a notable increase in the population of the region of Coahuila during the early nineteenth century. Peter Gerhard writes that Coahuila's population was made up of 42,937 inhabitants in 1810. He points out
294 Elizabeth Kuznesof writes, "Recent literary studies of colonial Latin American argue that colonial texts represent 'colonial discourses' rather than objective descriptions of fact. While this methodology has been applied to histories, long essays, plays and (interesntingly), to maps, it could also profitably be used for a more penetrating study of laws, censuses, and parish records, among other documentary 'texts'." "Race, Class, and Gender: A Conversation," Colonial Latin American Review 4:1 (1995): 162. 295 By 1742 New Spain's population was estimated to be 3.3 million and by 1810 it had grown to 6 million. David Brading and Celia Wu. "Population Growth and Crisis: Len, 1720-1860," Journal of Latin American Studies 5:1 (1973): 1. Silvia Arrom as well as other authors, like Robert McCaa , have noted the gender imbalance in colonial Mexico. Silvia Arrom, The Women of Mexico City, 1790-1857 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983); Robert McCaa, "La viuda viva del Mxico Borbnico: sus voces, variedades y vejaciones," In Familias Novohispanas, Siglos XVI al XIX. Edited by Pilar Gonzalbo Aizpuro (Mxico: El Colegio de Mxico, 1991).
that the region that included Parras and Saltillo (southern part of the province) comprised 23,000 of these settlers. Of the remaining 19,937, 7,311 were Spanish, 4,712 were castas, and 7,911 were Indians.296 In Miguel Ramos Arizpe's report on the northern provinces, the population of Coahuila is made up of 60,000 people.297 Available statistical data also indicates that population growth was taking place in the Villa of Saltillo. In the 1777 census, for example, the population of Saltillo is 3,175 (these numbers do not include the surrounding communities living in haciendas or ranches) and by 1793 it is 6,082.298 Although one could rightly question the reliability of colonial padrones if these numbers are compared to other census taken soon after independence these general trends do seem to bear out.299 In fact, Saltillo seems to be experiencing dramatic growth. In the 1829 census its population is now 19,047 and in 1830 it has a population of 20,241. A racial breakdown of the town indicates that Spaniards were the predominant group in Saltillo. The following tables present a racial breakdown of the population as presented in the 1777 and the 1793 Saltillo census.
296 Peter Gerhard, The North Frontier of New Spain, revised edition. (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma, 1993). 297 Ramos Arizpe, Miguel. "Memoria presentada a las Cortes por D. Miguel Ramos Arizpe, diputado por Coahuila, sobre la situacin de las Provincias Internas de Oriente en la sesin de las Provincias Internas de Oriente en la sesin del da 7 de noviembre de 1811," In Descripciones econmicas regionales de Nueva Espaa, provincias del norte, 1790-1814. Enrique Florescano and Isabel Gil Snchez, coord. (Mxico: Instituto Nacional de Antropologa e Historia, 1976): 152-200. 298 Leslie Offutt points out that these numbers appear to be inflated. 299 David Brading and Celia Wu note that census statistics and parish registers are especially unreliable for the colonial period, but they find statistical records for the period after independence to somewhat more accurate. "Population Growth and Crisis."
Table 1: Racial Designation in the Villa of Saltillo, 1777 Census Male Female Total Unidentified 592 852 1444 Spanish 508 553 1061 Mulatto 117 128 245 Indian 79 117 196 Coyote 81 81 162 Black 1 14 15 Mestizo 8 11 19 Lobo 4 7 11 Morisco 1 7 8 Apache 2 2 Slave 2 47 Castiso 1 1 Total Table 2: Racial Designation in the Villa of Saltillo, 1793 Census300 Spanish 2,104 Coyote 392 Mulatto 313 Mestizo 168 Other Castas 14 Unidentified 2,578 Total 5,569 In 1777, those identified as Spanish comprised 45.5% of the population of Saltillo. The large number of people whose race went unidentified can be partially explained by the fact that the race of women and children oftentimes went unlisted. Robert McCaa also finds this to be the case in Parral. He notes that adult women lacked a racial label 15% of the time, as opposed to men who were unidentified only 7% of the time.301 In Saltillo, females (regardless of age) were not given a racial label 27% of the time and males 19% of the time. A more
Leslie Offutt breaks these numbers up into rural and urban districts. AMS, PM, C43, 1791. Robert McCaa, "Calidad, Clase, and Marriage in Colonial Mexico: The Case of Parral, 17881790," Hispanic American Historical Review 64(1984): 481.
telling statistic is that in 151 instances the wife's race is unrecorded, as opposed to 25 occasions for male spouses. There seems to be a conscious effort not to identify the wife's race, especially when she was married to a Spaniard.302 As we will see, this was perhaps because women were said to assume the race of their husband when they married, so the census taker did not think it was important to reiterate what was already socially understood. One would also have to wonder if they were reluctant to list women's race because it was not "equal" to that of her husband's. Official recording of this information would have been a way to recognize interracial marriages. As Joan Scott notes, "Statistical reports are neither totally neutral collections of fact nor simply ideological impositions. Rather they are ways of establishing the authority of certain visions of social order, of organizing perceptions of 'experience.'" In many ways census officials had the "power to define reality."303 Saltillo also appeared to have racially divided neighborhoods. The 1777 Saltillo census is divided by neighborhoods and then by households. There were 561 households, including those residents referred to as extramuros, who were those living in the outskirts of the city. Although many of the neighborhoods are racially mixed, certain barrios have a larger percentage of Spanish (Creole and Peninsular) residents than others. Although I was unable
302 Elizabeth Kuznesof argues that women "absorbed" the race and "other characteristics of men they married." 'Race, Class, and Gender: A Converstation," 162. 303 Joan Scott, "A Statistical Representation of Work," In Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988): 115. On analyzing statistics, see Michel de Certeau, ""History: Science and Fiction," In Heterologies: Discourse on the Other. Translated by Brian Massumi ( Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986).
to do a specific count of those belonging to Saltillo's neighborhoods in the 1777 census because it was unclear where the first two neighborhoods of Los Guisaches and San Francisco began and ended Leslie Offutt was able to break these numbers down using the 1793 census.304 (see Table 3) Table 3: Racial Breakdown of Saltillo Neighborhoods, 1793
Calle de los Guisaches Calle de San Francisco Calle de Santiago Barrio de Guanajuato Spanish 62 62.6% 258 (55.8%) 369 (74.8%) 26 (54.7%) Coyote 0 66 (14.3%) 37 (7.5%) 106 (22.2%) Mestizo 27 27% 15 (3.2%) 5 (1%) 52 (1%) Mulatto 3 3% 51 (11%) 21 (4.3%) 75 (15.7%) Black 0 2 (.4%) 0 0 Indian 7 7% 70 (15.2%) 61 (12.4%) 30 (6.3%) Total 99 462 493 477
Even though those classified as Spaniards dominated Saltillo's population, they tended to cluster in certain areas of the city. The area around the Calle de los Guisaches is predominantly Spanish and the second most numerous group in that neighborhood are Mestizos. The homes along the Calle de Santiago are also presdominadly Spanish. The other two areas seem to be more racially mixed, although they are still predominantly Spanish. This is not surprising, given that Spaniards were the most numerous. The central areas of the city appear to be reserved for upper class Spaniards and the outlying regions, along the Barrio of Guanjuato, were areas reserved for lower class Spaniards, castas, Indians and blacks. Indeed, in the 1777 census officials gave no one along these outlying areas "Don" status.
Race and Class How was class defined in colonial times? There is extensive debate surrounding this issue. Patricia Seed argues that class became much more important in the waning years of the eighteenth century, but that colonials did not have the language to speak of these types of inequities and consequently they continued to use the language of race to describe class status.305 Silvia Arrom suggests that because people changed their race as they moved up socially census information would also indicate a person's class.306 Rodney Anderson contends that census takers left clues to a person's class or social status by preceding certain individual's names with a "Don" or "Doa."307 Because the 1777 Saltillo census, like other colonial padrnes, oftentimes does not list a person's occupation we can only speculate about how a person's class was determined. An analysis of who was given "Don" status in Saltillo indicates that both race and a person's occupation helped determine a person's status. The manner in which the 1777 census itself is organized illustrates Saltillo's social and racial heirarchy. The very first census entry reads: Don Joseph Rodrigo de Abrego, distinguished person, both because of his calidad and because of his occupation, who is married with Doa Mara de Uro y Campa, said Seor is forty-six years old and his wife is thirty-six years old. He owns haciendas; his family is comprised of four daughters,
305 Patricia Seed. To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico: Conflicts Over Marriage Choice, 1574-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988): 222. 306 Silvia M. Arrom, The Women of Mexico City (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1983): 104105. 307 Rodney D. Anderson, "Race and Social Stratification: A Comparison of Working-Class Spaniards, Indians, and Castas in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1821," Hispanic American Historical Review 68:2 (1988): 216.
who are fourteen years old, twelve, five and the other one is four. Servants: one a Black slave who is thirty-four, two female slaves who are single, one is fifty and the other one is twenty-five, one Indian who is thirty and single and has one fifteen year old daughter, the other servant of the same calidad is twenty-two and is also single, one mulatto who is four years old and is the son of one of the slaves[;] above Mara de Arispe, 30, Spanish widow of Antonio Guaxardo, with one nine year old daighter and a boy who is ten years old named Jos de Jesus, a Spanish orphan. Joseph Rodrigo was a prominent citizen of the Villa and consequently we know much more about him than other members of this society, many of which were not included in this count; those living on the outskirts of the city, the poor, and Indians. This apparently simple entry gives us important information about this household and consequently about the social order. The census taker writes that Joseph Rodrigo, a Spaniard, is distinguished both because of his race (calidad) and because of his occupation. He is a large landowner, has a Spanish wife, a growing family, and an extensive number of servants (most in this relatively urban community did not have these many employees living under their roof). He owns slaves (three women, one of which has a son), which is also rare in late colonial Saltillo. In the 1777 census there were only forty-seven people listed as a mulatto or black slave. According to late colonial standards of status he is truly a person who deserves the designation of "Don." In contrast, Xavier Ramos is not called a "Don." His family's entry reads: House and family of Xavier Ramos, coyote carpenter who is sixty years old and married to Gertrudis, who is Spanish and is forty years old. They have two children, one named Juan Jos and is thirty years old, and is married to Xaviera Morales, who is Spanish and is twenty-five years old. They have a two-year old daughter named Ygnacia Blas. They 167
also have a mestiza servant named Juana Muoz who is twenty years old. Interestingly, Xavier Ramos appears to possess many of the qualities that should elevate a person's status in the colonial world. He was an older male who was married to a Spanish woman. They had two children and a servant. Two factors apparently did not work in his favor. First, he himself was not Spanish- he was a coyote- and he was a carpenter. Which of the final two factors most affected his social standing? Scholars have previously noted that there is an association between race and the division of labor. The Saltillo census would support this assessment. The following table breaks down occupations by race.
Table 4: Distribution of Occupations by Race, 1777
Occupation Peninsular Indian Agriculturer Barber Blacksmith Bricklayer Butcher Cashier 7 Candlemaker Carpenter Cook Farm laborer Government post 4 Jatero Javonero Leather tanner Mason Merchant 5 Milk mother Mozo Muleteer Notary Obrajero Obrero Organista Scribe Servant Shoemaker Shepherd Silversmith Slave Surgeon Tailor 2 Watchman Creole 6 1 6 1 1 8 9 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 1 6 1 1 19 6 4 47 1 5 1 2 14 1 1 1 3 1 1 24 2 19 4 58 3 1 1 castizo308 mestizo coyote mulatto Black lobo 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 1
308 Patricia Seed notes that in the seventeenth century the terms castizo and morisco began to appear with greater frequency. Castizos referred to light-skinned mestizos and moriscos were light-skinned mulattos. "Social Dimensions of Race: Mexico City, 1753," Hispanic American Historical Review 62:4 (1982): 573.
As in other areas of New Spain, peninsulares dominated the merchant class and government posts.309 Another profession where Spaniards predominated was that of cajeros or cashiers. This seemed to be a post that served as a stepping stone for more prominent employment, as most of those who occupied this job were young Spanish men. Their ages ranged from 19 to 31. Silversmiths and tailors were also occupations that were dominated by Creoles and Peninsulares in 1777. In fact, there were no other groups that had these professions. In the 1793 census other castas had made some headway, as there were now two coyotes who were tailors, as well as one mulatto and one Indian. In 1793 there were three silversmiths, but they all continued to be Spaniards (see Appendix). There appeared to be little change in the social hierarchy between 1777 and 1793. Creoles were large landowners, but they were not limited to these types of positions. They also had a variety of skilled and unskilled jobs, and were listed as bricklayers, carpenters, shoemakers and even as servants (the table includes both male and female workers). Those who served as household servants were primarily Indians, mulattos and blacks, but there were also a fair number of Creoles and coyotes that undertook this type of low status work. In her analysis of the 1753 Mexico City census Patricia Seed found that about 50% of mulattoes were servants and that 81.5% of blacks were also servants.310 She
See Magnus Mrner. Race Misture in the History of Latin America (Boston, 1967): 61; David A. Brading. Miners and Merchants in Bourbon Mexico, 1763-1810 (Cambridge, 1971): 258; Patricia Seed, "Social Dimensions of Race," 577. 310 Seed, "Social Dimensions of Race," 582.
argues that they they followed the path previously established by their parents. Mulattoes in Saltillo also follow the occupational status of their "parent" population, as there were many mulatto servants (only Indians were listed as servants with greater frequency). There were relatively few castas whose occupational status was even recorded, but most people's occupations went unidentified or they were listed as not having a profession. ("sin oficio"). Of the forty-nine males who were sin oficio, 18 were Spaniards (Creole), 15 were mulattos, 13 were coyotes and 3 were Indians. If we analyze the male household heads and separate those who were given "Don" status and from those who were not, this breakdown would seem to indicate that both race and occupation affected a person's status, but that race (however it was defined) mattered more. Although age and marital standing mattered (there was only one single "Don" a creole, and the average age of "Dons" was 38), race does seem to weigh heavily in determining who had a higher social standing in Saltillo. As the following table shows, there were no non-Spanish male household heads (with a specified occupation) that were given "Don" status by the census takers.
Table 5: Male Heads of Households (whose occupation was specified) given "Don" Status; Avg. age of subjects: 38 Race Occupation Marital Status Age Peninsular Alcalde ord. mayor widow 46 Peninsular Alguacil mayor married 37 Creole Attorney general married 48 Creole blacksmith married 27 Creole brickmason married 54 Creole Capitn protector married 60 Peninsular Capitn Protector married 38 Creole carpenter married 30 Creole carpenter married 35 Creole carpenter married 55 Creole carpenter married 73 Creole married 40 jabonero311 Creole married 27 labrador312 Creole labrador married 38 Creole labrador married 40 Creole labrador married 40 Creole labrador married 49 Creole labrador married 50 Creole labrador married 57 Creole labrador widow 57 Creole labrador married 60 Creole labrador widow 60 Peninsular merchant married 41 Peninsular merchant married 45 Peninsular merchant widow 46 Peninsular merchant married 53 Peninsular merchant widow 56 Creole merchant single 28 Creole merchant married 31
A jabonero is a soap maker. A labrador is a farm laborer.
Table 5 (cont.) Race Occupation Marital status Creole merchant married Creole merchant married Creole merchant married Creole merchant widow Creole merchant widow Creole muleteer widow Creole notary widow Creole rancher married Peninsular sales tax administrator married Creole scribe married Creole shoemaker married Creole silversmith married Creole silversmith married Creole silversmith married Creole tailor married Creole tailor married Creole tailor married Creole Teniente Alg. Mayor. Creole Teniente general married
Age 41 43 46 55 57 60 57 55 49 53 23 36 42 48 24 43 57 60 46
All of the household heads who were given "Don" status were Spanish. In late eighteenth century Saltillo race continued to be an important social marker that strongly shaped how one was viewed in society and that determined one's position in the colonial order. Yet, race was not the only factor that appeared to shape colonial society. If one looks at carpenters, for example, this society appears more complex. The following table denotes the race and occupation of those not given "Don" status. This information would seem to indicate that castas and other groups were able to find some social movement by having a skilled profession, and that race and occupational status were not the only factors that affected one's status in this society. 173
Table 6: Male Head of Households (whose occupation was specified) who were not given "Don" status Race Occupation Marital status Age
Creole Indian Creole Creole Creole Creole Mulatto Creole Castiso Coyote Coyote Creole Creole Creole Mulatto Creole Creole Mulatto Mestizo Coyote Indian Creole Creole Mulatto Coyote Creole Creole Creole Creole Creole Creole Mulatto Indian Indian agriculture agriculture blacksmith blacksmith blacksmith brickmason butcher candlemaker carpenter carpenter carpenter carpenter carpenter carpenter carpenter hatmaker hatmaker jailer "jatero" leather tanner leather tanner merchant merchant muleteer obrajero obrajero obrajero obrajero obrajero obrajero obrajero obrajero obrero organista married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married widow married married widow married married married 50 48 27 48 63 47 47 44 50 60 60 35 39 51 48 21 68 50 30 41 22 36 60 68 28 36 39 39 49 50 60 48 40 34
Table 6 (cont.) Race
Mulatto Coyote Coyote Creole Creole Creole Creole Indian Indian Indian Indian Mulatto Mulatto Mulatto Mulatto Indian Creole Creole Creole Creole Creole Creole
servant shepherd shepherd shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker shoemaker slave stewart surgeon tailor tailor tailor tailor watchman
married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married married
38 40 40 35 38 50 51 38 44 54 54 22 38 39 40 38 42 34 48 50 54 60
Although carpentry was not a high status profession in other areas of colonial Mexico, Spaniards in Saltillo dominated this occupation. Creoles comprised 66% of all carpenters. Of twelve carpenters, eight were Creoles, there were two mulattos, one castizo, and one mestizo. Four of the Spanish carpenters were given "Don" status by census takers. None of the casta carpenters were given "Don" status. In fact, of the 114 male household heads whose occupation was listed, fifty-eight were given "Don" status and all of these were either Creole or Peninsular Spaniards. Is carpentry therefore a high status profession or were
there other factors that determined why some Spanish carpenters were "Dons" and others were not? Did race or class matter more? Why was the previously discussed Xavier Ramos not given "Don" status? He was also a carpenter (a skilled profession) and was married to a Spanish woman, had a son who was also married to a Spanish woman, and had a servant. Yet, Xavier Ramos himself was a coyote and may not have had the amount of wealth that would have elevated him in status. If he had more wealth, perhaps he would not even have appeared as a coyote in the census. His elite status could have helped make him a Spaniards. Race, class (and gender) were all factors that shaped a person's social standing. This is illustrated one in the burial records. A count of burials from 1774 and 1810 (in approximate ten-year intervals) was conducted, yet the years of 1774 and 1780 were most useful because they not only denote a person's race, but also the type of funeral they chose. We cannot truly understand why a parishoner would request a "high" or a "low" funeral, but they do seem to be an indicator of social class. In his study of religion in eighteenth century Mexico Brian Larkin notes that Mexico City's elite used funeral processions as a way to flaunt their wealth or proclaim their social position.313 Yet, all groups had the opportunity to request a "high" funeral.314 That being the case, parishoners still needed to have enough money to pay for this final religious service. The following tables show a racial breakdown and type of funeral chosen by each parishoners for the years of 1774 and 1780. Most of those
Brian Larkin, "Baroque and Reformed Catholicism: Religious and Cultural Change in Eighteenth Century Mexico," Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Texas-Austin (1999): 355. 314 Funeral rights were either high or low, but could also be referred to as being buried with a high cross or low cross.
choosing a high burial in 1774 were Spaniards (80%) and a large percentage of those given a low burial were Indians (43%). Although this breakdown would seem to clearly illustrate Salillo's racial heirarchy, it should be noted that the one slave listed in the records that year was given a high burial. Race, wealth, and status were clearly interrelated, but individuals were able to transgress these restrictions at tiems. Note that six mulattos were given a high burial that year and so were seven Indians. Table7: Saltillo Burials, 1774 Total: 159 Male: 84 Female: 75 High Spanish 66 80% Coyote 1 1.2% Mestizo 1 1.2% Mulatto 6 7.3% Indian 7 11.7% Slave 1 1.2% Unidentified Total 82
Low 11 18 4 9 32 1 75
15% 24% 5.3% 12% 43% 1.3%
The breakdown for 1780 once again shows a clear tendency for Spaniards to receive high burials and for subordinate groups to receive low burials. During this year there seems to be an even clearer division between the type of burial choice and race. Most receiving high burials were Spaniards (92%) and 62% of those given a low burial were Indians. Even though there were many more burials in 1780 (473, as opposed to 159 in 1774) only three mulattos received a high burial, as well as two Indians that year.
Table8: Saltillo Burials, 1780 Total: 473 Male: 242 Female: 231 High Spanish 157 92% Coyote 5 2.9% Mestizo 4 2.3% Mulatto 3 1.8% Indian 2 1.1% Total 171
Low 38 25 18 23 171 275
13.8% 9.0% 6.5% 8.4% 62%
Were Spaniards the wealthiest members of society who controlled most of the wealth in the region and kept other groups from advancing or were some successful individuals able to "buy" their status as Spaniards? Burial records could support both these claims. One would of course need to cross-check birth and death records in order to fully understand if individuals were passing or if subordinate groups were locked out of certain professions and the opportunity to accumulate greater wealth because of their race. Previous analyses of race suggest that the disappearance of certain racial labels, such as the racial designation of mulatto, signified that those of mixed racial ancestry were able to become labeled as Spanish in late colonial Mexico.315 Whether or not this was also the case in Saltillo is still unclear. Both of these analyses, one suggesting that Spaniards had even more control over resources and the suggestion that individuals were increasingly able to pass into Spanish society if they were able to
Chance and Taylor, "Race and Class," 439; Valdes, "Decline of Castas," 29; Anderson, " "Race and Social Stratification," 240-241.
accumulate enough wealth, point to the intrinsic racism evident in the late colonial world. "Passing" is a racist notion because it implies that one can only garner the full respect of one's peers if one is labeled as a Spaniard. How did race and class intersect in late colonal Saltillo? One might surmise that market forces would have prompted the disappearance of ethnicity and replaced it was a class-consciousness. This is in fact what scholars like Steve Stern argued would take place.316 Other historians have not ignored the fact that the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century was a period of time when concepts of race, ethnicity, but also class were being reformulated and redefined because of economic changes and state mechanisms. Hence, Patricia Seed focuses more on language or the lack of a language to speak of class. In so doing, she implies that class overrides ethnicity as a force influencing social stratification at the end of the colonial period. She writes, Colonial society's inability to express its growing cognizance of social disparity- specifically differences in economic and social status- resided in the fact that although money was becoming the central guarantor of social status, race rather than money was the dominant metaphor for social inequality...The disparities that aristocratic eighteenth century Mexican families were struggling to express were the inequalities of power, wealth, and prestige. But by the end of that century, there did not exist a word or a language to express these differences. The search for a language rooted in traditional historical distinctions was ultimately unsuccessful
Steve Stern, Peru's Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest, Huamanga to 1640 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1982); Scholars have not ignored this apparent dichotomy. John Rex writes, "The paradox of the modernization and individualization of colonial and post-colonial society lies in the fact that though it is based upon universalistic notions, racial categorization may become more rather than less important within it." Race and Ethnicity (Milton Keynes, England: Open University Press, 1986): 56.
because the differences that society found significant were based on a new and entirely different economic and social order...For the late eighteenth century, however, the word 'class,' as a marker of distinctions of rank within society, did not exist. It would remain for the nineteenth century to create that meaning.317 This implies that ethnicity in and of itself was not a distinct entity at this time. Yet, indigenous people continued to speak of ethnicity and it shaped their political behavior. The existence of a class consciousness or of market forces does not mean that ethnicity became less of an influential concept in society. One cannot consider indigenous people's references to ethnic concerns a false consciousness for to do so would negate the importance of indigenous peoples' own perspectives. 318 Even though socio-economic differences became more noticeable in late colonial society, ethnicity continued to be the way in which indigenous groups perceived and spoke about inequality- how they saw their world. Yet, ethnicity was not a veneer on class dynamics. Groups may have lived in a more economically unequal world, but the language that they used to express their discontent did not speak to economic difference. Ethnicity still mattered. It was a construct that was manipulated by indigenous peoples to best serve their needs.
Patricia Seed, To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico, 222-223. In reference to indigenous rebellions and the peasant perspective, William Taylor writes, "In neither regon [central Mexico and Oaxaca] did the villages' independent spirit and ideal of separatism reflect economic reality. This disjunction suggests an important distinction in colonial life between village culture and colonial society. In making this distinction, I am thinkinf of culture as the distinctive manner of life of a group of people based on a shared way of living and looking at the world, a world view based on group-learned definitions and interpretations of behavior." Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages, 162,
The fact that class dynamics increasingly shaped society did not mean that culture and ethnicity were pushed into the background. It only meant that there was one more factor, one more pressure that indigenous people had to deal with. Market forces shaped every aspect of this society, including the development of ethnic identity, but it is still a force that must me analyzed in and of itself. Ethnicity thus continued to be a real construct within people's lives. This is evident by the fact that even today, when capitalist development has affected every corner of the world and aspect of our lives, ethnic groups continue to exist. Gender and Race Like other cities in New Spain, Saltillo shows a gender imbalance.319 Of a total population of 3,175 in 1777, there were 1,784 women and 1,391 men. Of these 899 were listed as being married, 380 were single and 179 widowed. There were also 129 female-headed households. Widows primarily headed these households, but women whose husband's were absent or even single mothers were listed as household heads. On infrequent occasions a woman would be recorded as the head of the household even while her husband was still residing in the home. This was never the case in a Spanish household, but it did occur in casta families. This might have been because the woman was the primary breadwinner in those homes.
See Arrom, The Women of Mexico, 1790-1857.
There were also more single (unmarried or widowed) Spanish women. Spanish women who were listed as single (soltera-over the age of 14) or widowed in 782 instances, but there were only 366 Spanish men who were single (unmarried male over the age of 16, the census only used the word soltera or doncella when referring to unmarried women). The marriage market for Spanish women appeared to be very restricted. As most in Spanish America married within their own racial group, Spanish women in Saltillo had very limited options if they wanted to marry within their own group. The following table breaks down the population of Saltillo by race and gender.
Table 9: Race and Gender of Saltillo Population, 1777 Female Male Spanish 552 Spanish Coyota 81 Coyote Mestiza 11 Mestizo Castiza 0 Castizo Morisca 7 Morisco Loba 7 Lobo Mulatta 129 Mulatto Black 14 Black Apache 0 Apache Indian 117 Indian Unknown 851 Unknown
507 81 7 1 1 4 5 1 2 79 592
Although there appears to be about an equal number of Spanish men and women, many of those women remained unmarried (see table below). There was also a gender imbalance in the number of mulatta females and mulattos. Many mulatta women married outside of their group, as there were relatively few single mulattas of marriageable age. Table10: Female Headed Households in Saltillo, 1777 Total: 115 Spanish Mestiza Coyota Mulatta 88 (76%) 1 (.8%) 15 (13%) 10 (8.7%)
Indian 1 (.8%)
Most of the Spanish women who headed households were in fact widows or were single (never married).320 A few of them did have husbands who were
320 Silvia Arrom notes that there were also an extensive number of Spanish women who remained single in nineteenth century Mexico City. She discusses a variety of factors for this, but suggests that it was because upper class Spanish women were not able to find equitable marriage partners. The Women of Mexico City.
absent at the time the census was taken. Casta women seemed to not remain unmaried for very long, so consequently few of these women were listed as household heads in the census. In one instance a coyota woman was listed as the household head, despite of the fact that her husband was living in the household. Her husband was Indian. The colonial family unit was also much different than one might expect. Although many ascribed to the traditional nuclear family, the 1777 census also notes that there were forty-one adopted children. Of these forty-one, nine were living in female-headed households. Rita de los Santos Coy was a forty-eight year old Spanish widow who had three daughters, ages twenty-five, fourteen, and thirteen, but she also had a six-year old adopted son. Fifty-three year old Mara Anna de Almandos, also a Spanish widow, had a single adopted daughter of age twenty-five, a twenty-five year old female mulatta slave, a female Indian servant, age seventeen, and a nine year old male Indian servant. Marriage Patterns Magnus Mrner notes that the eighteenth century was a time of growing racial prejudice, but paradoxically it was also a time when there were an increasing number of interracial marriages. He points out that, "the reality was that it was the progress and expansion of intermediary groups that essentially motivated this ever growing exclusion of other groups by the Creole elite.321
Mrner, Estado, razas, y cambio social en Hispanoamrica colonial (Mxico: Secretara de Educacin Pblica, 1974): 100.
Morevore, it should be noted that the popular classes did not blindly accept this growing racial prejudice. They often rejected racial ideologies in their daily lives.322 These numbers therefore only provide a roadmap with which to understand this regional society. Lived experience was much more complex than what these statistics could possibly describe. Even so, this data indicates that most colonials married within their own racial or social group.323 Intermarriage amongst Spaniards in Saltillo was rare. Eighty-five percent of Spanish men married within their own race and Spanish women married within their own group 86.7% of the time. This was unlike the Bajo region where, because of a gender imbalance that plagued most of colonial Spanish America, Spanish women had an intermarriage rate of 29.6 percent.324
Table 11: Marital Status in Saltillo, 1777 Married Single325 Widow 899 380 179
Douglas Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994). 323 Mrner, Estado, razas, y cambio social, 98. 324 D.A. brading and Celia Wu, "Population Growth and Crisis: Len, 1720-1860," Journal of Latin American Studies 5:1 (1973): 7. 325 A person was "single" if census taker listed them as such. Usually this designation was given to single females, who were either doncellas or solteras.
Table 12: Marriage Patterns in Saltillo, 1777
Wife's race Husband's race unknown Spanish Mulatto Mestizo Morisco Coyote Indian Black unknown 1 1 21 12 1 14 3 13 2 137 14 25 2 2 2 6 12 4 101 Spanish mulatta mestiza morisca coyota Indian black
Table 13: Marriage Patterns in Saltillo, 1793
Husband's Race Spanish Coyote Mestizo Mulatto Indian Total Spanish 165 17 3 2 5 192 Wife's Race Coyota 5 26 1 10 10 52 Mestiza 2 0 1 2 1 6 Mulatta 1 4 0 12 3 20 Indian 1 7 2 10 10 30
Table 14: Rate of Exogamy in Saltillo, 1793 Spanish 5.1% Coyote 51.8% Mestizo 85.7% Mulatto 67% Indian 65.5%
Table 15: Spanish Population, 1777 (females) Female headed households (widow, single, absent husband): 129 Widowed or single Spanish women of marriageable age (over 14): 782 Table 16: Spanish Population, 1777 (males) Spanish men of marriageable age (over 16): 366 Married Spanish men: 242
% females 7.24% 43.0% % of male 26.3% 17.4%
Whether because of its provinciality or because of its still relatively small size (even for colonial standards), Saltillo seems to exhibit a social rigidity (especially after 1790) that was reinforced by Bourbon policies, like the Marriage Pragmatic of 1776, which tried to curtail "unequal" marriages. Interestingly, although the statistical evidence is unclear (or incomplete) at times, an analysis of marriage records reveals that residents of Saltillo appeared to be losing interest in recording racial labels during the 1780s. It was not until a representative of the Inquisition arrived in Saltillo that this practice changed.
Table17: Marriages, 1760 Total Marriages: 85 Spanish Mestiza Spanish 47 1 Mestizo 4 Morisco 1 Mulatto 2 Free M. 2 2 Indian 2 Lobo Table18: Marriages, 1774 Total Marriages: 75 Spanish Mestiza Spanish 37 3 Mestizo 2 1 Coyote 1 Mulatto Free M. 3 1 Lobo Indian 1
Free M. 1 7 3
1 1 1 1 5 2
Free M. 1 2 4 5
Indian 1 3
Table19: Marriages, 1780 Total Marriages: 54 Spanish Mestiza Spanish 12 Mestizo 2 Free M. Tlax. Indian 3 unknown 1
Free M. 1
1 3 32
Table20: Marriages, 1790 Total Marriages: 56
Span Mest Moris Mul Free M Pame Ind Tlax ? Span 14 Mest Moris Mul 1 4 1 1 1 1 16 5 6 Free M Pame Ind Tlax ? 3 1
Note that in 1780 there were fifty-four marriages recorded and the race of the bride and groom was unlisted in thirty-two of these. In July of 1790 this note appears in the marriage registry. It reads: Note: Having taken posession of the parish of the Villa of Saltillo on the day and month of July of this year of seventeen ninety the Seor Br. Don Josef Sanchez de Lugue, curate incapite, and ecclesiastic judge of the church, as well as comissioner of the Holy Office of the Inquisition of New Spain, it was determined the marriages continue to be recorded in the following manner.326 The visiting priest then goes on to provide examples of how each person's race should be listed in the marriage registry. Immediately following this visit each person's race was listed and rates of intermarriage virtually disappeared. This change is clearly visible in the 1800, 1810, and 1815 registries.
"Nota: Aviendose aposesionado de este curato de la Vila de el Saltillo el dia de el mes de Julio de el ao de mil setecientos noventa el Seor Br. Don Josef Sanchez de Lugue, cura Bro. Vicario incapite, y Juez Ecclesiastico de dicha Parochial Iglesia: Comisario de el Santo Oficio de la Inquisicin de esta Nueva Espaa se determin se sigan sentando a continuacion de este Libro las Partidas de Casamiento ve unentes su tiempo, y son las siguientes."
Table 21: Marriages, 1800 Total Marriages: 84 Spanish Coyota Spanish 38 Coyote 32 Mulatto Pame Indian ? 4 Table 22: Marriages, 1810 Total Marriages: 85 Spanish Coyota Spanish 47 Coyote 34 Pame Indian 1 ? 1 Table 23: Marriages, 1815 Total: 133 Spanish Mestiza Spanish 57 Mestizo 16 Coyota Mulatto Indian ?
4 3 1
1 54 1
In addition, there were less racial categories at the end of the colonial period. It is unclear if in fact racial groups were being absorbed (as Patricia Seed argues) into other racial categories, or if individuals who were neither Spanish nor Indian were simply listed as being of mixed heritage, hence the dominance of the
term mestizo/a. In fact, we do not know who had greater say when these records were entered into the parish logs. One marriage 1815 marriage document reads: 16: Jose Francisco Galindo with Juana Garcia(,) widow Mestisos In the parochial church of the Villa of Saltillo on the fifth of February of 1815 the vicar don Juan Ynocente Peres married Jos Francisco Galindo(,) Mestizo(,) widow of Mara Ygnacia Echeverria, with Juana Garcia(,) Indian(,) widow of Lusgardo Garcia(.) As there was no impediment ...327
It is unclear if the parish priest was making "editorial comments" on the margins of the marriage record because they found the party's racial claims to be unjustified or if they simply were following a commonly accepted social practice, where women took on their mate's racial category.328 Taking into consideration the fact that intermarriages were recorded prior to 1780 and that a dramatic change took place immediately following the curates visit in 1790, this would indicate that interracial unions did not end abruptly. It was seen unfavorably by the church and thus they tended either not to marry interracial couples, or most likely the bride simply "adopted" the race of her groom. In the last year when racial categories were listed in marriage registries there were three primary racial categories, Spanish, Mestizo/a, and Indian. (see table 24)
327 "En la Yglesia parroquial de la Villa del Saltillo en sinco de Febrero de mil ocho sientos quince el inscripto vicario Ba. Don Juan Ynocente Peres cas a Jose Francisco Galindo Mestiso viudo de Maria Ygnacia Echeverria, con Juana Garcia amonestaciones que fueron inter...los dias veine y dos y veinte y nuebe del anterior, y dos de dicho Padrinos Pedro de Avila y Maria mauela Hernandes testigos al berlos casar Jose Gregorio...y Antonio Solis..." Family History Center,
Table 24: Marriages, 1821 Total Marriages: 132 Spanish Spanish 63 Mestizo Indian ?
Although the sistema de castas was maintained and apparently reinforced by the introduction of such legislation as the Marriage Pragmatic of 1776, there was less variance in racial categories. By 1821 there were only three distinct categories used in marriage records, whereas in 1790 there were eight. Previous studies suggest that the introduction of terms like castizo and morisco in the seventeenth century was an effort by whites to sustain the racial heirarchy by naming mixed lighter-skinned people and thus distancing themselves from these groups.329 If the goal of eighteenth century legislation was to maintain racial distinctions, why would there be less use of casta terms and not more, as one might expect? Perhaps it had become unnecessary to use such labels when one term, like mestizo, would indicate if a person was from a mixed caste group (which in essence was what colonial authorities were most interested in denoting-that a person was not white). Patricia Seed found that in the 1811 Mexico City census (and in other central Mexican areas) the categories of mestizo and castizo were no longer used, but instead they opted for the generic all-inclusive term of casta. She
Douglas Cope finds these type of sidenote comments in his analysis of Mexico City parish records. The Limits of Racial Domination, 56. 329 John Chance, Race and Class in Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1978): 176-177.
suggests that the boundary between castizos and whites was disintegrating and that moriscos were reclassified as mulattoes. Seed explains, Race and the division of labor continued to be associated in the middle of the eighteenth century, but the boundaries among racial groups were disintegrating, as the separation grew between the cognitive system of labels and the economic division of labor. Economic tasks had always been associated with racial labels, as the colonial economic structure dissolved, so did the racial labels it had imposed.330 David Brading and Celia Wu's work on Len, Ganajuato also appears to agree with Seeds assessment. They argue that by the end of the eighteenth century most people in that region could not describe their own ethnic status (especially between Indians and mulattoes). They argue that this was because there were less barriers between Indian and Hispanic communities. There were in fact two social groups, one included Indians, mulattoes, and some mestizos and the other was composed of Spaniards and most mestizos.331 People of different groups may have associated socially and some were intermarrying, but this did not mean that colonial society was any less rigidly structured. Yet, if one takes into account the number of single Spanish women in Saltillo, the continued correlation between race, class, and status, and the number of "Spaniards" given high burials, the overwhelming conclusion would be that being Spanish was still meaningful. Racial stratification continued to be a part of this colonial society and intermarriage had not changed this in a significant way.
Seed, "Social Dimensions of Race," 600. Brading and Wu, "Population Growth and Crisis," 9.
In addition, racial labels did not significantly diminish in birth records. By 1800 the second most numerous category were coyotes (after Spaniards). There were also fewer Indian children. It is around this time that the category of "Indio Pame" comes into greater use. The presence of Indio Pames (part of Apache nation) in birth records seems to indicate that native peoples from outlying areas were making their way to Nueva Vizcaya.
Table 25: Saltillo Births, 1774; expuestos (abandoned newborns)-10 Spaniard Indian Coyote Mulatto Mestizo Male 75 48 43 16 7 Female 74 66 45 13 3 Total 149 114 88 29 10 Table 26: Saltillo Births, 1780; expuestos-6; father unknown-1 Span Indian Coyote Mulatto Mestiz Loba o Male 57 37 24 19 1 Female 54 32 29 12 5 1 Total 111 69 53 31 6 1
Lobo 2 1 3 none332 3 4 7
Table 27: Saltillo Births, 1790; expuestos-15 Span Indian Coy Mul Mest Male 71 71 12 5 4 Fem 78 66 26 15 9 Total 149 137 38 20 13
Morisco/a 4 4
Slave 1 1
none 5 3 8
Children whose race was unlisted were usually ones who were left on someone's doorsteps or that of a hospital or church. They are listed as expuestos.
Table 28: Saltillo Births, 1800; expuestos-13; illegitimate-18 Span Coyote Indian none333 Mulatto Male 93 58 33 13 8 Female 104 52 43 6 7 Total 197 110 76 19 15
Pame 2 3 5
Mestizo 1 1 2
Indians were apparently marrying with other groups in greater numbers at the end of the colonial period. By doing this, their children would not have to pay certain taxes. For these communities there were some benefits to marrying outside the group. This was not the case for Tlaxcalans, who had certain rights because they were "pure" Tlaxcalans. "Indians" and Tlaxcalans There were many ways one's race or ethnicity was determined in the colonial world; skin color, culture, dress, parentage, and class were all factors that shaped how one was viewed by society at large. Douglas Cope argues that plebeians determined racial categories in a common-sense way.334 They were aware of the racial hierarchy imposed by Spaniards but did not passively accept such categorization. Indigenous people came into contact with Spaniards, castas and other indigenous groups in the north and they displayed an understanding of
There were also 16 other births at this time, but there gender and race were unlisted. They were not included in this count. 334 Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination, 67.
how this society functioned and what they needed to do in order to best protect their interests. Racial labels and ethnic identification became more complicated at the end of the colonial period when intermarriage and racial mixing was more common. Although the residents of San Esteban may not have been able to avoid contact with non-Tlaxcalans, they were successful in promoting the idea that they were and had always been a separate community. Clearly, it was not beneficial for them to be perceived as "Indian," since this term had negative connotations.335 One such example of the difficult process of racial identification in the eighteenth century is illustrated in the letters of a parish priest from the nearby community of Parras. Father Jos Dionisio Gutirrez writes colonial administrators complaining about the undue workload being placed on him by indigenous people who constanly ask him for official proof of their ethnicity. In February of 1788 Marcelo Constancio and his sister-in-law Mara Dominga de los Reyes went to the priest and asked to be given written proof that they were in fact "Indians." In this Documento de Constancia the notary public and local priest write: Marcelo Constancio is a pure Indian, without any mix of another casta, and this is the same for his sister-in-law, Mara Dominga d elos Reyes, and so that this is valid I present the following paper
335 Ana Mara Alonso writes, "...on the frontier Indians became radically the other; they were an enemy to be exterminated or segregated in enclaves rather than incorporated into colonial society." Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995): 68.
signed in this town of Santa Mara de las Parras, February 20th, 1788. Lic. Gutirrez: I agree with the original [paper] given to Marcelo Constancio, whom I have seen, and through a verbal request from the Seor Licenciado Don Jos Dionisio Gutirrez, parish priest of said town, I certified it. Parras, February, 1788. In true testimony. Juan de Dios Nuez Esquibel.336 Father Gutirrez consequently wrote the royal tax collectors and explained that although he had certified Marcelo's Indian status, he was not equipped to give each Indian a document stating that they were an indigenous person every time someone left the area to sell their wares. Gutirrez said that he did not have the time or resources to provide such certification for each person and that he would have to spend all day going through census records in order to provide such vouchers. Instead, Father Gutierrez said that he would be willing to draw up one document that would be used by the Indians from the Pueblo de Indios in Parras so that they could all use that certification when they left to sell their fruits and products outside of the area. He suggested that the Alcaldes Mayores or Justicias Ordinarios (local colonial authorities) should carry out a census similar to the one taken by the curates amongst other indigenous communities. Gutirrez said that certifying that residents were pure Indians would be a difficult task, as both male
336 "Documento de Constancia. Marcelo Constancio es Yndio puro sin mescla de otra casta, y lo mismo su cuada Maria Dominga de los Reyes y para que conste donde convenga, doy el presente que firm en este Pueblo de Santa Mara de las Parras, y Febrero veinte de mil setecientos ochenta y ocho. Licenciado Gutierrez. Concuerda con su original se le di Marcelo Constancio que he tenido la vista de donde por mandato verbal del Seor Licenciado Dn. Jos Dionisio Gutierrez Cura Vicario Juez Eclesiastico de dicho Pueblo, lo saqu de certifico. Pueblo de Parras, y Febrero de mil setecientos ochenty, y ocho. En testimonio de Verdad. Juan de Dios Nuez Esquibel." Archivo Parroquial de Parras, Archivo General del Estado de Coahuila. Document no. 556.
and female Indians were marrying other castas and their children were being "emancipated." Father Gutirrez said, ...the last census that the Administrador de Alcabalas asked for took one year to complete and was expensive to authenticate; it would always be expensive to make sure the information was correct, as it was one thing to register people and another to make sure the information they gave was correct, especially the Pueblo [indigenous community in Parras]- unless it was the Pueblo that now resided in Parras that originally came from Tlaxcala del Saltillo and other such Pueblos- otherwise there would always be changes that have to be made in the census each year, as there were many who came to the community annually who were "pure" Indians.337 The parish priest does not seem to question the racial purity of the Tlaxcalans from Parras who resettled in Saltillo. He takes it as a given that the Tlaxcalan peoples would not be anything but pure "Indians." Tlaxcalans seem to have successfully been able to portray themselves as a separate ethnic community. In the end, Father Gutirrez thus issued one statement that was to be delivered to the customs house where he stated that there were not enough local priests in the region that could possibly certify that the petitioners were pure Indians.
"Y es el caso; que como en todos los Pueblos, y principalmente en este; co usted que se h criado en el, le consta de experiencia; se estn casando los Indios y las Indias con otras castas, y emandipandose hijos de los Indios puros que ellos no lo son pur la desigualdad de sus padres, y era menester todos los aos hacer nuevo Padron. Y ha de saber usted que el Padron que mand hacer el Excelentsimo Seor casi me costo ms de un ao de tara, y Dinero para purificarlo; y siempre costar muchisimo trabajo el hacerlo, con la pureza que se requiere; por que es muy distinto registrar las Partidas con las citas, y luces que dan los Pretendientes, ponerse uno investigar sobre todo elPueblo: mas de que siendo el Pueblo que ay hoy, originario del de Tlaxcala del Saltillo; y de otros Pueblos; siempre debe haver inovacion en el Padron anualmente, por los muchos que con sus filiaciones, segun dispone el Excelentisimo Seor Virrey, se agregan de otras partes, y son Puros Indios." Archivo Parroquial de Parras, 1788.
Therefore, he gave the customs house one document that would have to suffice as proof that the indigenous community of Parras was of pure Indian descent. Conclusion Although statistical records tell us much about the forces that shaped ideologies of race, they do not address how castas and indigenous peoples internalized elite beliefs. Recent scholarship on colonial Mexico notes that plebeian society did not accept elite racial ideology, but devised ways to deal with and oftentimes reject these social constraints.338 Indigenous people also found ways to deal with increasingly rigid racial perceptions. What this chapter proposed is that official concepts regarding race became more rigid at the end of the colonial period in this northern region and this process affected ethnic identity fomation.339 The beginnings of a class-consciousness was evident at the end of the eighteenth century, but this did not mean that ethnicity did not continue to be a relevant concept. It was as real as racial ideologies (or racism). Ethnic identification was in effect the way in which some indigenous groups chose to channel their growing dissatisfaction with a society that placed greater demands on their communities. For Tlaxcalans, late colonial
Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination. In reference to Chihuahuan society at the end of the colonial period, Ana Mara alonso writes, "...these processes of Hispanization and Indianization indicate that the frontier was a zone of intercultural exchange and transformation; the fluidity of ethnicity suggests that not only the boundaries of color but also those of culture and way of life were blurred and subject to redefenition in practice. This is precisely why official rhetoric was so rigid; the binary opposition
society's preoccupation with racial labels, the growing number of Spanish and casta settlers which placed greater demands on their lands and resources, and the negative connotatioin given to anyone labeled as an Indian in the north ("indio brbaro") prompted them to assert their status as noble Tlaxcalans, as a way to protect their self-defined group.
of civilization and barbarism asserted the existence of an absolute difference that could never be sustained in practice." Thread of Blood, 69.
CHAPTER 6 Tlaxcalan Ethnic Identity
In 1799 Josef Joaquin Ramos, a resident of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, went to court in Saltillo to try and stop the marriage of his daughter to someone outside of the community, someone he felt was not their equal. He supported his case by arguing for his rights as a noble Tlaxcalan. Perhaps we might not imagine that indigenous people could achieve noble status in the highly stratified colonial world. We might think that a hidalgo would have great landed wealth and would be given rights and privileges not made available to others. For most of the colonial period migrant Tlaxcalans in northern New Spain struggled to sustain themselves, but unlike other nomadic indigenous groups that populated the region the residents of San Esteban prevailed and by the eighteenth century one could say that in comparison to other native groups in the north they were in fact a successful indigenous community. They generally owned and worked their own land and had privileges that other indigenous or casta groups were not allotted. Yet, they were not "nobles" in the strict sense of the word. They were not equal to Spaniards and did not have the type of wealth a Spanish hacendado might have. What did Don Josef Joaquin mean when he said that he was a noble
Tlaxcalan? What did the community of San Esteban want when they petitioned royal officials for the reinstatement of their hidalgo rights? How did they give meaning to this term? In one sense Tlaxcalans in the north were given certain privileges by the viceroy in the sixteenth century when they agreed to help colonize the northern provinces. One of these rights was that Tlaxcalans would be treated as hidalgos. Their eighteenth century petitions were an attempt to reestablish these rights. If they had been given such a status why did they have to spend so much time and energy trying to reestablish it? Why did this become such an important concern in the eighteenth century? As indigenous groups came into closer contact with other social groups in the seventeenth and eighteenth century conflicts developed over the use of land and resources. As a result, Tlaxcalans grew weary of outsiders and reinforced the social boundaries that defined them as a special or distinct community deserving of privileges and protection from Spanish colonial authorities. 340 This chapter will discuss this process of ethnic resurgence during the eighteenth century, as it helps explain how indigenous communities reacted to outside social, political, and economic changes taking place in northern New Spain at this time.
Kevin Terraciano writes, "Increased competition for local resources provoked a more assertive expression of ethnic and corporate identities in response to new challenges...In some case, the expression of ethnic identity represented a recognition and validation of colonial social relations. Some people used the term to promote their particular interests within the Spanish legal system, as members of 'repblicas de indios.'" The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001): 328.
Ethnic Identity This analysis does not assume that ethnicity, race, or culture are interchangeable, but that people consciously choose particular cultural markers so as to distinguish themselves from other surrounding social groups. For indigenous people this process of ethnic assertion was a way in which they protected themselves from social changes that negatively affected them. This analysis relies on Frederik Barth's ideas regarding ethnic identity formation. He writes: 11. When defined as an ascriptive and exclusive group, the nature of continuity of ethnic units is clear: it depends on the maintenance of a boundary. The cultural features that signal the boundary may change, and the cultural characteristics of the members may likewise be transformed, indeed, even the organizational form of the group may change-yet the fact of continuing dichotomization between members and outsiders allows us to specify the nature of continuity, and investigate the changing cultural form and content. 12. Socially relevant factors alone become diagnostic for membership, not the over, 'objective' differences which are generated by other factors. It makes no difference how dissimilar members may be in their overt behaviour - if they say they are A, in contrast to another cognate category B, they are willing to be treated and let their own behaviour be interpreted and judged as A's and not as B's; in other words, they declare their allegiance to the shared culture of A's. The effects of this, as compared to other factors influencing actual behaviour, can then be made the object of investigation.341 Ethnic identity is constantly being redefined in accordance with the changes that are taking place in society. A group determines that certain members
of society have common interests and thus erects boundaries that define them as a separate social group. The development of ethnic identity does not happen in a vacuum, but occurs through constant interaction with other groups. Consequently, communities may choose to select particular cultural traits and to establish historical traditions to justify this identity, or the social boundaries that define them as a coherent group.342 There are facets of Tlaxcalan culture that distinguished them from other peoples in the region. Language was one marker that differentiated the residents of San Esteban from others in the north. Tlaxcalan records indicate that many Tlaxcalans only spoke Nahuatl until the early seventeenth century and a few Nhuatl testaments exist for the eighteenth century, indicating that some members of the community continued to speak the language exclusively.343 Dress might have been another way in which Tlaxcalans were distinctive. In Tlaxcalan testaments women include their huipil as an item of clothing that they pass on to other females upon their death. Tlaxcalans also had a historic ownership of land, they were not nomadic, and they were Christians. Tlaxcalans took pride in emphasizing their devotion to the Catholic faith.344 In addition, unlike other
Frederik Barth, "Introduction," Ethnic Groups and Boundaries: The Social Organization of Culture Difference (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969): 14-15. 342 Fredrik Barth, "Introduction," Ethnic Groups and Boundaries, Fredrik Barth, ed. (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1969), 35. 343 David Frye notes that the people of Mexquitic, another Tlaxclan settlement located in San Luis Potos, continued to speak Nahutl at home until the 1840s. Indians into Mexicans (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1996): 48. 344 Tlaxcalans had their own brotherhoods or cofradas.
groups (but much like Spanish elites) Tlaxcalans rarely married outside their group. Indeed, it is important to emphasize that Tlaxcalan culture and their lived identity was rich and very fluid. At this time, this work is primarily concerned with analyzing how they represented themselves in the public realm and why they chose this identity. Tlaxcalans appear to be conscious that they are part of a local community, but not of a broader racial group or a politically defined nation.345 There was no reason for them to unite across ethnic lines, as this only meant that they had to share already limited resources. In addition, in neither Nahuatl nor Spanishlanguage documents did the residents of San Esteban refer to themselves as Indians. The closest they came to using the term "indio" was in court documents when they said they were "indios Tlaxcaltecas." They clearly understood how they were seen and how they should represent themselves in the public sphere. In more private papers, like testaments, they did not call themselves Indians or Tlaxcalans, but would identify their town of origin. They would most often write, "...and here I reside in this Pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala of Saltillo."346 There was no need for the members of the community to assert their
See Restall, Lockhart, Terraciano In a Nahutl testament Melchora Francisca writes, "In the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, may their will be followed. Let all know that my memory is inscribed in this testament and that it is done by me: Melchora Francisca, and here I reside in the Pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala del Saltillo..." 1745, Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, Testaments, c10, e15, 2f; Doa Potenciana Leocaria writes, "In the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost. Amen. That all those that see the content of this my memory that is my testament should know that it is my will. My name is Doa Potenciana Leocaria, here I reside
ethnic status when dealing with one another. A conscious identity is developed through contact with other social groups and is maintained and reasserted because there are logical, practical reasons for the group to remain separate. In reference to identity formation Teresa de Lauretis writes, "consciouness is never fixed, never attained once and for all because discursive boundaries change with historical conditions."347 In the eighteenth century Tlaxcalans chose to emphasize certain social/historical aspects of their community so they could create barriers between themselves and other social groups. In so doing they hoped to protect the interests of the self-defined community. The study of ethnic identity in the colonial period is problematic, as we do not have direct access to individual accounts. Instead, we must rely on sources that only indirectly tell us about the development of ethnic identity. Tlaxcalan leaders and Spanish officials produced many of the documents used in this study. Consequently, one could derive the distinct impression that Tlaxcalans developed a unique identity, as in documents like land titles and official papers they are fighting to remain "separate"- so they could retain the lands that were given to the
inthis Pueblo of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, in the barrio of Nuestra Seora Santa Anna." 1750, AMS, T, c11, e10, 2f; Doa Barbara mara writes, "...En el Nombre de Dios Padre, Dios Hijo, Dios Espirit Santo solo Dios verdadero Amen=Sepan quanta Viesen este mi testamento m ultma voluntad como yo Da. Barbara Mara originaria de este Pueblo de San Estevan Nueva Tlaxcala y asentada en el Barrio de Nuestra Seora de la Concepcin y digo que estoy enferma de todo mi cuerpo pero sana de mi entendimiento con el Padre y Nuestro Seor..." 1782, T, AMS, c18, e31, 2f; Mara Ybalda writes, "En el Nombre de la Santsima Trinidad Dios Padre, Dios Hijo y Dios Espritu Santo. Amen=que sepan todos quantos viesen esta mi memoria de testamento que lo hago yo Mara Ybalda vecina hija de este Pueblo de San Estevan de la Nueva Tlaxcala ya sentada en el Barrio de Nuestro Patron San Estevan ..." 1785, AMS, T, c19, e30, 2f.
group two hundred years earlier. They are struggling to both preserve communal lands and the ethnic group.348 In his study of Mixtec land titles Kevin Terraciano points out that, The title's authors and backers claimed the disputed land on the grounds of historical events told from an ethnic perspective. They descended from a udzahui yya who had fought of the Nahuas and graciously received the Spaniards, and who had set aside certain lands for the udzahui people. By maintaining the boundaries of their ethnic identity they sought to maintain the boundaries of their lands.349 Therefore, these documents serve a very specific purpose; they are records of a struggle to maintain the group's lands and rights. Consequently, San Esteban's leaders produce many of the documents used to analyze ethnic identity. Did these petitions or legal cases represent the perspective of the community as a whole? There is evidence to suggest that they do. The Tlaxcalan town council may have had conflicts of interest when they dealt with local Spanish or royal authorities
Teresa de Lauretis, ed. Feminist Studies/Critical Studies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986): 8. 348 Marcellos Carmagnani writes,"En el modo de defenderse adoptado logramos ver, con mejor precisin, en quin radica la territorialidad, pues el documento nos precisa que todos los habitantes del territorio, por medio de sus autoridades electorales, firman un pacto segn el cual 'otorgan por s y or todos los naturales de el comn cada uno por el de su Pueblo que en el pleito contra Don Martn Jos de Villagmez siguen han de guardar inviolablemente las condiciones siguientes. La primera que todos annimes y conformes han de contribuir prorrate cada uno segn su posibiliad con los reales necesarios para costear el pleito durante el tiemp que durase y el rateo se ha de hacer por el Gobernaodor y Alcaldes informado el caudal de cada uno.'...'todos los que se saliesen afuera de esta escriptura aunque sean nobles y Principales por el solo el hecho sin otra circumstancia se tengan por hombres y todos sus sucerores bajos e intiles en lo futuro obtener ningn cargo en la repblica y lo mismo se entienda en los que no hubiesen entrado ni quisieren entrar en esta escriptura por faltar los susodichos a la defensa de su Patria y a solicitar la libertad." Escritura pblica, 17 de Septiembre, 1721, BNAH, p. 22. El regreso de los dioses: El proceso de reconstitucin de la identidad tnica en Oaxaca, Siglos XVII y XVIII (Mxico: Fondo de Cultura Ecnomica, 188): 87. 349 Kevin Terraciano, The Mixtecs of Colonial Oaxaca, 338.
because they were quite probably the most well off members of society who owned the most lands. Yet, testament records indicate that many in San Esteban at the very least owned a small plot of land. In addition, at the end of the colonial period the San Esteban town council is concerned that members of the community are selling their lands to outsiders. In eighteenth century petitions they ask that residents of San Esteban not be allowed to sell lands to non-Tlaxcalans, thus diminishing the community's control over the economic base that would help maintain group cohesion. Spanish policies that allowed Spaniards to use Tlaxcalan lands, and that prohibited the residents of San Esteban from using nearby land and resources, affected the community as a whole. Indeed, when Saltillo authorities presented the residents of San Esteban with edicts they did not specify certain members (elite or commoner), but spoke to the whole town of San Esteban. San Esteban's leaders appear to present the prevailing perspective. In two late colonial documents Tlaxcalans allow us a glimpse into the community's organization. Eighty members of the community signed a 1781 letter to the original province of Tlaxcala.350 That is many more than were part of the town council and a large percentage of the total population of San Esteban, which quite probably was not over 3,000 to 3,500 at that time. In a 1794 letter where the residents of San Esteban petition religious authorities for a permit to build a chapel for the Virgin of Guadalupe they clearly spell out who will serve as their
Miguel Lira y Ortega, Coleccin de documentos para la historia de Tlaxcala y Mxico
representatives in Monterrey. In said letter they write that these men are there representing the community as a whole and they give them the power to speak for them. They write, ...so that they can go on to Monterrey to get us the corresponding licenses, we empower and give permission to Don Aparicio Valverde and Don Juan Inocente Cortes, our Pueblo's sons, and under whose name they represent us, our rights and actions, only to solicit said licenses...in our name they will get these, the two previously mentioned subjects were thus commissioned to do this! We renounce the laws that may favor us so that they will accomplish this goal and if necessary they will turn to royal authorities and especially ecclesiastical administrators....351 Yet, it would be an oversimplification to imply that Tlaxcalans' leaders did not have a vested interest in maining the group's ethnic boundaries. In his study of Guatemalan society Greg Grandin found that some indigenous communities at the end of the colonial period became dissatisfied with the representation they received from their leaders. He writes,
(Tlaxcala: Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala-FONAPAS, 1982): 193-199. 351 "...para que puedan pasado a Monterrey a conseguir de vosotros las licencias correspondientes debamos dar, y damos todo nuestro poder y facultad cuenta en Dro se requiere, mas pueda y deba baler a Don Aparicio Valverde y a Don Juan Ynocente Cortes, hijos de este Pueblo, y quienes en Nuestro Nombre representando Nuestras propias personas, derechos, y acciones para esto solamente solicitaran dichas licencias alegando para ello, cuanto tubiesen por combeniente hasta consegirlas obligandonos, como por el presente documento nos obligamos en toda forma con nuestras personas, y bienen habdos, y por habeer, no solo a la ereccin de dicha capilla, con las medidas en la forma dicha hasta conluirla perfectamente, a ornamentarla interiormente, pra su perpetua substancia sino a dar por baledero cuanto en virtud de este Nuestro poder hiciesen y consigiesen, los dos sujetos mencionados, y comisionados para esto! Y renunciamos cuantas leyes pueded favorecernos, pasar que assi nos lo hagan cumplir en caso nesecario sujetandonos para ello a la jurisdiccin, real y especialmente a la eclesiastica: y lo firmamos, en dicho Pueblo dicho da, mes, y ao= Aparicio Valverde y Juan Ynocente Cortes, hijos y vezinos moradores del Pueblo de San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala del Saltillo por si y a nombre del comun de dicho Pueblo, representando sus propias personas, derechos, y acciones,
For the elites, the very position of privilege that allowed them to mobilize resources in both the Hispanic and the K'ich worlds also caught them in a 'double bind.' To avoid social ostracism and loss of communal power, they had to respond to popular pressure and limit, to a degree, their attempts at private gain and Hispanic acculturation...Ironically, this class alliance was predicated on the deepening of ethnic divisions. Both to maintain their political prerogatives and mobilize communal resources, K'ich elites needed caste divisions to be maintained; Spaniards, and later Ladinos, needed principales to help administer the city and maintain order...The maintenance of these ethnic divisions not only facilitated governance but culturally divided the popular classes and thwarted the development of multiethnic alliances..."352 In other words, indigenous leaders wanted to maintain ethnic boundaries as this was how they derived their power within and outside the community. That notwithstanding, this discussion does not address the class divisions within the community of San Esteban, primarily because of the types of primary sources that were considered at this time. A future more intensive study of land records, testaments, and notary documents could reveal much about the internal dynamics of this Tlaxcalan community. As has been previously states, this study is primarily interested in analyzing the political identity of the northern Tlaxcalans at the end of the colonial period. Indeed, although San Esteban's public documents were clearly shaped by the town council's concerns, they do appear to express the views of the community at large.
como el poder Juridico, que en doy faxas utiles..."1794. Archivo Historico de Saltillo, Presidencia Municipal, c46, e8, 6f. 352 Greg Grandin, The Blood of Guatemala: A History of Race and Nation (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000): 66-67.
History, Memory and Identity One way to approximate whether or not Tlaxcalans from San Esteban thought of themselves as a distinct group is to consider the histories they recorded in the land title documents that emerged in the eighteenth century. The fact that these stories exist at all tell us that the residents of San Esteban are trying to define the group's origins. The stories may not be accurate, but they do illustrate how the Tlaxcalans tried to retain cultural boundaries between themselves and others. The creation of these historical "myths" indicate that Tlaxcalans remembered why the group originally went north and consequently felt the need to record this oral history. The stories keep changing, adapting to what the Tlaxcalans need in a particular moment just as ethnic identity is also constantly reformulated to fit the group's needs. When the history of San Esteban is retold in official documents the role of the Tlaxcalans is clearly spelled out. In a 1768 legal case where a 1591 land title was presented to support the Tlaxcalans' cause, their role and place within the frontier order is also discussed. They write, ...as is known Don Luis de Velasco, my Viceroy, Governor, and General Captain of New Spain, advising on how important it is to preserve the Peace amongst the Chichimeca Indians who are warlike and procurring, as he has used the most peaceful methods until today, to reduce to the true knowledge of our Catholic faith and evangelical doctrine and so that this is accomplished he tried to establish amongst them settlements composed of friendly Indians,...so that with their presence and communications they will become peaceful...the ancestors of said my Viceroy have not been able to accomplish this,...by order of said my Viceroy the
Indians of the Province of Tlaxcala will give four-hundred married Indians for these settlements.353 In a 1729 dispute the Tlaxcalans present what once again was supposed to be a 1591 foundation document. ...let them try to establish settlements of said Indians to reduce and attract them [nomadic tribes] with friendship and gentleness to accept peace and from my royal (hacienda) supply what was and is necessary. They will primarily attend to the service of God, our Father, as the said Chichimeca Indians will liberate themselves from risking their souls and will perdition and so they will be saved and so that all the kingdom will live in peace and conformity and it is already known where they will be able to settle and will develop establishments by friendly Indians from peaceful towns and so said peaceful settlements will be created with greater security and more permanence (asiento) and perpetuity-dealt with Don Luis de Velasco..354 In the Tlaxcalans' version of their history they are the necessary arbiters that helped both the Spanish colonizers and nomadic tribes by bringing about a
"...sabed que Don Luis de Velasco mi Virrey e Governador y Capitan General de la Nueva Espaa, advirtiendo a lo mucho que importa la conservacin de la Paz de los indios Chichimecos de guerra y procurando como hasta aqu lo ha heho por los medios mas suabes reducirlos al verdadero conocimiento de nuestra santa fee Catholica y doctrina evangelica para que esto mejor se consiga a tratado de hazer entr ellos poblaciones de indios amigos, medio que muchos aos ha todos le han tenido y tienen por demas sierto y conveniente, para que con su compaa e comunicacin, se inclinasen a la quietud, sosiego y conixin que se pretende aunque esto de tanto tiempo a esta parte, como ha que se trata ha tenido tanta dificultad que los antesesores del dicho mi Virrey no lo han podido conseguir, ha sido nuestro seor servido de facilitar ahora aviendose movido por orden del dicho mi Virrey los indios de la Provincia de Tlaxcala a dar cuatro sientos indios casados para estas poblaciones." Carlos Manuel Valds and Ildefonso Dvila del Bosque, Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila (San Luis Potos: El Colegio de San Luis/ Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala, 1991): 18-19. 354 "....que traten de aser y agan las poblaciones de los dichos indios y los redscan y atraingan con amistad y suabidad a la pax y de mi real asienda provehiere lo que para esto a sido y es necesaro atendiendo principalmente al serbicio de Dios nuestro seor ya que los dichos indios chichimecos se libren del riesgo de sus almas y perdicion y las puedan salbar y todo el dicho reino viva en pas y conformidad y esta ya visto donde se podran asentar e fundar e y a dar a ello algunos indios amigos de los pueblos pacificos e para que las dichas poblaciones de paz se pudiesen haser con mas seguridad y mejor asiento y perpetuidad trato Don Luis de Velasco." Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 72.
relatively peaceful conquest. A central point in land titles was that Tlaxcalans were to be hidalgos in perpetuity. One such document states, That all the Indians that are outside the said province of Tlaxcala who want to establish settlements with said Chichimecas are themselves and their descendants forever hidalgos free of all tribute, pecho, taxes and personal service and at no time nor for any reason can they be asked to perform personal services...that they are not sent to live amongst Spaniards or those that are different from them and if through coincidence they live near one another there will be a distinction of neighborhoods and Spaniards will be prohibited from taking or buying land in Tlaxcalan neighborhoods...355 Although the Tlaxcalans may have agreed to help with the colonization process, and to incorporate other indigenous groups, it is unclear if they accomplished the latter goal. Parish records indicate that people of the Guachichil, Otom, Chichimeca, Borrado, and Tarascan tribes were buried in the San Esteban cemetery as late as the mid-seventeenth century, but not in large numbers. During these early years Tlaxcalans may have married members of these native groups, yet marriage data for the parish does not record such occurrences.356 In later years the residents of San Esteban not only did not want Spaniards to buy or take away their lands, they also did not want Chichimecas to live amongst them. They make this clear in one such petition. They write,
355 "Que todos los indios que hay fueren de la dicha ciudad e provincia de Tlaxcala a poblar de nuevo con los dichos Chichimecos sean ellos y sus desendientes perpetuamente hidalgos libres de todo tributo, pecho, alcabala, e servicio personal y en ningun tiempo ni por alguna razon se le pueda pedir ni llevar cosa alguna etc. que donde ubieren de hazer los asientos no los manden poblar juntamente con espaoles y no distintos de por si de suerte que se pueblen cerca unos de los otros sea con distincion de barrio y prohibicion a los espaoles que no pueden tomar ni comprar solar en el barrio de Tlaxcaltecas..." Ibid, 73. 356 Defunciones, San Esteban, 1632-1807. Family History Center, Mormon Archives, Austin, TX.
That the distribution of land for settlements be apart and distinct from the Tlaxcalans, these will live on their own, and that of the Chichimeca...so that in all times and forever the lands, pastos, montes, rivers, fisheries, salt mines, quarries, and mills, and other kinds of haciendas will be given to each part and at no time will one Indian be able to enter into the ownership of the others' lands or any other type of possession by sale, donation, nor any other reason or cause...and in said settlements homes will be built and established in distinct neighborhoods, each group on its own, so that neither Chichimecas or Spaniard will live amongst them because this will prove harmful...357 These titles tell us that by the eighteenth century Tlaxcalans saw themselves as distinct group that wanted to retain their land, rights, and ethnic identity. These concepts are deeply interrelated. Anya Royce argues that for a group to maintain its identity they needed local autonomy. She writes, The more economically independent the groups involved are the better their chances for resistance unless opposition encourages an alliance. When a people no longer controls its own subsistence base, it also loses the means for an effective independent identity; for when the livelihood is provided by outsiders, the group's allegiance and goals becomes those of the providers. Psychologically, being dependent weighs negatively on resistance. However, if a group has demonstrated the ability to resist, periods of dependence may be less damaging and may even be turned to the group's advantage.358
"Que el repartimiento se hiziere para las poblaciones de tierras sea apartado y distinto de suerte que el de los Tlaxcaltecos este de por si y el de los chichimecos por el consiguiente y sealen y arrojenen igualmente de manera que en todo tiempo e para siempre las tierras, pastos, montes, rios, y perquerias, salinas, caleras, y molinos, y otros generos de haciendas y esten dadas a cada parte sin que ningun tiempo puedan los indios entrar a la pertenencia de los otros en tierra de estancias ni otroo genero de posesion por venta, donacion, ni otra razon ni causa...y en las dichas poblaciones se asienten y agan sus casas en ellas mismas en barrio distinto quadrillas de por si sin que los Chichimecos ni espaoles se asienten entre ellos porque con esto se escusan daos..." Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 73-75. 358 Anya Peterson Royce, Ethnic Identity: Strategies of Diversity (Blomington, IN: Indiana University, 1982): 58.
The Tlaxcalans struggled to preserve the social boundaries that separated them from other groups because they would therefore be able to retain their land base and economic independence. A "Peaceful Conquest" Tlaxcalans' sought to define the group's boundaries because it was not in their best interest to be treated like other indigenous groups in the north. Tlaxcalcans knew from their arrival in the region that they were different. As they often stated in legal documents and petitions, they were "conquerors." They were not a nomadic/non-Christian group and therefore they expected to be given the privileges appropriate to those who helped Spain in the colonization process. Both Spaniard and Tlaxcalan understood the role the latter played in the region. The Tlaxcalans were there to colonize and reduce (reducir) the nomadic tribes so those Spanish colonists could best exploit mineral deposits and indigenous labor. When Tlaxcalans requested acknowledgement of their privileges from Spanish officials, they asked to be treated as colonizers. Royal officials abided and responded to one such petition by ordering that the Tlaxcalans', "...privileges be respected as the Tlaxcalans are settlers."359 One cannot ignore that nomadic Indians' rejection of Spanish rule and consequent attacks on religious, civil and military towns and outposts in the north
also caused anger and fear amongst central New Spanish authorities. Indian wars continued throughout the colonial period and consequently northern society was in a continual state of alert. Roads were especially dangerous, as travelers left themselves open to sporadic attacks. In 1784 an edict was issued in Durango ordering that all the crosses placed on the road to mark the settlers' deaths at the hands of Indian attacks should be removed, as they only created fear in Spanish settlements and many chose not to fight back. This only "allowed the Barbarians to win more easily and amplified their pride, as they know what each cross signifies."360 The distinction made by both Tlaxcalan and Spaniard between nomadic/barbarians and settled/Christianized Indians was necessary for the colonization process.361 This distinction divided indigenous groups in the north.
359 "...se les guarden y hagan guardar los Privilegios as de Tlaxcaltecas, como de Pobladores..." Silvio Zavala and Mara del Carmen Velzquez, eds. Temas del Virreinato: Documentos del Archivo Municipal del Saltillo (Saltillo, MX: Gobierno del Estado de Coahuila, 1990): 81. 360 "El Seor Comandante General destas provincias internas ha despachado con fecha de 22 de Diciembre ltimo la orden del tenor siguiente: De resultar de una de las conferencias que tube con el Ilustrsimo Seor Obispo desta capital, Don fray Antonio de los Reyes, en los diaz que recibi en ella, resolv mandar quitar todas las cruzes que hallan puestas sobre los caminos de unos a otros lugares en acuerdo todas las que mueren a manos de los enemigos as pura precavar las irreverencias y veliperdios a que estan expuestas, como por lo que conduce a intimidar a los pasajeros [y los] parajes han sido ultima de dichos enemigos, a su pensamiento esto los desanima para defenderse si los asaltan contribuyendo el (?) y que triunfen ms fcilmente los Barbaros al mismo tiempo que les aumentas su (?) y orgullo pues saven lo que desistan dichas cruzes, y para que se quiten desde luego sirculara V.S. la orden combeniente con insercin desta a los justicias de todos los Pueblos y Misiones de la Gobernacin de su cargo preveniendoles tambien que en lo subsesido no permitan que se ponga ninguna." 1784. AMS, PM, C36, e74, 1f. 361 David Frye writes, "As the memory of the Chichimeca Wars faded, and as the surviving Chichimecas themselves died out, the status of the Tlaxcalans of Mexquitic slowly declined. The image that their leaders promoted of themselves as a civilizing influence, a people whose Catholic faith and whose polica humana would bring reason to the wild Chichimecas, lost currency in the Spanish world of colonial San Luis." Indians into Mexicans, 50.
By giving the Tlaxcalans and other sedentary groups a special status, the Spanish were better able to subdue nomadic groups like the Apaches, who were much more difficult to control.362 In her study of casta paintings Ilona Katzew notes that the last pair at the bottom of most casta portraits of race mixture was usually an Indian couple. She writes, Equally significant is the inclusion of an Indian couple at the end of most casta cycles, who are labeled Indios Brbaros (Barbarian Indians), Indios Gentiles (Heathen Indians), Indios Apaches (Apache Indians), and most commonly Indios Mecos. The term meco-a contraction of Chichimeca, from the Nahutl chichi (dog) and mecati (lineage)-was the generic appellation used to refer to the 'uncivilized,' warrior-like Indians that inhabited the colony...It is well-known that throughout the colonial period unassimilated groups of Indians, inhabiting northern Mexico, aroused great fear among the population; their conversion to the Christian faith was a constant preoccupation of colonial authorities. Descriptions of the 'callous' nature of the Indians about in the literature of the period...It is their positioning [in casta paintings], more than the way they are represented, that determines the place the occupied within colonial society. 363 The positioning of nomadic peoples at the bottom of the casta painting reflected colonial society's derogatory view of northern indigenous groups, as they were
362 In his study of violence and colonialism Michael Taussig writes, "Christianity assumed importance in the culture of conquest. The distinction between Christian and heathen Indian became ideologically decisive because of its importance in facilitating the legalities of enslavement and the use of military force." Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Man: A Study in Terror and Healing (Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1987), 142; In her study of Chihuahua Ana Mara Alonso writes, "ethnicity was not grounded in the subjection of Indians as economically useful bodies but instead in the conquest of 'savage' bodies whose 'wildness' was seen as so socially destructive that it precluded their utility as a force of production." Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995): 55-64. 363 In her study of casta paintings and col"Casta Paintings: Identity and Social Stratification in Colonial Mexico," Laberinto: An Electronic Journal of Modern Hispanic Literatures and Culture 1:2 (Autumn 1997).
seen as uncivilized and unchristian. Slaves or blacks may have been close to the bottom of the colonial social hierarchy, but nomadic Indians lacked the elements (language, culture, civility, and religion) which were valued in this society. The northern Indians' behavior was not seen as anything but barbaric. In quite possibly the only historical depiction of the northeastern Indians during the eighteenth century, the painting of the massacre of Franciscan priests at mission San Saba (located in the modern-day state of Texas), the painter expressed the priest's sacrifice and martyrdom in the north. [see image on following page] It was commissioned by one of the slain priest's cousins, Pedro de Terreros. So writes Sam D. Ratcliffe that the "canvas was soon famous in Spain as well as Mexico and served beautifully as a piece of contemporary propaganda and ...current morality."364 (see painting on following page) In many ways the Tlaxcalans' story is deeply connected to that of the nomadic tribes that no longer exist and that left no written sources. The conquest in the north was not just a meeting of two cultures; it was marked by overt and daily violence. In the final analysis, why would Spanish royal authorities care about and support a relatively small sedentary indigenous community in the distant north like San Esteban? They cared because these sedentary settlements
Sam D. Ratcliffe, "Escenas de martrio: Notes on the Destruction of Mission San Saba," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 94 (April 1991):
provided an ideological justification for the wars with nomadic groups that led to their enslavement and eventual extermination in the northeast. Nomads were expected to follow the example set by Tlaxcalans who lived sedentary lives, worshiped Catholic deities, and respected colonial policies. If they chose not to, then they "deserved" to be killed for not abiding by these imposed colonial rules of engagement. Once captured in a just war, northern nomadic peoples played an important role, as they helped meet local labor needs. In 1703 a visiting royal judge, Don Juan Antonio de Sarria y Ayarra, received complaints from Saltillo because Doa Mara de las Casas Cepeda, a local landowner, was sheltering Chichimeca Indians. The judge issued a statement that outlined how the Chichimecas were forced to perform labor for Spaniards. Although he concludes by saying that the Chichimecas should be paid for their labor, the fact that they remained with Mara de las Casas indicates that they did not want to leave the area or that she had not allowed them to go because she needed them to work her lands. In either case, they are clearly not free to work where they so choose. Juan Antono de Sarria states, ...the Chichimeca Indians are to be placed and deposited in the areas where it will be most convenient and the ones relocated by the general, Don Agustn de Echeverz y Subiza, have left for different places and have been sheltered by Doa Mara de las Casas Cepeda who has given a variety of reasons for her actions. Your Majesty had issued an order to Captain Ambrosio de Cepeda and Gonzalo Lpez Berlanga stating that the Chichimecas should 220
be taken to Bernardino Snchez's mill and afterwards should help in harvesting the wheat crop and then paying them for their labor. Therefore we should inform your Majesty that said harvests are being lost, as there is not enough labor to help pick them...365 The judge in the case ordered that Mara de las Casas be fined 200 pesos so that she does "not force the Indians to work." Despite the Tlaxcalans' difficult existence, their repeated appeals to Spanish officials gave them greater protection from local abuses then other northern indigenous groups. The Spanish saw those communities as an enemy that needed to be either incorporated or eliminated as they stood in the way of the colonization process. In fact, the enslavement of nomadic peoples may have continued until the eighteenth century. In his study of Indian slavery Jose Cullo notes that, "the widespread use of slavery was a systematic Spanish adaptation on the north Mexican frontier wherever nomadic Indians were encountered."366 Cullo writes,
"El General don Juan Antonio de Sarris y Ayarra Juez Visitador Real de las provincias de esta Villa del Saltillo y valle de Parras por Su Magestad con comisin particular del Seor Gobernador y Capitn General de este Reino para conocer de los Indios chichimecos que en ella hay y sentarlos y depositarlos en las partes donde ms conviniere, y por cuanto lo que asent el General don Agustn de Echeverz y Subiza se han retirado a diferente parte donde han sido amparados por doa Mara de las Casas de Cepeda y a Gonzalo Lpez Berlanga para que se trujiesen dichos Indios en el molino de pan de Bernardino Snchez para desde all disponer acudan a la siega para alzar los trigos pagndoles su trabajo, y por cuanto se a representado a su merced se estn perdiendo dichas cosechas y no hay gente en el valle con quien levantarlas y no haber cumplido los dichos dia Mara de las Casas, y Capitn Ambrosio de Cepeda y Gonzalo Lpez de Berlanga lo que se les ha mandado." Auto del general Juan Antonio de Sarria para que doa Mara de las Casas no obique a trabajar a los indios, bajo multa de 200 pesos si lo hiciere. 1703" Temas del Virreinato, 142. 366 Jose Cullo, "The Persistence of Indian Slavery and Encomienda in the Northeast of Colonial Mexico, 1577-1723," Journal of Social History 21 (1988): 686.
Enslavement as a result of capture in a 'justified' war was considered a criminal sentence and was not permanent, although it might as well have been. Adult males were usually sentenced to twenty years of service under their captors. Women and teenagers usually received a sentence of ten or fifteen years. Children were 'deposited' with Spanish masters for indefinite periods. These temporary slaves could be sold to other Spaniards. A young adult male in 1575 was worth over 100 pesos. The average member of a band of hunter-gatherers was, therefore, worth about seventy-five pesos. When Sebastian de la Rocha received eighteen Indians as payment for his military services in 1575, he was essentially being paid 1,300 pesos. In 1592 Francisco de Urdiola claimed that an Indian band he liberated as a gesture of peace was worth 3,000 pesos. He was referring to an extended family of forty people. Slave-hunting was a risk venture that could yield a significant amount of capital in a short period of time.367 Even when they were not officially enslaved, the offspring of Apaches captured in war were "given" to Spanish families who were supposed to raise them and help convert them. The 1777 Saltillo census documents that in the household of Antonio de la Mata y Cos, a Spanish merchant, resided Joseph Mara, an Apache boy who was thirteen or fourteen years old. Gertrudis Gmez, a Spanish widow, owned two mulatto slaves and a six-year old Apache boy named Agustin Phelix, who had "recently been converted" also resided in her home. In the census Apaches are not listed as "slaves" as the enslavement of indigenous people was an illegal practice. A royal edict from the Real Audiencia of Guadalajara presented in Saltillo in 1672 ordered that the Chichimecas who worked against their will should be set
Cullo, "The Persistence of Indian Slavery," 687.
free. The governor of Nuevo Len, Nicolas de Ascarraga, denied that Indian slavery existed. He writes, ...the governor stated that in all the time he had headed this government he has not allowed, or permitted, that said Chichimeca Indians be sold, even if they were captured in war. He has issued rigorous edicts regarding this, but because this land is surrounded by enemy Indians who refuse to obey his majesty and invade Spanish settlements killing them on travel paths and wherever they encounter each other. As is well-known and public in an effort to bring peace to the region there have been renewed efforts to conquer certain enemy nations by force. And because they are many and we have compassion towards them, instead of killing them they have been taken to the Real de Minas, without selling them, but only so they will pay for their crimes thus following his majesty's laws. The same treatment is given to Spaniards, mulattos, mestizos, and other people who commit crimes, such as have been committed by the three Pelones [Indians] who were sent to the Villa of Saltillo, of which regards this case, and they have once again been pardoned, they have continued to rob the horse and mule trains and have gone out to the travel paths and have shot arrows at those who travel them. I will not touch his majesty's jurisdiction.368
368 "...dixo el [gobernador] que en todo el tiempo que a estado en este govierno no a consentido, ni permitido, que se vendan los dichos indios chichimecas, aunque se an havidos en la guerra, de que a publicado autos rigurosos, en esta razon, y que hallandose como se a hallado la tierran tan cercada de indios enemigos negandola obediencia a su magestad y haziendo invasiones en las poblazones de los espaoles matandoles en los caminos y en las partes donde los topan, como consta de publica y notoria y notorio y de causas pendientes en esta razon atendiendo alla quietud publica y a la conservacion de este reyno y de los demas, se a puesto todo de nuebo en conquistar algunas naciones, a fuersa de armas de dichos indios enemigos=y por ser muchos y tener compasion de ellos en razon de quitarles la vida se les a remunerado en sacarlos fuera a algunos reales de minas depositados por sus annos, mas o menos sin que conste de venta, sino solo para compensar su delito guardando en esta las leyes de su magestad pues la misma sucede a los espaoles, mulatos, mestizos, y otras personas que cometen delitos como ha hecho los tres que embiaron en deposito a la dicha villa del Saltillo de nacion Pelones de que esta hecha causa contra ellos, y nuevamente perdonados, an buelto a persistir en sus robos ordinarios de cavalladas muladas y salir a los caminos a flechar los que passan, que no la remito por no tocar a su jurisdiccin de vuestra merced (V.M.)" Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 112-113.
Although the governor distinguished between forcing "criminals" to work without pay and slavery, there is evidence to suggest that Indians, whether or not they were officially called slaves, were sold at public auction in Nuevo Len as late as 1652.369 Tlaxcalans therefore had ample reason to insist on their distinctive status as conquerors. They were not "Indios laboros" and consequently had the right to be paid for their labor because of their different colonial status. In one 1669 petition to the king they complained that the Franciscans were forcing them work, but were not paying them for their labor. Royal officials responded by reminding the local clergy of previous edicts that, "...prohibit doctrinal ministers from forcing the natives or from giving the priests people to perform their personal services, or forcing them to give food rations or imposing any other thing on them."370 Authorities cited a 1664 order regarding the Tlaxcalans, ...I declare that they are not slaves but my free vassals, and because of their poverty, obedience, and peaceful nature, they are worthy of my royal protection...So there are not to be repartimiento de Indios nor will they need to pay for any rights, pay lawmakers, clerics or for taxes...that said Indians will not be obliged to serve convents or give food supplies, or pay tribute, or be servants at any time, but if said religious should pay for their services and the Indians give it freely, for money, and as long as they know they are not obliged to give it, only in that way will it be allowed..371
Cuello, "The Persistence of Indian Slavery," 688, Eugenio del Hoyo "...prohbe a los Ministros de doctrina obligar a los naturaled y darles gente para su servicio personal, a exigirles racin de comida ni cualquier otra imposicin." Valdes, 52-53. 371 "...yo declarado no son esclavos sino vasallos mios libres que por su miseria, obediencia, y sosiego son dignos sumamente de mi real amparo...que no se agan repartimientos de indios ni paguen derechos algunos, a doctrineros clerigos ni aranzeles...que los indios no han de ser
Several scholars of northern indigenous communities discuss the influence that labor relations had on the development of indigenous ethnic identity. Susan Deeds seeks to analyze how demographic pressures and labor demands influenced indigenous communities of Nueva Vizcaya. She is primarily interested in knowing why some indigenous groups retained their ethnic identity and others did not. She concludes that indigenous groups, like the Acaxes and Xiximes, although more sedentary, were not able to survive because they were one of the first who came into contact with the Spaniards and were thus affected by disease and racial mixing with Spaniards. The Conchos in turn fell victim to the Spaniards' divide and conquer strategy, despite of the fact that they developed cultural ways to deal with Spanish colonialism. These groups fell victim to disease and heavy labor demands. The Tepehuanes and Tarahumaras were able to survive. Susan Deeds argues that this was primarily due to the fact they fled to frontier areas that were less occupied by Spaniards, which thus offered them the opportunity to maintain an ethnic identity.372 In contrast to Deeds, Ana Mara Alonso notes that, "On the Chihuahuan frontier in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, ethnicity did not become the primary basis for the division of labor; rather, the logic that opposed the 'civilized' to the 'savage' was a product of the
obligados a serbir los conventos ni acudir con los bastamientos como se a entendido ha de cargar tributos ni serbidumbres en ningun tiempo pero si los dichos religiosos se los pagaren y los indios de su voluntad, por el dinero, y de gracia sabiendo ellos que no tienen obligacion a darselos no obstante se los dieren esto solamente se les permitira y no de otra manera." Valds and del Bosque, Los tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 58.
imperative of territorial conquest and domination."373 Alonso's analysis more closely approximates how the Tlaxcalans were viewed and treated. It is my contention that the Tlaxcalans' place within the northern colonial order was not primarily predicated by labor relations. As we have seen, cultural ideology also shaped Tlaxalan identity The residents of San Esteban therefore saw themselves and insisted on their status as Christian conquerors. This distinction was necessary if they wanted to avoid being treated as the conquered, "uncivilized," and nomadic groups. The difference between conqueror and colonized subject was not a minor cultural difference. By distinguishing themselves as conquerors, Tlaxcalan communities in the north hoped to protect themselves from the violence that was wielded against nomadic groups. Their efforts were somewhat successful, as they were not forced to leave their homes to labor as the Chichimecas did, yet they did perform tasks by order or their capitn protector or governor. As late as 1740 the governor of Nueva Vizcaya once again issued a statement that fell short of outlawing the forced labor of northern Indians, but did state that Indians in the north should not be distributed and forced to work unless written consent was given and "those who were currently harvesting wheat should continue their work
Ana Mara Alonso, Thread of Blood: Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995): 70.
until the crop is picked."374 The town council of Saltillo, who received the statement, responded by saying that ...there were no other Indian pueblos in the area except for San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala and said inhabitants did not customarily perform personal services, unless the were sent by their capitn protector or governor to do some shearing. The judges of Saltillo did not have jurisdiction over them as said Tlaxcalans only recognize your Excellency and the Viceroy.375 Tlaxcalans at times could not protect themselves by arguing that they were distinct and should not be treated as other Indians that inhabited the region. In a case taking place in 1755 the governor of Nueva Vizcaya, Mateo Antonio de Mendoza, issued an edict prohibiting indigenous poeople from leaving their towns without an official permit or passport. He enacted this law because "many of the Indians from the pueblos reducidos, doctrinas, and missions under the government's control are carousing, creating havoc, robbing and generally harming their neighbors and travelers alike, as well as the hacendados."376
374 "...Mando a todas las Justicias y Gobernadores de los Pueblos de esta Gobernacin no den a persona alguna Indios sin expreso mandamiento que para ello se libre, ni permitan que a los Gobernadores ni otras personas obsequien con el trabajo de dichos Indios por sus particulares intereses, y los que hallaran estar sirviendo sin mandamiento los retiren y recojan a sus pueblos excepto los que actualmente estuvieren en el corte de trigo que por no perjudicar a las labores se continen hasta que alzen la cosecha..." Decreto para que no se hagan repartimiento de indios ni se obligue a trabajar contra todo derecho. 1740. Temas del Virreinato, 143-145. 375 "...en esta Jurisdiccin no hay ms pueblos de Indios que el de San Esteban de Tlaxcala y que sus Naturales no acostumbran salir a ningunos servicios personales sino es a algunas trasquilas enviados por su protector y su Gobernador por no tener incumbencia con ellos los Jueces de esta Villa mediante a que slo reconocen a su Excelencia el excelentsimo Seor Virrey de estos reinos." Temas del Virreinato, 145. 376 "...teniendose reconocido y practicamente experimentado, que de tiempos a esta partes y muchos de los yndios de los pueblos reducidos, doctrinas, y missiones de este govierno divertidos y derramados, causando robos y perjuicios a los vecinos y andantes y hacendados sin que aya sido
According to the governor he had not been able to contain this behavior by official means and now was compelled to enact such a proclamation further restricting the movement of the indigenous population. In addition, he complained that the pacified Indians had mixed with the "idolatrous and apostate frontier Indians" and have in turn "contributed to the disorder in the region."377 Therefore, this edict was designed to stop any indigenous person from leaving their townships without the express permission of the residing priest, town's leader or an appropriate justice from each jurisdiction. If any Indian was found outside of their community without the appropriate documents they could be apprehended by any Spaniard or mestizo, jailed and tried for the offense. Moving around the region without a permit was to be defined as an act of rebellion against the king and as such, said Indian could be given the death penalty.378 The governor informed local authorities that their local or mission priests, as well as indigenous governors, were supposed to be duly informed of this edict, so that indigenous communities could not claim to be ignorant of this new law. In addition, he ordered that the corregidor, justices or those in charge of each community should develop a list of the names of all of the individuals
posible reducirse y aquietarse por medio de los oficios que han ynterpuesto sus ministros doctrineros..." January 11, 1755, AMS, PM, C20, e26. 377 "...munchos de los tales yndios amistados y mesclados con los ymediatos fronterisos gentiles y apostatas, concurren, y an estado concurriendo y estan perjudicando los lugares fronterizos..." Jan. 11, 1755, AMS, PM, C20, e26. 378 "...seran castigados conforme corresponda a el yndicio averiguacion y causa que se seguira y formara a cada particular de dichos yndios que contravengan a esta determinacin; y assi mismo bajo la pena y apercibimiento de que siendo requeridos por el espaol y espaoles y demas en el
residing in the town, including the children, within 30 days. If this was not done, they would be given a two hundred peso fine. The money collected would then be used to defray the costs of the war against the Indians. The 1755 edict by the governor of Nueva Vizcaya brought up difficult issues for the Tlaxcalans, as they were not considered apostate or warlike Indians. In fact, they were recruited to fight the war and otherwise bring "civilization" to the northern nomadic indigenous population. In April of that year the town council of Saltillo responded to the governor's edict and explained that there were no reducciones in their vicinity and that their town was composed of Spaniards. The only Indians were the ones who resided in San Esteban de Tlaxcala. The mayor said that he would try to abide by the governor's orders and told the lieutenant protector of San Esteban, Juan Francisco de Aguero y Campuzano, to publicize the governor's edict and to make a list of all of the residents of San Esteban. The Tlaxcalans did not feel that they needed or should be expected to abide by such a law and therefore felt compelled to explain their situation to the governor. In their response to the governor they stated: ...without contradicting the superior mandates of Your Honor (seoria), the governor and the capitan general of Nueva Vizcaya there are already royal edicts from the King (may God protect him) in which he confers privileges and exemptions that we should enjoy as legitimate Tlaxcalans who were original founders and conquerors of this kingdom...In these royal edicts it was decreed that [Tlaxcalans] could travel to different places in this kingdom
caso de resistencia y en los parajes en que sean encontrados les daran y podran la muerte, como enemigos reveldes a la obediencia del rey nuestro seor..." Jan. 11, 1755, AMS, PM, C20, e26.
utilizing a riding horse, saddle and restraint and with defensive and offensive weapons and can carry such arms required as they are conquerors without carrying a pass or license from the supervising curate who administers them because they have never been detained by your Majesty's justices and likewise in the Villa de Saltillo and the jurisdiction of the Nuevo Reyno de Len and the province of Coahuila...379 The Tlaxcalans then pointed out all of the services they had provided to the crown, including the establishment of other Tlaxcalan communities in Nuevo Len and Coahuila. This included Nuestra Seora de Guadalupe, Candela, Boca de Leones, Calle de Pilos, and Santa Mara de las Parras. The residents of San Esteban argued that they had never been required to make a list of all their residents because they were, ...exempt from the jurisdiction of the Villa [Saltillo] and the governor of this kingdom and did not have in mind to (indivirlos) include with the catechized and disorderly Indians like they do in other towns of under this government where there are members of many nations... we therefore ask and plead that you maintain our privileges and exemptions that were enjoyed and are enjoyed as they are stated in the edicts created by his Majesty where he confers upon us the same ones enjoyed by the community's leaders and Tlaxcalans in general of the noblest city of the great Tlaxcala
379 "...sin contravertir los superiores mandatos de su seoria del seor gobernador y capitan general de este reyno de la Nueva Vizcaya se halla con barias reales zedulas del rey nuestro seor (que Dios guarde) en las que les confiere los privilegios y exempciones que deven gozr y gozan como tales lexitimos Tlaxcaltecas fundadores pobladores y conquistadores de este reyno a que se agregan otros que tienen ganancias de los exelenticimos seores virreyes de esta Nueva Espaa; atento a lo qual y de que en qualquiera tipo que se les pida haran dichas reales zedulas en las que contienen puedan salir distintas partes, de este reyno o fuera de el en caballos ensillados y enfrenados y con las armas ofencivas y defencivas que puedan cargar como tales conquistadores sin que para esto necesiten llevar voleta ni licencia del reverendo padre cura que los administra ni de otro juez de este dicho pueblo para trancitar los caminos porque nunca se ha dado el caso sean ympedidos por ningunas de las justicias de su majestad y que assi mismo es constante a la villa del Saltillo y su jurisdicion al Nuevo Reyno de Leon y provincia de Coahuila..." April 2, 1755, AMS, PM, C20, e26.
where we descend from and we also remind you as it is public knowledge that this town has never excused itself from fighting against the invasions of the enemy Indians with the assistence and use of the military which is most efficient as it is recorded in the certification that is housed in this archive that is maintained since its establishment and as we have a competent cavalry at our disposal, which today exists for just these emergencies of war which has taken place without any intermission with the secure enjoyment of exemptions and other privileges that such acts deserve. 380 The Tlaxcalans were not able to avoid the governor's edict and local officials apparently carried out his wishes. Noble Tlaxcaltecos One of the boundary markers used by the Tlaxcalans to identify themselves as different from other groups was to emphasize their status as nobles or hidalgos.381 Prominent among the privileges that Tlaxcalans demanded from local authorities was acknowledgement that they were hidalgos. It is difficult to understand exactly what this meant in practical terms. In 1563 the Tlaxcalans had
380 "...por estar exemptos de la jurisdizion de la villa y no ser la mente del seor governador y capitan general de este reino indivirlos con los yndios catequisados y desarreglados como se versa en los demas pueblos de esta governazion en don de ay de todas naciones...piden y suplican se les guarde los privilexios y exempciones que deven gozar y gozan como esta declarado por zedula de su magestad en que nos confiere los mismos que gozan los casiques y tlaxcaltecos de la noblissima ciudad de la gran Tlaxcala donde desciende este pueblo como tambien hazen patente por ser publico que a este pueblo ninca se ha escusado de salir a las ynbaciones de los yndios enemigos con la asistencia y exercicio militar con el empeo mas eficaz como consta en la zertificaciones que paran en este archivo manteniendo desde su fundacion un zituado de caballada competente a su consta, que oy existe para las precisas urgencias de guerra a que han concurrido sin intermicion alguna con el seguro de gozar su fuero y demas privilegios que a semejantes actos corresponde." April 2, 1755, AMS, PM, C20, e26. 381 During the colonial period the Tlaxcalans of Mexquitic, SLP also commonly invoked their status as nobles in order to protect their rights. David Frye, Indians Into Mexicans, 50.
fought and won recognition from the king as a "Muy Noble y Muy Leal" city.382 Did this noble status apply to the city of Tlaxcala as whole? Charles Gibson notes that post-conquest Tlaxcalan society retained much of its pre-conquest social organization. Maceguales continued to form the bulk of the Tlaxcalan population and "members of the hereditary nobility, without completely abandoning the tecuhtli institution, now adopted a Spanish title, principales." When maceguales tried to assume the title of a principal, they were soon put in their place by the town council.383 There is no indication that Tlaxcalan society in the north was in any way egalitarian. Note the fact that in a previously cited letter from the council of Saltillo they point out that the governor of San Esteban sent their people to perform certain labor.384 Consequently, the Tlaxcalan council of San Esteban seems to have reinterpreted privileges given to Tlaxcalan in central New Spain to best fit their needs. They fought to retain or reestablish this "noble status" and used documents from Tlaxcala, which stated that Tlaxcala was given noble status by the king, to support their claim that Tlaxcalans in general were nobles.385 For example, in two legal cases, one from 1729 and the other from
Charles Gibson, Tlaxcala in the Sixteenth Century, 166. Ibid, 142-143. 384 Temas del Virreinato, 145. 385 In her study of Andean society Karen Spalding notes that indigenous leaders were given noble status and consequently used it to their own best benefit. She writes, "The kurakas of provinces, legally defined by the Spanish colonial regime as equivalent to European nobility and freed of sumptuary restrictions, adopted all the panoply of the European nobility. And though there is little evidence that the Europeans accepted their pretensions-save in the cases of some in the upper ranks of the Inca nobility of Cuzco-many were quite willing to build their fortunes on the basis of alliance with the Andean provincial elite, from whom they received lands and goods that could be
1782, the Tlaxcalans present very similar documents to support their claims. Although one was said to date back to 1591 and the other from 1629, their content was very similar. Both cases emerged from land disputes and discuss how the Tlaxcalans were to have hidalgo status in perpetuity. The 1629 one reads,
That all the Indians who were from the town and province of Tlaxcala and want to settle amongst the Chichimeca will themselves and their descendants be hidalgos, free of all tribute, taxes, or personal service,...that wherever they so settle they are not made to live amongst Spaniards but will live apart and if they reside ear each other that they live in separate neighborhoods and that Spaniards be prohibited from taking or buying land in a Tlaxcalan neighborhood.386 In one sense the terms hidalgo and noble were a shorthand way of saying that they were different than other groups and thus they had special rights to land, restricted tribute, etc. Residents of San Esteban also used the term in documents besides petitions when they needed to support their cases or rights. Given the fact that noble status appeared to be a meaningless title, Frederik Barth's idea regarding ethnic identity formation is especially meaningful, as this construction of the group's identity did not reflect an individual's reality. It was a way in which
used to build estates for themselves and their descentants." Huarochir: An Andean Society Under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984): 223. 386 "Que todos los Indios que as fueron de la Ciudad y Provincia de Tlaxcala a Poblar de nuevo con los dihcos Chichimecos sean ellos y sus descendientes perpetuamente Hidalgos libres de todo tributo, Pecho Alcabala y Servicio Personal, y en ningn Rigor alguno ni razn, se les pueda pedir ni llebar cosa alguna de esto, que donde hubiere de hacer sus asientos no les manden poblar juntamente con espaoles sino distinto y de por s de suerte que se pueblen cerca uno de otros sea con distincin de Barrio y prohibicin a los Espaoles que no puedan tomar ni comprar solar en el Barrio de tlaxcaltecas." Virreinato, 87. 1782, 1629.
Tlaxcalans (whether elite or commoner) could protect themselves and could distinguish between themselves from other indigenous or even mixed caste groups. In these two marriage cases Tlaxcalans try to stop the marriage of their offspring by emphasizing the fact that they are Tlaxcaltecas repblicanos (part of the Tlaxcalan republic) or noble Tlaxcalans. In 1798 the Alcalde of San Esteban, Don Josef Hernandes, tried to prohibit his daughter from marrying a man that he said was not of the same calidad as that of his family.387 He argued that Josef Manuel had many vices and was not fit to marry his daughter, Juana Jacoba. He asked that the court stop the marriage and give him back his daughter so that he could arrange for her to marry someone who was her equal. Don Josef asked for justice under the law of the Royal Marriage Pragmatic, which prohibited unequal marriages if parental consent was not given. Don Josef, who said he was a "Tlaxcalteca vesino Republicano," argued that the man in question had stolen his daughter from his house and had taken her to the church- and for this he should be punished. In addition, Josef Manuel claimed this man was incapable of taking on the responsibilities of marriage and would only deceive his daughter and discredit his name. Don Josef said he would provide witnesses who would support his case. We are unaware of how this episode was eventually resolved, as the last official response asked that Don Josef
1798, Archivo Municipal de Saltillo, Presidencia Municipal, c50, e39, 6f.
Manuel present these witnesses so that they could substantiate his claim that this was an unequal match. In a 1799 marriage dispute case involving Tlaxcalans from San Esteban, Don Josef Joaquin Ramos appeared before the court in Saltillo to stop his son from marrying Mara Josefa Bueno.388 He argued that Mara Bueno had pleaded with his son and he had agreed to marry her because of his "fragility" and "torpidity." Don Josef and the bride's father, Euxeo Bueno, followed the couple to Monterrey, where the two had been jailed. Don Josef paid the three pesos and one real to get his son out of jail and Euxeo Bueno did the same for his daughter. Everyone then returned to Saltillo, where Euxeo insisted that Juan Calisto had to marry his daughter. Don Josef consequently presented a list of arguments for why the marriage should not take place. First of all, Don Josef stated, his son never promised to marry Mara Josefa, she had taken him to Monterrey. She really only wanted to go to Monterrey to attend fiestas. Juan Calisto was only induced to go because he was weak. Don Josef thus continued to attack the girl's morals and stated that she had in fact left for the Valley of San Pedro with another man and his son had followed them. Said Don Josef, "if he had not followed her she would have left for Monterrey with that other man."
1799, AMS, PM, c50, e40.
Secondly, Mara Josefa made previous agreements to marry both his nephew and his first cousin, even before committing to marry his son. Don Josef said that she had already confessed to this fact. He argued that Mara Josefa had displayed poor judgement and a lack of honesty. In addition, his son could not marry her without his consent- even if Juan Calisto had agreed to marry her. He could not be obliged to keep his promise if he was not given parental consent. Finally, he argued, Tlaxcalans had to be protected and shielded by all justices as their sovereign leader (the king) had thus decreed this to be so. They were Tlaxcalans and consequently were also reputed to be nobles and as such the court should not permit his son to marry this woman, as previous rights given to the Tlaxcalans by the king would have to be discarded. As a loyal minister, Don Josef said, you must support and protect us in this matter. The judge responded by saying that the case presented by Don Josef Joaquin Ramos, "Indio Principal del Pueblo de Tlaxcala," had merit. The couple would not be allowed to marry and Mara Josefa Bueno would instead be paid six pesos. These cases might be extreme examples of elite Tlaxcalans perhaps trying to keep land from being divided amongst outside members of the community. Yet, they are telling episodes because they show that certain members of San Esteban wanted to limit membership in their self-defined community. In addition, as we will see in the following chapter, it appears that Tlaxcalans in general did not see marriage with outside members of the group in a favorable light. 236
Although few Tlaxcalans married in the church, there is no record of a marriage of a Tlaxcalan to an outsider in the late colonial parish registry. Conclusion The residents of San Esteban were able to protect some of their privileges by adhering to the notion that they had noble status. This identity was born out of the social circumstances they faced in the north during the late colonial period. Moreover, the Tlaxcalans' behavior ultimately both challenged and helped facilitate Spanish colonial rule, as they bought into Spanish notions of race and status. Thus, the Tlaxcalans ultimately supported this society's racial hierarchy.
CHAPTER 7 Life in the Community of San Esteban
However flawed the records for the parish of San Esteban might be they do provide valuable information about this community during the colonial period. It is through this data that we can develop a more complex understanding of the life and activities of the everyday Tlaxcalan. Whereas most other written records previously utilized in this study were prepared by the San Esteban town council, baptismal, marriage, and burial records provide one of the only ways to comprehend the lives of individual Tlaxcalans and the broad social changes experienced by the whole community of San Esteban. These records indicate that Tlaxcalans rarely, if ever, married outside of the group, this supports the notion that they saw themselves as a distinct ethnic group. Yet, this did not mean that Tlaxclans did not develop social relationships with outsiders. Compadrazgo ties with the residents of Saltillo were in fact not uncommon. Baptismal and burial registries are not records of births and deaths; they are documents that must be deconstructed. Because Tlaxcalans did not allow a census of their community to be taken in the colonial period, demographic
information must be pieced together through other sources.389 Colonial parish records therefore provide the most complete demographic information. Yet, these documents are oftentimes inconsistent and incomplete. Tlaxcalans seemed very concerned with baptizing their newborns, but not so much in getting married through the church or in being buried in the church cemetery. Consequently, burial records provide telling information about disease and epidemics that affected the community as a whole and information about an individual's age at death and neighborhood of residence, but these statistics vary widely from year to year. In addition, most Tlaxcalans requested a "high" burial, thus indicating either that many were doing well enough to afford such a funeral, they were exempted from paying for these dues, or that the Tlaxcalans had a very effective cofrada system.
Baptismal Records San Esteban's baptismal records provide several types of informationsuch as the date of the child's baptism, the child's name, whether or not they were legitimate, their parents' names, their neighborhood, the godparent's names, and
Leslie Offutt mentions a padrn in San Esteban of her work, but extensive research in the archives of Saltillo has not produced this census. David B. Adams also mentions the existence of such documents in, "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (1993): 44. Archivists in Saltillo claim that although colonial authorities asked that a census of the town be taken, the residents of San Esteban were adamantly against it as they feared that this would be a first step towards taxation or that
their neighborhood or town of origin.390 Therefore, a record would tell us that Mara Antonia was born in January of 1770, the legitimate daughter of Salvador and Mara Elena de la Cruz. The family resided in the neighborhood of Concepcin (in San Esteban) and the child's godmother was Gertrudis Yanza from the Villa of Saltillo. As in Saltillo, at times newborns would be left at the doorsteps of the church or a private residence. In those instances the child was listed as being expuesto/a. If these children lived, they were apparently "adopted" by members of the Tlaxcalan community and were also baptized and had godparents like other children. One such case was that of Blas Mara, who was left at the doorsteps of Juan Antonio de la Cruz who baptized him in February of 1770. Juan Antonio resided in the San Esteban neighborhood of La Purificacin. The child's godmother was Doa Anna Mara de Yurire, who was from Saltillo.
tribute would be demanded from the town. San Esteban was apparently able to thwart attempts by officials to take a census of the town. 390 Microfilm of birth, marriage and death records for the town of San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala were consulted at the Family History Center, Mormon Archives, Austin, Texas.
Table 29: Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1770-1771 (both years) PADRINO'S NEIGHBORHOOD CHILD CA CO PUR SE SA SB Villa other total Candelaria 3 2 3 4 2 1 15 20% 13% 20% 27% 13% 6% Concepcin 4 9 1 9 8 3 12 4 50 8% 18% 2% 18% 16% 6% 24% 8% La 2 14 3 9 2 6 36 Purificaci 25% 17% 39% n San 1 2 3 5 9 13 11 44 Esteban 2.3% 4.5% 7% 11% 20% 30% 25% Santa Ana 3 6 3 3 19 8 9 3 54 5.5% 11% 5.5% 5.5% 35% 15% 17% 5.5% Santa 1 4 2 2 6 1 1 17 Barbara 6% 24% 12% 12% 35% 6% 6% Expuesta/o 1 1 total 9 20 25 20 66 19 41 19 216 During the two years of 1770-71 there were 216 children baptized in the parish (see table 29). Sixty-eight percent of those children were born in the San Esteban neighborhoods of Concepcin, San Esteban and Santa Ana. It appears that godparents from Santa Ana were chosen with greater frequency than other neighborhoods. In fact, thirty percent of the padrinos during those years came from that barrio. One might imagine that most godparents would reside in the same neighborhood of the child's parents. This was the case for the neighborhood of La Purificacin (who chose godparents from their own neighborhood 39% of the time), Sana Ana (chose godparents from their own neighborhood 35% of the time), and San Buenaventura (who also chose godparents from their same 241
neighborhood 35% of the time). The parents from the barrios of San Esteban and Concepcin tended to favor padrinos from Saltillo (San Esteban chose godparents from Saltillo 30% of the time and those from Concepcin chose residents of Saltillo 24% of the time). The three most popular neighborhoods for godparents were Santa Ana (30%), Saltillo (18.7%), and La Purificacin (11.4%). Although there is no numerical data regarding the size of each neighborhood, it appears that Santa Ana was the largest of these, as they baptized the most children in the years 1770-71, 1780, 1790, and 1800. Choosing a godparent also helped solidify ties amongst families, neighborhoods, and communities. Perhaps the most well-off or preeminent members of San Esteban society resided in Santa Ana. Table 30: Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1780 PADRINO'S NEIGHBORHOOD CHILD' CA CO Espa SE SA SB Villa S ol Candel. 2 2 1 4 1 2 2 14% 14% 7% 14% 14% 29% 7% Conc. 1 4 1 3 1 5 6% 20% 6% 27% 33% San 5 1 2 3 4 3 Esteban 26% 5.3% 10% 16% 21% 16% Santa 3 1 2 15 2 7 Ana 10% 3% 6.5% 48% 6.5% 23% Santa 1 1 1 2 Barbara 14% 14% 14% 29% Total 12 7 4 10 24 6 19
other tota l 14 15 1 5.3% 1 3% 2 29% 4 19 31 7 86
The 1780 records show a more random distribution of godparent choices. Candelaria parents often chose padrinos from San Esteban (29% of the time); 242
those from Concepcin favored padrinos from Saltillo (33% of the time), but chose amongst their own neighborhood almost as often (27% of the time). Parents from the neighborhood of San Esteban exhibit a slight preference for godparents from Candelaria (chosen 26% of the time), but they chose padrinos from other neighborhoods almost as often. Those from Santa Ana show a clear preference for godparents from their own neighborhood, as they picked godparents from Santa Ana 48% of the time. Their second preference was Saltillo (chosen 23% of the time). In 1780 residents of San Esteban still tended to choose godparents from the barrio of Santa Ana (28% of the time), but Saltillo came in a close second. Table 31: Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1790 PADRINO'S NEIGHBORHOOD CO PUR SE SA SB Villa CHILD'S CA
Candel. Conc. Expuesto La Purificaci n San Esteban Santa Ana Santa Barbara other total 4 25% 1 5.9% 3 17.6 % 3 14% 1 5.9% 1 4.8% 2 4 3 17.6% 1 4.8% 1 7.7% 6 2 40% 1 8.3% 1 20% 2 17% 1 8.3% 4 67% 2 12.5% 3 17.6% 4 19% 2 15% 1 17 2 9.5% 2 15% 14 3 25% 1 33% 6 37.5% 1 20% 4 33%
other 1 20% 1 8.3 % 1 33%
total 5 12 6 16 17
4 25% 6 35% 6 28.6% 5 38% 26 4 19% 2 15% 1 10
21 13 4 90
1 7.7% 9 8
Table 32: Baptisms, San Esteban de la Nueva Tlaxcala, 1800 PADRINO'S NEIGHBORHOOD CHILD'S CA CO PUR SE SA SB Villa other Candel. 3 2 3 1 2 1 Conc. 4 5 3 1 1 La Purif. 1 1 3391 San 3 2 3 5 2 4 2 Esteban Santa 1 5 13 1 9 2392 Ana Santa 2 2 6 3 2 3393 Barbara total 8 7 2 15 131 8 19 12
total 12 14 5 21 31 18 101
These numbers indicate that Tlaxcalans were not averse to choosing godparents from Saltillo in the late colonial period. In 1790 four out of the six neighborhoods in San Esteban chose godparents from Saltillo with greatest frequency. Given that in legal disputes and other sources Spanish and Tlaxcalan residents have an adversarial relationship, the fact that residents of San Esteban chose padrinos from Saltillo deserves further analysis. Although it would be worthwhile to conduct a long-term study of godparent choice amongst this indigenous community, at this time it was only possible to study the years 17771780. These years were chosen because there was a higher probability that the godparent's name would appear in the 1777 Saltillo census.
Two of the padrino's neighborhoods were unlisted and the third came from La Tula. One of the padrino's neighborhood was unlisted and the other came from the Hazienda de Topo Chico. 393 Two of the padrino's neighborhoods were unlisted and the third came from Los Molinos.
The following table presents the total number of San Esteban children baptized during those four years and the number and percentage of those who had godparents from Saltillo.
Table 33: San Esteban Children with Godparents from the Villa of Saltillo, 1777-1780 1777 Total baptisms Godparents from Saltillo 19 20% 24 24% 25 28.7% 19 17.6% 96 1778 100 1779 87 1780 108
Most of these children's families either came from the neighborhoods of Santa Ana or San Esteban. During those four years 28 of the children that had godparents from Saltillo were from the barrio of Santa Ana, 22 were from San Esteban, 18 were from Concepcin, 10 were from Candelaria, and 9 were from San Buenaventura. Although eighty-seven children from San Esteban had godparents that came from Saltillo during the years 1777-80, only nineteen of these were identifiable in the 1777 census. The complete names of the heads of households appear in the padrn, consequently they dominate the group under analysis because they could be identified with some certainty. The following information,
although interesting, is ultimately speculative. Yet, it does provide some general information about the compadrazgo system that begs further analysis. Most of the nineteen godparent couples that were analyzed were either married or related, although seemingly unrelated couples, widows, and single women also baptized Tlaxcalan children. Sometimes brothers and sisters served as godparents, like Don Joseph Gil, a single 28-year old Spanish merchant, and his sister, also single and 32. They were godparents to the child of Francisco and Mara Ines, from the neighborhood of Candelaria in September of 1777. Another example is that of Juan Salvador de Salas, a 48-year old Spanish blacksmith and his single, 17-year old daughter, Juana Margarita, who baptized Diego Fernando, son of Martin de los Santos and Andrea Augustina, who were from the barrio of Santa Ana, in 1779. All but one of the nineteen godparent couples (most children had a godmother and godfather, but some only had one) from Saltillo were Spanish. The one exception was Xtobal Padilla, a 40-year old coyote and his 22-year old wife, Mara de Ynes, who also listed her race in the census as coyota. In the four years under study they were godparents to two Tlaxcalan children. In September of 1777 they baptized Joseph Mara, son of Andres Martnez and Juliana de los Santos from the barrio of Concepcin. In May of 1780 they were the padrinos of Mara Dorotea, daughter of Doroteo Antonio and Juana de la Encarnacin from Santa Ana. In late colonial Saltillo the racial classification of coyote appeared with greater frequency in the parish registries, even more so than the term mestizo. Given that late colonial society was becoming more racially mixed, it
appears that the term may have been used to denote someone of unknown mixed background. Therefore, term coyote was apparently used much like the term mestizo was in other areas or later times. The 1793 Saltillo census indicates that Spaniards rarely intermarried with other groups, but when Spanish males chose a woman of a different race the ones most often chosen were coyotas (see chapter 5). This would seem to indicate that coyotes were considered to be above most other social groups in the racial hierarchy of late colonial Saltillo. Coyotes in Saltillo also had skilled occupations and were not often servants, a line of work dominated by groups considered to be at the bottom of the social ladder, like Indians and mulattos. Most godparents under study had skilled professions. As we have seen Spaniards in Saltillo dominated these occupations. The Spaniards' vocations include a merchant, tailor, silversmith, obrajero, and even capitn protector of San Esteban. This would seem to indicate that upper class Spaniards were not averse to being godparents to Tlaxcalan children. Joseph Mara Carrillo, a 35year old Spaniards, who listed his occupation as merchant, was in fact godparent to two Tlaxcalan children in this four year period. Carrillo and his 30-year old wife, Juana Gertrudis Davila, baptized Onofre Antonio Mara in June of 1777. He was the son of Rogelio Sipriano and Mara Guadalupe from the neighborhood of San Esteban. Then in April of 1780 this same couple were the godparents of Juana Dorothea, daughter of Juan Nepomuceno Murilla and Mara Gertrudis Coronado, also from San Esteban. The Carrillo household included their 10-year old niece and two servants, Mara Rodriguez, a 40-year old widow whose race
was listed as Indian, her 10-year old daughter Phelipa, and a 25-year old single female, who was also listed as an Indian. Although not all of the Spaniards were in the upper classes, most appear to have been comfortable or had skilled work. Besides the previously mentioned merchants there was also Ignacio de Velasco, a 36-year old Spanish silversmith and his wife Juana Snchez, who was 34. They had four children and had an Indian servant in their household.394 Young Spanish couples also became godparents. For instance, Jose Bisente Sanchez was 24 years old and his wife was eighteen when they became godparents to Marcela de los Santos from the barrio of Santa Ana in February of 1778. Jose Bisente was a tailor, a skilled profession that one might think would be open to other groups. In fact, in the 1793 census there are seven tailors, two are Peninsulares and the other five are Creoles. [see Appendix] Given the close contact between the capitn protetor and the Tlaxcalans, it is not surprising that he was godparent to two children, both in 1779. It would have been important for the stability of the township for the captain to develop social ties with the residents of San Esteban. Pedro Francisco de la Fuente, the 60-year old Spanish captain of San Esteban and his single, 26-year old daughter, Mara Josefa, were godparents to Pedro Ygnacio Polinario, son of Nicolas Ramon and Juana Francisca of the neighborhood of San Esteban. Then in June of 1779 Don Pedro Francisco and his 30-year old wife, Anna Mara de Alanis, were godparents to Trinidad Theodocia, daughter of Josepha de la Cruz. Josepha was
Spaniards dominated silversmith positions in the colonial period.
apparently unmarried, as there is no husband listed in the registry and her daughter is noted as being an hija natural (natural daughter) and not an hija legtima (legitimate daughter). The captain's household included four other offspring, clearly from his first marriage, two sons and two daughters, all single and between the ages of 15 and 28. It was also not uncommon for single women or widows to become godmothers, but information about them is more difficult to acquire. These women were oftentimes household heads, so their last names were not included. It is worth noting that several of the padrino couples appeared to be unmarried or unrelated. These names were especially difficult to track in the 1777 census, once again because of the lack of last names for members of the household. One female head of the household who was traceable was Doa Emerenciana Lobo Guerrero. In fact, she was godmother to two Tlaxcalan children in 1778. Doa Emerenciana was a 60-year old single female. In her household resided two nieces, a 30-year old single woman named Theresa Lobo Guerrero, and 16-year old Mara Josefa, who was also single. There was also a 17-year old black servant named Gertrudes. In August of 1778 Doa Emerenciana was the godmother of Juan Urcino, son of Francisco Thomas and Pheliciana Encarnacion from Santa Ana. In November of that same year she baptized Anna Mara, daughter of Juan Casimiro and Anna Mara, also from the neighborhood of Santa Ana. Although other women usually "partnered" with a male (when they were not wives or daughters) Doa Emerenciana was the lone godparent to these children.
It is interesting that Tlaxalans would want to create these social bonds with Spaniards. After all, much of their history in the late colonial period involved a struggle to keep Spaniards, castas, and other indigenous groups out of their community. Given the lack of materials to directly assess an individual's thoughts about this issue, the most obvious explanation would be that the close proximity between the two towns inevitably led to the development of personal relationships that were solidified through compadrazgo. Tlaxcalans may not have intermarried with other groups, yet it was impractical for them to ignore realitythat the social bonds developed between individuals were what maintained the colonial system. Given the small size of this indigenous community (in comparison to that of Saltillo and other nearby Spanish townships) Tlaxcalans developed ties that would in time help them and the group. In turn, Spaniards might have chosen to enter into these social relationships because it helped them control this indigenous community. Several authors have previously discussed the existence of compadrazgo ties between Spanish and indigenous people in colonial society.395 Douglas Cope notes that other groups had bitter feelings about this "unnatural alliance" between Spaniard and Indian. Cope argues that these relationships were a way for Spaniards to recruit indigenous workers and servants.396 Karen Spalding also proposes that Europeans might have conceded to serve as godparents to indigenous children because they had a certain sympathy for their workers and
395 Douglas Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination: Plebeian Society in Colonial Mexico City, 1660-1720 (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994): 92-93; Karen Spalding, Huarochir: An Andean Society Under Inca and Spanish Rule (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1984): 286. 396 Douglas Cope, The Limits of Racial Domination, 92-93.
were willing to be godparents "as long as the Indians showed them the respect and submission due a superior from an inferior."397 In both these assessments the compadrazgo ties are viewed as an economic relationship entered by each party because both had something to gain from one another. Yet, Tlaxcalans did not work for Spaniards and were not their servants.398 In the case of San Esteban, compadrazgo may have served both a practical and a symbolic role. Tlaxcalans may have sought these alliances because it was a way in which they could protect their community. Yet, why would Spaniards and upper casta groups enter into such an arrangement? What would they have to gain if Tlaxcalans were not part of their labor force? Spaniards and castas also expected something from the relationships developed with Tlaxcalans, namely to be able to influence Tlaxalan leaders who would consequently help sway the community. Compadrazgo ties between Tlaxalans and outside members of the community may have been a way in which Spaniards could control the residents of San Esteban.399
Karen Spalding, Huarochir, 286. I did not find documented instances where Tlaxcalans are said to have worked for Spaniards. Yet, David B. Adams writes, "Many landless Tlaxcalans, unable to support themselves and their families at home, worked as day laborers in Saltillo or on Creole-owned haciendas in the vicinity." In the adjoining footnote to this statement he notes that he found such information in the "Padrn de los habitants de Saltillo" from 1790 and the "Padrn y Rezumen de las Almas que hai en este Jurisdiccin de la Villa del Saltillo," of 1791. I did not consult either of these records, but did analyze the 1777 and 1793 census, which do not record instances when residents of San Esteban worked for Creoles or Spanish residents. "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (1993): 44. 399 Karen Spalding writes, "The mechanisms of social control in colonial society depended far more upon constant contact between European and Indian than upon any show of force. The front-line troops of the colonial system were not soldiers, but the people who spoke the language of the Indian people, who were willing to stand as godparents to their children or sponsors at their marriage, and who would do small favors for their ritual kinsmen-favors that generally proved to be to their own benefit. These people were often sympathetic to the Indians who worked for them and among whom they lived, as long as the Indians who worked for them and among whom they lived, as long as the Indians showed them the respect and submission due a superior from an inferior. The basic class division in the rural provinces was here, in the line drawn between Indian
The fact that indigenous and Spanish actors entered into compadrazgo ties tells us that this society was not fraught with constant tension and violence. In many ways, these types of social bonds were the glue that held the colonial system together. Both parties understood this. What would a capitn protector have to gain by being the godfather of the child of an unwed Tlaxcalan woman? It may have been a paternalistic act that was an extension of his role in the community, but there was no direct reward for serving in this capacity. Legal disputes and anger over the encroachment of land and resources in the late colonial period apparently could not break the bonds developed by individuals in this society.
Table 34: San Esteban Children with Godparents from Saltillo 1790 Total # of Baptisms Gadparents from Saltillo 26 26.8% 19 17.9% 45 27% 97 1800 106 1810 166
By 1810 there was a slight increase in the percentage of Tlaxcalan children who had godparents from Saltillo (see table above). Yet, at this time we see the appearance of both children and godparents who are neither from San Esteban nor from Saltillo. Some children's parents were from Boca de Leones,
and Spaniard. The line was maintained by the entire apparatus of Spanish colonial society, and as Francisco de Toledo had perceived more than 200 years earlier, the presence of the members of European society among the Indians not only did not threaten the system, but preserved it." Ibid, 286.
the Hacienda de Patos, the Pueblo of San Bernardo, Real de Catorce, San Luis Potos, and even one couple from Saltillo. There were 45 godparents who were from Saltillo, but three were from Real de Catorce, there was one from San Miguel el Grande, and one other from San Luis Potos. Although the evidence is inconclusive, it appears that there is greater movement of people within the colonies. Tlaxcalans may have left San Esteban to work in haciendas, mines, or lager cities like San Luis Potos. At this time there is also an increase in the number of land sales in San Esteban.400 Historians also note that there was growing migration to areas like Mexico City at the end of the colonial period by indigenous and casta groups. Silvia Arrom found that in 1811, 38% of all females in Mexico City were born in outside areas. Of these migrants, 48% were indigenous women.401 Greater economic opportunities in other areas or increasing local pressures appear to have influenced this possible out-migration. The Tlaxcalans allude to the fact that residents of San Esteban might be leaving the area in one of their letters. In a 1794 petition to the governor they argue that their possessions had been acknowledged and given to them by a royal edict and that, "land distributed to pueblos and demarcated borders should not be taken away or changed even if they are uninhabited..."402
400 See years 1801-1828. Catlogo del Fondo de Testamentos, Tomo 1 y 2 (Saltillo: Ayntamiento de Saltillo, 1997-1999). 401 Silvia Arrom also found that there was a gender imbalance in Mexico City and argues that women were migrating into the city in large numbers, but that there were also a large number of men who were leaving. The Women of Mexico City, 1790-1857 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985): 107-108. Se also, Juan Javier Pescador, "Vanishing Woman: Female Migration and Ethnic Identity in Late-Colonial Mexico City," 42(1992): 617-626. 402 "...y tan solamente solo nuestros amabilcimos Catlicos Monarcas Reyes de Castilla encargan por sus reales cedulas que en todos los pueblos de la America que les sealaren o repartieren en las tierras y sus linderos nunca les puedan quitar en ningun tiempo por despoblados..." Los Tlaxcaltecas en Coahuila, 312.
Marriage Records Marriage records from the parish of San Esteban are especially sparse. Overall, they seem to indicate that the residents of San Esteban rarely (if ever) married outside of their group. Although few Tlaxcalans married in the church, it does appear that intermarriage between Tlaxalans and outsiders in the late colonial period was rare. Indeed, there are no marriages with Tlaxcalans recorded in the 1777 Saltillo census. There are many reasons why the residents of San Esteban would not want members of their community to marry outside of the group. One reason why they would look unfavorably on such marriages was that intermarriage would split land amongst outside members of the community. This was not a minor point, as Tlaxcalans were preoccupied with maintaining the ethnic group in order to protect their lands and economic well-being. It was a matter of survival. Another reason why Taxcalans might not have married outside the group was that in one sense, it was Spaniards who were their legal equals, yet the reality was that in eighteenth century colonial society Spaniard and Indian were not equal. In fact, during the late colonial period the status of indigenous people was even more tenuous. Marriage amongst these two groups would not have been an acceptable practice.
Table 35: Parish of San Esteban, Average Age at Marriage403 Male Female # of marriages 1790 1800 1810 18.15 23.45 23.62 17.75 16.95 18.43 23 25 37
Sources indicate that in 1790 the oldest Tlaxcalan male was 43; his bride was 16 years old. The oldest female that year was 28 and her groom was 22. The youngest male was 20 and the youngest female was 15. In 1800 the oldest male was fifty; his bride was 16. The oldest female was 30 and her husband was also 30. The youngest male that year was 17 and the youngest female was 15. By 1810 there was barely a change in the male's average age at marriage. The oldest male that year was 45, and his bride was 36. The oldest female was 38; her new spouse was 26. The youngest male married that year was 16 and his bride was 15. There were five fourteen-year old females married that year. Four married men in their late teens or twenties, but one married a 40-year old. In 1810 we also see the marriage of outsiders in the church. A Tlaxcalan couple from the town of Tlaxala de San Luis Potos married in the church and a Spanish bride and groom also said their vows in the traditionally Tlaxcalan parish.
Not all of the marriages included in this count may have been first marriages. It was common for Tlaxcalans (both male and female) to marry three or four times within their lifetimes.
Burial Records Burial records for the parish of San Esteban reveal much about the town's history and the hardships Tlaxcalans faced. Mid-seventeenth century documents show that non-Tlaxcalan indigenous groups resided very near and most probably in the town of San Esteban, as they were buried within the parish. Registries from 1632-1650 show that Guachichiles and Chichimecas were laid to rest in San Esteban. Other groups like Otom, Borrados, and Tarascans were also present at this time. There is no available evidence to suggest that these northern groups intermarried with Tlaxcalans, but this information does indicate that Tlaxcalans perhaps over-exaggerated the assertions made in land title documents where they claimed that no other group had ever lived amongst them. It does appear that Tlaxcalans were reacting to eighteenth century social pressures and consequently used this version of history to try and resist the encroachment of their land by outsiders. Burial records also indicate that most Tlaxcalans received a high burial (or an entierro mayor). There were sixty-three burials in 1770 and only six individuals received a lower (menor) ceremony. Five out of the six individuals not given a high burial were prbulos or children under the age of 7. In 1780 there were 297 burials and 20 received a low burial. This trend is also evident in 1790 as only two people received a low burial out of the sixty-two that were buried in the church that year. Although further research on Tlaxcalan cofradas would help explain why most Tlaxcalans chose and could afford this type of religious service at the end of their lives, a cursory analysis of the records does 256
reveal that the residents of San Esteban faithfully contributed to their brotherhoods. Church papers record that regular payments were made by these orders, thus indicating that Tlaxcalans were united in support of this organization. It is unclear if Tlaxcalans had always shown united support for the cofradas or if members of the community had a renewed interest in these orders during the eighteenth century because of the hardships faced by the community at this time. Both reasons may have played a role in shaping their participation
Table 36: San Esteban, Burials, 1663-1770 (Parish records missing for the years1711-1748) Year Burials 1663 1664 1665 1666 1667 1668 1669 1670 1671 1672 1673 1674 1675 1676 1677 1678 1679 1680 18 13 30 37 14 15 13 25 17 10 23 21 27 17 10 19 20 21 Year 1681 1682 1683 1684 1685 1686 1687 1688 1689 1690 1691 1692 1693 1694 1695 1696 1697 1698 Burials 8 7 5 21 9 8 10 17 17 20 Year 1699 1700 1701 1702 1703 1704 1705 1706 1707 1708 1709 1710 1749 1750 1751 1752 1753 1754 Burials Year 1755 1756 1757 1758 1759 1760 1761 1762 1763 1764 1765 1766 1767 1768 1769 Burial s 48 18 25 45 21 15 18 197 95 136 21 60 47 75 180
29 42 16 31 35 43
Table 37: San Esteban, Burials, 1770-1806
Year 1770 1771 1772 1773 1774 1775 1776 1777 Burials 63 112 55 49 54 50 63 57 Year 1778 1779 1780 1781 1782 1783 1784 1785 Burials 76 15 297 77 79 71 78 191 Year 1786 1787 1788 1789 1790 1791 1792 1793 Burials 126 274 34 57 67 106 110 71 Year 1794 1795 1796 1797 1798 1799 1800 1801 Burials 59 75 58 61 205 57 68 137 Year 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 Burials 103 87 142 95 72
The year 1780 was disastrous for the residents of San Esteban. There were 108 baptisms (a typical year) and 297 deaths. Never before or after 1780 were so many people buried in the church cemetery. The culprit was the smallpox (viruela) epidemic. It attacked the weakest members of the communitychildren under the age of 12. Although there is a tendency for the residents of San Esteban to favor the burial of the young, it does make sense that those who had not developed an immunity to the disease through past exposure would fall victim to it. As Tlaxcalans did not faithfully bury their dead in the church cemetery, it was probably the case that the number of deaths was probably much higher. The years 1785, 1786, and 1787 also had a spike in the number of burials. Smallpox does not appear to be the culprit in those instances. San Esteban was seemingly affected by the broader problems taking place in the rest of New Spain during the 1780s. Donald B. Cooper found the years 1784-87 were marked by a high number of deaths in Mexico City due to disease and famine.404 This was apparently due to a frost that ruined the crops in 1785 and consequently led to a sharp rise in the price of meat, wheat, and beans.405 These shortages and high food prices affected all of New Spain. Although the smallpox epidemic in 1780 had a devastating effect, bad crops and high prices had a more lasting effect, as
Donald B. Cooper, Epidemic Disease in Mexico City, 1761-1813 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965). 405 Charles Gibson, The Aztecs Under Spanish Rule (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1964), 316.
deaths in San Esteban spiked for those three years (1785, 1786, and 1787) (see previous table).
Population Changes in San Esteban and Saltillo The available evidence about Saltillo and San Esteban also suggests that population growth took place in both these towns. Yet, it was dramatically uneven. For instance, in the 1787 census the population of San Esteban was 1,904 and Saltillo's was 2,915 (these numbers do not include those residing in haciendas or ranches). In the 1793 census both their numbers increase, San Esteban's was estimated to be 3,500 and Saltillo's was 6,082.406 In the 1828 census San Esteban's population was 2,820. By 1829 Saltillo shows a dramatic increase in its population, which was now listed as being 19,047. By 1830 San Esteban's was 3,148 and Saltillo's was 20,241. The populations of Saltillo and San Esteban seem to continue the general trend established in the late colonial period. By 1828 the town of San Esteban had a population of 2, 935 (actually 2,834, the numbers were not added correctly by the census taker). In 1829 San Esteban (now renamed Villa Longn) had a population of 3, 024 and by 1830 it was 3,125. In 1830 Saltillo (now renamed Leona Vicario) had a population of 20, 285.407
Leslie Offutt points out that these numbers appear to be inflated. 1830, AMS, PM, c75, e17.
The changes occurring in the northeastern provinces therefore reflected the transformations that were taking place in New Spain as a whole. Magnus Mrner notes that there was a sharp rise in the population of New Spain in the eighteenth century. He found that the rise in the number of both "whites" and mixed groups strained Indian settlements, as this placed greater demands on land and resources that had previously been allotted to them.408 The following statistics from the early national period illustrate the unequal demographic development in San Esteban and Saltillo Table 38: 1828 San Esteban Census Ages Single Married Male Female Male Under 289 258 0 7 7 to 16 151 173 8 16 to 62 44 277 25 25 to 3 9 250 40 40 to 5 5 247 50 Over 3 1 54 50 Totals 513 490 836 Males: 1,394 Females: 1,430 Widowed Male Female 0 0 0 2 20 5 18 45 2 2 23 28 59 114 Totals 547 344 574 750 442 177 2834
Female 0 10 187 445 152 42 826
Magnus Mrner, Estado, razas, y cambio social en Hispanoamrica (Mexico: Secretara de educacin pblica, 1974): 117.
Table 39: 1830 Villa Longn Census (formerly Pueblo of San Esteban) Ages Single Married Widowed Total s Male Female Male Female Male Female Under 315 290 0 0 0 0 605 7 7 to 16 167 288 1 22 0 2 478 16 to 70 53 315 200 6 8 652 25 25 to 10 15 260 456 19 20 780 40 40 to 1 2 248 154 16 40 461 50 Over 0 0 51 43 20 58 172 50 Totals 562 646 627 721 45 86 3,148 Males: 1,234 Females: 1,453
Table 40: 1829 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo) Ages Single Married Widowed Under 7 7 to 16 16 to 25 25 to 40 40 to 50 Over 50 Totals Male 2,264 1,200 1,500 811 200 80 6,055 Female 3,206 1,500 1,100 700 100 60 6,666 Male 0 320 800 780 500 302 2,702 Female 0 320 800 780 500 302 2,702 Male 0 80 70 90 104 68 412 Female 0 86 75 100 106 143 510
Total s 5,470 3,506 4,345 3,261 1,510 955 19,04 7
Table 41: 1830 Leona Vicario Census (formerly Saltillo) Ages Single Married Widowed Male Female Male Female Male Female Under 2,525 3,211 0 0 0 0 7 7 to 16 1,394 1,621 450 450 96 99 16 to 1,510 1,200 815 815 79 80 25 25 to 813 715 780 780 81 93 40 40 to 295 193 500 500 90 80 50 Over 85 71 300 300 70 150 50 Totals 6,622 7,011 2,845 2,845 416 502 Males: 9,883 Females: 10,358
Totals 5,736 4,114 4,499 3,262 1,658 976 20,241
Population imbalance shaped how Tlaxcalans reacted to social changes and as a consequence it was virtually impossible for them to avoid contact with their neighbors in Saltillo. If this was the case, why were they involved in a constant struggle to keep outsiders out of their community? In those petitions they are clearly fighting to protect the community, not because they wanted to remain provincial or traditional, but because they want to protect themselves and their resources. Their behavior (as exemplified in compadrazgo records) indicates that they formed social bonds with the residents of Saltillo throughout the period under study. Their fight to retain their "traditional" space was a battle to protect themselves from negative outside change.
Moreover, these statistics cannot explain why the population of San Esteban did not keep pace with that of its mixed caste and Spanish neighbors. There might have been more Spanish and mixed groups migrating to the region, but census records do not list this type of information. The 1777 Saltillo census does list town of origin and in this case most people in the town seem to be from Saltillo or from nearby ranches or towns. The other possibility was that there was a rapid rise in fertility rates in the Spanish and mixed population. Residents of San Esteban may have also decided to relocate to areas where they could find better jobs, perhaps regions like San Luis Potos or the mining town of Real de Catorce.409 Juan Javier Pescador notes that by the second half of the eighteenth century more than 40% of the inhabitants of Mexico City were inmigrants.410 Saltillo experienced impressive growth, yet it was still a small town compared to other cities in central New Spain and its economic base was still primarily agricultural. Census data from the nineteenth century indicates that the socio-economic life of both San Esteban and Saltillo still appeared to be primarily tied to agriculture and ranching. The following tables indicate the occupational breakdown of San Esteban and Saltillo soon after independence.
409 Baptismal records for San Esteban rarely listed if ever listed the residential status of parents or godparents from areas outside of San Esteban before 1800, but in the early nineteenth century, outside areas, especially San Luis Potos and Real de Catorce, were listed as place of origin with more frequency. 410 Juan Javier Pescador. De bautizados a fieles difuntos: Familia y mentalidades en una parroguia urbana, 1568-1820 (MexicoCity: El Colegio de Mxico): 122.
Table 42: 1828 San Esteban Census-Occupations Agricultural worker 297 lawyer Artisan 72 scribe Day laborer 209 state worker Miner 0 (unreadable listing) Mine worker 4 military Muleteer 10 (unreadable listing) Priest 1 merchant Deputy 0 doctor Ecclesiastic 0 surgeon Regular orders 0 druggist Students 2 barber/bleeder School teacher 4
0 0 0 0 0 0 25 0 0 0 4
Table 43: 1830 Villa Longn (formerly San Esteban) Census-Occupations Agricultural worker 317 lawyer 0 Artisan 10 scribe 0 Day laborer 369 state worker 0 Miner 0 (unreadable listing) 0 Mine worker 6 military 0 Muleteer 9 (unreadable listing) 0 Priest 1 merchant 232 Deputy 0 doctor 0 Ecclesiastic 0 surgeon 0 Cleric 0 druggist 0 Regular orders 0 barber/bleeder 3 Student 1 school teacher 3
Table 44: 1829 Leona Vicario (formerly Saltillo) Census-Occupations
Agricultural worker Artisan Day laborer Miner Mine worker Muleteer Priest Deputy Ecclesiastic Cleric Regular orders Student
3,500 807 700 0 20 200 1 2 0 7 2 14
lawyer scribe state worker (unreadable listing) military (retired) (unreadable listing) merchant doctor surgeon druggist barber/bleeder school teacher
10 0 2 5 3 0 109 2 0 2 9 3
Table 45: 1830 Leona Vicario (formerly Saltillo) Census-Occupations Agricultural worker Artisan Day laborer Miner Mine worker Muleteer Priest Deputy Ecclesiastic Cleric Regular orders Student 3,522 915 800 0 20 405 1 2 0 6 2 11 lawyer scribe state worker (unreadable listing) military (unreadable listing) merchant doctor surgeon druggist barber/bleeder school teacher 8 0 5 5 6 1 315 1 0 2 25 1
Conclusion In, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages, William Taylor writes that "village uprisings may have expressed a defiant isolationism in reaction to change imposed from the outside."411 Yet, he also acknowledges that "village independence was usually more of a fantasy than a reality."412 This was certainly the case for the residents of San Esteban. In petitions and legal disputes they are involved in a constant struggle to keep outsiders out of their town, but documentary evidence reveals that relations between Tlaxcalans and other groups was more complex. When the residents of San Esteban fought to remain "isolated" and to keep non-Tlaxcalans outside of their community, it does not appear they believed they might be able to limit all contact with outsiders. This was in fact impossible, given their proximity to Saltillo. As the population of Saltillo grew and colonial society became more race-conscious, Tlaxcalans and other indigenous people felt increasing pressures and thus reacted by reasserting social boundaries so that they could protect the self-defined group's rights and resources. It was a short-term strategy, designed to fit immediate needs, but it was a practical response that reflected their understanding of local culture and politics.
411 William Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford University Presss, 1979): 153.
Hence, Tlaxcalans may have chosen not to marry outside of the group, but they still interacted with the community of Saltillo. Compadrazgo records indicate that Tlaxcalans formed social bonds with residents of La Villa. In fact, it appears as if members of San Esteban most often chose residents of Saltillo to serve as godparents to their children in the latter years of the colonial period. For the residents of San Esteban, social contact (as exemplified through the compadrazgo system) served the practical purpose of solidifying what appeared to be a patron-client relationship. The existence of this contact did not mean that these were not unequal relations entered into by each group for self-interested reasons. Finally, it should be noted that studies of indigenous uprisings have perhaps over emphasized indigenous people's need for isolation within their villages because documentary evidence about these uprisings do indicate that indigenous people said they were fighting to keep outsiders out.413 The goals expressed by leaders or members of the community in those moments of tension and violence reflect a distilled over-simplified version of the community's broader
William Taylor, Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979): 27. 413 Eric Van Young writes, "Certainly, the ringing of village church bells was important in its own right, often serving to call rural people to the defense of their pueblos during the rebellion or to mobilize them for the insurgent or royalist cause. Such ringing, however, was only the aural manifestation of a deeper projection of community into the outside world and ultimately of the impulse toward communal auto-projecection of community into the outside world and ultimately of the impulse toward communal auto-defense that drove much of indigenous and more generally rural participation in the anticolonial insurgency." The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and the Mexican Struggle for Independence, 1810-1821 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001): 484.
concerns. What they wanted to limit was abusive behavior and detrimental policies.
CHAPTER 8 Resistance and Adaptation
In recent years scholars have noted that there was an increase in the number of popular riots during the eighteenth century.414 Although there were few widespread rebellions, there is evidence to suggest that communities collectively protested Bourbon policies, for example. It is through the study of such events that we are able to develop an understanding of popular culture and the forces that fomented popular rebellion. Although these riots only describe relatively brief moments in the history of indigenous communities, it is because much attention has been given to such outstanding events that we now know that many communities were dissatisfied with colonial reforms and that they came together to speak out against these changes. Yet, we are only now beginning to comprehend how the bulk of society, and especially indigenous people, were affected by the political, economic, and social changes that took place in the late
414 I will use the terms riot, rebellion, insurrection, and insurgency movements in this chapter, but they are not interchangeable terms. William Taylor defines insurrection as "regional revolts, in which whole zones of rural people band together in a violent assault on state authority and privileged classes." In his terminology rebellion is also a violent act, but they are more localized mass actions, "generally limited to restoring a customary equilibrium" and "do not offer new ideas or a vision of a new society." Drinking, Homicide, and Rebellion in Colonial Mexican Villages, 113-115.
colonial period and how they interpreted such events.415 Even though the Tlaxcalans of San Esteban expressed dismay over the changes they saw taking place around them and that apparently transformed their lives, there is scant evidence to support the notion that they rose up or planned to rise up violently against the colonial order. Despite of this, they did not sit idly by, but protested in ways that historically had best served their community and that were acceptable to colonial authorities. Northern Tlaxcalans used legal means and petitions to express their discontent but they also innovated by turning towards their original parent colony in Tlaxcala for help. Why did the Tlaxcalans in the north not rise up collectively to violently protest the changes that were taking place? Were they so apolitical that they had no consciousness of their place within the colonial order? Were they simply not as deeply affected as other indigenous communities? Is there a point when groups will no longer accept the imposition of governmental policies and will lash out? Through the study of Tlaxcalan letters, petitions, legal disputes, and criminal records this chapter will analyze San Esteban's response to late colonial policies and will analyze the political culture of
In a discussion of eighteenth century rebellions in New Granada Anthony Mcfarlane writes, "To seek any general hypothesis that might explain the causes, frequency, and distribution of these disparate events would be premature. In many cases, the information provided by contemporary sources is very limited, and the uneven and inconsistent quality of the primary data makes it difficult fully to investigate and compare reported cases of civil disorder. The problems posed by the primary sources are compounded by the paucity of local and regional histories of New Granada. Until studies of the social, economic, and political life of the communities in which these disturbances occurred become available, it is impossible to comment with confidence on how common such disturbances were, or on their relationship to social and economic conditions.." "Civil Disorders and Popular Protests in Late Colonial New Granada," Hispanic American Historical Review 64:1 (1984): 44.
the Tlaxcalans in order to develop an understanding of why they acted as they did during what appeared to be a pivotal time in their history. This chapter argues that the available evidence describes an indigenous community whose behavior was pro-Tlaxcalan, but not necessarily anti-colonial. Indeed, scholars have been too intent on finding anti-colonial projects as markers of political consciousness and have ignored the everyday ways communities chose to oppose policies they felt negatively affected their interests. In addition, those incidents where Tlaxcalans are accused of organizing against or speaking unfavorably of the colonial order seem to more accurately describe a fear amongst Spaniards and Creoles of indigenous rebellion and of any type of challenge to late colonial policies. This final chapter will also speculate as to the lack of indigenous rebellions at the end of the colonial period. It should be noted that although we can learn much about indigenous societies by analyzing rebellions, a focus on such outstanding events might induce us to see indigenous people as continually defensive actors. Steve Stern argues that a more fruitful approach to the study of peasant rebellions is not to ask "why a politically dominant and traditionalist peasant mass suddenly became insurrectionary, but rather why, at specific moments, ongoing peasant resistance and self-defense increasingly took the form of collective violence against
established authority."416 There are a variety of external and internal factors that shape a community's or group's response in times of crisis. It would be simplistic to point to one event that ultimately convinced them that this moment required violent action on their part. This final chapter hopes to shed light on how indigenous people chose to live their lives in the late colonial period. The Bourbon Reforms and the Tlaxcalans' Response Charles III ascended to the throne in 1759 and consequently tried to make "Spain a great power through state reform, imperial defense, and control of colonial resources."417 What followed were a series of policies designed to maximize Spain's control of its colonies and increase colonial revenue. In 1767 the Jesuit order was expelled from the Americas, as part of a broader attack on Church power and wealth. New taxes were developed, Creole participation in colonial government was reduced and government was also centralized through the creation of new administrative units or intendencias.418 One of the immediate changes that resulted because of the new Bourbon policies was the creation of the Comandancia General de las Provincias Internas in 1776. David Adams argues that this change did not dramatically affect the residents of San Esteban. The two administrative changes that did have an impact
Steve Stern, ed. Resistance, Rebellion, and Consciousness in the Andean Peasant World, 18th to 20th Centuries (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987): 9-10. 417 John Lynch, Bourbon Spain, 1700-1808 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1989): 250. 418 Lynch, Bourbon Spain, 329-374.
on Tlaxcalan society, he argues, were that the districts of Saltillo and Parras (which had been part of Nueva Vizcaya) became part of the province of Coahuila in 1787, thus bringing them closer to the jurisdictional center of Monclova, Coahuila. Also that year, the intendancy system was extended to Coahuila thus giving local agents of the intendancy greater power than district alcaldes. Adams writes, Thus, the subdelegate at Saltillo was authorized to preside over meetings of Amerindian cabildos in his district, to audit their accounts, and to review their land titles. Previously, the capitn protector had discharged these duties. Under the intendancy system, San Esteban retained its protector, but he, in effect, became nothing more than a municipal attorney.419 Whereas in earlier times the residents of San Esteban could choose to ignore the decrees enacted by a far off ruler, in the late eighteenth century they had a more difficult time keeping the colonial system from intruding in their lives as the government was suddenly much closer. Ebven before these administrative changes took place in 1787 he Tlaxcalans expressed dismay over changing colonial policies. In August of 1781 the cabildo of San Esteban took the unusual step of contacting their parent colony in Tlaxcala to ask for their assistance with their current problems.420 This had not been done since 1758 when San Esteban had received correspondence from
David B. Adams, "Borderland Communities in Conflict: Saltillo, San Esteban, and the Struggle for Municipal Autonomy, 1591-1838," Locus 6:1 (1993):48. 420Miguel Lira y Ortega, Coleccin de documentos para la historia de Tlaxcala y Mxico (Tlaxcala: Gobierno del Estado de Tlaxcala-FONAPAS, 1982): 193-199.
central Tlaxcala. According to the residents of San Esteban they had no other recourse but to contact the parent colony, as they "could only seek shelter from God, Our Father, and you." In this letter the northern Tlaxcalans outlined a variety of complaints. The first and apparently the most distressing was that the comantande general of the province of Nueva Vizcaya had notified them that from then on they would be under the jurisdiction of Nueva Vizcaya and not of New Spain, despite of the fact that the founding documents of the town stated that San Esteban would always be under the jurisdiction of the viceroy. On July of that year the comandante showed them a letter stating that the town of San Esteban would now have to abide by the rulings of the Saltillo town council. Their capitn protector therefore would consequently not have ultimate say in their town. They write, Likewise as you are our parents we will discuss what we experienced with our lieutenant captain protector, Don Pedro Francisco de la Fuente Fernndez, and the points regarding the governors and town council. It was made evident by a royal order issued by the Royal Tribunal in Mexico City, which states that the protector's jurisdiction should be over civil and criminal matters, but that he should not intervene in matters dealing with fights, drinking, testaments, inventories, and land allocations according to the laws that are cited. But the said liutenant does not comply,...it has been ordered that he be subordinated and in addition the general commander has notified us that neither now nor in the future will the government of New Spain be acknowledged, in all our activities...since our founding it has always been noted that New Spain had jurisdiction over us and that their laws have been implemented by the capitn protector. And even though we have told the said lieutenant of the tools that are in our archive that speak in our favor so that he will be informed of this, he does not abide...he does not execute his obligation to defend and shelter us 275
as our only superior...he has this position to defend us and to protect all our lands and the rest that are offered to us...on the 21st day of July of this present year said Seor presented us with a letter where he lets us know how he [capitn protector] should not civil and criminal matters, only those that are pending, the rest will be transferred to the Alcalde Mayor of the Villa of Saltillo, for his decisioins,...we are confused over whether to obey said commander who until now has not acknowledges us in any way.421 Their past struggles with the Villa of Saltillo clearly demonstrated to the Tlaxcalans that this new arrangement would not favor them. In a broader sense their dissatisfaction also illustrates how Bourbon policies might have affected indigenous communities throughout the kingdom. Anthony Mcfarlane notes that indigenous peoples had a clear sense of how the government affected their lives. They held a "minimal and residual notion of freedom [that] was nurtured by the
"Asmismo y como a nuestros padres nos precisa a manifestar lo que experimentamos con nuestro teniente de capitn protector; Don Pedro Francisco de la Fuente Fernndez, las disfrazadas cuestiones son (?) los, y gobernadores, y cabildo, como consta por un mandamiento real expedido, por la Real Audiencia, de la Ciudad de Mxico, en que manda que la Jurisdiccin, del dicho Protector sea en lo civil, y criminalmente, pero rias, embriagueces, testamentos, en inventarios, y reparticiones, no debe intervenir en el mtodo por las leyes que cita. Pero el dicho teniente no cumple, por lo que se manda en ella, sino sumamente sea subordinado, y lo que ms es, desde la conduccin, el Seor Comandante General, nos tiene notificados, en que ni ahora ni subsecuentemente se ha de notar la Gobernacin de la Nueva Espaa, en todas nuestras diligencias, redicidas, adscrito solo de Nueva Vizcaya siendo as que desde la fundacin, siempre se han notado que en todas nuestras diligencias, que nuestra Jurisdiccin es de la Nueva Espaa, y se ha manejado por el capitn Protector, y aunque manifestamos con el dicho teniente los instrumentos que tenemos en nuestro archivo, y hablan a nuestro favor para su mayor instruccin lo que no cumple, solo si lleva apuro y debido efecto, sin ejecutar con su obligacin en defendernos, ampararnos, como a nuestro nico Superior, pues nos hacemos de cargo obtiene dicho empleo, para nuestra mayor proteccin, y defensa de todas nuestras tierras, y dems que nos ofrece, pues a mayor abundamiento, en el dia veinte y uno del mes de Julio de este presente ao, nos demostr una carta el dicho seor, en que le hace saber como no tocarle, ni pertenecerle, tocante en las causas civiles, y criminales, solo los que tuviere pendientes, las pasar con el alcalde mayor de la Villa del Saltillo, para su conclusin, y los que sucesivamente le ofrecieren admitiendo las apelaciones en la Audiencia de Guadalajara; lo que en esto nos hallamos muy confusos de obedecer, lo que sucediere por dicho Seor Comandante, que hasta la presente no nos ha hecho notoriedad alguna."
colonial experience of government. Despite its imposing structure of law and bureaucracy, Spanish government...held only loose control over the mass of the population."422 As we have previously seen Spanish officials aptly utilized state ritual to establish control over the colonies, but their policies and laws were only loosely enforced because they lacked the resources to police all corners of the empire. The Tlaxcalans continue, As it is evident that the Audiencia of Guadalajara should not have jurisdiction in Tlaxala, nor the Alcalde Mayor of the Villa of Saltillo, nor the Governor of Nueva Vizcaya, nor any other inferior Tribunal with or without evidence, we have already manifested where it is convenient, and we have expressed this to the lieutenant, but he does not protect us, nor defend us but he, along with the neighbors of the Villa, does tell us how this community should be governed.423 By giving the mayor of Saltillo jurisdiction over the civil and criminal matter of San Esteban, authorities brought the full force of the colonial state much closer to the average colonial.424 Hence, John Lynch argues that the primary
Anthony Mcfarlane, "Civil Disorders and Popular Protests in Late Colonial Granada," Hispanic American Historical Review 64:1 (1984): 53. 423 "...como as consta, de que no debe tener jurisdiccin en la Nueva Tlaxcala, la Audiencia de Guadalajara, ni el Alcalde Mayor de la Villa del Saltillo, ni el Gobernador de la Nueva Viscaya, ni otro cualesquiera, otro Tribunal superior, o inferior con o sin constantes, ya hemos manifestado donde conbenga, y de este entraablemente, experimentamos con el expresado teniente, pues no nos ampara, y no nos defiende antes si introduciendo con sus allegados vecinos de la otra Villa, y manifestndoles , las consecuencias en el modo como se gobierno este comn, y en estas circunstancias" 424 In writing about the Comunero revolt in Colombia John L. Phelan notes, " deeply imbedded in the documents of the Comunero Revolution is the belief that unjust laws were invalid and that inherent in the corpus mysticum politicum was the right to some form of popular approval of new taxation. The citizens of New Granada were the heirs of a tradition of bureaucratic decentralization that had slowly but steadily evolved during the reigns of the Habsburgs and early Bourbons. The 'unwritten constitution' provided that basic decisions were reached by informal consultation between the royal bureaucracy and the King's colonial subjects. Usually there emerged a workable compromise between what the central authorities ideally wanted and what
difference between Hapsburg and Bourbon government was that one ruled by consensus and the other was absolutist.425 He writes, ...local oligarchies no longer functioned in the same way as their ancestors; colonial society was now locked into the royal administration. In the process interest groups became more exploitative and saw themselves as part of the imperial elite with a right to share in the gains of empire. Their own demands on Indian labor were not really compatible with the crown's new charges on Indian tax payers in the decades after 1750. There was now competition between exploiters. Spanish America in the late eighteenth century was the scene of irreconcilables. On the American side entrenched interests and expectations of preferment; on the Spanish greater fiscal demands and fewer political concessions.426 Tlaxcalans therefore feared that this local change would limit their freedoms and consequently sought to continue their present state of affairs. Although the Tlaxcalans' greatest concern was over who had political jurisdiction in San Esteban, they also expressed dismay over the manner in which the residents of Saltillo encroached on their lands and damaged their grazing lands and farms. They state, ...we suffer many vexations, both with the said lieutenant and the neighbors [of Saltillo] they are taking away our lands and they are damaging our farms, grazing lands, and agostaderos...we have tried to fully satisfy your Excellency and to refer to our aforementioned privileges and so we ask that through your benign
local conditions and pressures would realistically tolerate. Crisis of 1781 was a constitutional clash between imperial centralization and colonial decentralization." The People and the King: The Comunero Revolution in Colombia (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1978): xviii. 425 Phelan, The People and the King, 333. 426 Ibid, 372.
greatness you will send us another capitn protector so that he will shelter us and protect us...427 What did the residents of San Esteban expect from their parent colony? It is unclear how the letter arrived in the central Tlaxcalans, so we cannot know if there were any meetings or discussions amongst these parties where they talked about anything other than what was spelled out in this dispatch. In the letter they write, In whose attention, we await the highest protection and solace as we have referred to some tools that will help us defend our priviliges and...every time that they infringe upon us, as has been done by them in the past, and in these terms we explain all that has befallen us, and so we will restore our dishonor. As your sons it should be that you participate in our wishes and pleasures, and so we are obliged every time we see your letters...428 When the Tlaxcalans asked for "some tools they could use to defend their privileges," they were most likely asking for documents that spelled out the privileges given to the Tlaxcalans by royal authorities. The residents of San Esteban commonly used royal letters and papers that either belonged to their
427 "...padecemos tantas vejaciones, as con el dicho teniente, como con los otros vecinos, en nuestras tierras, las estn cercenando, como en lo dems daos a nuestras sementeras, y pastos, en nuestros agostaderos, y dems que no referimos, propasndose en todo lo mandado, por tanto tuvimos por bien de dar entera satisfaccin a su Excelencia y a deducir nuestros dichos fueros y privilegios, y a suplicar su grande benignidad, se sirva de proveernos de otro capitn protector general, para nuestra mayor defensa y amparo..." Coleccin de documentos para la historia de Tlaxcala, 193-199. 428 "En cuya atencin, esperamos el mayor amparo, y consuelo como tenemos referido de algunos instrumentos, en que podemos defender nuestros privilegios y...cada que nos ofrezca (contravencin), en donde como en los dems que de l han procedido, y en estos trminos explicamos todo lo que nos ha acaecido, y restituimos nuestras deshonras. Porque como hijos de Uds. es fuerza que sean participes en nuestros gustos y placeres, y quecamos obligados cada que veamos las letras de Uds., la que rendidamente, y con todo nuestro fraternal amor ejecutamos."
community or to that of the original Tlaxcalans to support their claims. They clearly are not asking for help in organizing a local rebellion. In addition, the Tlaxcalans' actions may have been shaped by their previous experiences, but they were not provincial. They had a larger world-view that stretched beyond their community. They may not have reached out to other indigenous or casta groups in the region, but they understood that their universe extended beyond the confines of their town and consequently sought out help from their far off parent colony in central New Spain.429 Finally, this letter illustrates the Tlaxcalans' understanding of how colonial government functioned. Although they outlined many complaints against local and regional authorities, they also made sure to point out that they remained loyal vassals of the king. After condemning the policy that placed them under the
Primo Feliciano Velzquez, Coleccin de documentos para la historia de San Luis Potos. Vol. 14 (San Luis Potos: Archivo Historico de San Luis Potos, 1985): 193-199. 429 This would contrast with Eric Van Young's assessment of indigenous villages. He wrties, "Certainly, the ringing of village church bells was important in its own right, often serving to call rural people to the defense of their pueblos during the rebellion or to mobilize them for the insurgent or royalist cause. Such ringing, however was only the aural manifestation of a deeper projection of community into the outside world and ultimately of the impulse toward communal auto-defense that drove much of indigenous and more generally rural participation in the anticolonial insurgency. I have already traced the continuity both typological and ideological between village disturbances of the late colonial period and similar eruptions over much of central New Spain after 1810. Here, the task is to explore more deeply the wellsprings of village identity in demonstrating how the fundamental axes of historical memory, time and sacrality converged in the communal space. Since it has left the most abundant documentation, it turns out that contention over land is perhaps the best route into the interior of village life and its basic cognitive categories, notwithstanding my insistence that agrarian conflict per se was not at the heart of popular insurgency. The manner in which collective memory, the reckoning of time, and the sacral landscape combined in the forging of village identity explains much about the political horizons of the rural people, patters of collective action in the countryside, and villagers' messianically tinged political discourse." The Other Rebellion: Popular Violence, Ideology, and
jurisdiction of Saltillo, they write, "despite of these [complaints] we await your response and we say that we will obey, as always we will acknowledge your Excellency as long [as his rulings] match our respective Royal Edicts and laws that were acquired from the Excellent Viceroys."430 Their show of deference is clearly tempered by their claim that the documents they hold may have greater vali...