Amuzgo - History and Cultural Relations

Information on the history of the Amuzgo is very scarce, although some data can be reconstructed from tangential sources. From Mixtec codices it is known that around the year A . D . 1000 the Mixtec king Eight Deer was recognized as a Mixtec ruler in a ceremony that took place in Jicayan, a place near the eastern Amuzgo region and the boundary of the Tututepec domain. This leads one to deduce that Amuzgo pueblos must have existed since that time. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the western part of the Amuzgo area, in the present state of Guerrero, including centers of Amuzgo populations like Ayotzinapa (which has no Amuzgo population today) and Xochistlahuaca, an area controlled by the province of Ayacastla and inhabited mainly by Ometepec and Igualapa, was under Aztec domination. Around the Amuzgo area, besides Mixtec, there were Chatina-, Ayacatzec-, Nahua-, Cahuatec-, Tzintec-, and Tlapanec-speaking pueblos. On two Mixtec lienzos (painted deerskins), those of Zacatepec and Jicayan (dated 1550), wherein boundaries are described, there appears a glyph with the name of the town of Amuzgos: a ball ending in an element resembling threads, as it were a cotton seed, with the Mixtec name ñuñama, "town of the cotton ball." The Relación de Xalapa, Cintla, and Acatlán of 1580 shows several capitals dependent on the alcaldía mayor (area governed by an alcalde mayor), which included estancias (towns) where Amuzgo was spoken: Xicayan de Tovar, Ayocinapa, Ometepec, Suchistlahuaca, and Ihualapa. Many of these towns were devastated by the Spanish invasion and epidemics related to it. Pedro de Alvarado began the conquest of the southern coast, and the conquistador Tristán de Luna y Arellano, under the Perpetual Estate of the Marshall of Castile, developed one of the largest landed estates of the area, which included part of Amuzgo territory. The estate disintegrated during the first half of the nineteenth century because of disputes over succession. After haciendas were established in the area, the indigenous population suffered the consequences of new economic activities: cattle raising led to the destruction of cultivatable land, and a system of forced labor was imposed in conjunction with the production of sugarcane and cochineal.

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