Tepehua - History and Cultural Relations

Little is known about the pre-Columbian history of the Tepehua. One theory is that for a long time they occupied the region in which they are now found and have been reduced in numbers as the Otomí moved in from the south. During the colonial period, Tepehua lands were turned over to Spanish owners without proper authority. At various times, some of their lands were placed under the control of the Catholic church. After independence, Tepehua communal lands were divided, and the titles were gradually acquired by mestizos. The Mexican Revolution provided some redress of the land imbalance. For example, before the Revolution, only 2 lots among the lands of San Pedro Tzilzacuapan, Veracruz, were legally in the hands of Indians. In 1926, after the Revolution, 56 were registered to Indians, as opposed to 172 to mestizos (Williams García 1963, 90). Struggles with mestizos unwilling to have lands classified as ejidos led to armed conflict in the early 1930s. "White guards," armed bands of mestizo ranchers, terrorized Indians at that time. The southern Huasteca was still an area of agrarian conflict in the 1990s.

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