Triqui - History and Cultural Relations

During the middle of the fifteenth century, the Triqui, together with the Mixtec, were subjugated by the fifth Aztec monarch, who built a fortress on their lands. They witnessed the wars between the Mixtec kings of Achiutla and Tuxtepec and probably took part in the conflicts on the side of the former, the territory of which lay nearer the Triqui area.

During the Spanish Conquest, the social and cultural situation of the Triqui must have been similar to that of the agrarian communities subordinate to the Mixtec ceremonial centers. Triqui communities, which were autonomous up to a point, did not suffer drastic changes in their sociopolitical organization. There were existing agreements according to which a powerful Mixtec cacique would pledge to defend them in exchange for their tribute and, in case of war, a supply of warriors.

During the early period of colonization in the state of Oaxaca, the Spaniards took over the best lands in the valleys and fertile lowland riverine areas, but did not bother with the mountainous, less fertile terrain, which was perhaps one of the reasons Triqui agrarian communities maintained their descent groups and held on to many cultural values. The Triqui constituted a "cultural island" within a wide Mixtec area. They occupied high, cold, misty mountains that were not inviting to the visitor; however, the lowlands, with a temperate climate and mountains of lesser elevation, proved appropriate, at the beginning of the twentieth century, for the cultivation of coffee. The export of the beans outside the Triqui area furthered the process of acculturation of the low-lying area to neighboring mestizo populations. In the latter, commercial demands favored the penetration of private property side by side with communal property, leading to a gradual deterioration of the communal social organization. In contrast, the traditional organization of the mountainous region suffered lesser modifications.

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