|Anthropology, Articles, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Native Americans/First Nation, Slavery on 2016-04-05 01:49Z by Steven|
The Latin American Diaries
Institute of Latin American Studies
Laura A. Lewis, Professor of Latin American Anthropology
University of Southampton
During the early colonial period, Mexico had one of the largest African slave populations in Latin America. Today, there are numerous historically black communities along the coast of the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca – a region known as the Costa Chica. Towards the end of the 16th century, the Spanish Crown granted tracts of land in the region to several conquistadors who had quelled local Indian resistance. These conquistadors brought to the coast cattle for ranching, and – in the colonial vernacular – blacks and mulattoes, both free and enslaved, to work as cowboys, in agriculture, and as overseers, including of Indian labor.
As time went on, two ethnic zones developed: the foothills and highlands of the Sierra Madre del Sur mountain range at the Costa Chica’s northern edge held Indian communities, while the zone closest to the coast became an ethnic mix that included Indians drawn willingly or unwillingly into the colonial ambit. On the coast, blacks, mulattoes and Indians worked together for Spaniards. Indians also taught blacks and mulattoes native healing, agricultural techniques and local building styles. Because demographics tilted towards African-descent males, informal and formal unions between them and Indian women were common. By the middle of the 17th century, many coastal belt villages were Afro-Indigenous…
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