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Chichimeca (Spanish [tʃitʃiˈmeka] ) was the

name that the Nahua peoples of Mexico
generically applied to nomadic and semi-nomadic
peoples who were established in present-day
Bajio region of Mexico. Chichimeca carried the
same sense as the Roman term "barbarian" to
describe Germanic tribes. The name, with its
pejorative sense, was adopted by the Spanish
Empire. For the Spanish, in the words of scholar
Charlotte M. Gradie, "the Chichimecas were a
wild, nomadic people who lived north of the
Valley of Mexico. They had no fixed dwelling
places, lived by hunting, wore little clothes and
fiercely resisted foreign intrusion into their
Map of the location of prominent Chichimeca peoples around 1550.
territory, which happened to contain silver mines
Map only reflects core areas, as these tribes moved freely back and
the Spanish wished to exploit."[1] forth from what is now southern Utah and had definite settlements in
what is now Texas.
In modern times, only one ethnic group is
customarily referred to as Chichimecs, namely the
Chichimeca Jonaz, a few thousand of whom live in the state ofGuanajuato.

Overview and identity
Ethnohistorical descriptions
Wars with the Spanish

Overview and identity

The Chichimeca people consisted of eight nations that spoke different languages. As the Spaniards worked towards consolidating the
rule of New Spain over the indigenous peoples during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Chichimecan nations resisted
fiercely, although a number of native groups of the region allied with the Spanish. The most long-lasting of these conflicts (1550–91)
was the Chichimeca War, resulting in the defeat of theSpanish Empire and a decisive victory for the Chichimeca Confederation.

Many of the peoples known broadly as Chichimeca are virtually unknown today; few descriptions recorded their names and they
seem to have been absorbed into mestizo culture or into other indigenous ethnic groups. For example, virtually nothing is known
about the peoples referred to as the Guachichil, Caxcan, Zacateco, Tecuexe, or Guamare. Others, such as the Opata or Eudeve, are
well described in records but extinct as a people.
Still other Chichimec peoples maintain separate identities into the present day, such as the Otomi, Chichimeca Jonaz, Cora, Huichol,
Pame, Yaqui, Mayo, O'odham and the Tepehuan peoples.

The Nahuatl name Chīchīmēcah (plural, pronounced [tʃiːtʃiːˈmeːkaʔ]; singular Chīchīmēcatl) means "inhabitants of Chichiman,"
Chichiman meaning "area of milk." It is sometimes said to be related to chichi "dog", but the is in chichi are both short while those in
Chīchīmēcah are long, which changes thw meaning asvowel length is phonemic in Nahuatl.[2]

The Nahua originally used the word "Chichimeca" to refer to their own ancient history as a nomadic hunter-gatherer group, in
contrast to their later, more urban culture, which they identified as Toltecatl.[3] In modern Mexico, the word "Chichimeca" can have
pejorative connotations such as "primitive," "savage," "uneducated," and "native."

Ethnohistorical descriptions
The first descriptions of "Chichimecs" are from the early colonization period. In 1526, Hernán Cortés wrote a letter about the
northern Chichimec tribes, who were not as "civilized" to him as the Aztecs. He commented that they might be enslaved and used to
work in the mines.

The Chicimec, Caxcanes and other indigenous people of Northern Mexico fought against Spanish military forces, such as Nuño
Beltrán de Guzmán, when they began trying to enslave them. Their fight against Spanish military forces became known as the
Mixtón Rebellion.

In the late sixteenth century, Gonzalo de las Casas wrote about the Chichimec. He had received an encomienda near Durango and
fought in the wars against the Chichimec peoples: the Pame, the Guachichile, the Guamari and the Zacateco, who lived in the area
known at the time as "La Gran Chichimeca." Las Casas' account was called Report of the Chichimeca and the Justness of the War
Against Them. He described the people, providing ethnographic information. He wrote that they only covered their genitalia with
clothing; painted their bodies; and ate only game, roots and berries. He mentioned, in order to prove their supposed barbarity, that
Chichimec women, having given birth, continued traveling on the same day without stopping to recover.[4] While las Casas
recognized that the Chichimecan tribes spoke dif
ferent languages, he considered their culture to be primarily uniform.

In the late 16th century the Chichimeca did not worship deities as did many of the surrounding indigenous peoples[5] and in the eyes
of the Franciscan priest Alonso Ponce this was an indication that the Chicimeca had a barbarous nature. Bernardino de Sahagún's
Historia general de las cosas de Nueva Españaprovides a fuller account: he describes some Chichimec people, such as the Otomi, as
knowing agriculture, living in settled communities, and having a religion devoted to the worship of the moon.

Early sources was typical of the era in their efforts to spread propaganda that the natives were "savages" - accomplished at war and
hunting, but with no established society or morals, and prone to fighting among themselves. This stereotype became even more
prevalent during the course of the Chichimec wars, acting as a justification for the wars.

The first description of a modern objective ethnography of the peoples inhabiting La Gran Chichimeca was done by Norwegian
naturalist and explorer Carl Sofus Lumholtz in 1890 when he traveled on muleback through northwestern Mexico, meeting the
indigenous peoples on friendly terms. With his descriptions of the rich and different cultures of the various "uncivilized" tribes, the
picture of the uniform Chichimec barbarians was changed – although in Mexican Spanish the word "Chichimeca" remains connected
to an image of "savagery".

The historian Paul Kirchhoff, in his work The Hunting-Gathering People of North Mexico, described the Chichimecas as sharing a
hunter-gatherer culture, based on the gathering of mesquite, agave, and tunas (the fruit of the nopal), with others also using acorns,
roots and seeds. In some areas, the Chichimeca cultivated maize and calabash. From the mesquite, the Chichamecs made white bread
and wine. Many Chichimec tribes used the juice of theagave as a substitute for water when it was in short supply

Wars with the Spanish

Chichimeca military strikes against the Spanish included raidings, ambushing critical economic routes, and pillaging. In the long-
running Chichimeca War (1550–1590), the Spanish initially attempted to defeat the combined Chichimeca peoples in a war of "fire
and blood", but eventually sought peace as they were unable to defeat them. The Chichimeca's small-scale raids proved effective. To
end the war, the Spanish adopted a "Purchase for Peace" program by providing foods, tools, livestock, and land to the Chichimecas,
sending Spanish to teach them agriculture as a livelihood, and by passively converting them to Catholicism. Within a century, the
Spanish and Chichimeca were assimilated.[6]

1. Gradie, Charlotte M. "Discovering the Chichimecas"Academy of American Franciscan History, Vol 51, No. 1 (July
1994), p. 68
2. See Andrews 2003 (pp.496 and 507), Karttunen 1983 (p.48), and Lockhart 2001 (p.214)
3. This term caused confusion in later scholarship, as it was understood to refer to a specific ethnic group.
4. As cited in Gradie (1994).
5. http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/aztecs/Chichimecas.pdf
6. Powell, Phillip Wayne (1952), Soldiers, Indians & Silver, Berkeley: U of California Press, pp. 182-199;LatinoLA |
Comunidad :: Indigenous Origins(http://latinola.com/story.php?story=2600)

Andrews, J. Richard (2003).Introduction to Classical Nahuatl(Revised ed.). Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Gradie, Charlotte M. (1994). "Discovering the Chichimeca".Americas. The Americas, Vol. 51, No. 1. 51 (1): 67–88.
doi:10.2307/1008356. JSTOR 1008356.
Karttunen, Frances (1983). An Analytical Dictionary of Nahuatl. Austin: University of Texas Press.
Lockhart, James (2001). Nahuatl as Written. Stanford University Press.
Lumholtz, Carl (1987) [1900]. Unknown Mexico, Explorations in the Sierra Madre and Other Regions, 1890-1898. 2
vols (reprint ed.). New York: Dover Publications.
Powell, Philip Wayne (1969). Soldiers, Indians, & Silver: The Northward Advance of New Spain, 1550-1600 .
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Secretariá de Turismo del Estado de Zacatecas (2005). "Zonas Arqueológicas"(in Spanish).
Smith, Michael E. (1984). "The Aztlan Migrations of Nahuatl Chronicles: Myth or History?"(PDF online facsimile).
Ethnohistory. Columbus, OH: American Society for Ethnohistory. 31 (3): 153–186. doi:10.2307/482619. ISSN 0014-
1801. JSTOR 482619. OCLC 145142543.

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This page was last edited on 8 February 2018, at 11:55.

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