2
Mexico's Early Inhabitants

At the end of the fifteenth century Spanish explorers stumbled upon the peoples of Mesoamerica, finding sophisticated societies with advanced political, social, economic, and religious systems. In writing about their impressions of the Indians, the Spanish were both impressed by and contemptuous of the native population. But as they took over Indian land, wealth, and control of the people, the Spanish succumbed to a condescending viewpoint. Imbued with the zealous spirit of Catholicism and flush with military victory over the Muslims who had controlled the Iberian peninsula for centuries, they regarded the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica as inferior.

When Christopher Columbus encountered the Arawak peoples on the islands of the Bahamas in 1492, he wrote admiringly yet ominously about this meeting. He spoke of their willingness to provide for the Spanish: "they willingly traded everything they owned." He described their striking features: "they were well built, with good bodies and handsome features . . . they do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane." Columbus described their behavior with a new implement as ignorant. His contemptuous view of the Arawaks was further revealed when he wrote,

-13-

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The History of Mexico
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Advisory Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Foreword vii
  • Preface xi
  • Timeline of Historical Events xiii
  • 1 - Mexico Today 1
  • 2 - Mexico's Early Inhabitants 13
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - The Conquest 31
  • Notes 46
  • 4 - The Colonial Era, 1521-1821 47
  • Notes 72
  • 5 - The Wars of Mexican Independence, 1808-1821 75
  • Notes 88
  • 6 - The Aftermath of Independence, 1821-1876 89
  • Notes 110
  • 7 - The Porfiriato, 1876-1911 113
  • Notes 128
  • 8 - The Mexican Revolution, 1910-1920 131
  • Notes 153
  • 9 - Consolidation of the Revolution 155
  • Notes 172
  • 10 - The Revolution Moves to the Right, 1940-1970 175
  • Notes 191
  • 11 - The Search for Stability, 1970-1999 193
  • Notes 213
  • Notable People in the History of Mexico 215
  • Bibliographic Essay 227
  • Index 235
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