900 – 1700AD
The Mixtec were also known as the Cloud People, as they thought their ancestors had descended down onto earth from the sky. The name comes from the Spanish for ‘inhabitant of Mixtecapan’ a Mexican province, which is Nahuatl mixtecatl . They were part of the Mesoamerican civilizations occupying parts of Southern Mexico, Puebla, and Guerrero. These regions were divided into several territories with a ruling family in each. Small mountain villages were the main residences for these farming people, and their art and architecture is highly regarded.
However, the Mixtec were also strong and courageous warriors, who disrupted the peaceful trade of the Mayans in their attempts to assert power and gain territory. In 950AD the Mixtec successfully invaded the Zapotec city of Monte Alban. A long warfare ensued between the two tribes, halting briefly only to come together against a common enemy in the fifteenth century. They fought to retain control of the trade routes to Chiapas and Guatemala from the Aztec tribes. This backfired on the Mixtec, as the Zapotec and Aztec became allies, a strong alliance furthered by the assistance of the Spanish. (This also backfired on the Aztec Empire not much further down the track.) The Mixtec contested a long resistance against their formidable opponents, until eventually subjugated by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, second in command to Herman Cortes. Around 500 000 Mixtec remain today.