Mexico's Indigenous Communities

Their Lands and Histories, 1500-2010

by Ethelia Ruiz Medrano, translated by Russ Davidson

Paperback Price $27.95
Ebook Price $22.95
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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Mesoamerican Worlds Series

"I know of no other work of its kind or in its league. It is entirely original: a wonderfully narrated uncompromising history that is thoroughly and masterfully researched. This book is bound to be a classic . . . a model for future research on the indigenous peoples of the Americas."
—Kevin Terraciano, UCLA

"A reference work that will be useful for years to come. . . . What comes across in this richly detailed book is the sense that while great losses have occurred, they have not come at the price of indigenous dignity nor the destruction of the many arguments made through careful manipulation of indigenous symbols."
—Theodore Macdonald, ReVista

"This deep, unique study is an indispensible resource for scholars interested in the survival and use of ancient manuscripts in postconquest Mexico. . . . Essential."
—R. Sullivan, Choice

"This is a fascinating study that breaks important new ground through the utilization of a wide variety of documentation. Ruiz Medrano provides us with an important glimpse into a topic that has been central to the development of Mexico since the arrival of the Spanish."
—John F. Schwaller, Hispanic American Historical Review

"A great contribution to Mexican history that will appeal to readers interested in history, indigenous studies, ethnohistory, and anthropology."
SMRC Revista


A rich and detailed account of indigenous history in central and southern Mexico from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries, Mexico's Indigenous Communities is an expansive work that destroys the notion that Indians were victims of forces beyond their control and today have little connection with their ancient past. Indian communities continue to remember and tell their own local histories, recovering and rewriting versions of their past in light of their lived present.

Ethelia Ruiz Medrano focuses on a series of individual cases, falling within successive historical epochs, that illustrate how the practice of drawing up and preserving historical documents—in particular, maps, oral accounts, and painted manuscripts—has been a determining factor in the history of Mexico's Indian communities for a variety of purposes, including the significant issue of land and its rightful ownership. Since the sixteenth century, numerous Indian pueblos have presented colonial and national courts with historical evidence that defends their landholdings.

Because of its sweeping scope, groundbreaking research, and the author's intimate knowledge of specific communities, Mexico's Indigenous Communities is a unique and exceptional contribution to Mexican history. It will appeal to students and specialists of history, indigenous studies, ethnohistory, and anthropology of Latin America and Mexico.



Ethelia Ruiz Medrano was featured on New Books in Popular Culture. Click here to learn more and listen to the fascinating interview.


Ethelia Ruiz Medrano is a researcher at the Direccion de Estudios Historicos, Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia in Mexico and a visiting professor at The Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of three books with the University Press of Colorado, and the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006.

Russ Davidson is curator emeritus of Latin American and Iberian collections and professor emeritus of librarianship at the University of New Mexico.

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  • Paperback Price: $27.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-133-0
  • Ebook Price: $22.95
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-017-3
  • Publication Year: 2011
  • Pages: 400
  • Illustrations: 7 b&w photographs, 42 line drawings, 9 maps, 5 tables
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: by Ethelia Ruiz Medrano, translated by Russ Davidson
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-133-0
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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