The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
Peopling the Empire
Andean space was profoundly transformed by the waves of colonization organized by successive Inka sovereigns. Inka state coordination involved intensive grain production and the redistribution of surpluses, new territorial administration, and the massive movement of people, known as mitmaqkuna in Quechua or mitimaes in Spanish, to colonize new areas. These colonizing groups came from different regions and fulfilled diverse functions—political, military, agricultural, and artisanal—in the Tawantinsuyu realm.
Known as the “prince of Peruvian chroniclers,” Pedro Cieza de León (1520–54) visited the Upper Peruvian district of Charcas in 1549. He travelled through the Lake Titicaca region and on to Potosí, taking down testimony about the provinces from older Spanish conquistadors. He supplemented his information by interviewing Inka nobles in Cuzco and was generally sympathetic to Inka perspectives, as this extract from his chronicle suggests. His general account of mitimaes applies well to the southern Andes, and he includes specific examples of lowland frontier colonization taken from the territory of Qollasuyu.
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