This article discusses the creation and evolution of indigenous government in the colonial silver-mining town of Zacatecas. Initially, nonnoble native migrants from central and western Mexico constituted the basis of the city's indigenous population. Living in informal settlements on the outskirts of town, indigenous communities possessed no hereditary leaders and few vehicles for redress and governance. Over time, the city's indigenous groups adopted the Spanish cabildo (municipal council) and established four juridically autonomous Indian towns. This article considers how the development of indigenous cabildos in Zacatecas unified the city's disparate ethnic groups, converted Indian settlements into formal sociopolitical entities, created an official leadership class, and contributed to the perpetuation of a corporate indigenous identity within the city through the late colonial period.

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