This article describes warfare and diplomacy between colonial and non-colonial peoples on the northeastern frontier of New Spain in the eighteenth century. It considers the relationship of Spanish and Nahua colonists to indigenous populations in the north. It argues that shared assumptions about military hierarchy transcended cultural boundaries, permitting diplomatic exchange and political integration. Drawing on archival military and missionary records, the article illustrates the process by which European and indigenous political units were first rendered mutually intelligible, later connected by alliance, and finally integrated through joint settlement and corporate governance. Fundamental to these processes were the communication and synthesis of cultural schemata expressing the correspondence of military commands to each party's historical memory and social geography. This article offers a partial explanation for the development of Tlaxcalan-Chichimec pueblos and a general set of principles for understanding intercultural diplomacy in frontier environments.

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