Urban Indians in a Silver City is a valuable contribution to the small but growing literature on urban Indian societies in colonial Spanish America. It traces the history of Indian residents in the silver mining center of Zacatecas from the city’s founding in 1546 on the northern frontier of New Spain to the eve of Mexican Independence in 1810. Based on thorough archival research, the volume addresses Indians’ urban economic roles (with notable attention to women as well as men); the functioning of religious confraternities; the operation of local indigenous government; relationships with Spaniards; migration and population trends; and above all, the formation and maintenance of indigenous ethnic identity in the city.

With its silver mines and northern location, Zacatecas differed in important ways from most other colonial Mexican cities studied by historians. Indian labor was imported, especially from the populous regions...

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