Indigenous escribanos, notaries, based in the western part of what is now Mexico State, lived in small highland towns within the regions of Jilotepec and Metepec and wrote the documents studied here. They wrote the land sales, testaments, financial instruments, and powers of attorney for the women featured in this article. Their records described a cross-section of women participating in the civic work of their communities; identified cacicas, women of position in northern small towns (Jilotepec region) in the late colonial eighteenth-century; and showed the proportion of Nahua women who controlled land in southern small towns (Metepec region) within the extant early nineteenth-century testamentary record. Further, language data from these women’s records serve to restore local meanings of land and society. Taken together, the evidence disputes the narrative of decline and indicates escribanos, indigenous male officials, acknowledged and fostered women’s status and autonomy.

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