This article considers the interplay among interpretation, intent, and ingenuity involved in don Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s transcoding of the Codex Xolotl in the first part of his definitive work, the Historia de la nación chichimeca, by way of his earlier Sumaria relación de todas las cosas de la Nueva España. Scholars tend to focus on Alva Ixtlilxochitl’s role as a more or less reliable intermediary through whom the Codex Xolotl’s information has been transmitted. However, in order to better understand his contribution to Mexican ethnohistory, it is important to acknowledge him as a diligent researcher who was also an exceptional writer and storyteller.

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