The political jurisdiction of the colonial cacique, or ethnic lord, is often understood to have been truncated or undermined by Spanish political administration. But the role of the cacique was also key to enabling Spanish administrators to extract wealth from native communities. What exactly that role was is undocumented in Spanish-language archival materials. By examining recent literature on the Iberian qadi, or judge of the Islamic community under Christian rule, this study argues that the cacique, like the qadi, maintained his or her local authority and jurisdiction. Evidence for this hidden jurisdiction is found in a sixteenth-century case that was set aside by the Real Audiencia because it fell outside that body's jurisdiction and within the dominion of the cacique.

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