In The Mark of Rebels Barry Robinson offers a new look at Mexican Independence from the perspective of an indigenous population caught in the heart of the struggle. During the conquest and settlement of Mexico’s Western Sierra Madre, Spain’s indigenous allies constructed an indio fronterizo identity for their ethnically diverse descendants. These communities used their special status to maintain a measure of autonomy during the colonial era, but the cultural shifts of the late colonial period radically transformed the relationship between these indios fronterizos and their neighbors. Marshalling an extensive array of archival material from Mexico, the United States, and Spain, Robinson shows that indio fronterizo participation in the Mexican wars of independence grafted into the larger Hidalgo Revolt through alignment with creole commanders. Still, a considerable gulf existed between the aims of indigenous rebels and the creole leadership. Consequently, the privileges that the indios fronterizos sought to preserve continued to diminish, unable to survive either the late colonial reforms of the Spanish regime or creole conceptions of race and property in the formation of the new nation-state. This story suggests that Mexico’s transition from colony to nation can only be understood by revisiting the origins of the colonial system and by recognizing the role of Spain’s indigenous allies in both its construction and demolition. The study relates events in the region to broader patterns of identity, loyalty, and subversion throughout the Americas, providing insight into the process of mestizaje that is commonly understood to have shaped Latin America. It also foreshadows the popular conservatism of the nineteenth century and identifies the roots of post-colonial social unrest. This book provides new context for scholars, historians, ethnographers, anthropologists, and anyone interested in the history of Mexico, colonization, Native Americans, and the Age of Revolutions.
Mark of Rebels Indios Fronterizos and Mexican Independence