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A Free Reading Passage on the Mixtón War for AP U.S. History

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 16

2

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The Mixtón War is a referenced topic in the Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans topic in Period 1 of AP U.S. History. You could reference this example on your AP U.S. History test.





The Mixtón War, fought from 1540 to 1542, was a major conflict between Spanish colonizers and the indigenous peoples of western Mexico. This war, named after the Mixtón hill where many indigenous warriors made their stand, was one of the most significant uprisings against Spanish rule during the early colonial period in the Americas.


When the Spanish, led by Hernán Cortés, conquered the Aztec Empire in 1521, they quickly expanded their reach into other parts of Mexico. Spanish colonization brought harsh conditions for the indigenous populations, including forced labor, heavy tribute demands, and the imposition of foreign customs and religion. The indigenous people of western Mexico, particularly the Caxcan, Zacateco, and Guachichil tribes, resisted these changes and sought to defend their lands and way of life.


The immediate cause of the Mixtón War was the growing resentment and oppression faced by the indigenous people. In 1540, tensions boiled over when the Spanish, under the leadership of Governor Cristóbal de Oñate, attempted to enforce new labor demands and tribute payments. In response, the indigenous forces, familiar with the rugged terrain, used guerrilla tactics to launch surprise attacks on Spanish settlements. They fortified the Mixtón hill, creating a stronghold where they could resist Spanish advances.


Initially, the Spanish struggled to suppress the rebellion. The 15,000 indigenous warriors were highly motivated and used their knowledge of the landscape to their advantage. Governor Oñate called for reinforcements, and in 1541, the Spanish Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza personally led an expedition of 450 Spaniards and 30,000 to 60,000 indigenous allies to quell the uprising.


The turning point came when the Spanish managed to capture indigenous leaders and cut off supplies to the fortifications. The Viceroy’s forces employed a combination of direct assaults and psychological tactics, including negotiating with some indigenous groups to divide their resistance.


By 1542, the Spanish had largely crushed the rebellion. The fall of the Mixtón stronghold marked the end of major organized resistance in the region. Many indigenous leaders, including Tenamaztle, were captured or killed, and the survivors were subjected to severe reprisals. The Spanish reasserted control over the region, but the war had exposed the challenges of colonial rule and the resilience of the indigenous people.


The Mixtón War left a lasting impact on the history of Mexico. It highlighted the determination of the indigenous populations to resist foreign domination and defend their culture and autonomy. The war also influenced Spanish colonial policies, leading to some reforms aimed at easing tensions with indigenous communities.



Printable Reading Passage on the Mixtón War

Would you prefer to share a printable passage with your students? Click the image below to grab it!



Mixtón War FREE Reading Passage


Do you want to watch a video about the Mixtón War?





Cultural Interactions Between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans 



Period 1



AP U.S. History



The Mixtón War



#Mexico #MixtónWar

Cate O'Donnell

2 min read

May 16

2

0

0

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