who are our mexicans?

john derbyshire has a blog post up @vdare — Aztecs and Hidalgos: Are Upper-Class Hispanics Importing Their Own Peons? — in which he points out that an awful lot of the u.s.’s pro-amnesty leaders are (genuine) white-hispanics — in other words, they appear to be of mostly european extraction — while on the other hand the vast majority of immigrants we get from mexico are actually mestizos or indios — or, as john dubs them, “aztecs” (over which some ninnies have pointed and sputtered, apparently).

which got me to wondering — again — who are our mexicans? are they really the descendents of/partly descended from the aztecs or what? pre-columbian mexico was very multi-cultural (lucky them!), so which mexicans are actually coming to the u.s. these days?

i’m going to try to get at that by examining which regions of mexico our mexican immigrants come from. that, obviously, will just leave us with a guesstimate of which sub-groups of mexicans are coming to the u.s., but until we get full genomic sequencing done on all immigrants entering the country, it’s the best i can do. i don’t know from which parts of mexico immigrants in past decades hailed, so perhaps a lot of them were/are indeed of aztec descent, but thanks to the mexican government’s consejo nacional de población (conapo), we do know where our most recent mexican immigrants are coming from today (2010).

before i post a couple of neat maps from conapo, let me mention again a couple of facts that most you are probably already aware of: 1) most mexicans are mestizos, i.e. of mixed indio and european heritage, 2) most mexican mestizos are more indio than they are european, and 3) the further south you go in mexico, the more indio the mestizos are [pdf].

ok. a couple of maps taken from here (specifically here [pdf] — click on maps for LARGER views)…

grades of the intensity of emigration to the u.s. by federal district, 2010 [names of four hottest districts added by me]:

immigration from mexico by federal district - 2010b

and grades of the intensity of emigration to the u.s. by municipality, 2010:

immigration from mexico by municipality - 2010

as you can see on the first map, four federal districts in mexico have “muy alto” (very high) emigration to the u.s.: michoacán, zacatecas, guanajuato, and nayarit. michoacán is the furthest to the south with guanajuato following, so presumably the mestizos from these regions are more indio than those from the other two regions. judging by the map of immigration from municipalities, the greatest numbers of immigrants come from zacatecas and guanajuato.

so who are these people? who were their ancestors?

the zacatecos were one of the groups referred to by the aztecs as chichimecas or “barbarians.” i’m not sure whether or not they spoke a language related to aztec, or were related to the aztecs, but they certainly were not a part of the settled aztec civilization. the zacatecos were nomadic hunter-gatherers and were reportedly expert archers. these are some of the peoples who gave the spaniards a run for their money in the chichimeca war with their armor-piercing arrows. cool!

from Soldiers, Indians, and Silver: The Northward Advance of New Spain, 1550-1600 [pgs. 39, 46-48]:

“The Zacatecos, tribesmen closest to most of the new silver mines, were the fourth nation of this Gran Chichimeca. They overlapped the land of the Guachichiles east and north of Zacatecas; they extended westward to border on the Tepehuanes near Durango; and they roamed as far north as Cuencame and Parras, where they touched upon the Irritilas or Laguna tribes. The Zacatecos were mostly nomadic, although a few groups were essentially sedentary. They were brave and bellicose warriors and excellent marksmen. Some Spaniards called them the most valiant and warlike of all the Chichimecas. They were mightily feared by neighboring peoples, especially the Cazcanes, whom they attacked constantly — fifty Zacatecos were known to have successfully raided a Cazcan pueblo of as many as three or four thousand inhabitants….

“The general way of life throughout this Gran Chichimeca varied little from tribe to tribe and from nation to nation. Contemporary descriptions of the customs and characteristics of the Chichimecas seldom noted important variations between one grouping and another….

“In hand-to-hand combat, the Chichimeca warrior gained, among other Indians and Spaniards, a reputation for courage and ferocity…. In fighting other Indians (Mexicans, Tarascans, Cazcanes), part of his courage could be accounted for by the contempt he felt for the tribes that had adopted the ways of the white man. And, as already implied, the Chichimeca came to have a lesser respect for the Spaniard himself as the Indian raids went unpunished….

“[H]is contact with Spanish military practice also led the Chichimeca to take more practical measures to assure success in fighting. He sent spies into Spanish-Indian towns for appraisal of the enemy’s plans and strength; he developed a far-flung system of lookouts and scouts (*atalayas*); and, in major attacks, settlements were softened by preliminary and apparently systematic killing and stealing of horses and other livestock, this being an attempt, sometimes successful, to change his intended victim from horseman to foot soldier.

“When the Chichimeca was attacked in his mountainous or other naturally protected stronghold or hideout, he usually put up vigorous resistance, especially if unable to escape onslaught. In such cases he fought — with arrows, clubs, or even rocks — behind natural barriers (or in caves) that had sometimes been made stronger by his own hands and ingenuity. Even the women might take up the fight, using the weapons of fallen braves….

“The high degree of Chichimeca accuracy with bow and arrow called forth much respectful and awed comment from his Spanish enemy. ‘On one occasion I saw them throw an orange into the air, and they shot into it so many arrows that, having held it in the air for much time, it finally fell in minute pieces.’ ‘In the opinion of men experienced in foreign lands, the Zacatecos are the best archers in the world.’ ‘They kill hares which, even though running, they pierce with arrows; also deer, birds, and other little animals of the land, not even overlooking rats … and they fish with the bow and arrow.’ Children of the Chichimecas were taught the use of the bow from the time they could walk, and they practiced by shooting at insects and the smallest animals.

“The forces and penetrating power of the Chichimeca arrow was always a puzzle to Spaniards, particularly in view of the extreme thinness of the arrow shaft. ‘It has happened that, in a fight between some soldiers, and some Chichimeca Indians, an arrow hit one soldier’s powder flask [of wood, usually], passed completely through it, then penetrated his armor, consisting of eleven thicknesses of buckskin (*gamuza*), a coat of mail, a doublet, and the soldier was wounded by said arrow.’ ‘It has happened that an arrow hit a horse on which a soldier was fighting and the arrow passed through the horse’s crownpiece (which consisted of a very strong leather and metal piece), his head, and came out through the neck and entered the chest, a thing which, if were not known to be certain, seems incredible.’ ‘One of don Alonso de Castilla’s soldiers had an arrow pass through the head of his horse, including a crownpiece of doubled buckskin and metal, and into his chest, so he fell with the horse dead on the ground — this was seen by many who are still living.’

“The Chichimeca bow was about two-thirds as long as the average body, reaching approximately from head to knee; it was probably made of such materials as cottonwood, willow, mesquite, *bois d’arc*, or juniper — woods that could be found in the area. The arrow, about two-thirds as long as the bow, was very thin, usually made of reed and usually with an obsidian tip, which was fastened to the shaft by human sinews or animal tendons. Shortness of bow, thinness of arrow, and the conchoidal edge of the obsidian combined to achieve a penetration the Spaniards could hardly believe. The fact that the Chichimeca arrow found its way through all but the closest-woven mail was a factor in the increasing Spanish use of buckskin armor on this frontier.”

iwitbb**: “Mexico’s National Population Council estimates that 600,000 natives of Zacatecas now live in the United States, a figure that is equivalent to 40 percent of the state’s resident population of 1.5 million. If the base population is supplemented by the number of children and grandchildren who have been born in the United States, the total number of Mexicans and Mexican Americans of ‘zacatecano’ origin living in the United States exceeds the number of people who reside in the state.”

so we’re not short of people from zacatecas.
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most of the peoples of guanajuato were also some of these nomadic chichimeca folks. a lot of them were guamares, but the zacatecos were also present along with other hunter-gatherer chichimeca groups. like zacatecas, guanajuato was never a part of the aztec empire either. nor was it a part of another neighboring empire, the tarascan state which was run by the purépecha people (see section on michoacán below), although the areas of guanajuato that were adjacent to the tarascan state were influenced culturally by that state.

so the probable ancestors of many of the people from the two mexican regions from which the u.s. today receives the most migrants were nomadic hunter-gatherers with a warrior streak. right up until 1590 (the end of the chichimeca war), or just ca. 20 generations ago (counting a generation as roughly 20 years).

[edit: see also this comment.]
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the pre-columbian michoacán area was inhabited by several different groups, but the ones that really left their mark were the purépecha people with their tarascan state. they were never conquered by the aztecs, and they built a really neat city of their own — tzintzuntzan — replete with some of those very fashionable (back in the day) latin american pyramids. interestingly, the purépecha language is not related to any of the neighboring languages of the region.

from Prehistoric Mesoamerica [pgs. 324-325, 329]:

“The Tarascan state occupied about 65,000 square kilometers (25,000 square miles) and included within its boundaries various ethnic and linguistic groups. Thus, it fulfills the formal qualifications required of an imperial system. The ‘Relacion de Michoacan’ relates that the Tarascans were ruled by a priest-king-god who governed a large political unit. In terms of area, it seems to have been the largest political unit in Mesoamerica at the time of the Spanish Conquest. The empire was administered by a wide variety of officials who handled matters such as taxes and censuses.

“Although 340 settlements are mentioned by the ‘Relacion de Michoacan’, only four of them qualified as cities, and they were located within the Lako Patzcuaro basin. The largest was the capital of Tzintzuntzan, which had been founded about A.D. 1000 as a center for the worship of two important deities. By 1350, the center had been transformed into an urban area sprawling along the lake shore, with a population of between twenty-five thousand and thirty-five thousand people. Archaeological survey has detected four districts that are the probable residence zones for four classes: upper and lower elite, commoners, and ethnic foreigners. Wards (barrios) for the various social and occupation groups survived in modern Tzintzuntzan into the twentieth century….

“The settlement pattern of the Tarascans was essentially rural, however, and most people lived in hamlets, villages, and towns….

“War was waged after the harvest was in, in good Mesoamerican manner. Spies (perhaps *pochtecas*) were employed for intelligence purposes. The Tarascans resisted the Aztec with a chain of fortified cities and with a professional army.”

so a more civilized group of peoples down in michoacán.
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i didn’t have as much luck in finding out about the historic population(s) of nayarit — there doesn’t seem to be much info out there — not in english anyway. some nahua peoples (the aztecs are a nahua people) were there at some point and apparently built one small-sized city anyway. according to the wikipedia page for nayarit in spanish, the majority of the populace in nayarit today are the huichol people followed by the cora and also some nahual folks.

the huichol:

“…usually marry between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. Extended Huichol families live together in rancho settlements. These small communities consist of individual houses which belong to a nuclear family. Each settlement has a communal kitchen and the family shrine, called a xiriki, which is dedicated to the ancestors of the rancho. The buildings surround a central patio. The individual houses are traditionally built of stone or adobe with grass-thatched roofs.

“A district of related ranchos is known as a temple district. Temple districts are all members of a larger community district. Each community district is ruled by a council of kawiterutsixi, elder men who are usually also shamans.”

(*cough*)clannish.(*cough*)

even more cool, re. the cora people:

“In the early 18th century they were an anomaly in that they had never permitted Catholic missionaries to live in their country. They had become a pagan island in a sea of Christian Indians and Hispanic culture. In 1716, a Spanish expedition to attempt to bring the Cora under Spanish control failed. However, in 1722, the Spanish returned in force and the Cora yielded. According to Spanish accounts many of them became Christian and practice, up until the present, ‘Catholic-derived customs.'”
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so the descendents of some or all of these groups probably represent a large segment of mexicans coming to the u.s. right now.

what i think we should be asking ourselves — apart from why?? — is what are these different mexicans likely to be like given their (natural) histories? we’ve got a mix of peoples here ranging from the descendents of nomadic hunter-gatherer warriors to currently settled but isolated indios to the descendents of more civilized agricultural populations. so what sorts of selection pressures were the ancestors of all these mexican groups under for, say, the last one to two thousand years? what sorts of mating patterns/family types/social structures did these peoples’ ancestors have that might’ve affected the selection pressures on those populations?

who are our mexicans?
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**iwitbb = if wikipedia is to be believed.

(note: comments do not require an email. huichol lady.)

familism in the u.s. of a.

following up from yesterday’s post, i thought i’d look at familism in some other ethnic groups in the u.s. in addition to the anglos and mexicans.

again, i’m looking at how much contact the individuals from different groups have with family members. this is a way of measuring “behavioral familism” — familism “expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties”. this time i stuck to just extended-family members (aunt/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins) ’cause i thought that might be more telling — if you’re in regular contact … a LOT … with these more distant relatives, you’re probably familistic. that’s my thinking, anyway.

looked at the following questions from the 2002 general social survey:

“How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”
“How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”
“How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

the possible answers were:

“More than twice in last 4 weeks.”
“Once or twice in last 4 weeks.”
“Not at all in last 4 weeks.”
“I have no living relative of this type.”

i’ve collapsed the first two together to make the responses sorta “yes” or “no” (contacted x in the last 4 weeks). i also skipping the “no living relative” answer. if you’re dying to see all data, i can post it.

the variables chosen were: COUNTRY OF FAMILY ORIGIN, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT UNCLES OR AUNTS, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT NIECES AND NEPHEWS, HOW OFTEN DOES R CONTACT COUSIN, and for the irish RELIGION IN WHICH RAISED to try to distinguish the scotch-irish from roman catholic irish. none of it is perfect, i know, but you gotta work with whatcha got.

the countries with a good-sized data set (n≧50) were: england & wales (the “anglos” – n=96), italy (n=53-54), scotch-irish (protestant irish – n=51), and germany (n=150). the mexicans (n=32) and irish catholics (n=42-43) came up a little short, but i’ve included them anyway. keep in mind that the numbers for those two groups are kinda low.

without further ado (click on charts for LARGER views)…

“How often do you contact your uncles/aunts?”

“How often do you contact your nieces/nephews?”

“How often do you contact your cousin(s)?”

as you can see, in each of the three categories, all of the other groups are in contact with their distant-ish relatives more than the anglos — except for the scotch-irish who appear to behave the most like the anglos here. mexicans are much more likely to keep in regular contact with their aunts/uncles or nieces/nephews than anglo-americans (53% vs. 32% and 75% vs. 48% respectively), but italian-americans are also much more likely to keep in touch with their aunts/uncles on a monthly basis (47%). the roman catholic irish, too, more familistic than anglo-americans — and even german-americans, except for the keeping-in-touch-with-nieces/nephews category, appear to be more familistic than anglo-americans.

so much for assimilation.

remember that familism goes hand-in-hand with fun things like corruption.

i also think it’s kinda neat to see that the familism goes more in the direction of the genetic flow than not: greater contact by aunts/uncles to nieces/nephews than the reverse, for instance. cool.

previously: anglo-american vs. mexican family values

(note: comments do not require an email. familism!)

hispanic family values

lots of conservatives (rinos in particular maybe) like to talk about how great hispanic/mexican family values are, and what a wonderful addition these will be to american society (never mind the sky-high illegitimacy rates in the hispanic community) — but what these so-called conservatives don’t understand is that hispanic/mexican family values are different from our (well, your, if you’re a wasp that is) family values.

it’s called familism (familismono kidding!) — and hispanics/mexicans got it in spades [pg. 314 – pdf]:

Familism can be defined as a social pattern whereby individual interests, decisions, and actions are conditioned by a network of relatives thought in many ways to take priority over the individual. This social pattern manifests itself through three dimensions: (1) the attitudinal, expressed in dispositions, values, and beliefs that prioritize the welfare of the family; (2) the behavioral, expressed in everyday actions, or major decisions, informed by one’s attachment to family ties; and (3) the structural, expressed in the spatial architecture of family networks (Steidel and Contreras 2003; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994). Researchers from several disciplines have observed that familism is an important component of Hispanic culture (Okagaki and Frensch 1998; Oyserman, Coon, and Kemmelmeier 2002). At the attitudinal level, Hispanic adults and adolescents value interdependence, as well as family support and obligations, more so than whites (Fuligni, Tseng, and Lam 1999; Harrison et al. 1990; Sabogal et al. 1987). At the behavioral level, Hispanics report higher degrees of familial cohesion and intimacy than whites (Niemann, Romero, and Arbona 2000; Sabogal et al. 1987) and assist family members in instrumental ways more so than whites (Sarkisian, Gerena, and Gerstel 2006). And at the structural level, Hispanics, and Mexican Americans in particular, live in larger and denser kinship networks than whites (Sarkisian et al. 2006; Valenzuela and Dornbusch 1994).”

well, that all sounds great — and it is, in its own way — but what it isn’t is anything like the anglo/anglo-american family tradition which is based upon the nuclear family and the individualism of its members, a societal structure that appears to go right back to the thirteenth century (see also here and here). if someone says to you “hispanic family values,” you should absolutely not picture in your mind june and ward cleaver along with wally and the beav — and, maybe, uncle billy coming over for thanksgiving dinner every other year.

no. hispanic/mexican familism (and, of course, there is a lot of variety here — latin america is a big place) means a lot of extended family — and, for whatever reasons, a lot of extended family obligations. which is also fine — but there are only twenty-four hours in a day, and if you’ve got obligations to your immediate family AND your tío jorge and all his kids, and your tía rosa and all her kids, etc., etc., there’s simply going to be less time in your day to devote to other things like the broader community. as someone who comes from a large clan (52 first cousins!), i know this to be true — there’s just not a whole lot of spare time for anything other than family (except you guys, of course! (~_^) ).

“but won’t hispanics quit being so extended-family oriented once they assimilate to american culture, hbd chick?”

i dunno. and neither does anyone else.

there are some indications that the amount of some aspects of familism is lower among hispanics/mexicans raised in the u.s. than their immigrant parents, but not all aspects — and all of these familism metrics remain higher in hispanic groups than for white americans. (what would be interesting to know is how much familism there is in the new mexican hispanic population. i couldn’t find anything on that anywhere — might try to dig some data up from the gss myself….)

i’m of the opinion that the development of strong feelings towards one’s extended family (or not) is a question of evolution, so changing those feelings, afaics, ought to take some time. the english (see links above or the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column) have had a loooong history of individualism and nuclear families, a process which started, i think, in the early medieval period with the bans on cousin marriage by the roman catholic church. mexicans, and other hispanics, have had a very different evolutionary history when it comes to family feelings and cohesiveness.

the colonial mayans, for instance, had close, endogamous mating patterns — and they lived in extended-family settlements, just as their pre-columbian ancestors had done, indicating that extended-family-ness in mayan society goes way back [pgs. 368-369]:

“[T]he Mayas divided up house-plots or treated contiguous plots as one so that what might have officially been nuclear families living on separate house-plots were really multiple-residence extended-family household complexes. Not only have such patterns of residential clustering survived to the present in much of Mexico, but they have been observed by archaeologists for a number of pre-Columbian Maya sites — most notably Coba, Dzibilchaltun, K’axob, Mayapan, and Tikal….

“[A] typical grandfamily household might occupy adjacent house-plots and its member frequent the neighboring plots of related households of the same patronym-group or alliance of patronym-groups.

“The free movement of family members and animals between plots symbolized the blurred lines between separate and joint…. To avoid cutting up parcels of land … Mayas made use of the parallel principle of multial, ‘joint ownership.’ Typically then, a plot of land was placed in the hands of a representative of the household or, in the cases of large cultivated plots, the patronym-group….

“Because those household members who lived on or from a plot of land were in some sense considered its joint owners, family members effectively held shares in such property, which they then left to successive generations.”

the spanish tried to break down these extended family units by forcing the natives to register their houses/lands according to nuclear family units (eg. one house with a certain amount of acreage connected to it), but as restall describes above, the maya simply worked around these bureaucratic nuisances. what needed to be done, of course, was to ban close marriages in the new world — but that was too much of an imposition on all those potential new world recruits that the church so desperately wanted to harvest, so they gave much of latin america a (beyond first cousin) cousin marriage dispensation in 1537 (including mexico, i think, but i do need to double-check that).

aztec society was structured quite differently from that of the maya, but from what i understand (so far) about the aztecs, extended families and “clans” (calpulli) were also very important there. (i’ll get back to you on aztec society when i get through reading more about them!)

in any case, hispanics/mexicans are still devoted to their extended families. not that there’s anything wrong with that! except that familism does tend to go along with some other, undesirable societal features like corruption (see lipset and lenz) — fyi, mexico ranked #100 in transparency international’s 2011 survey.

true conservatives would hold off on inviting tens of millions of people from a very differently behaving population into this country — at least until we understood something of why the behaviors differed.

previously: mating patterns in colonial mexico: the mayans

(note: comments do not require an email. aus mexico!)