History Files


The Americas

Central American Native Kingdoms




Coixtlahuaca (Mixtecs / Mixteca)

This city state formed the dominant capital of the Mixtec peoples of the Pacific coast of central Mexico on the eve of the Spanish invasion of the Americas. Mixtec means 'place of the cloud-people', and those people were one of pre-Columbian Central America's major civilisations. The ancient capital was at Tilantongo, while also important at various times were the sites of Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huajuapan, Juxtlahuaca, Mitla, Tlaxiaco, Tututepec, and Yucunudahui. The Mixtecs occupied territory to the south-west of the Aztecs, and with the Zapotecs positioned on their south-eastern flank. Today, the former Mixtec territory forms the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Puebla in the La Mixteca region.

fl 900s?


early 1000s

Five Alligator


Eight Deer Ocelot-Claw

11th century

Lord Eight Deer conquers and unites most of the Mixteca territory. During this period, the Mixtec also occupy some former Zapotec sites. However, despite the Zapotec decline, they are still capable of fighting to defend their land, and the period is marked by incessant warfare between them and the Mixtec.

? - 1458

Dzawindanda / Atonal (II)

Ruler of the Mixtec peoples from Coixtlahuaca.


Moctezuma of Tenochtitlan leads an expedition into Mixtec territory against Coixtlahuaca on the pretext of the mistreatment of Aztec merchants. The Mixtec ruler calls on the support of contingents of Tlaxcala and Huexotzingo warriors who are traditional enemies of the Aztecs, but the Mixtecs are defeated. Most of the local chieftains are allowed to retain their positions, but Dzawindanda is ritually strangled and his family are taken as slaves. Tribute is paid to Tenochtitlan.

Mixtec warrior
An artist's rendition of a Mixtec warrior


The Mixtec peoples are conquered by Tenochtitlan's Aztec empire under Ahuitzotl and the city is sacked. Some sources state this is a complete conquest, while others state that the Mixtec are never fully conquered by the Aztecs.

fl c.1550s


1520 - 1550s

Envoys from Coixtlahuaca apparently surrender to the Spanish in September 1520. The city is governed from the former Aztec Mexico City, before being incorporated into the colonial administrative region of New Spain. However, other Mixtec groups need to be conquered by force, and their resistance is determined and bloody.

Other Mixtec Cities

Documentation for Mixtec civilisation is not highly detailed, but a few other city states are known of in basic detail from the pre-Colombian period. The Mixtec also raised some major constructions at the former Zapotec city of Monte Alban, which they captured from their eastern neighbours.


The Olmec cave at Juxtlahuaca and its near neighbour at Oxtotitlan contain the earliest-known examples of sophisticated Central American art. Estimations of the dating for the cave art places it in the Early Pre-Classic period of 1200-900 BC. How the caves came to be connected with the Olmecs is unknown, as the heartland of their territory was on the opposite coast, on the Gulf of Mexico, while Juxtlahuaca is approximately a hundred kilometres (62 miles) inland from the Pacific coast.


The site of Mitla was occupied by around 500 BC, but the earliest constructions date to around AD 200. Following the Spanish conquest of the Mixtec, the town of Mitla was continually inhabited, with parts of the original settlement being built over. Excavations and repairs which were carried out in the 1930s and 1960s have preserved some of the surviving buildings.

Tututepec (Yuca Dzaa)

Located in the Oaxacan highlands which formed the heartland of Mixtec territory, the city state of Tututepec thrived from the twelfth century until its conquest by the Spanish. At one point it had political influence which stretched over more than 25,000 square kilometres of territory. The modern town of Villa de Tututepec de Melchor Ocampo in Mexico occupies the site.