Huastec people

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Wastek, Spanish,

Roman Catholicism,

Maya peoples

The Huastec, also rendered as Huaxtec, Wastek and Huastecos, are an indigenous people of Mexico, historically based in the states of Hidalgo, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí and Tamaulipas concentrated along the route of the Pánuco River and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. There are approximately 66,000 Huastec speakers today, of which two-thirds are in San Luis Potosí and one-third in Veracruz (INAH, p. 56), although their population was probably much higher, as much as half a million, when the Spanish arrived in 1529 (Ariel de Vidas, p. 57).

The ancient Huastec culture is one of the pre-Columbian Mesoamerican cultures. Judging from archaeological remains, they are thought to date back to approximately the 10th century BCE, although their most productive period of civilization is usually considered to be the Postclassic era between the fall of Teotihuacan and the rise of the Aztec Empire. The Pre-Columbian Huastecs constructed temples on step-pyramids, carved independently-standing sculptures, and produced elaborately painted pottery. The Huastecs were unusual as one of the few cultures that attained civilization and built cities, yet usually wore no clothing. They were admired for their abilities as musicians by other Mesoamerican peoples.

About 1450, the Huastecs were defeated by Aztec armies under the leadership of Moctezuma I; the Huastecs henceforth paid tribute to the Aztec Empire but retained a large degree of local self government.

The Huastecs were conquered by the Spanish between 1519 and the 1530s. With the imposition of the Roman Catholic faith, they were required to don clothing.

The first grammatical and lexical description of the Huastec language accessible to Europeans was by Fray Andrés de Olmos, who also wrote the first such grammars of Nahuatl and Totonac.


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