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Genízaro is a New Mexican term that appeared as early as 1610, given initially to Mexican Indians brought as servants to the Spanish. It continued to be used into the nineteenth-century to identify Plains Indian women and children (rarely adult men) captured in intertribal warfare and sold or ransomed to Spanish authorities who assigned them to Christian settlers for "civilizing" and service as domestics and herders. The term is most appropriately applied to the offspring of the captives. Intermarriage among the descendants of former members of different Plains tribes who had been reared in the Spanish milieu created a subpopulation that was biologically Indian, yet different from both Plains and Pueblo peoples, and culturally Hispanic (sometimes called "detri-balized"). The genízaro population filled significant political, economic, and social niches as settlers of strategic frontier villages, as members of the militia (where their reputation as fearless combatants was recognized), as emissaries to Plains tribes, and as farmers and other types of workers.

See alsoNew Mexico .


Gilberto Benito Córdoba, Abiquiu and Don Cacahuate: A Folk History of a New Mexican Village (1973).

Frances Leon Swadesh, Los Primeros Pobladores: Hispanic Americans of the Ute Frontier (1974).

Angélico Chávez, "Genízaros," in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 9, edited by Alfonso Ortiz (1979).

Adrian Bustamante, "The Matter Was Never Resolved: The Casta System in Colonial New Mexico, 1693–1823," in New Mexico Historical Review 66, no. 2 (1991): 143-163.

Additional Bibliography

Ebright, Malcolm, and Rick Hendricks. The Witches of Abiquiu: The Governor, the Priest, the Genízaro Indians, and the Devil. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

                           Robert Himmerich y Valencia

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