Mitmaes (also mitimaes, mitima, mithma, mitmac), from the Quechua word mitmaq, meaning "outsider" or "stranger." Mitmaes were people, sometimes whole ethnic groups, who were relocated by the Incas as a matter of policy. It was common imperial practice to move whole populations around the empire in order to break up old political units that might provide the basis for organized revolt. Mitmaq communities brought in from loyal provinces were expected to set an example, spread Inca customs, and to serve as an Inca garrison. Conversely, the most recalcitrant elements of the newly incorporated areas were transplanted to loyal and secure areas of the empire, where they could be monitored and would be in the minority.
After the Spanish invasions these microethnic groups used the resulting instability to rebel against the Incan state, often allying themselves with Pizarro's forces. Later, mitmaq peoples were seen as intruders by their latter-day ethnic communities. Perhaps the most famous mitmaq family was that of Guaman Poma de Ayala, who initiated lawsuits to recover his usurped lands in the post-Conquest period.
For a discussion of mitmaes, see John H. Rowe, "Inca Culture at the Time of the Spanish Conquest," in Handbook of South American Indians, vol. 2 (1946), pp. 183-330; and John Victor Murra, The Economic Organization of the Inca State (1980).
Gordon F. McEwan