Shortly after the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 (Pre-Mexico City), the emperor of the Aztecs, ‘Moctezuma II’ told Cortez the Spanish Conquistador that there was gold in Oaxaca.
Several Spanish captains were sent to the Oaxaca valleys, but instead of resistance, the local tribes and civilizations decided to ally with the Spanish – including the Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Mazatecas and Cuicatecas.
The Spanish conquest completely decimated the indigenous populations through disease, and brutal forced labour. Oaxaca had about 1.5 million people in 1520, which fell to about 150,000 by 1620.
The upper classes of the indigenous empires accepted the Spanish rule, including their religions, in exchange for maintaining their hierarchical positions and status.
But ultimately, the Spanish conquerors simply lumped all indigenous into one category (Indian), with no status at all.
While the rest of Mexico was assimilated much more forcefully, Spanish rule was minimal in Oaxaca due to its largely dispersed cities, thus the peoples of Oaxaca maintained much of their ancient culture and traditions.Details