The Mixtec region and the Mixtec peoples are traditionally divided into three groups, two based on their original economic caste and one based on the region they settled. High Mixtecs or mixteco alto were of the class and generally richer. In recent times, a reversal or equalizing has been seen. The third group is Coastal Mixtecs mixteco de la costa whose language is related to that of the Low Mixtecs, they currently inhabit the Pacific slope of Oaxaca. The Mixtec languages form a branch of the Otomanguean language family. In pre-Columbian times, a number of Mixtecan city states competed with each other, like the rest of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, the Mixtec were conquered by the Spanish invaders and their indigenous allies in the 16th century. Pre-Columbia Mixtecs numbered around 1.5 million, today there are approximately 800,000 Mixtec people in Mexico, and there are also large populations in the United States. The term Mixtec comes from the Nahuatl word mixtecah, cloud people, there are many names that the Mixtecs have for naming themselves, ñuù savi, nayívi savi, ñuù davi, nayivi davi. etc. This all denominations can be translated as people of the rain, the historic homeland of Mixtec people is La Mixteca, called in Mixtec language Ñuu Savi, Ñuu Djau, Ñuu Davi, etc. depending on the local variant. They call their language saan davi, daan davi or tuun savi, in pre-Columbian times, the Mixtec were one of the major civilizations of Mesoamerica. Important ancient centres of the Mixtec include the ancient capital of Tilantongo, as well as the sites of Achiutla, Cuilapan, Huajuapan, Mitla, Tlaxiaco, Tututepec, Juxtlahuaca, the Mixtec also made major constructions at the ancient city of Monte Albán. The work of Mixtec artisans who produced work in stone, wood, according to West, the Mixtec of Oaxaca. were the foremost goldsmiths of Mesoamerica, which included the lost-wax casting of gold and its alloys. At the height of the Aztec Empire, many Mixtecs paid tribute to the Aztecs and they put up resistance to Spanish rule until they were subdued by the Spanish and their central Mexican allies led by Pedro de Alvarado. Mixtecs have migrated to parts of both Mexico and the United States. In recent years a large exodus of indigenous peoples from Oaxaca, such as the Zapotec, as of 2011, an estimated 150,000 Mixteco people were living in California, and 25,000 to 30,000 in New York City. Large Mixtec communities exist in the cities of Tijuana, Baja California, San Diego, California and Tucson. Mixtec communities are generally described as trans-national or trans-border because of their ability to maintain, there is considerable documentation in the Mixtec native language for the colonial era, which has been studied as part of the New Philology. There is considerable Mixtec documentation for land issues, but sparse for market activity, long distance trade existed in the prehispanic era and continued in indigenous hands in the early colonial
Turquoise mosaic mask. Mixtec-Aztec, 1400-1521 AD
Plate 37 of the Codex Vindobonensis. The central scene supposedly depicts the origin of the Mixtecs as a people whose ancestors sprang from a tree.
The stucco reliefs in the Tomb 1 of Zaachila (The Valley, Oaxaca) reveal a remarkable influence from Mixtec art. It is likely that the tomb belongs to a person whose name is registered in the Nuttall Codex. Tomb 1 of Zaachila, Central Valleys of Oaxaca, Late Postclassic.