This study explores the idea of Mexican-American indigenous identity, or indigeneity. I argue that modern Mexican-American indigeneity progressed from the Chicana/o movement’s notion of belonging as a primordial people of Aztlan to the full-fledged embrace of Native American identity. This idea of being indigenous is traced to the colonial writers and thinkers, criollo patriots, mestizo nationalists, and the indigenists intellectuals of twentieth-century Mexico. The evolution of ethnic Mexican indigeneity culminated with cultural extremists in the first half of the last century who assumed a neo-Aztec identity. They in turn gave way to the neo-Mexika identity that emerged in the second half of the twentieth-century in conjunction with the Mexikayotl ideology—“the essence of being Mexican.” Mexikayotl merged with a traditional dance form called danza azteca-chichimeca and made its way to the United States during the Chicano movement where it took root among culturally sensitive Mexican Americans. Chicanas and Chicanos embraced indigenous identities, such as Mexika and Coahuiltecan, and rejected the Latino and Hispanic homogenizing identities. In effect, this work is an intellectual history of the introduction, progression, and evolution of Indian identity among Chicana/os in Texas.

Degree Date

Spring 5-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name





John R. Chavez

Second Advisor

Edward F. Countryman

Third Advisor

Sherry L. Smith

Subject Area


Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License