The MEZQUITAL VALLEY (Otomi : B’OT’äHI) is a series of small
valleys and flat areas located in Central Mexico, about 60 kilometres
(37 mi) north of
* 1 Geography and environment * 2 Demographics and economy * 3 History
* 4 Important locations
* 4.1 Population centers * 4.2 Archeological sites
* 5 References
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT
View of the Tula River in Tula Municipality, State of Hidalgo.
It is one of the four main arid/semi arid regions of Mexico, along with Baja California , the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Valley , and the Chihuahua Desert . These four regions together account for 60 percent of Mexico's territory. The average annual precipitation of the valley is 385 mm (15.2 in), less than half of the state average of 866 mm (34.1 in). In the elevations of surrounding mountains between 2,000 and 2,800 m (6,600 and 9,200 ft), the climate is temperate and moister, with rains in the summer. Below this level, the area is semi-arid steppe . The valley is drained by the Tula River.
The vegetation of the valley is divided into zones. Forests of pine
and oak dominate the higher mountain areas. The lower valley floor is
semi-arid except for areas along riverbanks which have some tropical
vegetation. In some canyons, thermal inversion also allows for a more
humid climate. Dominant vegetation includes various cacti , mesquite
, and maguey , as most of the valley is dry. Other important wild
species include cypresses (
Taxodium mucronatum and
Pinus spp.), willow (
Economic development in the 20th century has caused environmental
problems, especially in the south of the valley. These include air and
soil pollution from an important refinery and electric power plant
near the city of Tula. The most serious problem comes from wastewater
which is pumped into the area from the neighboring Valley of Mexico.
The wastewater comes from drainage projects that carry water out of
Valley of Mexico and dump it into the Tula River, with most of the
water not treated adequately or not treated at all. The wastewater
is a mix of residential and industrial water, which includes
contaminants such as bacteria (such as cholera) from fecal matter and
toxic chemicals. This contamination is severe enough in places to be
seen and smelled. Nevertheless, the water is an important source for
irrigated farming, especially in the Tula and
DEMOGRAPHICS AND ECONOMY
Mezquital Otomi Traditional Otomi dress on display at the Museo de Arte Popular .
The valley covers 33.7% of the state of Hidalgo and is divided politically into 27 municipalities, with a population of about 420,000.
While most inhabitants are mestizo , the
Otomi people have been the
dominant indigenous ethnicity since the Classic period of the
Mesoamerican era. The center of the Otomi community is
The weaving trade was a way to survive in the harsh environment before
the introduction of irrigated farming. The
Otomi language of the
valley is classified as a dialect, spoken by an estimated 115,000
people, especially in the municipalities of San Salvador , Chilcuautla
Many Otomis still use garments made of undyed cotton called "manta". Women wear a blouse or shirt with a square neckline, which has embroidery. Over this many wear quechquemitls , of blue, purple, or black wool, as well as rebozos in similar colors and designs. The lower half of the body is covered by a wraparound skirt. Women usually braid their hair with ribbons or strips of fabric, and wear huarache sandals.
The Otomi municipality of Ixmiquilpan is noted for its use of insect projects such as escamoles (ant eggs/larvae) and mezcal worms . These are often eaten in tacos or gorditas , along with various sauces. Another important food is the nopal cactus, as well as seeds and flowers from other cactus species. The Muestra Gastronómica del Valle del Mezquital, which began in 1980, is an annual demonstration of the gastronomic and cultural diversity of the valley. It is held in the community of Santiago de Anaya and includes indigenous storytelling and dance along with food.
A significant percentage of the population lives under what is called
usos y costumbres (uses and customs), a legal way to allow indigenous
communities to keep traditional authority structures. These are
concerned with community rather than individual welfare, based on
systems from the pre-Hispanic and colonial periods. These particularly
apply to Otomi communities. However, there have been problems with
these, with sanctions deemed severe and authorities accused of being
arbitrary. There have also been problems with tribal law conflicting
with the rights guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution . For example,
in Ixmiquilpan, Tasquillo,
Since the latter 20th century, the valley has become an important
agricultural center for the state of Hidalgo, growing corn, beans,
wheat, onions, tomatoes, cactus fruit, and peaches; the valley also
produces one-quarter of all green chili peppers grown in Mexico. It
also produces alfalfa , principally used to feed the area's cattle.
A small but important quantity of lettuce, cabbage, cilantro ,
radishes, carrots, spinach, and parsley is grown. There are also a
number of fish farms , especially in
Tezontepec de Aldama . About 61%
of the population works in agriculture, which has been made possible
by the diversion of wastewater from the neighboring Valley of Mexico
through the Tula River. Sixty percent of the farmland is irrigated
with wastewater. Thirty nine percent of the farmland is dependent on
clean water sources such as wells and rain, and only 0.38 percent is
irrigated with treated water. The areas most dependent on wastewater
are: Actopan ,
Economic development includes industry especially in the south. Tula has a major oil refinery as well as an electrical plant. Fabric is woven in Tepeji , cement in Cruz Azul, Atotonilco. and Huichapan. Ixmiquipan and Actopan are important regional commercial centers. Traditional handcrafts include items made from ixtle fiber, baskets, weaving, pottery, and wood items. There are water parks and hiking areas in the mountain areas, which mostly attract families from the state of Hidalgo. These include El Xicuco (between Tula and Tlahuililpan), El Hualtepec (near Huichapan), and Los Frailes (near Actopan).
The valley has been populated at least since the Mesoamerican period,
especially in the south around what is now Tula . It is considered to
be the northern edge of Mesoamerica, with evidence of agriculture on
terraces and some irrigation, at least in Tula, as well as
hunter-gatherer communities. While there has been work on a number of
sites, many have been damaged or destroyed by the irrigation works
related to the Tula River, as well as areas in Ixmiquilpan, Actopan,
Mixquiahuala, Tlahuililpan, and Ajacuba. In the Preclassic period ,
there were small settlements showing influence from
Ticoman. The settlement of the northwest of the valley began in the
Classic period by Xajay groups with possible Chupicuaro-Mixtlan
connections. The southeast was settled by those affiliated with
The most significant pre-Hispanic city was Tula , which came to
regional prominence after the fall of
While the Otomi presence is notable since the Epiclassic period , the
valley became dominated by this ethnicity in the Postclassic period ,
when the rise of the
Only after the Spanish conquest did the Otomi of the valley become more settled, although to this day there are some fringe groups which still maintain much of the hunter-gatherer traditions. The Tula area was initially ruled for the Spanish by Pedro Miahuazochil in Tula and Pedro Rodríguez de Escobar in Ixmiquilpan. The ecology of the valley began to change dramatically in the colonial period, mostly due to logging and the introduction of grazing animals, especially sheep, causing erosion and other damage.
During the Mexican War of Independence , insurgent forces under Ignacio López Rayón made camp to Ixmiquilpan and also defeated royalist forces in the nearby village of Tamaleras, now called López Rayón. In 1854 a local uprising, especially in the communities of Orizabita and Remedios, arose in response to the excessive taxes levied by Ixmiquilpan authorities. The protesters were led by Sotero Lozano, who was called a bandit. This leader was most active in the towns of Actopan and Cardonal, his hometown.
However, because of climate, the valley remained sparsely populated and very poor from the colonial period until the 20th century. In the early 20th century, a rail line was built to link the valley to Pachuca . The rail line was planned by Englishman Richard Honey, who came to Ixmiquilpan with his family to settle. The rail line was supposed to run from Pachuca to Tampico , Tamaulipas but it was built only as far as Ixmilquilpan.
At this time efforts to divert water from the Tula River for irrigation began, with the Tecolote Dam built along with the El Morelos and El Moro Canals. Later the Capula Dam was built, along with another canal to bring wastewater in from the Valley of Mexico.
In the 1940s the Mexico City/Laredo highway was built through the area, which gave the valley more connection with the outside world.
In 1951, by presidential decree, the Patrimonio Indígena del Valle de Mezquital (Valley of Mezquital Indigenous Heritage) was created in Ixmiquilpan by President Miguel Alemán Valez and state governor D. Quintín Rueda Villagran to promote Mezquital Otomi culture and education. These and many other infrastructure and economic development projects have changed much of the valley's way of life, especially in Tula and Ixquimilpan.
Today the valley is an important agricultural region for the state of
Hidalgo, growing corn, beans, wheat, onions, tomatoes, cactus fruit,
and peaches. It produces one-quarter of Mexico's green chili peppers.
However, there are still problems with poverty, especially among the
Otomis. From the 1980s, many Otomis migrated away from the valley to
the United States, with large communities from this area settling in
The valley has also had recurring conflicts over land and water
resources, especially in Cardonal, Ixmiquilpan, and Tasquillo. The
disputes have resulted in numerous protests and affected local
elections. While the situation is not as dire as in various
municipalities in the state of
Main plaza of Ixmiquilpan
The town of
Ixmiquilpan is the center of the Mezquital Valley,
especially its Otomi population. The center of this town is its
parish church, named after the
The city of
Tula de Allende was built on what was the southern
extension of the ancient city of Tula , centered on a former monastery
built by the Spanish in the 16th century. The modern city is still
connected to the ancient ruins, as it is an important tourist
attraction as well as a symbol of the city, especially the warrior
figures located on the
Warrior statue/columns at the Tula archeological site
The most important archeological site of the valley is Tula ,
although this is overshadowed by its predecessor
The modern archaeological site consists of the ceremonial center of
Tula Grande, an area called Tula Chico, the
Jorge R. Acosta site
museum, and the Guadalupe Mastache orientation center. The ceremonial
center of the city is located on a limestone outcropping, with steep
banks on three sides, making it defensible. War and sacrifice are
prominent themes at the site, with images representing warriors such
as jaguars and coyotes, as well as eagles eating human hearts. There
are also images of serpents eating skeletal figures and skulls in
various areas. The major attraction of the site is Pyramid B, also
called the Pyramid of
Another important site is Pañhú , located in the community of La Mesilla in the municipality of Tecozautla. It is a Classic period city which coexisted along with Teotihuacan. However, its architecture is different from that of the larger city, especially the substructure of the main pyramid which is unlike any other in Mesoamerica. This probably means that it was at least semi-autonomous from Teotihuacan. The archeological site was opened to the public in 2012.
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Links: ------ /wiki/Otomi_language /wiki/Mexico_City /wiki/State_of_Hidalgo /wiki/Mexican_Plateau