Reliable figures are wanting as to the number of pure Mexican Indians. If the population of the Republic be estimated at fifteen millions, it should be safe to say that five millions of this number are indians of pure blood, speaking their old language, keeping alive much of the ancient life and thought. In some parts of Mexico, it almost seems as if what white-blood once existed is now breeding out. The indian of Mexico is conservative; he does not want contact with a larger world; his village suffices for his needs; he is ready to pay taxes for the sake of being let alone, to live in peace, after the way his fathers lived. In his bosom there is still hatred of the white man and the mestizo, and distrust of every stranger. The Chamula outbreak in 1868, and the Maya war just ended, are examples of this smouldering hatred. Mexico has a serious problem in its Indians; the solution of the problem has been attempted in various ways, according to whether the population dealt with was Totonac, Yaqui, Maya: it is no small task, to build a nation out of an indian population.
Soon after the publication of my “Indians of Southern Mexico,” I had the pleasure of presenting a copy of the book to President Diaz, and of looking through its pictures with him. When we came to the general view of Yodocono, and its little lake, tears stood in the old man’s eyes as he said, “Sir, that was my mother’s birthplace, and in her honor I have established, at my own expense, two schools, one for boys, and one for girls.” Looking at the round huts of Chicahuastla, he shivered, and remarked: “Ah, sir, but it is cold in Chicahuastla.” I replied, “Your Excellency, I see that you have been in Chicahuastla.” When he saw the Zapotec types, from the District of Tehuantepec, he said: “They are fine large fellows; they make good soldiers; when I was Governor of Oaxaca, I had a body-guard of them.”