See L. B. Simpson, The Encomienda in New Spain (rev. ed. 1966); J. F. Bannon, Indian Labor in the Spanish Indies (1966).
In colonial Spanish America, a system by which the Spanish crown defined the status of the Indian population in its colonies. An encomienda consisted of a grant by the crown of a specified number of Indians living in a particular area. The receiver (encomenderos) could exact tribute from the Indians and was required to protect them and instruct them in the Christian faith. The encomienda did not include a grant of land, but in practice the encomenderos gained control of Indian lands. Though the original intent was to reduce the abuses of forced labour, in practice it became a form of enslavement.
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