What Were People of Mixed Spanish and Indian Heritage Called?

People of mixed Spanish and Indian heritage were traditionally called mestizos. As of 2000, this traditional ethnic group constituted around 60 percent of Mexico's population. The term is sometimes used more generally to refer to anyone of mixed ethnic heritage.

Prior to Mexico's independence, Spanish ministers classified people in their parishes according to their ethnicity. In addition to mestizo, the terms used in these early census records, which were taken on the basis of baptisms and marriages, were:

  • Espanol (purely white or Spanish)
  • Indio (purely Indian)
  • Negro (purely African)
  • Mulatto (equally Spanish and African)
  • Zambo (equally Indian and African)
  • Lobo (three quarters African and one quarter Indian)

It is important to note that some of these terms may be considered offensive.