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HandWiki. Handbook of Middle American Indians. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 20 June 2024).
HandWiki. Handbook of Middle American Indians. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 20, 2024.
HandWiki. "Handbook of Middle American Indians" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 20, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, October 28). Handbook of Middle American Indians. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Handbook of Middle American Indians." Encyclopedia. Web. 28 October, 2022.
Handbook of Middle American Indians

Handbook of Middle American Indians (HMAI) is a sixteen-volume compendium on Mesoamerica, from the prehispanic to late twentieth century. Volumes on particular topics were published from the 1960s and 1970s under the general editorship of Robert Wauchope. Separate volumes with particular volume editors deal with a number of general topics, including archeology, cultural anthropology, physical anthropology, linguistics, with the last four substantive volumes treating various topics in Mesoamerican ethnohistory, under the editorship of Howard F. Cline. Select volumes have become available in e-book format. A retrospective review of the HMAI by two anthropologists discusses its history and evaluates it. One review calls it a fundamental work. Another reviewer says "since the first volume of the HMAI appeared in 1964 is far and away the most comprehensive and erudite coverage of native cultures of any region in the Americas." A review in the journal Science says that "There can be little doubt that, like the Handbook of South American Indians, this monumental synthesis will provide a sound basis for new generalizations and will stimulate additional research to fill the gaps in knowledge and understanding that will become apparent. Starting in 1981, six volumes in the Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians were published under the general editorship of Victoria Bricker.

archeology knowledge mesoamerica

1. Volumes of the Handbook of Middle American Indians

Volume 1. Natural Environment and Early Cultures, Robert C. West, volume editor. 1. Geohistory and Paleogeography of Middle America (Manuel Maldonado-Koerdell); 2. Surface Configuration and Associated Geology of Middle America (Robert C. West); 3. The Hydrography of Middle America (Jorge L. Tamayo, in collaboration with Robert C. West); 4. The American Mediterranean (Albert Collier); 5. Oceanography and Marine Life along the Pacific Coast (Carl L. Hubbs and Gunnar I. Roden); 6. Weather and Climate of Mexico and Central America (Jorge A. Vivo Escoto); 7. Natural Vegetation of Middle America (Philip L. Wagner); 8. The Soils of Middle America and their Relation to Indian Peoples and Cultures (Rayfred L. Stevens); 9. Fauna of Middle America (L. C. Stuart); 10. The Natural Regions of Middle America (Robert C. West); 11. The Primitive Hunters (Luis Aveleyra Arroyo de Anda); 12. The Food-gathering and Incipient Agriculture Stage of Prehistoric Middle America (Richard S. MacNeish); 13. Origins of Agriculture in Middle America (Paul C. Mangelsdorf, Richard S. MacNeish, and Gordon R. Willey); 14. The Patterns of Farming Life and Civilization (Gordon R. Willey, Gordon F. Ekholm, and Rene F. Millon)

Volumes 2-3. Archeology of Southern Mesoamerica, Gordon R. Wiley, volume editor.

Volume 4. ‘’Archeological Frontiers and External Connections G.F. Ekholm and G. R. Wiley, volume editors.

Volume 5. ‘’Linguistics, Norman A. McQuown, volume editor.

Volume 6. Social Anthropology, Manning Nash, volume editor. 1.Introduction, Manning Nash; 2. Indian Population and its Identification, Anselmo Marino Flores; 3.Agricultural Systems and Food Patterns, Angel Palerm; 4. Settlement Patterns, William T. Sanders; 5. Indian Economies, Manning Nash; 6. Contemporary Pottery and Basketry, George M. Foster; 7. Laquer, Katharine D. Jenkins; 8. Textiles and Costume, A.H. Gayton; 9. Drama, Dance and Music, Gertrude Prokosch Kurath; 10. Play: Games, Gossip, and Humor; 11. Kinship and Family, A. Kimball Romney; 12. Compadrinazgo, Robert Ravicz; 13. Local and Territoria Units, Eva Hunt and June Nash; 14. Political and Religious Organizations, Frank Cancian; 15. Levels of Communal Relations, Eric R. Wolf; 16. Annual Cycle and Fiesta Cycle, Ruben E. Reina; 17. Sickness and Social Relations, Richard N. Adams and Arthur J. Rubel; 18. Narrative Folklore, Munro S. Edmonson; 19. Religious Syncretism, William Madsen; 20. Ritual and Mythology, E. Michael Mendelson; 21. Psychological Orientations, Benjamin N. Colby; 22. Ethnic Relationships, Julio de la Fuente; 23. Acculturation, Ralph L. Beals; 24. Nationalization, Richard N. Adams; 25. Directed Change, Robert H. Ewald; 26. Urbanization and Industrialization, Arden R. King

Volumes 7-8, Ethnology, Evon Z. Vogt, volume editor. Volume 7. Introduction (Evon Z. Vogt)Section I: The Maya 2; The Maya: Introduction (Evon Z. Vogt); 3. Guatemalan Highlands (Manning Nash); 4. The Maya of Northwestern Guatemala (Charles Wagley); 5. The Maya of the Midwestern Highlands (Sol Tax and Robert Hinshaw); 6. Eastern Guatemalan Highlands: The Pokomames and Chorti (Ruben E. Reina); 7. Chiapas Highlands (Evon Z. Vogt); 8. The Tzotzil (Robert M. Laughlin); 9. The Tzeltal (Alfonso Villa Rojas); 10. The Tojolabal (Roberta Montagu); 11. Maya Lowlands: The Chontal, Chol, and Kekchi (Alfonso Villa Rojas); 12. The Maya of Yucatan (Alfonso Villa Rojas); 13. The Lacandon (Gertrude Duby and Frans Blom); 14. The Huastec (Robert M. Laughlin); Section II: Southern Mexican Highlands and Adjacent Coastal Regions15. Southern Mexican Highlands and Adjacent Coastal Regions: Introduction (Ralph L. Reals); 16. The Zapotec of Oaxaca (Laura Nader); 17. The Chatino (Gabriel DeCicco); 18. The Mixtec (Robert Ravicz and A. Kimball Romney); 19. The Trique of Oaxaca (Laura Nader);20. The Amuzgo (Robert Ravicz and A. Kimball Romney); 21. The Cuicatec (Roberto J. Weitlaner); 22. The Mixe, Zoque, and Popoluca (George M. Foster); 23. The Huave (A. Richard Diebold, Jr.); 24. The Popoloca (Walter A. Hoppe, Andres Medina, and Roberto J. Weitlaner); 25. The Ichcatec (Walter A. Hoppe and Roberto J. Weitlaner); 26. The Chocho (Walter A. Hoppe and Roberto J. Weitlaner); 27. The Mazatec (Roberto J. Weitlaner and Walter A. Hoppe); 28. The Chinantec (Roberto J. Weitlaner and Howard F. Cline); 29. The Tequistlatec and Tlapanec (D. L. Olmsted); 30. The Cuitlatec (Susana Drucker, Roberto Escalante, and Roberto J. Weitlaner); Volume 8, Section III: Central Mexican Highlands; 31. Central Mexican Highlands: Introduction (Pedro Carrasco); 32. The Nahua (William Madsen); 33. The Totonac (H. R. Harvey and Isabel Kelly); 34. The Otomi (Leonardo Manrique C.); Section IV: Western Mexico 35. The Tarascans (Ralph L. Beals); Section V: Northwest Mexico; 36. Northwest Mexico: Introduction (Edward H. Spicer); 37. The Huichol and Cora (Joseph E. Grimes and Thomas B. Hinton); 38. The Southern Tepehuan and Tepecano (Carroll L. Riley); 39. The Northern Tepehuan (Elman R. Service); 40. The Yaqui and Mayo (Edward H. Spicer); 41. The Tarahumara (Jacob Fried); 42. Contemporary Ethnography of Baja California, Mexico (Roger C. Owen); 43. Remnant Tribes of Sonora: Opata, Pima, Papago, and Seri (Thomas B. Hinton).

Volumes 6 & 7 were reviewed when the appeared. One reviewer highlights several articles, including those by Eric R. Wolf, Angel Palerm, and Willilam Sanders, but he goes on to say "These volumes are ... more valuable for reference than for reading. Sections dealing with distribution, history, and bibliography are very useful, but sections dealing with social structure or the character of the peoples generally fail to provide integrated analyses indicating the essential features."[1]

Volume 9. Physical Anthropology, T.D. Stewart, volume editor.

Volume 10-11. Archeology of Northern Mesoamerica, G. F. Ekholm and Ignacio Bernal, volume editors.

Volumes 12-15, Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Howard F. Cline, Volume editor.

Volume 12, Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Part 1. (1972) 1.“Introductory Notes on Territorial Divisions of Middle America” , Howard F. Cline, pp. 17–62; 2. “Colonial New Spain, 1519-1786: Historical Notes on the Evolution of Minor Political Jurisdictions”, Peter Gerhard, pp. 63–137; 3. “Viceroyalty to Republics, 1786-1952: Historical Notes on the Evolution of Middle American Political Units,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 138–165; 4.“Ethnohistorical Regions of Middle America,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 166–182; 5.“The Relaciones Geográficas of the Spanish Indies, 1577-1648,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 183–242; 6.“The Pinturas (Maps) of the Relaciones Geográficas, with Catalogue,” Donald Robertson, pp. 243–278; 7.“The Relaciones Geográficas, 1579-1586: Native Languages,” H.R. Harvey, pp. 279–323; 8.“A Census of the Relaciones Geográficas of New Spain, 1579-1612,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 324–369; 9.“The Relaciones Geográficas of Spain, New Spain, and the Spanish Indies: An Annotated Bibliography,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 370–395; 10.“The Relaciones Geográficas of Mexico and Central America, 1740-1792,” Robert C. West, pp. 396–452.

Volume 13. Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources, Part 2. (1973) 11, “Published Collections of Documents Relating to Middle American Ethnohistory”, Charles Gibson; 12, “An Introductory Survey of Secular Writings in the European Tradition on Colonial Middle America, 1503-1818,” J. Benedict Warren, pp. 42–137; 13. “Religious Chronicles and Historians: A Summary and Annotated Bibliography,” Ernest J. Burrus, S.J.; 14. “Bernardino de Sahagún, 1499-1590A. “Sahagún and His Works,” Nicolau d’Olwer and Howard F. Cline, 186-206; B. “Sahagún’s “Primeros Memoriales.” Tepepulco, H. B. Nicholson, pp. 207–217; C. “Sahagún’s Materials and Studies,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 218–239; 15. “Antonio de Herrera, 1549-1625,” Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois, pp. 240–255; 16. “Juan de Torquemada, 1564-1624,” José Alcina Franch, pp. 256–275; 17. “Francisco Javier Clavigero, 1731-1787, “ Charles F. Ronan, S. J., pp. 276–297; 18. “Charles Etienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, 1814-1874,” Carroll Edward Mace, pp. 298–325; 19. “Hubert Howe Bancroft, 1832-1918,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 326–347; 20. “Eduard Georg Seler, 1849-1922,” H. B. Nicholson, pp. 348–369; 21, “Select Nineteenth-Century Mexican Writers on Ethnohistory,” Howard F. Cline, pp. 370–403. Carlos María de Bustamante, José Fernando Ramírez, Manuel Orozco y Berra, Joaquín García Icazbalceta, Alfredo Chavero, Francisco del Paso y Troncoso

Volume 14. Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources Part 3. (1975) 22. “A Survey of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts,” John B. Glass, pp. 3–80; 23. “A Census of Native Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts,” John B. Glass with Donald Robertson, pp. 81–252; 24. “Techialoyan Manuscripts and Paintings with a Catalog,” Donald Robertson, pp. 253–280; 25. “A Census of Middle American Testerian Manuscripts,” John B. Glass, pp. 281–296; 26. “A Catalogue of Falsified Middle American Pictorial Manuscripts,” John B. Glass, pp. 297–309; Illustrations and maps, 1-103

Volume 15. Guide to Ethnohistorical Sources Part 4. (1975) 27A. “Prose Sources in the Native Historical Tradition,” Charles Gibson, pp 312–319; 27B. “A Census of Middle American Prose Manuscripts in the Native Historical Tradition,” Charles Gibson and John B. Glass, pp. 322–400; 28. “A Checklist of Institutional Holdings of Middle American Manuscripts in the Native Historical Tradition,” John B. Glass, pp. 401–472; 29. “The Boturini Collection,” John B. Glass, pp. 473–486; 30. “Middle American Ethnohistory: An Overview,” H. B. Nicholson, pp. 487–505; 31.”Index of Authors, Titles, and Synonyms,” John B. Glass, pp. 506–536; 32. “Annotated References,” John B. Glass, pp. 537–724.

Volume 16. Handbook of Middle American Indians. Margaret A.L. Harrison, volume editor. (1976) – Bibliography for all volumes.

2. Supplement to the Handbook of Middle American Indians

General Editor, Victoria Bricker

  • Volume 1. Archeology, Jeremy Sabloff, volume editor.
  • Volume 2. Linguistics
  • Volume 3. Literatures, Munro S. Edmunson, volume editor. (1985)
  • Volume 4. Ethnohistory, Ronald Spores, volume editor (1986)
  • Volume 5. Epigraphy, Victoria Bricker
  • Volume 6. Ethnology, John D. Monaghan, volume editor (2000)


  1. Dessaint, A. (1971). Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, 13(3/4), 537-538. doi:10.2307/174943 accessed 24 May 2018.
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