The relationship between the Spanish and later the Guatemalan state with the Mayan Indians over the past four centuries is a fundamental component of Guatemalan political history. Since the beginnings of the nation, when the Mayans were political and military entities of power and independence with whom the Spanish had to come to terms; to the 1944-1954 "Revolutionary Era," when Indian communities were finally conceded limited social, economic, and political rights; and the period from 1979 to 1984 in which the military regimes killed "tens of thousands by some estimates as high as 80,000" Indians; the Indian population has been persistently in the consciousness of national officials.

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Copyright © 1993 University of California, Davis. This article first appeared in Wicazo Sa Review 9:1 (April 1993), 17-31.

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