Indigenous peoples in Mexico

The National Institute for Statistics and Geography (INEGI), the National Population Council (CONAPO) and the Economic Commission for Latin America (ECLAC) record a total of 16,933,283 indigenous people in Mexico, representing 15.1% of the total population (112,236,538). 

This population size makes Mexico the country with the largest indigenous population on the American continent, and the greatest number of native languages spoken within its borders, with 68 languages and 364 different dialects recorded.

Legislation and Autonomous Indigenous Governments

In 2001, as a result of the mobilization of indigenous peoples claiming the legalization of the “San Andres Accords” negotiated between the government and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional - EZLN) in 1996, the articles 1, 2, 4, 18 and 115 of the Mexican Constitution were amended.

From 2003 onwards, the EZLN and the Indigenous National Congress (Congreso Nacional Indígena - CNI) began to implement the Accords in practice throughout their territories, creating autonomous indigenous governments in Chiapas, Michoacán and Oaxaca. 

Although the states of Chihuahua, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo and San Luís Potosí have state constitutions with regard to indigenous peoples, indigenous legal systems are still not fully recognised.

The country ratified ILO Convention 169 in 1990 and, in 1992, Mexico was recognised as a pluricultural nation when Article 6 of the Constitution was amended. Mexico voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)s in 2007.

Yearly Update

Download the 2016 yearbook article on indigenous peoples in Mexico to learn about major developments and events during 2015.