Mita (Inca)


Mita (Inca)

Mit'a (Quechua) was mandatory public service in the society of the Inca Empire. Historians use the hispanicized term mita to distinguish the system as it was modified by the Spanish, under whom it became a form of legal servitude which in practise bordered slavery.

Mit'a was effectively a form of tribute to the Inca government, in the form of labor, i.e. a corvée. In the Inca Empire, public service was required in community-driven projects such as the building of their extensive road network; military service was also mandatory, and all citizens who could perform labor were required to do so for a set number of days out of a year (the basic meaning of the word mit'a is a regular turn or a season). Incas who avoided mit'a service are said to have been hanged, stoned, or pushed off of cliffs. Due to the Inca Empire's wealth, a family would often only require sixty-five days to farm; the rest of the year was devoted entirely to the mit'a. The Spanish conquistadors also utilized the same labor system to supply the workforce they needed for the silver mines, which was the basis of their economy in the colonial period. The conquistadors used the concept of mit'a to suit their own needs, just as the Sapa Inca had done early on. Mit'a is considered to as the ancient and original version of mandatory state service.

The Incas elaborated creatively on a preexisting system of not only the mit'a exchange of labor but also the exchange of the objects of religious veneration of the peoples whom they took into their empire. This exchange ensured proper compliance among conquered peoples. In this instance huacas and pacarinas became significant centers of shared worship and a point of unification of their ethnically and linguistically diverse empire, bringing unity and citizenship to often geographically disparate peoples. This led eventually to a system of pilgrimages throughout all of these various shrines by the indigenous people of the empire prior to the introduction of Catholicism.

The mit'a labor draft is not to be confused with the related policy of deliberate resettlements referred to by the Quechua word mitma (mitmaq meaning "outsider" or "newcomer"), or its hispanicized forms mitima or mitimaes (plural). This involved transplanting whole groups of people of Inca background as colonists into new lands inhabited by newly conquered peoples. The aim was to distribute loyal Inca subjects throughout their empire to limit the threat of localized rebellions.

See also

Source

  • The Mountain Institute [1]

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