The Guachichil, Cuauchichil, or Quauhchichitl, were an Indigenous peoples that occupied the most extensive territory of all the indigenous Chichimeca Nations tribes in pre-Columbian Central Mexico.
The Guachichiles roamed through a large region of Zacatecas; as well as portions of San Luis Potosí, Guanajuato, and northeastern Jalisco; south to the northern corners of Michoacán; and north to Saltillo in Coahuila.
Considered both warlike and brave, the Guachichiles played a major role in provoking the other Chichimeca tribes to resist the Spanish settlement. The historian Philip Wayne Powell wrote:
These warriors were known to fight fiercely even if mortally wounded and were a key component in the Spanish defeat during the Chichimeca Wars. Eventually Miguel Caldera, a half-Guachichil mestizo, played a role in effectively ending the war by diplomatic and pacification policies instead of attempting to subdue the Chichimecs by brute force.Origin of name
The Guachichiles were known to paint their bodies, hair, and faces in red dye. For this reason they were called "guachichile" by the Mexica; from the nahuatl kua-itl (head) and chichil-tic (red), meaning "heads painted red".
The Guachichil language is now extinct and very little is known about it. It may have been an Uto-Aztecan language closely related to the Huichol language.