One thing should here be noted, which is that when they distributed the cloth to each man according to the quantity required for clothing his family, no account was taken of what such a person might have of his own, because he was supposed to enjoy this without prejudice to his enjoying his share with the rest, even if a family possessed a large quantity. It is important to decide how this tribute may now be taken, with due regard to justice, from the estates of religion, of the Ynca, and of the community. For in the event of there being sufficient for the payment of this class of contribution, and of that which results from it and is made from the wool, but a deficiency under some other class, it would not be reasonable to make up such deficiency by an exaction from every head, which is the way that it is p. 161now made up. For if one Indian only has a single head of flock it will be taken for the tribute, while if another possesses a hundred head no more than one will be taken. This consideration gave rise to their own custom that no man should pay tribute from his own personal property, but only from the work of his hands, all working as a community. It is clear that the tribute of religion and the Ynca was levied from the whole community for the public service, while the private property of each man was held by favour from the Ynca, and, according to their laws, they had no other title to it. From this private property no tribute of any kind was exacted, even when it was considerable in amount. But all were obliged to do their part in producing the tribute demanded from the community. It is not right, therefore, that they should now be taxed by the head, but rather according to their estates. If there are a thousand Indians in a Repartimiento, among whom there are five hundred mitimaes6 who never possess any sheep, and if the tribute amounts to five hundred head, it is impossible to raise it. Consequently when, by reason of the flocks, the tribute is to be paid in sheep, it is necessary to ascertain to whom the sheep belong, and to assess the mitimaes and the natives separately. Thus the difficulty will be overcome, and the injustice will be avoided. The community is composed of rich and poor, and the tribute of sheep should be distributed among those who breed them, without including any poor man who happens to have acquired a single sheep. For this immunity should be granted, and the matter is of sufficient importance to justify this digression.
The same remark applies to the tax which is exacted throughout the Collao and the province of Charcas where they have flocks. This consists in having to convey to Potosi a quantity of provisions in proportion to the number of sheep in the flock. This class of tribute was well known p. 162in the time of the Yncas, because they carried tribute to Cuzco on the sheep of the Sun and of the Ynca in great quantities. But in assessing this burden the mitimaes were treated with great injustice; for, as they were all taxed together, the natives received their share, and the mitimaes theirs, so that the natives conveyed their provisions on their beasts, while the mitimaes had to carry them on their own backs, for a distance of forty leagues and more. It is a serious matter for an Indian to have to carry three arrobas on his back, which is the weight of a fanega of flour, besides his own food, and the loss of time.
The ancient tribute was to sow the crops for the Ynca and for religion, and to reap them and carry the harvests to the store-houses, where there was always a superfluity.
Another mistake that has been made in levying taxes, especially in the Collao, through which the Indians have been much oppressed, is through their being ordered to pay a quantity of provisions according to the extent of the land they possess for sowing with papas, from which they make chuñus. For out of five years, there is but a small yield in three, so that the Indians have to pay all they possess. Thus the men and their families suffer throughout the year by reason of the tribute.
On the death of an owner of land, the heirs and descendants possessed it in common, without the power of dividing it; but the person who represented the Ayllu had the charge, and all the rest enjoyed the fruits in common, which were divided among them in the following manner: If a son of the first possessor had six sons, and another son had two, each one had equal shares, and there were as many shares as persons. At the time of sowing they all had to be present to divide the crop; and at the harvest if any one, even though a descendant, had not been at the sowing, he could neither take his share nor give it to another. Yet even if he was absent ten years, he did not lose his right, if he p. 163chose to be at the sowing; and even when there were so many descendants as that there was scarcely a mazorca of maize for each, the rule was still observed; and it is still kept up in the district of Cuzco, where the lands are held in this manner.
This custom of each descendant having a right to a share, should be known when any business connected with the levying of taxes is to be arranged. Thus the lands belonged to the whole village, and he who did not work at the sowing had no share in the harvest.
The reason may now be understood why, in so many lawsuits that are submitted to the Corregidores and Audiencias, scarcely any are between an Indian and another of the same village, but between one village and another.
After the Spaniards came, the Indians continued for a long time to till the lands of the Ynca and of religion, and to store up the harvests according to the old custom, and to burn a portion in sacrifice, believing that a time would come when they would have to give an account to the Ynca. When the President Gasca marched through the valley of Xauxa against Gonzalo Pizarro, I remember that he rested there for seven weeks, and they found stores of maize there for several years, upwards of fifteen thousand fanegas near the road. When they understood that these reserved lands might be sown for their own profit, the people of different villages began to sow them, and hence arose many lawsuits.
When people went to work on land out of their own district, it was also for the Ynca and religion, and the land set apart for this was called suyus. But there were also some Indians left to irrigate and guard these suyus, who, though in a land beyond their own district, were always subject to their chiefs, and not to the chiefs in the land where they resided. These are a different class of men from the mitimaes, who were removed from the jurisdiction of the chiefs under whom they were born.
It should be understood how those lands which were tilled belonged to the sowers. In the Collao, where no maize can be raised, the people had lands on the coast, and sent men down to till them, near Arequipa for instance. In the time of the Marquis of Cañete, who was Viceroy of these kingdoms,7 owing to information which I supplied, these suyus were returned as belonging to the province of Chucuito, but all the others suffer by reason of this custom not being understood.
The order which, up to this time, has been adopted for the conversion of the Indians, is for the priests to visit each village, with a book showing who are baptized, who are married, who have more than one wife. Thus the shepherd knows his sheep and is known by them. The ancient custom by which no man moved from his district, was a marvellous aid.
The rules of New Spain, where the country is very populous, are not applicable to this land. This was well understood by that prudent and illustrious worthy Don Antonio de Mendoza,8 whose memory will long be cherished, and whose loss will be felt more every day by his Majesty and by the people of the Indies. At the end of a year, during which he had studied the affairs of this land, though he was suffering from illness, he said that before issuing any orders it was necessary to do three things—first, to see the country; second, to know the capacity of the Indians; and third, to understand their customs, rules, manner of living, and ancient system of taxation. For all this it was necessary that he should have had better health and fewer years.
The order established by the Ynca in matters relating to the chase, was that none should hunt beyond the limits of his own province; and the object of this was that the game, while proper use was made of it, should be preserved. After p. 165the tribute of the Ynca and of religion had been paid, leave was given to supply the requirements of the people. Yet the game multiplied by reason of the regulations for its conservation, far more rapidly than it was taken, as is shown by the registers they kept, although the quantity required for the service of the Ynca and of religion was enormous. A regular account was kept of all the hunts, a thing which it would be difficult for me to believe if I had not seen it.
The Ynca made similar regulations with regard to the forests, in the districts where they were of any importance. They were assigned for the use of the regions where there was a want of fuel, and these forests were called moyas of the Ynca, though they were also for the use of the districts in the neighbourhood of which they grew. It was ordained that they should be cut in due order and licence, according to the requirements. It should therefore be understood that the pastures, the hunts, and the forests were used in common under fixed regulations; and the greatest benefit that his Majesty could confer on these Indians, next to their conversion, would be to confirm the same order established by the Yncas, for to frame new rules would be an infinite labour.