Are Aztecs considered Native American? Aztecs are considered Native American for two reasons. First, because they lived in the American continent. Second, because they inhabited the land before colonization by Europeans. Part of the curiosity of this question stems from whether we’re talking about the America the continent or the United States.
What do you mean by America?
A common word to refer to the United States by many is the word “America.” This breeds a little confusion because America is a continent, not just one country. You may hear of people of Europe or Asia in history who dreamed of emigrating to “America,” when in fact they dreamed of emigrating to the United States. America, however, is the western continents, which are divided into North America and South America. So, the clarification here is that Aztecs were native to the American continent and are therefore Native Americans. They were not, however, native to the United States area.
Why are Aztecs native even though their ancestors came from Asia?
There will always be someone who mentions that Aztecs are descendants of the people from the second migration of Asia into America, through crossing of the ice “bridge” that formed between northeastern Asia and northwestern North America. The intent of such comment is as a rebuttal to the claim that Aztecs were Native Americans. Well, this second migration occurred circa 12,000 B.C., so if the Aztecs are not native after their ancestors had been in the Americas for thousands upon thousands of years, at what point can you claim nativity? Or from a different perspective, what if we could definitively trace where the first humans lived? Then, by the same logic, nobody would be native to any place other than the place humans originated.
Aztecs is not always the correct term
Before we move forward saying “Aztec this” and “Aztec that,” it may be important to note that most of the time that people say Aztec, they’re referring to the Mexica. Other uses of the word can include a broad set ethnic groups who spoke the Nahuatl language in Mesoamerica. A clear definition of the term Aztec has been the topic of much scholarly debate for a long time. This is, in part, because the Nahuatl words Aztecatl (singular) and Aztecah (plural) mean “people from Aztlan,” which is a mythical place where many of the ethnic groups of central Mexico claim to have originated. Emphasis on mythical.