The Maya Indian peoples of Chiapas had been mobilizing politically for years before the Zapatista rebellion that brought them to international attention. This authoritative volume explores the different ways that Indians across Chiapas have carved out autonomous cultural and political spaces in their diverse communities and regions. Offering a consistent and cohesive vision of the complex evolution of a region and its many cultures and histories, this work is a fundamental source for understanding key issues in nation building. In a unique collaboration, the book brings together recognized authorities who have worked in Chiapas for decades, many linking scholarship with social and political activism. Their combined perspectives, many previously unavailable in English, make this volume the most authoritative, richly detailed, and authentic work available on the people behind the Zapatista movement.