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Related to repartimiento: cacique


(rāpärtēmyĕn`tō), in Spanish colonial practice, usually, the distribution of indigenous people for forced labor. In a broader sense it referred to any official distribution of goods, property, services, and the like. From as early as 1499, deserving Spaniards were allotted pieces of land, receiving at the same time the native people living on them; these allotments were known as encomiendas (see encomiendaencomienda
[Span. encomendar=to entrust], system of tributory labor established in Spanish America. Developed as a means of securing an adequate and cheap labor supply, the encomienda was first used over the conquered Moors of Spain.
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) and the process was the repartimiento; the two words were often used interchangeably. The encomienda was almost always accompanied by a system of forced labor and other assessments exacted from the indigenous people. The system endured and was the core of peonagepeonage
, system of involuntary servitude based on the indebtedness of the laborer (the peon) to his creditor. It was prevalent in Spanish America, especially in Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru.
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 in New Spain. The assessment of forced labor was called the mita in Peru and the cuatequil in Mexico.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a term that came into use at the end of the 15th century in Spain’s American colonies to designate the distribution of the land, indigenous population, and goods among the Spanish colonists.

One of the frequent instances of repartimiento was the transfer of Indians to the encomienda system. In colonial Mexico, the term repartimiento denoted the labor duty (analogous to the Peruvian mita) that obliged all male Indians, with the exception of Indian leaders, from the ages of 15 to 50 to work for a certain part of each year in, for example, mining, agriculture, and the construction of roads and buildings.


Al’perovich, M. S. “O kharaktere i formakh ekspluatatsii indeitsev v amerikanskikh koloniiakh Ispanii.” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1957, no. 2.
Ivanov, G. I. “Repartim’ento v Meksike v XVI–XVIII vv.” Uch. zap. Ivanovskogo ped. in-ta, 1964, vol. 35.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Los indigenas trasladaban la sal hasta Cerinza para abastecer por una parte, las necesidades del mercado naturales que habia en este repartimiento al que seguramente confluian indigenas de distintos cacicazgos de la zona de Tundama y Suamox.
Para Las Casas, la encomienda esta, junto con las guerras de conquista (39), en la raiz de todos los males indianos, por lo que el es inequivoco en cuanto a su rechazo de la misma: "de no haberse remediado sino [...] inficionado y estragado y despoblado todo este orbe--asegura en su Historia de las Indias-, aquella vastativa [sir] e infernal repartimiento que baptizaron con el nombre de 'encomiendas' [tiene] la culpa" (40).
Part of a growing trend that questions long-standing characterizations of the repartimiento as entirely exploitative, Patch adds a corrective by demonstrating that indigenous communities used the repartimiento to acquire necessary goods.