This paper examines Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl's Historia de la nacion chichimeca as an example of the spread of western literacy and colonial semiosis described in Walter Mignolo's The Darker Side of the Renaissance. Playing upon the always unstable line between pre-colonial past and post-conquest present, between European and Nahua, Alva Ixtlilxochitl's history not only carries forward pre-conquest historiographical traditions but contests the colonial present through a strategic construction of a "Europeanized" past in which his pre-conquest hero, king Nezahualcoyotl, becomes another great king in the Old Testament tradition. His work is emblematic, even at this early moment in the "Occidentalization" of the globe, of the ways that European economic exploitation often elicited cross-class ethnic solidarity, as well as of the strategic deployment on the part of the colonized elite of their dual linguistic and cultural heritage.