Huastec (wäsˈtĕk) [key], indigenous people of the Pánuco River basin, E Mexico. They speak a Mayan language but are isolated from the rest of the Mayan stock, from whom they may have been separated prior to the arrival of the Spanish. Their culture did not develop along with that of the Maya. They remained apart from the later civilizations of the central plateau, such as the Aztec. Huastecan music and dancing have influenced some of the musical folklore of Mexico. The contemporary Huastec population, maintaining aspects of their traditional culture and language, numbers about 80,000 in the areas of Veracruz and San Luis Potosí.
See R. Wauchope, Handbook of Middle American Indians, Vol. III: Ethnology (ed. by E. Z. Vogt, 1964).