In Pre-Columbian times the Huastec were part of the MesoAmerican cultures. From archaeological remains, they are thought to date back to approximately the 10th century BC, although their most productive period of civilization is usually considered to be the Post-Classic era between the fall of Teotihuacan and the rise of the Aztec Empire. The Pre-Columbian Huastec constructed temples on step-pyramids, carved independent standing sculptures, and produced elaborately painted pottery. The Huastec were unusual as one of the few cultures that attained civilization and built cities yet usually wore no clothing. They were admired for their abilities as musicians by other MesoAmerican peoples.
About 1450 the Huastec were defeated by Aztec armies under the leadership of Moctezuma I; the Huastec henceforth paid tribute to the Aztec Empire but retained a large degree of local self government.
The Huastec were conquered by the Spanish between 1519 and the 1530s. With the imposition of the Roman Catholic faith they were required to don clothing.
The Huastec language is still spoken, especially in rural areas, and the people retain traditions of characteristic music and dance. As of the late 20th century the Huastec population in Mexico was approximately 80,000 people.