History & Culture

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As archaeologist Phil Weigand puts it, the Huichol and their Cora neighbors had deep roots in the area where they are now settled in a sequence that had begun by the Mesoamerican Classic period (ca. 200-700 A. D.). The Corachol branch of this Uto-Aztecan language family leads linguists like Valiñas, cited by Weigand to consider the relative antiquity of this language group in the area. “This branch of Uto-Aztecan is far more closely related to the Taracahitan and Tepiman branches spoken to the north and west than to the Nahuan languages spoken farther east and south.”1 Furthermore, “In prehistoric times the Huicholes, the Coras and the Tepehuanos formed a single nation with the Opatas, the Tarahumaras and the Pimas” writes historian Salvador Gutiérrez Contreras,confirming the opinions of earlier historians Ignacio Dávila Garibi and Alberto Santoscoy.

Taller de telares en la comunidad de Tuapurie
05/29/2017

En 1982, un escritor francés, Jean-Paul Ribes, viajó a México para escribir un artículo para la revista Actuel1 sobre el chamanismo y los psicotrópicos, tomando a los wixaritari (huicholes) como ejemplo de uno de los últimos pueblos chamánicos vivos. Por entonces, mi padre, Juan Negrín Fetter, figuraba como uno de los principales estudiantes de la cultura y el arte wixárika, por lo cual le llegaban solicitudes por parte de académicos, funcionarios y psiconautas con la esperanza de que él les pudiera facilitar un vínculo con las comunidades wixaritari. Mi padre apenas llevaba unos diez años trabajando con artistas wixaritari en Jalisco y Nayarit, pero en ese lapso de tiempo había logrado crear amistades íntimas con varias familias, asesoró brevemente al Instituto Nacional Indigenista y había unido su interés por el arte con la defensoría territorial de los wixaritari ante la deforestación y otras amenazas contra la autonomía de este pueblo originario. 

En 1965, la memoria: "Operación huicot" de las ingenieros J. Manuel Arreguín González y Mónico Rosales Hernández, estableció las bases de un proyecto de desarrollo para la zona huichol, que fue agrandado y modificado en los dos últimos sexenios.

Hoy existe una significativa primera generacion de jóvenes más o menos alfabetizados, la propuesta explotación del bosque es factible con los nuevos caminos forestales y la ganadería se ha extendido, pero no se ha reducido la brecha de la ignorancia que nos separa de nuestros conciudadanos. Por demás, la transformación radical de un medio ambiente y de un grupo cultural desconocidos, acarrea consecuencias, a menudo desastrosas, para el hábitat ecológico y el ser humano.

La lucha de los indígenas que existen en nuestro país es llevada a cabo de manera diaria, por el simple hecho de ser, defienden sus creencias, culturas y territorios, el resultado de esta lucha es que aun las verdaderas etnias existen en nuestro país. Una manera fácil de acabar con estos grupos es la globalización que parece no poder detenerse.

Un ejemplo de quien realiza esta lucha es la comunidad Wixárika que se encuentra en la provincia fisiográfica de la Sierra Madre Occidental, región integrada por cuatro comunidades que son San Andrés Cohamiata (Ta tei kie), Bancos de San Hipólito (Uweni Mu yewe), Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán (Tuapurie), San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán (Waut+a) y su anexo Tuxpan de Bolaños (Tutsipa) y otros poblados que pertenecen culturalmente a estas comunidades.
 

The 2011 Pan American Games, to be held in October in Guadalajara, Mexico, have three mascots. One of them is Huichi, a caricature of the sacred Huichol deer, and according to Emilio González, Jalisco state Governor, and the Games Organising Committee, a "worthy ambassador of the Huichol". However, far from being a “worthy ambassador”, for the Huicholes Huichi represents a sacrilegious misuse of sacred Huichol symbology. If the government had bothered asking beforehand – which it didn’t – it would have found that out. In another sleight, the Huicholes, whose artisanry is famous worldwide, formally proposed having a fixed space to sell their artisanry during the games, but this was rejected, all of this by which time Huichi had already been made public. 

The Huichol tradition is rendered by three different terms: the first refers to our heart/ memory, tayeiyari- the second to how we develop, tanuiwari- the third to our life, tatukari, is transmitted by families, reinforced by communal living on extended family ranches and through clans at ceremonial centers, tukite (tukipa, sing.). Three places serve as the headquarters for what appear to be distinct Huichol subgroups, with ritual and dialectical variants.  Wautüa, Tuapurie, and Tatei Kie are the ceremonial centers where traditional authorities are selected to supervise the general political and religious activities within their communities, which include the other tukite on their periphery. 

The nierika is represented among the Huichol Indians of northwestern Mexico as a focal point on which powerful beings concentrate their energy. This may be as primordial as a well-crafted deer snare that induces the sacred animal’s willing self-immolation. It can be a symbolic spider’s web or threads attached to a wooden loop. Nierikate (plural) are holes penetrating the caves of the heart of darkness in the deep canyons and the crater of Burnt Peak, where Our Father rises from the underworld at dawn. 

The following exhibit can be applied not only to Wixárika (Huichol) but to any indigenous language, and is particularly dedicated to those indigenous languages in danger of becoming extinct. Only due to contextual and regional reasons have we decided to describe it and compare it in this manner. Furthermore, we are not trying to say that the Wixárika language is inferior to Spanish, to the contrary, we intend to make a fitting reflection regarding the preservation of indigenous languages. Let us thus begin.

The government has found it very difficult to ‘civilize’ the Huichol and integrate them as a dependent productive working class in the mountains. After independence was achieved from Spain, the laws of the reform passed under Benito Juárez during the 1850’s, restrained the power of the Catholic Church, but they also stopped recognizing Indian colonial land rights. Soon the Huichol, Cora, Tepehuan and Mexicanero Indian groups of the Western Sierra Madre were further dispossessed of their territory by their mixed blood neighbors. They rebelled, eventually uniting under Manuel Lozada, who joined French invading forces until they were stopped at Guadalajara, Jalisco, in 1873. Many of their land holdings were disenfranchised thereafter.

The Huichol were distinguished as xurute, according to a geographical map published in 1579, in the Atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (reproduced in various sources: Rojas, Neurath). The term vizurita is used by Father Tello, in his Crónica Miscelánea, written in 1652. The first reference to the huicholes as guisoles appears in a briefing to the bishop Ruiz Colmenares (between 1640 and 1650). Father Antonio Arias y Saavedra used the terms xamucas and huitzolmes in his chronicle (1673), the first ethnological work on the Indians of this area of the Sierra Madre, according to historian Gutiérrez Contreras.