Featured Articles

“AMLO, PRESIDENT, WE ASK FOR AN AUDIENCE.” The caravan makes its way along the highways of Zapópan on the outskirts of Guadalajara - Photograph ©Tracy Barnett 2022

Mothers pushing baby carriages, grandmothers and grandfathers in their 70s and even a man in a wheelchair joined the ranks of the 200 Indigenous Wixárika people making their way nearly 1,000 kilometers along the sweltering highways of México in a generations-long battle to recover their stolen lands. The Wixárika Caravan for Dignity and Justice departed from the Western Sierra Madre on April 25 and has been walking ever since, camping alongside the highway and rising at dawn to carry on.

Historic Wixárika Ceremony, Cerro Quemado, Feb. 6, 2012. Photo: Tracy L. Barnett

It is that time of year again, when, since time immemorial, the Wixárika people are preparing their offerings. The candles of life, the chaquira gourd bowls, the God’s eyes, the prayer arrows. They are beginning to retrace the arduous journey of their ancestors, carried out every year in sacred reciprocity for the gift of life. 

Bosques de pino en San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán. Foto: Agustín Castillo.

Pine forests in San Sebastián Teponahuaxtlán. Image courtesy of Agustín Castillo.

The Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern Mexico boasts vast forests that are home to Indigenous communities such as the Wixárika people (or Huichols). Across the largest forest reserves in Jalisco, just three communities are spread across an area of more than 400,000 hectares (988,421 acres), equivalent to one-fifth the size of El Salvador. But this natural wealth is not reflected in the residents’ living conditions. Now, several stakeholders are coming together to help change this narrative.

Gerardo Ruiz Smith speaking to those who attended the training in Wirikuta.

Regenerative agriculture expert Gerardo Ruiz Smith, right, is passionate about bringing back keystone species like the giant mesquite that the group stood under as he shared stories and expertise. (Diana Negrín photo)

On the morning of July 31, 2021, a group of 40 people assembled in the hamlet of Las Margaritas in the sacred land of Wirikuta, in the high plateaus of the Chihuahuan Desert of north-central Mexico. Local farmers in cowboy hats and baseball caps gathered alongside young indigenous Wixárika women and men who had come from their communities in the western states of Jalisco and Nayarit. There were also a dozen non-local and foreign attendees who happened to be in Margaritas or who had put down roots and established homes and working relations in the region.

Wirikuta - Fotografía ©Juaquin Urrutia 2021

When it rains in the high plateaus of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, the dampened earth releases a scent that showcases its unique biodiversity. 

 

Featured Artwork

Visions of Blue Deer in Wirikuta - Juan Ríos Martínez 1973

"The Blue Deer and the Eagle, who is the two-headed eagle of the skies, and the Hummingbird reached (the sacred eastern desert called) Wirikuta through great sacrifice. Upon reaching Burnt Peak (at far right), they delivered the arrow, the corn and a bowl as offerings to the gods who live there."  (Translation of the text written on the backside of the yarn painting and signed by the artist.

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This book was jointly published by the Secretary of Culture for the State of Jalisco, Mexico and the Wixárika Research Center in honor of the Year of Indigenous Languages and to celebrate the exhibit Grandes Maestros del Arte Wixárika: Acervo Negrín at the Museo Cabañas in Guadalajara (June 21, 2019 - January 12, 2020). This is a tri-lingual publication - Spanish, English and Wixárika.
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