Honoring the indigenous connection to the San Pedro Mezquital River

Photo ©Camilo Thompson / AIDA

Photo ©Camilo Thompson / AIDA

In Northwest Mexico, the Western Sierra Madre Mountains rise like giants from the coastal wetlands of the Gulf of California to the Central Mexican Plateau. Indigenous communities have long found shelter in these isolated lands, and the space to maintain their culture and way of life.

The region’s last free-flowing river cuts smoothly through the mountains, carving out fertile valleys, carrying fresh water and life downstream to the wetlands of Marismas Nacionales. The Nayeri and Wixárika people venerate the San Pedro Mezquital River. It brings life to their lands, and many of their sacred sites are dotted along its winding path.

Despite its importance, the river—and with it the rights of more than 15,000 indigenous peoples—are at risk from the proposed Las Cruces hydroelectric dam. The dam’s reservoir would flood 14 sacred ceremonial sites, and threaten their culture and way of life.

I was honored to walk alongside the Nayeri and Wixárika people last May, and participate in a joint ceremony intended to show their commitment to defending their rights in the face of this government-sponsored megaproject. It’s a commitment that was recently and formally manifested again, when representatives presented their case before the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

The images I captured of that pilgrimage are a testament to the beauty and strength of the living indigenous cultures of the Western Sierra Madre.  Follow the link below to read more...