Wixarika News


In a stark collision of cultures, the famously mystical Huichol are trying to stop a $100 million, 15-year mining project from starting this year.

Birth of the Sun - Yarn painting by Guadalupe González Ríos 1973

This year, however, would be vastly different from years past. This year, the sacred lands of Wirikuta lay under the shadow of an uncertain future. Vast swaths of the protected, UNESCO-recognized reserve had been concessioned to Canadian mining companies, and hundreds of hectares had been bulldozed by agroindustrial companies. This year they were responding to a call that ran through all their communities, spread out through the Sierra Madre over four states: The candles of life were dying, and they would come together there to pray for their renewal.

The Birth of the Sun - Guadalupe González Ríos 1973

Wirikuta is one of the most important ceremonial centers for the collection and ceremonial use of peyote, and the Wixarika have been the historical guardians of the sacred hallucinogenic cactus, which they say puts them in contact with their ancestors and the spirits of the land. “We are indebted to them in this holy ground because they have cared for the medicine and they brought it to the North.”

The Birth of the Sun - Guadalupe González Ríos 1973

The Wixarika, more commonly known by their Spanish name, the Huicholes, hope to gain some insights in a historic “spiritual consultation” regarding the threats to their most sacred site, Wirikuta. The Huicholes have made their millenial pilgrimages to Wirikuta since the beginning of their history, and see it as their holiest altar of prayer, the place where they come to hunt their sacramental cactus, the peyote, and the place where the sun was born; but this protected reserve is the target of Canadian mining companies and agroindustrial businesses that see it as a resource to exploit.


More than 200 members of the Wixárika, or Huichol, people in late October marched through Mexico City against the concessions, most of which were for areas in the San Luis Potosi desert, where is Wirikuta, a 140,000-hectare (350,000-acre) area that is sacred to this group.

Santos de la Cruz

“We want life, we want to continue existing,” Wixáritari representative Santos de la Cruz said in a press conference this week in Mexico City.

Wixarika delegation organizers say: "Save Wirikuta: The Sacred Heart of Mexico" [Gabriela Delgadillo/Al Jazeera]

The context seems like a movie script, but it's deadly serious to the Wixarika, whose core cultural practice for more than a thousand years has consisted of regular pilgrimages to Wirikuta, the birthplace of the sun: a magical desert where the balance of life on Earth is maintained through a sacred cactus that carries the wisdom of a blue deer.


Video of Santos de la Cruz' speech at the United Nations Forum on Indigenous People.


By now, the delegate of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in San Luis Potosi, Joel Navarro Milan, was forced to declare that neither First Majestic Silver nor Pietro Sutti have filed formal requests nor submitted environmental impact statements (MIA): "Semarnat so far does not have recorded any project or request by the companies, because to do so they must first have an environmental impact study, but there is no record that they have done it" (The Express, St. Louis, April 8 2011).


Located in the state of San Luis Potosi, Wirikuta is one of the most biologically rich and diverse deserts in the world. In 1994 it was decreed “a Site of Cultural and Historic Heritage and an Area under Ecological Conservation”; in the year 2000 the protected area was expanded to 140 thousand hectares; and in 2001 it was declared a Sacred Natural Site by UNESCO. There is also a bird sanctuary in Wirikuta. In spite of this, it is currently under siege by First Majestic Silver, a Vancouver-based mining company that paid 3 million dollars to obtain 22 mining concessions in the area.