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.
Wirikuta es uno de los Sitios Sagrados Naturales más importantes de los Wixaritari (pl): de acuerdo a su cosmovisión, Wirikuta es uno de los cinco puntos cardinales de donde emanaron los dioses y al que periódicamente se dirigen en peregrinación las distintas comunidades del pueblo Wixárika para recrear el recorrido que hicieron sus antepasados para dar origen del mundo.
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.
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.
Those were the concerns expressed in an interview with La Jornada, by representatives of the Wixarika communities who are preparing a series of actions to reject the activities of the mining company. Last Thursday they paid a visit to the Senate to express their opposition.
The Huichol believe a god appeared here in the form of a deer. With his antlers he first raised the sun into the heavens. So each year the Huichol trek across 800 kilometres of arid wilderness to their sacred summit Leunar. There they eat a sacred cactus and pray “that our ancient culture does not disappear. . . and the candles of life that give meaning to our identity are renewed.”