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Some of my most treasured childhood memories happened in or near a river. I can still feel the cold water on my feet, and the current that pulled me smoothly past rocks and branches. I remember vacations with my cousins, throwing ourselves into the river near my aunt and uncle’s country house, leaping from the tops of rocks or swinging from the branches of a tree. I remember summer road trips, driving down seemingly endless bridges over the great rivers of southern Mexico.

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. 
LA YESCA, Mexico, Dec 19(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Audelina Villagrana has run her ranch in Mexico's Western Sierra Madre mountains on her own since the death of her husband 23 years ago, herding livestock, hiring local Huichol people and even raising a young Huichol boy like a son.
GUADALAJARA, Mexico, May 25 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - National, state and local officials warned the Mexican government of increasing violence and the need for extra security in the state of Jalisco, where two indigenous brothers were shot dead last week.

GUADALAJARA — As commissioner of public lands for the indigenous Wixárika territory of San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlán, Miguel Vázquez Torres was at the forefront of the legal fight to recover 10,000 hectares of indigenous ancestral lands from surrounding ranching communities. He was among those who repeatedly urged the federal and state governments to intervene to prevent violence in the increasingly tense region that had been the subject of land conflicts for more than a century and, more recently, an increasing presence on the part of the drug cartels.

The human avalanche began to flow from the ridgetop of the Sierra de Los Pajaritos around 10 am on Thursday, September 22: 500 indigenous Huichols, heirs to the old lords of the mountains, descended in a quiet tide into the valley Huajimic, in search of historical justice. The expectant landholders, who had succeeded them in the domain of these lands, observed them worriedly as an ominous sign.

A contingent of at least 1,000 indigenous Wixárika (Huichol) people in the Western Sierra Madre are gearing up to take back their lands after a legal decision in a decade-long land dispute with neighboring ranchers who have held the land for more than a century.
At 57 years old, Marcelina López has a very active life. She sews her own clothes, makes beautiful jewelry, raises chickens, sells eggs, cooks, is a midwife and organizes the women of her community; all while faithfully conserving her traditions, those of the indigenous Wixárika people.

Yuka+ye Jesús Lara Chivarra’s path took him from the Huichol Sierra to the halls of power. He hobnobbed with rock stars and artists, he faced down police and corporate executives, he taught college students, film producers, attorneys, journalists – but he was always most at home in his village.

Leaders of the indigenous Wixarika people and the Wirikuta Defense Front, the civil society coalition that is supporting them, came forward in a Mexico City press conference recently to give an accounting of how the money was spent – an example of innovation in the face of daunting challenges.

 No further concessions will be allowed until a judgment has been resolved regarding the concessions in the Wirikuta Nature Reserve.

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.

Maude’s mission was a different one. She had come to see for herself what was at stake in Wirikuta, this most sacred of Huichol holy sites, currently slated for exploitation by Canadian mining companies.

Press Release
THE WIXARIKA REGIONAL COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENSE OF WIRIKUTA (CRW) AND THE FRONT IN DEFENSE OF WIRIKUTA (FDW) WELCOME A BIOSPHERE RESERVE DECREE WHICH RESPECTS AND PROTECTS OUR BIOCULTURAL HERITAGE, WHERE ANY MINING ACTIVITY IS PROHIBITED AND WHICH RECOGNIZES THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF OUR PEOPLE AND OUR BROTHERS THE FARMERS AND INHABITANTS OF WIRIKUTA.

They demand, “the establishment of a biosphere reserve that respects the biocultural rights of the Wixarika people and the campesinos that live within Wirikuta, prohibiting any mining exploration or exploitation in any form, in any stage, within the nuclear zone or buffer zones of wirikuta.  We also demand that the design and execution of a management plan be led by the Wixarika people and consultants of their free selection.” 

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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.

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 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.