The history of the huichol communities in the sierra madre region of western mexico

Tweet One of the perks of living at Lakeside is the ubiquitous exposure to the religious art of the Huichol people. The artwork, so vibrant in color and rich in symbolism, effortlessly draws the viewer into its compelling world of magic and myth. Chapala Lake, with its small villages sprawled along the banks, is considered a sacred region to the Huichol Indians.

The history of the huichol communities in the sierra madre region of western mexico

Huichole, Tevi, Wizarika Orientation Identification. The name "Huichol" is the term Spaniards used when referring to this group and is possibly a corruption of the name for either the Guachichil or the Wizarika. Some scholars believe the Huichol were originally the desert-dwelling culture known as the "Guachichil," who, in turn were one of the many people collectively called "Chichimec.

Its meaning is unclear, but scholars have proposed various interpretations: The rugged sierra was formed in the Tertiary period with the lava flows from active volcanoes.

The Huichol occupy some of the most rugged terrain in the mountain chain, characterized by high mesas, sheer cliffs, and deep river valleys ranging in elevation from approximately meters to over 1, meters.

The geography of the sierra consists of extremes, creating natural barriers that have served to insulate the Huichol from the outside world. The tops of the mesa are covered with oak and pine forest.

In the lower elevations are subtropical scrub vegetation and thorn forests, which include such genera as Acacia, Ficus, Lysiloma, Ceiba, Bombax, Bursera, Opuntia, and Agave. The herbaceous vegetation is predominantly grasses and geophytes. The major river running through the Huichol territory, the Chapalagana, divides the land into two sections.

The Huichol who inhabit the land west of the river have experienced more acculturative pressures. They live in small groups in or around Cora Indian or mestizo settlements, or in urban centers. Those who live to the east have maintained more of their traditions. In this sierra environment, there are two major seasons—rainy and dry.

The driest months are December through May. Eighty percent of the annual precipitation of 80 centimeters falls in the rainy season, from June to October.

During the rainy season, the canyons at lower elevations are hotter and more humid than the mesas. In the dry seasons, the mesas are subject to colder weather, sometimes with frost and strong winds.

The number of Huichol at the time of Spanish contact is unknown. Rampant epidemics of measles and smallpox greatly reduced the population. In a Mexican government census placed the Huichol population at 4, From to numerous Huichol fled the sierra because of the turmoil created by the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero revolt see "History and Cultural Relations" and settled in several areas of Nayarit.

Larger numbers of Huichol began to migrate to the Nayarit coast as seasonal laborers, and, beginning in the s, some Huichol began to live in urban centers such as Tepic, Guadalajara, Zacatecas, and Mexico City. In the total number of Huichol was estimated to be around 10, with the greatest concentration, 6, living in rural Jalisco, and approximately 2, residing in urban centers.

The Mexican census placed the Huichol population over the age of 5 at 20, Huichol, the native language, is classified with languages of the Aztecoiden Branch of the Uto-Aztecan Family.

It is most closely related to the Cora language. Some Nahuatl terms have been borrowed from Tlaxcalan Indians and incorporated into Huichol. History and Cultural Relations Little is known about the origins of the Huichol.

According to this theory, ancestors of contemporary Huichol sought refuge in the sierra shortly before or after the arrival of the Spaniards. Others believe that the Huichol had been longtime residents in the sierra, with a strong orientation to the Pacific coast.

Regardless of their origins, it is likely that the Huichol culture consisted of four or five tribes, each with distinct regional traditions. Because of the rugged terrain of the sierra and physical resistence on the part of the Indians, the Huichol held out against direct Spanish domination until the s.

By this time their territory and population had been drastically reduced. The Franciscans established centers that served as missions and frontier posts in the area. Some of the first Franciscan missionaries established communities in Tenzompa, Soledad, and San Nicolas, all of which eventually assimilated with the mestizo population.

The history of the huichol communities in the sierra madre region of western mexico

The Huichol received a more privileged status in which they were allowed to have their own tribal government and were exempt from paying tribute.

Intensive missionary influences in the sierra declined after Mexican independence, and by virtually all clergy left the sierra because of increasing tension among the Indians over land rights. Independence from Spain also meant the end of Spanish-chartered Indian communities in the sierra, which consequently opened Huichol communal lands to mestizo cattlemen and colonists.

A ten-year revolution ensued in which Huichol and Cora joined forces under the Indian leader Lozada to protect the sierra from further foreign encroachment.The Huichol are a Mexican-Indian group also known as the Huichole, Tevi, and Wizarika.

They live primarily in western Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. This area includes some of the most rugged terrain in Mexico. The Sierra Madre Occidental is a major mountain range system of the North American Cordillera, that runs northwest–southeast through Northwestern and Western Mexico, and along the Gulf of California.

Ethnic groups. Mexico’s population is composed of many ethnic groups, including indigenous American Indians (Amerindians), who account for nearly one-fifth of the total, and Mexicans of European heritage (“whites”), who constitute between one-tenth and one-fifth of the total. Generally speaking, the mixture of indigenous and European peoples has produced the largest segment of the.

The Huichol say that they originated in the state of San Luis yearly, some Huichol journey back to San Luís, their ancestral homeland to perform "Mitote" Peyote (Hikuri, in Wixarika) ceremonies.

"This ancient tribe is located deep in the mountains of central Mexico have lived here for at least 15, years according to carbon dating of the ashes from their sacred fireplaces.". The Huichol of the Sierra Madre T he Huichol are a small tribe of approximately 35, living in central western Mexico near Ixtlan in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

They are said to be the last tribe in North America to have maintained their pre-Columbian traditions. It consists of the Sierra Madre Occidental (to the west), the Sierra Madre Oriental (to the east), and the Sierra Madre del Sur (to the south).

These ranges enclose the great central Mexican Plateau, which itself is a part of the system—although the northern portion of the plateau also.

Sierra Madre | mountain system, Mexico |