HUICHOL – Improvements for the Huichol Cultural Center
Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico
Who are the Huichol? La gente
The Huichol are indigenous people of Mexico, living in the Sierra Madre Occidental range in the Mexican states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas, and Durango. The Huichol spend significant time working in tobacco fields, which has been ruinous to their health because of the use of pesticides. Fortunately, the Huichol live in the mountains above Mazatlán (Sierra de Nayarit) and other coastal tourist meccas, and are able to sell their crafts as another means of income. Crafts of the Huichol include embroidery, ultra-fine beadwork, sombreros (hats), archery equipment, masks, prayer arrows, and weaving, as well as “cuchuries”, woven or embroidered bags. They live in very tight small communities with their extended families that consist of communal grouping of individual houses, somewhat like a compound, all of which belong to a nuclear family.
Current Changes Impacting the Huichol
With the building of roads in the Huichol Zone in the last ten years, new influences are impacting the social fabric of the Huichol. Where mules, horses and burros used to be the main forms of transport, trucks are becoming more prominent, importing food, medicines and beer. Although this, of course, can be beneficial, it was also degrading to the culture as a whole. In 1986, the Huichols continued to live isolated lives very traditionally in every aspect, but since this contact from within their own country, they have had to adapt and change.
How did the Inti Raymi Fund help this cause?
The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts Facility is operated by another 501c3 Public Charity, which we discovered while searching for our “Indigenous Tribes Projects” in need of help. The Inti Raymi Fund visited and researched this facility and found it to be “Our Poster Child” of how best to sustain with Dignity and Respect, these wonderful Indigenous Peoples of the World.
At this juncture we would like to introduce Susana Valadez. Susana is the Director of the Huichol Center. She has personally dedicated her life and energy to the Huichol Peoples’ sustainability efforts for over 30 years. Susana has a Masters Degree from UCLA in Latin American Studies and was in an interdisciplinary program which focused on Anthropology, Ethnobotany and Art in Mexico. We supports a “Good is Good” approach, whereby we will support other 501c3 organizations we come across during our travels if they help to enhance and sustain our causes as well.
The Inti Raymi Fund provided significant funding for a myriad of improvement projects for the continued operations and successes of the Huichol Center, in the town of Huejuquilla el Alto, Jalisco, Mexico. The items include art supplies for “Handcrafts not Hand-Outs”, aid to Huichol Traditional Keepers for pilgrimages to sacred sites, a vehicle for safe transport of children, tribal officials and medical emergencies, audio visual the equipment for the school and Huichol Center and the construction of the Huichol Center Community Gathering and Permaculture Demo Site. At the Inti Raymi Fund, we found that “re-inventing the wheel” made absolutely no sense on this project and the best use of our $25,000 grant was to help Susana continue on her path of excellence in this model project she created. We are so proud to be a sponsor of the Huichol Center and encourage others to become involved directly through direct donations and or volunteer opportunities with their center.
IRF HUICHOL BUDGET – October 2012.
Because the Inti Raymi Fund is confident with our approach, values and honesty, and follow the “Good is Good” approach, we have provided a completely transparent link to the Huichol Center Web Site and personnel, should you wish to contact them directly. Further, we encourage you to donate “directly” to this wonderful project, if their message resonates with you.
You can research further, The Huichol Community Center at their web site below.
Daniel Guerra, Rachel McGrain, Susana Valadez - Huichol Center Director, CHIMU - IRF Director