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THE HUICHOL INDIANS

Huichol is a term given by the Spanish. In their own language, they refer to themselves as VIRARICA, which translates as “The Healing People.”

The Huichol Indians are a small tribe of approximately 35,000 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. Their shamans and healers practice today as they have for generations. In part, their survival is due to the focus of their traditions, as well as their remote mountainous territory.

Huichol Art are often illustration of mara’akame visions. The Huichol people are known for their beautiful Nieli’kas which are created for display in their holy temples and religious caves and temples. Beaded eggs, jaguar heads and intricate yarn paintings are a hallmark of Huichol artwork. Ceremonial bowls, and hand-painted figurines are also a celebrated part of Huichol artwork. Celestial events such as solar and lunar eclipses are often depicted on Huichol artwork using bright colors and traditional handcrafted techniques. Colorful masks are a beautiful aspect of Huichol Indian art developed to mirror the face-paint during religious ceremonies.

The Huichol way of life continues today much as it has for thousands of years. Still without electricity or running water, the Huichol people rely on their relationship with nature to sustain their communities.

 

OTOMI PEOPLE

OtomíMiddle Aerican Indian population living in the central plateau region of MexicoTheir subsistence is based on farming and livestock raising; staple crops are corn (maize), beans, and squash. Fields are cleared by slash-and-burn methods, and planting is done with a coa, a sort of combination hoe and digging stick.  The maguey (Mexican century plant) is also cultivated for a variety of uses. Sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, and hogs are the most commonly raised livestock. Settlements vary in composition from the concentrated central village with surrounding farmlands to the dispersed type in which each family lives on its land and only public buildings are congregated. Crafts include spinning, weaving, pottery, basketry, and rope making. Dress varies from completely traditional to completely modern. Common dress in conservative areas consists of white cotton shirt and pants, serape, sandals, and hat for men and long tubular skirt, embroidered cotton blouse, and rebozo or cape (quechquemitl) for women.

Ritual kinship institutions, based on a godparent relationship between the adults of one family and a child of another, is a central and essentially universal custom. Close ties exist between the parents and godparents of a child, and a series of ritual obligations obtain between them. The Otomí are Roman Catholic, and, although certain identifications between Christian figures and pre-Christian gods exist, the major religious rituals, myths, and ceremonies are basically Christian.

Photograph of two Otomi Artisan women by Robert Freund