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Puerto Vallarta • Riviera Nayarit 

Sacred Deer Restored to the Huichol in Jalisco, Mexico

Steve Russell - Indian Country Today Media Network
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May 26, 2016

Luis Guerra had a dream, an aspiration that started 28 years ago. He was up in the Sierra Madre, in the Mexican state of Jalisco, 300 miles from his Mexican home in Real de Catorce, a remote mountain village in San Luis Potosí. He was visiting the Huichol Indians during one of their most significant times, the Festival of the Drum, the Corn and the Squash.

Guerra was invited to the festival by Huichol he met during their annual pilgrimage to their ancestral lands in San Luis Potosi — a place they call Wirikuta — to witness the birth of the sun. Huichol oral tradition teaches that Wirikuta was the site of the first deer hunt.

It was during the Festival of the Drum, the Corn and the Squash that Guerra learned there were no longer abundant deer in the Huichol parts of the Sierra Madre because of settler encroachment and overhunting by poachers. Because deer are central to the Huichol cosmology and ceremonial cycle, Guerra gave thought to the daunting practicalities of doing something about the situation. He dreamed of bringing the deer back...

The deer were moved from the state of Tamaulipas to the state of Jalisco by truck. During the process, Luis Guerra said, “it seemed to me that these noble creatures felt, while not scared, a bit helpless. I asked them to forgive us for the indignity that we were causing them, and promised them that they would like their new home.” The experts advised that the trauma of capture and 17 hours in a truck might kill 10 percent of the deer — three or four.

On January 22 of this year, all 30 does and three bucks were released into a holding corral built for them in Jalisco, where they were fed, watered and watched over by a Huichol family that camped next to the corral. One doe died soon after arrival. All the others were released in good condition on February 23...

While Borghi works to keep the deer safe, he is raising money in Mexico as Guerra is raising money in the U.S. for the next deer roundup. It was a great deal of work, but the first roundup was such a success that Abraham Garcia has volunteered to do it all again.

La Peña, an Austin nonprofit with a long history of supporting Latino and indigenous cultures, has adopted the Huichol Deer Repopulation Project to make contributions tax deductible. So far, the Project is not so much a victory as “so far—so good.” It’s necessary to protect the deer in their new home and raise the money to move more.

It does offer some hope that the Indigenous Peoples — Huichol and Tepehuano — are supported by citizens of both settler states, the U.S. and Mexico, in a united effort to reverse the decline of the sacred deer.

Read the entire article and see all the photos at Indian Country Today Media Network.

  Learn more about Peyote People

  Learn more about The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival

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