Huichols protest open pit mining at Wirikuta, one of their sacred mountains. (photo credit: Tracy Barnett)
They are seen walking around town, the women wearing long, gathered and brightly colored skirts and long sleeved blouses and the men in white or natural colored cotton pants and long shirts, both elaborately embroidered (electric pink is a favored color) with images of the natural world. In Puerto Vallarta, there are several shops selling Huichol art, which includes yarn "paintings," woven bags, embroidered clothing, beaded jewelry, beaded animals and beaded pictures frames, etc.
Known to themselves as the Wixarica people and "the healers," they were named Huichols by the Spaniards in the 16th century. With a long tradition of rejecting Catholicism, many of the Huichols have maintained their Shamanistic customs, and like many indigenous groups in America, peyote is used in their religious practices.
Because of droughts, damage to their lands and loss of wildlife, thousands of Huichols have had to leave their villages for towns and cities, far from their sacred mountains.
Wirikuta, located between Sierra Madre Occidental and the Zacatecas ranges and encompasses 140 hectors of desert land. It is considered the Huichols´most sacred mountain because it is the place where they believe the sun was born. Every year between October and March, Huichols make a 250 mile ceremonial pilgrimage to Wirikuta, which is important to them for the peyote hunt and for the deer dance.
The Mexican government has granted 36 mining concessions to First Majestic Silver Corporation. Seventy percent of the land to be mined is in the Wixarika (Huichol) zone. Open pit mining, practiced by First Majestic Silver, effectively strips the landscape. High levels of cyanide are used, poisoning the environment, and enormous amounts of water in an arid land will be used for the mining sites.
The Huichols have been peacefully protesting the Wirikuta mine, which transgresses legal covenants that protect the Wirikuta area and the Wixarika (Huichol) peoples at national and international levels.
To read more on Wirikuta, visit Open Democracy.
Gretchen DeWitt is committee chair of PEACEAnimals. She was a board member of PEACE Mexico from 2009 to 2012, focusing primarily on raising funds for "Ayuda a los Animales," the free mobile spay/neuter program.
Gretchen's weekly blog covers free mobile spay and neuter clinics held weekly in Puerto Vallarta and neighboring town. These clinics have resulted in the annual sterilization of over 4,000 cats and dogs over the past few years. Information is provided on animal adoptions and other efforts to help the pet population in the area of the Bay of Banderas.
To read this week's blog and all the great work PEACEAnimals is doing and how you can help, please visit Gretchen - PEACE and PV.
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