Ethno-nationalist politics and cultural preservation : education and bordered identities among the Wixaritari (Huichol) ...


Material Information

Ethno-nationalist politics and cultural preservation : education and bordered identities among the Wixaritari (Huichol) of Tateikita, Jalisco, Mexico
Portion of title:
Education and bordered identities among the Wixaritari (Huichol) of Tateikita, Jalisco, Mexico
Physical Description:
xiv, 313 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Biglow, Brad Morris
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Huichol Indians -- Mexico -- Jalisco   ( lcsh )
Huichol Indians -- Ethnic identity   ( lcsh )
Huichol Indians -- Education   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis, Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 2001.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 293-312).
Additional Physical Form:
Also available online.
General Note:
General Note:
Statement of Responsibility:
by Brad Morris Biglow.

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Source Institution:
University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 48447354
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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page i
        Page ii
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        Page iv
        Page v
    Table of Contents
        Page vi
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        Page ix
    List of Tables
        Page x
    List of Figures
        Page xi
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        Page xiii
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    Chapter 1. Introduction
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    Chapter 2. Huichol history and identity studies
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    Chapter 3. Education and cultural preservation
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    Chapter 4. Theory and methods
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    Chapter 5. Doing applied anthropology among the Huichol
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    Chapter 6. Huichol formal education and the CETMK
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    Chapter 7. Quantitative data and observations
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    Chapter 8. Conclusion and final discussion
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    Appendix A. Notes on the use of Huichol and Spanish orthography
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    Appendix B. Historia cronologica de tateikita
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    Appendix C. Ezln declaration of war
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    Appendix D. Research questionnaire
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    Appendix E. Course schedules of the CETMK
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    Appendix F. Glossary of terms and acronyms
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    Biographical sketch
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Full Text







Copyright 2001 by

Brad Morris Biglow

Dedicated to the Wixaritari of Tateikita and the Centro Educativo Tatutsi Maxa Kwaxi (CETMK): For teaching me the true meaning of what it is to follow in the footsteps of Tatutsi, and for allowing this teiwari to experience what you call tame tep+xeinuiwari. My heart will forever remain with you.


I would like to thank my committee members-Dr. John Moore for being eversupportive of my work with native peoples; Dr. Allan Burns for instilling in me the interest and drive to engage in Latin American anthropology, and helping me to discover the Huichol; Dr. Gerald Murray for our shared interests in language, culture, and education; Dr. Paul Magnarella for guidance and support in human rights activism, law, and intellectual property; and Dr. Robert Sherman for our mutual love of educational philosophy. Without you, this dissertation would be a mere dream.

My life in the Sierra has been filled with countless names and memories. I would like to thank all of my "friends and family" at the CETMK, especially Carlos and Ciela, Marina and Angel, Agustin, Pablo, Feliciano, Everardo, Amalia, Rodolfo, and Armando, for opening your families and lives to me. In addition, I thank my former students, including los chavos (Benjamin, Salvador, Miguel, and Catarino), las chicas (Sofia, Miguelina, Viviana, and Angblica), and los misicos (Guadalupe and Magdaleno). From the community, I thank the autoridades tradicionales/kawiteros and mara'akates--Don Ricardo, Samuel, Faustino, Gerardo and family, Chalio, Manuel, and Lucio. Professionally, I thank Rocio de Aguinaga, Sarah Corona, Carlos Chavez and Angeles Arcos of Asociaci6n Jalisciense de Apoyo a Grupos Indigenas (AJAGI), Mike Finerty, Oscar Hagerman, H6ctor Hernandez, Dago and Karen, and lospilotos. Lastly, I wish to thank my family and fiends for helping me through the critical stages of this research--the


Biglows around the world, Mike and Sandy Iski, Steve Mizrach, James Bosworth, Ken Sturrock, Sebastian Romero, and Gordon Weaver.




ACKN OW LED GM EN TS .............................................................................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES .......................................................................................................... x

LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................ xi

ABSTRA CT .................................................................................................. .............. xiii


1. INTRODU CTION ....................................................................................................... 1

Research Questions and H ypotheses ............................................................................ I
Research Site ............................................................................................................... 4
The Huichol H om eland Com munities ...................................................................... 4
T a te ik ita .................................................... ........................................................... 1 1
The Centro Educativo Tatutsi M axa Kwaxi (CETM[K) ........................................... 15
D issertation Outline and Layout ................................................................................ 18

2. H UICH OL HISTORY AND IDEN TITY STUDIES .................................................. 22

H istorical Setting of the Huichol ......................... ...................................................... 22
Prehistory and General H istory .............................................................................. 22
Contemporary Huichol H istory .................................................. ........................... 29
Social and Political Organization ........................................................................... 31
Contemporary Religious Organization ................................................................... 36
Tateikita: A Community Profile ................................................................................ 41
Tateikita Land Tenure and Economy ..................................................................... 41
The M aterial Life of Tateikita ................................................................................ 46
Tateikita Geography .............................................................................................. 47
Gender Roles in Tateikita ...................................................................................... 49
N ationalism and Ethnic Identity... .............................................................................. 50
Who are We? Defining Ethnic Identity Among Indigenous Peoples ...................... 50
Peasant Economics and Indigenous Class Form ation ............................................. 58
Autonomy, Self-D eterm ination, and Resistance ...................................... .............. 61
Questions of Ethnicity and N ationalism ................................................................. 65


3. EDUCATION AND CULTURAL PRESERVATION ............................................... 70

Indigenous E ducational H istory ................................................................................. 70
A General History of U.S. Indian Education and Policy ......................................... 71
A Brief History of Indigenous Education in Mexico .............................................. 79
Indigenous Language and Culture Preservation ......................................................... 86
Border Pedagogy and Cultural Diversity ................................................................ 86
Cultural Preservation vs. Cultural Revitalization .................................................... 87
Recent Trends in Native Education and Anthropology: A U. S. Perspective ........... 88
Recent Trends in Native Education and Anthropology: A Latin American
P ersp ectiv e ............................................................................................... ............ 9 1
Educational Research and the Huichol ....................................................................... 97

4- THEORY AND METHODS ................................................................................... 103

T heoretical P erspectives .......................................................................................... 103
E thnicity and Identity .......................................................................................... 106
Pan-Indianism and Regional Cultures .............................................................. 106
Native Epistemology and Cosmology .............................................................. 109
Political Theory and the Aims of Indigenous Movements .................................... 112
Dialectical Materialism and Anomie ................................................................ 112
Power-Knowledge Relations in Historical Materialism .................................... 115
Educational Theory: Developing a Philosophy of Education for the Huichol ...... 118
C ritical T heory in E ducation ............................................................................ 119
D em ocratic Socialism ...................................................................................... 123
R esearch M ethods ................................................................................................... 127
Formal Interviewing of Key Personnel ................................................................. 127
Population Demographics and Sampling .............................................................. 129
Student Questionnaires and Huichol Cultural Values ........................................... 130
Informal Interviewing and Oral History Reconstruction ....................................... 131
P articipant O bservation ........................................................................................ 133


Applied Anthropology and the Question of Researcher Roles .................................. 137
Doing Anthropology in a Huichol Community ..................................................... 144
Living W ixarika--B eing Teiw ari ......................................................................... 147
Working in a Closed Corporate Community ............................................................ 151
The Concept of the Teiwari (other) in Huichol External Relations ....................... 152
Huichol Distrust: Reporters, Franciscans and Ethical Conduct ............................ 153


6. HUICHOL FORMAL EDUCATION AM) THE CETMK ........................... 161

Building the Dream: The Centro Educativo Tatutsi Maxa Kwaxi (CETMI1K) ....... 161
Personnel and Organization............................................................ 161
External Relations...................................................................... 181
Life at the CETNiK: Living the Dream ................................................. 187
A Day in the Life of.................................................................... 187
We are All Nunutsi..................................................................... 200
Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk.................................................. 204

7. QUANTITATIVE DATA AND OBSERVATIONS ................................... 207

Introduction............................................................................... 207
Survey Results............................................................................. 207
Demographic Data.. .................................................................. 209
Indigenous Controlled Schooling and Educational Attitudes....................... 211
Student Beliefs of Cultural Identity and Change ..................................... 211
The Politics of Traditionality and Modernity in Tateikita ............................. 220
What Does It Mean to be Huichol7 ................................................... 220
Observations in Language and Culture Preservation ................................ 226
Confronting Alcohol and Foreign Values............................................. 232
Culture and Knowledge Preservation .................................................... 238
Socialist Education and Identity Preservation ........................................ 240
Schooling and Acculturation Reversal................................................ 241
Politics and School-Community Relations .............................................. 242
The Case Against Educaci6n Teiwaritsie and Telesecundarias.................... 244
Community-Centered Schooling and Community (Dis)articulation ............... 247
The CETMK and the Intellectual Movement......................................... 250

8. CONCLUSION AND FINAL DISCUSSION ..... ................................... 252

Renegotiating Huichol Identity........................................................... 252
Indigenous Control and Community Schooling ......................................... 257
Living Rural and Being Modern: Some Recommendations for Huichol Education.. 262 Suggestions for Future Research......................................................... 267



B. HISTORIA CRONOLOGICA DE TATEIKITA....................................... 271

C. EZLN DECLARATION OF WAR...................................................... 273

D. RESEARCH QUESTIONNAIRE....................................................... 276


E. COURSE SCHEDULES OF THE CETMK ............................................................ 287

F. GLOSSARY OF TERM S AND ACRONYM S ........................................................ 291

R E F E R E N C E S ............................................................................................................ 2 93

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ....................................................................................... 313



Table Page

Table 4. 1. The Comparison of Theoretical Positions to Macro and Micro Levels of
A n aly sis .......... ................................................................................................. 12 6

Table 7. 1. R-Scores (Pearson's Correlation Coefficients) of Traditional Practices ............ 212

Table 7.2. Factor Analysis of Variables--Language, Dress, Religion, Family, and
Traditions, Irrespective of Sex .......................................................................... 214

Table 7.3. Percent of Variance Explained for Males by Principle Components Analysis..... 215 Table 7.4. Percent of Variance Explained for Females by Principle Components Analysis.. 215 Table 7.5. Component Loading Values of Cultural Variables for Males ............................. 216

Table 7.6. Component Loading Values of Cultural Variables for Females .......................... 217

Table 7.7. Descriptive Statistical Comparison of Alcohol and Tehuino .............................. 237



Figure Page

Figure 1. 1. The Huichol Homeland............................................................. 5

Figure 1.2. The Huichol Communities.......................................................... 6

Figure 1.3. Hillside Cornfields at Huaixtita..................................................... 8

Figure 1.4. Burros Carrying Corn from Huaixtita ............................................. 8

Figure 1.5. Student Banner Promoting the UCTH.............................................. 10

Figure 1.6. Plane of the Franciscan MVissionaries............................................... 12

Figure 1. 7. View of Airstrip and Surrounding Mesas from Tateikita ........................ 12

Figure 1.8. The almacen at Completion in November 1999................................... 13

Figure 1. 9. The Local Agency of Tateikita .................................................... 15

Figure 1. 10. CETMK Classrooms.............................................................18 I

Figure 2. 1. Franciscan Mission with CETMK Library in the Background................... 30

Figure 2.2. Child in Tateikita at the Fiesta del Tambor, December 1999 ................... 33

Figure 2.3. Huichol Political Organization ................ ................................. 35

Figure 2.4. The Peyote Cactus.................................................................. 37

Figure 2.5. Mara'akame and Village Elder at Tateikita Rodeo............................... 39

Figure 2.6. Huichol Woman Leaving Offerings ................................................ 40

Figure 5. 1. Huichol Cancer Advisory ......................................................... 148

Figure 5.2. Philip True Murderers as Portrayed by the American Media .................... 156

Figure 6. 1. Construction Meeting of padres defamilia........................................ 172


Figure 6.2. Esculta (Honoring the Flag) ........................................................ 191

Figure 6.3. CETMK Teacher Addressing Students ............................................ 193

Figure 6.4. COP USI Dining Facility of the CETMK........................................... 196

Figure 6.5. Derechos Indigenas Debate at the CETMIK Clausura,, July 1999............... 198

Figure 6.6. Carpentry at the CETMK........................................................... 199

Figure 7. 1. Percentages of Third Year CETMiK Students by Age ........................... 210

Figure 7.2. Pie Chart Indicating Student Home Residences ................................... 210

Figure 7.3. Histogram of Family Importance ................................................... 213

Figure 7.4. Histogram of Tehuino Value ....................................................... 213

Figure 7.5. Overlaid Plot of Factor Components for Ethnicity and Technology ............ 218

Figure 7.6. Factor Plot of Ethnicity and Technology Components for Males ............... 219

Figure 7.7. Factor Plot of Ethnicity and Technology Components for Females............. 220

Figure 7.8. Student Career Aspirations ......................................................... 224

Figure 7.9. Male Rankings of Native Language Importance.................................. 228

Figure 7. 10. Female Rankings of Native Language Importance ............................. 229

Figure 7.11. Male Ranking of Spanish Importance............................................. 230

Figure 7.12. Female Ranking of Spanish Importance .......................................... 231

Figure 7.13. Male Rankings of the Importance of English..................................... 231

Figure 7.14. Female Rankings of the Importance of English .................................. 232

Figure 7.15. Overlaid Graph of Students' Rankings of Alcohol Types by Importance..... 238 Figure 7.16. Model of School-Community Relations and the CETMK..................... 249

Figure 8. 1. Student Notice for End-of-Year Banquet.......................................... 259

Figure 8.2. "Los Viejitos," Regional Dance at the Clausura, June 1999 .................... 268


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Brad Morris Biglow

August 2001

Chairman: John H. Moore, Ph.D.
Major Department: Anthropology

This dissertation examines the relationship between "indigenously controlled"

education and cultural preservation among the Wixaritari, or Huichol, of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Jalisco, Mexico. Studies of indigenous identity and schooling are still lacking in anthropological fieldwork. While such studies have, in the past, focused on native education in the United States, there has been little research done on the impacts of indigenous-controlled education on the enculturation process of Indian youth, particularly in Latin America, and whether such educational environments really serve to fortify indigenous identity, and if so, how it is done. Recently, there has been resurgence in ethno-nationalism or self-determination among the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Latin America. This study examines the role of so-called indigenous-controlled community schooling in light of these larger pan-Indian movement goals, showing that


indigenous people are themselves divided over the process of cultural preservation due to their own changing sense of ethnic identity. Conflict results, creating a reliance on notions of an "imagined community" to unify social actors in a drama of powerknowledge relationships in which intellectuals, not traditionalists, control the educational process, channeling knowledge to meet the goals of the "imagined community" which may or may not be shared by all social actors.



Research Questions and Hypotheses

This dissertation research is an addition to the existing literature on indigenous language and culture preservation. It is also an analysis of community-school relations and the politics of ethnic identity transmission and transformation within the context of formal education in an indigenous community in Mexico. The results of this research help to explain the social and ideological processes of ethnic culture change, and, in so doing, may be used to improve indigenous-directed education, and language and culture preservation programs worldwide.

The principal research question is: What happens when indigenous people create their own school, define its role, and teach according to their own agenda? And, subsequently, does indigenous-controlled education lead to preservation of ethnic identity, or is there little to no difference between this kind of education and that of schools that are not run by indigenous people? Moreover, Is there a unified concept of cultural identity among indigenous peoples, or are they really composed of ethnic factions with varying degrees of what it means to be "traditional" or "modem."

In examining the central question, a number of secondary questions arise: 1)

What are Huichol attitudes toward formal education, especially at the secondary level (a recent government mandate), when it is indigenously (locally) controlled? Do these



attitudes differ from the attitudes of those attending telesecundarias (video schools) or non-indigenously controlled schooling? 2) Is there any internal conflict that results from indigenously controlled education? If so, how are opposing definitions of cultural identity accommodated (or not) by indigenous schooling? 3) What role does Huichol formal education play in the enculturation process of Indian youth? 4) Do the Huichol have a uniform sense of cultural identity? 5) Lastly, what exactly does indigenously controlled education mean?

The case of Huichol education first interested me, when prior to beginning field research I learned that there was little to no record of anthropological research dealing with education and culture change among the Huichol. Dr. Salom6n Nahmad conducted research in the late 1960's and early 1970's while he was the regional director of the National Indigenous Institute's development projects for the Cora, a neighboring indigenous group, and Huichol. In subsequent articles, he called for a need for further educational research among the Huichol (Nahmad 1981, 1996). Because of the problems involved in Huichol integration into the national infrastructure of a collective Mexican identity, the choice to work among the Huichol appeared ideal, as there were significant gaps in Huichol ethnography other than research pertaining to archaeology or religion.

The scope of applied anthropology today comprises issues of local control of indigenous affairs, from development projects (Mathur 1989, Sodusta 1993), to environmental management (Hornborg 1998) and education (Bernard 1985, Cleary and Peacock 1998, Szasz 1999). It is generally thought by those working in native education that indigenous control will lead to higher retention rates for students, better student performance, and greater community involvement (Cleary and Peacock 1998; De


Aguinaga 1996; Freedson and P6rez 1998). But is this really the case, especially in situations of rapid culture change? Do indigenous peoples in their homelands possess enough of a unified sense of their own cultural identity to be able to determine their own direction without outside assistance and/or intervention?

The sorts of questions mentioned above become particularly important when

discussing a people who have traditionally lived in an isolated environment, in so-called cc closed corporate communities" (Wolf 1957). As a result of such an environment, the indigenous people were able to practice their religious traditions, speak their native language exclusively, and in general, live with little or no outside influences upon them.

Recent development projects under proposed aims of improving accessibility to remote areas in Mexico are, however, quickly putting an isolationist lifestyle in jeopardy, leading to a state of confusion, distrust, and fear among some native inhabitants of previously undeveloped regions, such as the Huichol (Chdvez and Arcos 1998; Nahmad 1996; Rojas 1993; Schaefer and Furst 1996). The Huichol believe the nationalist Mexican agenda is to create a collective national identity with a language, values, and traditions foreign to the indigenous peoples it ostensibly wishes to unify (Ramirez de la Cruz 1995; Stavenhagen 1994; Von Groll 1997).

The research conducted for this dissertation shows that there are in actuality many factors that determine the success or failure of indigenous education programs. It will be shown that some factors, such as the boarding of students in ethnically indigenous areas, can have a positive influence on the educational attainment and attitudes of Indian youth within threatened cultures, and also serve as a mechanism for creating a sense of community continuity among students, teachers, and local community members. Other


factors, such as identity fragmentation and conflict in the local community, can inhibit programs in cultural preservation. How the culture of the school community is directed and advised become crucial for understanding the effectiveness of the school culture in meeting the goals set forth in its mission. Power and the control of information flow, principally knowledge, determine the school's path and, ultimately, its success or failure in language and culture preservation.

Research Site

The Huichol Homeland Communities

The Huichol homeland encompasses roughly 4,000 "officially recognized"

kilometers (of some natively claimed 90,000 square kilometers) located in the Sierra Madre Mountains of what are the modem day Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango (see Figure 1.1). Within this area, or kiekari, live approximately 18-20,000 Huichol divided between three communities: San Andr6s Cohamiata (Tateiki6), San Sebastian Teponahuaxtlhn (Waut+a), and Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitldn (Tuapurie), although sometimes the peripheral areas of Tuxpan de Bolafios (Tutsipe) and Guadalupe Ocothn (Xatsitsarie) are included by the Huichol because of their historical significance.1 The most numerous settlements are located in Northern Jalisco and Eastern Nayarit (see Figure 1.2).

1 While three communities are noted in contemporary analysis, there were historically as many as five Huichol communities. Due to land loss to Mestizos and Huichol population decline, these geographic areas are no longer officially recognized as Huichol communities, though Huichol people may constitute a majority of the inhabitants in the regions.


The Sierra Madre Occidental is a very isolated, yet beautiful, area that straddles the coastline of western Mexico. It varies in elevation from several thousand feet to well over 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). Perhaps two of the most striking characteristics of this region are the climate and topography.

Sierra Madre Occidental
O = Huichol Homeland Region

Figure 1. 1. The Huichol Homeland

The climate of the region is extremely dry. Apart from the summer monsoon

season, the area receives little or no rain. Climate is largely a factor of altitude, varying from a subtropical zone with lush vegetation at lowest elevations, to pine-clad forests at its highest. Topography within the homeland consists of a series of mesas jutting up several thousands of feet, cut by the powerful Chapalagana River. Between the mesas lies a wealth of canyons and valleys. The Huichol populate the mesas for the most part, like the Hopi Indians in Arizona, preferring to migrate with the seasons, from the villages during the winter months, to family ranches located at higher elevations during the summer, while retaining their agricultural plots at a slightly lower altitude. The Huichol


utilize runoff rainfall to cultivate their fields, locating many of them on steep slopes

leading down hillsides (see Figure 1.3). At these altitudes, the principal crops that can be

grown are corn and some squash, using a type of slash-and-burn horticulture on collective

familial plots. The hillsides are very slippery and covered with volcanic rock. Trails

wind over, down, and around canyons and mesas. They are difficult to traverse for

humans, and nearly impossible for horses and pack animals (see Figure 1.4).

TATIICk~ Haakua (L jorwA)

"I (San Asidris Calwamna). $2ohamniara
IMaxatnu'u Caibm, de Ven,4n3C Ternurikita.
(Las Guayb) s* i PUIE
a (Santa Catatina Cuconuirlin)
I(Las 'uA s)
K iarawar~ya WALUfl
S(Santa Grtiudi,) ipitsapa olpl~) (San Sebasdin Teponahauadin)
*Tateiki (San NfigueI Huaixtita)/

(Guadalupe ocurin) *TUFIPA (Tu-pan deBolaiAa)

'1' 0 Cahecera

Rncheria of Comunidad ndfgena of Tateikie '
0 6) o -L Outer Boundary of Comaunidades Indfgenas

Figure 1.2. The Huichol Communities (Source: Liffmnan and Coyle 2000:4)


When not in village settlements, the Huichol generally migrate in summer to

family-owned ranches at much higher elevations within the pine-clad forested region of the Sierra. There they maintain cattle ranches. But, unlike their Mestizo neighbors, the Huichol do not kill their herds for meat. Rather, they use their cattle for producing miAlk. The milk is then turned into cheese so that it can be stored and used throughout the winter months when the ranches are no longer occupied.

A further complication to the Sierra Madre region is a lack of water. There are no streams at the higher elevations, making life difficult. What water that does exist, bubbles to the surface at ojos de agua (waterholes) that dot the region. While not plentiful, these waterholes sustain what life there is in the region, and limit the location of permanent human settlements.

At riverside, the climate is hot and extremely humid year-round. Settlements are generally abandoned during the summer months at these elevations for the cooler ranches of the highlands. The advantage to lower elevations, however, is that a variety of crops such as squashes, fruits, and beans can be grown. Water is also readily available, as are opportunities for fishing.

The Sierra Madre region is home to not only the Huichol, but also several other indigenous peoples, including the Cora, Tepehudn, and Mexicanero peoples. Collectively, they are referred to as the cuatro pueblos (four peoples). The various peoples of the region generally keep to themselves and, only occasionally, primarily through trade, becoming involved with others. This strategy has assisted the peoples in maintaining their own identities with separate traditions and languages. Yet, at the same time, this has hindered their ability to build pan-ethnfic alliances.


Figure 1. 3. Hillside Cornfields at Huaixtita.

Figure 1.4. Burros Carrying Corn from Huaixtita.

The Huichol do not make use of the term comunidad (community) in the same manner as the modem political conventions used today by geographers, demographers, and development planners either in the U.S. or Mexico. A comunidad for the Huichol is


a politico-territorial distinction having pre-Hispanic significance. Each Huichol community comprises a geographic area equivalent to that of a U.S. county, but running directly in conflict with the Mexican municipio system which divides Huichol communities under the jurisdiction of different municipios, and even states. Like a Mexican municipio, each comunidad contains a number of principal village settlements that is home to several rancherias (extended family households). Each of the three Huichol comunidades (communities) is considered to be autonomous, electing its own political leaders according to the historic gobernador colonial system remaining from the days of Spanish occupation of Mexico, and also choosing its own religious leaders.

Although the three communities are autonomous, they are loosely bound together by a governing board known as the Uni6n de Comunidades Indigenas Huicholas (Union of Huichol Indigenous Communities or UCIH) (see Figure 1.5). All members are elected and appointed democratically by the Huichol communities. The UCIH does not directly intervene in the daily affairs of any of the Huichol communities, but rather serves as a mediator for disputes at state and national levels over indigenous affairs. The UCIH also serves to disseminate information among the various communities and acts in collective bargaining agreements with other organizations such as the Procuraderia de Asuntos Indigenas (Agency for Indigenous Affairs or PAI) of Jalisco and the Instituto Nacional Indigenista (National Indigenous Institute or INI).

The largest of the three communities in both geographic area and population is Tateikk. This community contains approximately 1750 adult Huichol members according to Rojas (1993:19). This figure, however, dates from 1950, and there is no current breakdown of Huichol population by indigenous community since that time.


More recent statistics released from the Instituto Nacional Indigenista (INI) in 1993 indicate that there are 19,363 Huichol, irrespective of residency within the three communities (Instituto Nacional Indigenista 1993). Two years later, however, this number jumped to an astonishing 28,001 Huichol speakers, a figure that no doubt includes urban Huichol as well (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Informcitica 1995). The fact is that no one is exactly certain how many Huichol there are, since birth records, in many cases, are inaccurate or nonexistent. Only if people attend school or obtain some form of official employment do they usually obtain a Cidula Unica de Registro de Poblaci6n (CURP) number, analogous to U.S. Social Security Numbers. Also, many children do not attend school, at least according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografia e Informndtica (INEGI), which states that greater than 40.1% of those six years of age or older do not attend school (INEGI 1990). Another 52.7% or more of the general population are illiterate (INEGI 1990).

..Figure 1 5 Student Banner Promotin............ the UCI.IH

Figure 1. 5. Student Banner Promoting the UCIH


TateikiM is located on the Northern edge of the Chapalagana River, bordering the community of Tuapurie on one side, and the state of Nayarit on the other. It is the community that has experienced the most land loss of the traditional communities -some 4,000 hectares since the start of agrarian reform legislation in the 1960's. Tateikita

Tateikita is the Huichol name for the village where I conducted my research. Literally, it means "small place of our mother," since it is located in the Huichol community of Tateikik (Place of our mother peyote). Containing a number of rancherias (extended family households), Tateikita is one of the principal small villages within the Huichol community, and is home to 280 people. Tateikita is located approximately five hours from TateikiM via a newly constructed road completed in April 1998, and eight hours from the town of Huejuquilla el alto, the town that serves as the northern gateway to the Huichol communities. Until the existence of the road, the only way in or out of the village was by foot or by air. Due to the time required to use the road, and its seasonal impassibility, the most efficient, and costly, method to reach Tateikita is by plane (see Figure 1.6). While not an option for most Huichol, because of the expense, planes can be contracted from locations in the state of Nayarit to reach the Sierra communities. There are also occasional flights available from missionaries who operate within the region. Flights take from 30-45 minutes depending on the points of departure and origin.

Tateikita is located at the edge of a small plateau overlooking the Chapalagana River at an altitude of some 5,500 feet (see Figure 1.7). Like much of the Sierra region, the climate is dry eight to nine months of the year, with only seasonal rains striking the region from June till mid-September. As a result, the topography is dry and rocky. Annual monsoon rains make the road impassable, and this serves as a constant reminder


of the power of nature and the way of the past. The Saludos family founded the village in the 1920S.2 They continue to be the main caretakers of the village. One of the local features in the village that reinforces this notion is the painting of the words Puro Saludos (Pure Saludos) on the side of one of the prominent buildings near the village plaza.

Figure 1 Plane.ofthe.Francscan........n.r.e .

....... ........

Figure 1.76. Viae of AthFraipca Surroniesasfoat a II Al ae aebenatrd hnneesrt rtetidvdasfrmpsil am

orgthe community fAsrom unees and und esed visitatn. t


Tateikita has eight small shops or stores that sell a variety of goods such as coffee, eggs, canned goods and Maseca (a brand-name corn flour baked with lye, used for making tortillas in the absence of one's own com). Most are goods that cannot be readily obtained by those within the village and surrounding ranches. These items must be trucked in from Huejuquilla. The small stores are family run, except for the Compafia National de Subsistencias Populares (CONASUPO), a state-subsidized general store, and the recently constructed almacen (cooperative store) built with assistance from the Jaliscan Association for the Support of Indigenous Peoples (AJAGI) in Guadalajara (see Figure 1.8). Because most shopkeepers have other employment (many are teachers), there is rarely more than two to three shops open at any given time.

Figure 1.8. The a/macen at Completion in November 1999.

The CONASUPO sells necessary foodstuffs, mostly flour, corn, and other necessities per its connection with the national Secretaria de Desorrollo Social (SEDESOL) office. All foodstuffs are sold at a reduced price to families through this store.


In contrast to the CONASUPO, the almacen focuses on selling necessary hardware items such as barbed wire for ranches, sewing items, and tools. Items are shipped on a scheduled basis from Guadalajara, an eighteen hour trip by road.

The central buildings in the village are constructed around a plaza, much like the pattern seen in other Mexican towns and villages. In Tateikita, the plaza consists of a combination basketball-volleyball court and an open area used for gatherings and meetings. The local agency of the traditional Huichol authorities is located at one end of this plaza and a health clinic at the other (see Figure 1.9).

Tateikita, because of its remote location and only recent access via road, does not possess many of the amenities taken for granted in more urban areas. There is no electricity in the village or phone service.3 Water is provided by a series of plastic tubes that route water from a holding tank near the village, where it is collected from a water hole in the Sierra. Its availability, however, is often reduced due to leaks and other complications with the system that may leave the village without water for days at a time.

Taleikita has been home to a number of educational development projects in

recent years. Rural education in small ranch settlements near the village is controlled by Consejo Nacional de Fomento Educativo (CONAFE) which offers the first three years of primary education to children in areas that have fewer than ten students, and in areas where attendance at a regular primary school might prove difficult. CONAFE also donates scholarships and materials to students in the region. In addition, there is a

3 In the spring of 2000 a cellular tower was constructed on a high mesa overlooking the Chapalagana region. It offers access to local numbers only. Prior to this, all cell calls had to be placed from the highest peaks of the Sierra region, ones that provided line-ofsight to the Cerro de Tepic, adjacent to Tepic, the capital of the state of Nayarit.


preschool in the village and a recently remodeled primary school with dormitories operated by INTI and with direct assistance from the Secretaria de Educaci6n Pblica (SEP) and the Departamento de Educaci6n Indigena (DEI) in Guadalajara. The primary school covers grades one through six (there is no equivalent of kindergarten in the Mexican public education system). Due to increasing attendance of students in recent years, the primary school now provides education to over 300 students from throughout the local area. Because primary education has been mandatory for many years, those students who are from more remote ranches often stay in the dormitories at the school during the week, returning home to their families on the weekends.

Figure 1.9. The Local Agency of Tateikita.

The Centro Educativo Tatutsi Maxa Kwaxi (CETMK)

In 1991, the Mexican government passed legislation making secondary education mandatory in Mexico. The 1997 figure for the state of Jalisco places the level of postprimary level education at only 47.6% of the general population (INEGI-ENADID 1997). Because of such low figures, the state concentrated first on establishing secondary


education in the cities, reserving rural areas for last. With this resolution in mind, it was not until 1995 that the first secondary school opened its doors in the Huichol region of the Sierra. The location of the school, by agreement of authorities, parents, and coordinators, was Tateikita because of its large educated, and mostly sedentary, population. Also, the resultant availability of teachers and specialists that could meet the needs of forming a rural secondary school existed.

Before the CETMK, the only option available for secondary education was to travel away from the homeland communities, usually to Tepic or Guadalajara. These migrations were thought to be further alienating the younger population from their Huichol identity, since in the city schools, Huichol children could not use their language or learn about their own traditions. Instead, they were forced to learn and speak Spanish on a daily basis. Children were also taught traditions that were alien to their own cultural heritage. These traditions urged them to shed off their Huichol identity and become "~Mexican" as the only way to succeed.

The Mexican states resorted to a cost-effective solution to providing education to rural areas. Using telesecundarias (video schools), the various state entities of the Secretary of Public Education (SEP) opted to provide a bare minimum of instruction to rural areas. Telesecundarias often have only one or two instructors on site who give all subject matter. At the time of the CETMK' s founding, there were no telesecundarias available locally to the Huichol. While this has changed in the past two years, their level of instruction is considered inferior to that of a regular secondary school. Teachers are poorly trained, provide a minimum degree of service (usually one year), and have many difficulties dealing with the native environments in which they are placed. They also


experience problems related to the limited Spanish proficiency of local inhabitants. As a result, the SEP is slow to construct these schools and has problems finding replacement teachers who usually do not like the harshness of life presented in the Huichol communities.

The CETMK was organized to be an "indigenous" school in the strictest sense of the word. Instructors were chosen from among the Huichol themselves, instead of relying on Mestizo teachers who would know little to nothing about the Huichol way of life or language. While genuinely certified teachers were desired, teachers were selected based on special skills they could contribute to the school, some with little or no formal education experience. The school began initially as a joint project between the Huichol, with assistance from the coordinator Rocio de Aguinaga of AJAGI, and the Instituto Technol6gico y de Estudios Superiores del Occidente (ITESO) as the only secondary school in the Sierra. Under de Aguinaga's guidance, the Huichol obtained permission for the school as an experiment in bilingual-intercultural education within the SEP. De Aguinaga also organized teacher training seminars and workshops, with a group of assistants at the ITESO, as a way to help Huicol teachers earn their full credentials.

The founding of the CETMK was not without controversy. Initially the CETMK was housed in buildings demanded from the local Franciscan mission, starting with a small base of students and borrowed plazas (paid positions) from the local municipio. With assistance of parents, new sets of classrooms were constructed below the mission (see Figure 1.10). The name of the school, Centro Educativo Tatutsi Maxa Kwaxi, means, in translation, "Educational Center of the Tail of Our Grandfather Deer." It


employs eight full-time faculty and staff and 108 students divided among three grade levels. I was employed, by parental approval, as one of faculty at the Center.

Figure 1. 10. CETMK Classrooms.

Dissertation Outline and Layout

Chapter 2 begins a review of the relevant Huichol and identity studies literature. The first section deals specifically with the history of the Huichol people. By examining the history of the Huichol people, the conditions leading to the present-day political, religious, socio-economic, and educational situations can be better understood. The chief authors of Huichol history, namely Phil Weigand and Beatriz Rojas, illustrate the growing tensions leading to a culture of resistance among the Huichol. Modem history's responses to outside pressures in such areas as rural development, religious conversion or education reform, have deep roots in the historical record and its 500+ years of effects upon the Huichol.

The second section of chapter 2 concerns nationalism and ethnic identity. The

present status of the Huichol is one where local interests may often conflict with those of


the state or nation. The nationalist literature of Stalin and Diaz Polanco are key to understanding the roots of nationalist movements as they affect the ethnicity of people in Latin America. In this growing age of globalization and the fragmentation of ethnic groups in Europe and Latin America, many of the same issues that confronted ethnic groups following the outset of World War I are arising once more: What constitutes a nation of people? Do ethnic groups have a right to autonomous organization by claiming they are nations of people? Or do nation-states have a right to assimilate indigenous peoples in the fight for a symbolic national identity? The concepts of autonomy and sovereignty lead to a discussion of indigenous identity from the opposing viewpoints of view of the scholars Michael Kearney (1996) and Bonfil Batalla (1987,1996).

Chapter 3 is the second half of the literature review, this time focusing on

educational research, principally among indigenous peoples of the U.S. and Mexico. This dissertation is about the steps involved in building and running an indigenous school. The model followed by the school is one designed to promote a celebration of Huichol identity through cultural preservation that aims to combine the best of indigenous schooling with that of the dominant society in a bilingual/intercultural methodology. In Chapter 3, the histories of indigenous education in the U.S. and Mexico are compared.

Chapter 4 is a breakdown of the theoretical concepts and research methods used in this study of Huichol education and identity. The prevalent theories are those involving the negotiation of what I call "bordered identities," or fragmented collectives that are unified by a native cosmology that is radically different from the individualistcentered cosmologies of the dominant society. The bordered identities of the Huichol are


the result of confusion and uncertainty at the onset of rapid culture change and development, and are explained within theories of sociological anomnie and materialism. Lastly, I combine political and educational theory to discuss macro and micro level processes of identity negotiation from the views of Foucault, Habermas, and Gramsci.

Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of the various methods used in the research for this dissertation. These included questionnaires of third year students at the CETMK, measuring their attitudes toward the indigenous school, their identity and traditions, and sense of their own future. Formal and informal interviewing, as well as participant observation of students, faculty, parents, and community members, contributed to a holistic perspective on the present educational situation among the Huichol in Tateikita.

Chapters 5 and 6 comprise the actual fieldwork observations and reflections. Chapter 5 discusses the complicated nature of doing applied anthropology among the Huichol. The Huichol are generally suspicious of all outsiders, particularly anthropologists and "researchers." Distrust of researchers who have, in the past, written about the Huichol, usually with good intentions but unverified information, has created an atmosphere that is especially difficult for current and future anthropologists to penetrate. 1 discuss in Chapter 5 my own process of integration into Huichol society, and highlight the delicate balance between being an outsider, living in a rural area, and gaining trust and acceptance through example.

Chapter 6 comprises observations and interviews at the CETMK. I begin by examining the history behind the school's construction and its place within the village and community. I follow this historical account by reconstructing a day in the life of the school and pointing out the various activities that surround its existence in the minds and


actions of its social actors. I conclude chapter 6 by placing the school's mission and its daily activities within the light of the "imagined community" through the telling of tales revealed during the years 1998-2000.

In chapter 7, 1 summarize the observations and quantitative data from chapters 5 and 6. The results of surveys are tabulated, and results are stated. I conclude chapter 7 with the politics surrounding the results of interviews and surveys. I also demonstrate in what ways the culture of the CETMK contributes to its successes or failures in meeting its mission.

Lastly, chapter 8 includes a discussion of the conclusions and results, with

implications for the future of Huichol identity and indigenous education. I conclude with a discussion of suggestions for future research on the issues.


"My prayers fly, my prayers rise with the wind; They were born in the place of
the rain message, They were born in the blue space. We are the seed of the
people, and the gods remain among us in the abode of the gods ...... Huichol
mara'akame chant. (Source: Norman 1977:848).

Historical Setting of the Huichol

This purpose of this chapter is to introduce the reader to the historical data contributing to the creation of the Huichol people as they are today. I mention the prehistory and general history from archaeological, mythological, and ethnological viewpoints, all of which are interwoven into the fabric of Huichol history. This chapter concludes with a section addressing the identity studies literature, reflecting back upon Huichol history to explain the foundations of Huichol identity and the reasons for its present delicate state.

Prehistory and General History

The reconstruction of Huichol prehistory is a complicated affair. The exact

prehispanic origins of the people who became the Huichol are, at best, uncertain. One prominent author, Beatriz Rojas (1993:24), says that we must wait until at least the end of the 16th century to understand the Huichol as a people. Due to the lack of information surrounding Huichol origins, the bulk of research concerning the Huichol begins with history since colonial times. There are, however, a few things known about Huichol origins derived mainly from mythology, accented with archaeology and linguistic data, where possible.


According to Rajsbaum (1994), the Huichol have their origins in the history of several prehistoric Indian peoples who came together in the Sierra Madre Occidental region of Mexico. Moreover, it has been widely speculated that these tribes were probably of Aztecan origin (Furst 1996; Weigand 1981). This appears to be consistent with Huichol self-declarations. I have even heard the Huichol point westward towards the coast when mentioning "Aztlan," the mythological homeland of the Aztecs. If the Huichol did indeed form as a result of a melding of several tribes, this could explain the duality of Huichol mythology whereby Eastern Huichol are more oriented toward desertcentered emergence stories in Wirikuta, land of the sacred peyote cactus, a point at which there is a convergence of the five cardinal directions (north, south, east, west, center) (Furst 1969a).

In opposition to these stories, Huichol along the Western edge of the Sierra Madre Occidental associate their emergence stories with Haramaratsie, the Huichol name for San Blds, Nayarit. Weigand (1981) believes this conglomeration of aboriginal peoples to be a reason for the diversity of Huichol mythology. These various connections, or associations, coupled with sacred sites associated with the other cardinal directions, determine Huichol cosmology in its broadest sense. Liffinan (2000) likens these attachments between sacred sites and sense of place (kiekari) to gourdvines, illustrating how Huichol historical territoriality is rooted in an open cosmology that includes over 90,000 square kilometers as opposed to the officially recognized 4,000 square kilometers that encompass the Huichol homeland. It is due to this very open patterning of Huichol territoriality that it becomes most difficult to situate the origins of the Huichol, especially with a lack of archaeological evidence to support or deny such allegations.


The foremost authority on Huichol archaeology, Phil Weigand, himself

acknowledges that "archaeological investigations in the areas where rural Huichol Indians now reside are nearly nonexistent" (Weigand 1981:9). Using data collected from several surrounding areas, Weigand believes that the present-day Huichol have their origins in four distinct prehistoric influences: los nayaritas (the people of the Western Coast, including the Cora), the Huajimic-La Yesca archaeological cultures for the southern Chapalagana Huichol, the Chalchihuites culture of Zacatecas for the northernmost Chapalagana Huichol, and, finally, the Bolahos valley sites for the eastern and central Chapalagana Huichol (Weigand 1981). Many of these conclusions are drawn from the similarities in the construction of circular ceremonial structures and centers, as well as settlement patterns throughout the region. These circular ceremonial centers, so he believes, served as models for the circular kalihuey temple of the modem Huichol, and date to the early Classic period of 200-700 A.D. (Weigand 1979:101).

In his work, Weigand refutes another popular theory held by Furst (1996) that places Huichol origins in the Chichimec desert complex, along with ancestors known as the Guachichil people. It is Weigand's (1981, 2000) belief that this analogy is based on inconclusive evidence from small linguistic similarities between modem Huichol phonology and that of these purported ancestors.

Linguistic data from the Sierra region shows that there are significant linguistic similarities among the Pima, Tepehudn, Tarahumara, Yaqui, Cora, Huichol, Nahuatl, and Mexicano speaking peoples (Grimes 1964). Reconstructed through glottochronology, these similarities are most pronounced between Huichol and Cora, suggesting an accurate depiction of these languages as a subfamily (Grimes 1964). If these inferences are


accurate, than the Huichol and Cora are not only neighbors linguistically, but also could share a common kin ancestry.

In classes I observed in Tateikita, indigenous instructors taught that the

Guachichil were one of several ancestral groups to the Huichol. They also acknowledged the role of the Tepecanos and Teochichimecas in forming the present-day Huichol. This illustrates Huichol uncertainty with their own origins and support for Furst's model.

The collection of Huichol mythology as it relates to cultural origins was largely the work of Peter Furst (1969a, 1969b, 1972, 1974, 1989, 1993; Furst and Anguiano 1976; Furst and Myerhoff 1966) and Barbara Myerhoff (1970, 1974). Through the collection of origin myths and migration stories, Furst connected East with West in the formation of modem Huichol society. Variations in mythological accounts were said to be the result of the orality of Huichol culture, with regional variations developing across time as other influences affected the stories. In fact, Fikes (1985) wrote a dissertation on variations within Huichol myths in the community of Tuapurie, illustrating the fluid nature of these stories in Huichol oral culture.

The real problem in dealing with uncertain origins is the tendency to rely

exclusively on one domain (linguistic, archaeological, or cosmological) to reconstruct Huichol origins. Like Weigand (1981), I argue that these domains must be taken collectively to paint as accurate a picture as possible of Huichol origins. This is also the position adhered to by Williams (1990), who has traced archaeological data from maize cultivation and temple construction to place Huichol origins to about AD 200. He has also uncovered figurines of early forms of Tatewari (Grandfather Fire), also mentioned by Lumholtz (1902), during his late nineteenth century travels throughout the Sierra and meticulous classification of the symbolic material culture of the Huichol, Cora, and


neighboring tribes. If these speculations carry even an inkling of truth, then they are further proof for early and continuous occupation of the Sierra by the Huichol.

The Huichol, according to Ramirez de la Cruz (1995), were practically unknown before the famous Norwegian traveler Carl Lumholtz visited the Sierra region. In his text Unknown Mexico (1902), Lumholtz was one of the first ethnographers, along with Ldon Dig-aet (1899), to document the cultures of the Sierra region. While comments about the Huichol being "unknown" was an exaggeration of the elusiveness of the Huichol, it is true that the Huichol did little to make themselves known to the outside world. It was not until the sixteenth century that the Huichol were "discovered" by the Franciscan missions. In an attempt to avoid contact with Spanish colonial authorities, the Huichol moved higher and deeper in to the Sierra Madre. In fact, they have existed in their present location for a little over 500 years by this theory.

From the viewpoint of mythology, the Huichol encountered "Majakuagy" (Maxa Kwaxi, or Grandfather Deer Tail) who was a white spirit person from the heavens (Digtet 1899). Maxa Kwaxi then taught the Huichol people the ways of the peyote and showed them a place to settle in the Sierra Madre (Furst 1996). For quite some time, this story was thought to be of a "white man," perhaps of Spanish descent, who taught the Huichol their current way of life. The reference to "Majakuagy" being "white" is, in fact, a reference to the white tail of the deer (Schaefer and Furst 1996).

If we take the most restrictive dating considering Huichol prehistory, they have occupied their present-day location for at least 500 years. The first European contact with the Huichol was in 1531 by the Spanish conquistador Nufio de Guzmdn and soon thereafter the Franciscans set up the first missions (Furst 1996; Rojas 1993). Nufio de Guzmdn was relentless in his march through the coastal regions of the Sierra, causing


countless tribes to relocate, many joining and becoming assimilated into Cora and Huichol peoples of the Sierra. The difficulty of the terrain made conquest of the Sierra a troublesome endeavor. It was not until 1580, roughly 50 years after Nufto de Guzmdin's first contact with the peoples of the Gran Nayar coastal region, that missionary activity began in the Gran Nayar because the Sierra region was very inaccessible from the North, East, and South (Furst 1996).

Soon after the Franciscans entered the Sierra, mining operations began and continued until 1700. These mining operations coincided with a series of territorial conflicts between the Huichol and Chichimeca. The Huichol still proved to be elusive, although the much more easily accessible Cora were rounded up into eleven Jesuitcontrolled villages in 1722 (Franz 1996:79). Eleven years later in 1733, the Franciscans established a catholic mission in Waut+a, leading quickly to the founding of missions in several other key Huichol communities. Shortly thereafter, the Franciscans entered, on several occasions, the heart of the Huichol territory, each time being unsuccessful in converting the Huichol from their "primitive pagan ways" and, ultimately, forcing them into retreat.

According to Franz (1996:80), "the Huichol were apparently the least affected of all the Sierra tribes, since they were never congregated into nucleated mission settlements." Their seasonal patterns of migration and geographic dispersion made religious conversion among them a difficult task. Whereas the neighboring Cora Indians fought aggressively to resist acculturation, the Huichol response was primarily to "flee," thereby having as little contact with their aggressors as possible. This fleeing activity, Vogt (1955:253) believes, is the impetus for the Huichol being "withdrawn and reticent" in direct relations with Mestizos in the historical era.


The Huichol retreat into the Sierra created a "region of refuge" (Aguirre Beltr~n 1967). As a natural geographic boundary, the Sierra enabled the Huichol to resist the acculturative pressures around them. Huichol avoidance of Mestizo aggression, however, assisted them in developing a more open style of relationships with outsiders. This style is in direct opposition to the Cora, who through the aggression of missionaries and settlers turned into a "closed" society.

I often draw an analogy to cultural distinctions between the Navajo and Hopi. The Hopi are quite closed in their relations with the outside world, whereas the Navajo have constantly been adapting to the outside world by taking in various aspects of the dominant society's material culture and ideology and adapting them to a "Navajo style of life." Vogt (1955) compares the Huichol and Cora acculturative struggles with that of the Navajo and the Zuni of the American Southwest. He makes the contention that Navajo hogan settlements are "much like the scattered extended family rancherias of the Huichol" (Vogt 1955:254). Moreover, whereas Navajo social organization is dependent on a matrilineal clan system,4 Huichol social organization is not, making their society even more mobile and flexible than that of the Navajo.

Missionary and Mestizo aggression began in the early nineteenth century and continued until the Cristero revolt of 1930 when many Huichol fled the Sierra for the cities or the basin of the Lerma River.'1 These periods of aggression, however, had little impact on traditional Huichol religion. In the late 1930's, the Huichol were able to return to their home region, but with a considerable loss of ancestral lands to which they no longer held title. The cultural consequences of the loss of these ancestral lands still

' The Cristero Revolt was a mostly peasant based Catholic revolt against the revolutionary government in western Mexico in the late 1920's and early 1930's. Cristero s fought under the motto "Viva el Cristo Rey' (Long live Christ the King).


plague Huichol society today, with lack of land entitlements being key to why the Huichol continue to struggle to reclaim these lands. Of the nearly 67,000 hectares that are in dispute, the Huichol have successfully regained 10,320, though several key ancestral areas near Tierra Blanca and San Juan Peyotdn remain difficult to reclaim (Chdvez and Arcos 1998).

Contemporary Huichol History

Contemporary Huichol history continues to be muddied by struggles to reclaim ancestral lands. This section explains the most recent history of the Huichol, particularly of Tateiki and Tateikita. It is meant to outline the various development projects within the community and village.

Much of Huichol contemporary history is shaped by the efforts of the National Indigenous Institute (INI), founded in 1949. Under plans for rural development, INI offices were located throughout the various indigenous regions of Mexico, and each was headed by an anthropologist charged with training workers how to conduct development projects among indigenous peoples. In 1960, the Cora-Huichol Coordination Center (HUICOT) was created to direct development within the Sierra (Nahmad 1996). The Plan HUICOT was the program instituted to add roads, assist agro-production, create schools, and generally improve living conditions in the Sierra. It was under the Plan HUICOT that the first airstrips were created in the various Huichol communities, including Tateikita (Nahmad 1996). It wasn't until 1968, however, that formal nonreligious schooling was first brought to the Huichol under Salom6n Nahmad, coordinator of the Plan HUICOT.

No formal history of Tateikita has ever been constructed other than that recorded by "Fray Hugo" and the Franciscans at their mission in Tateikita. In March 1999, during


an indigenous rights workshop held at the CETMK, students, together with instructors and parents/elders, attempted to reconstruct a chronological timeline for the history of Tateikita (see Appendix B). The timeline was constructed to put the development of the local village in parallel with developments in land reclamation and indigenous rights. Highlights of this reconstruction are noted in this section.

Although they reached the Sierra in the sixteenth century, the first arrival of the Franciscans to Tateikita occurred in 1963, shortly after the construction of the first airstrip. Arriving on mule, they established the local mission (see Figure 2. 1). Development in Tateikita was rapid after that. The local agency was constructed in 1964, and in 197 1, water was piped in from the Sierra to a holding tank outside Tateikita near the Rancho Robles. Two years later, a health care center was constructed and the airstrip was improved.

Figure 2. 1. Franciscan Mission with CETMK Library in the Background.

The Franciscans started the first school in Tateikita in 1976. Local resistance abounded, and shortly thereafter, a primary was built, along with a boarding dormitory for students. Most of these structures were completed during the time of the Plan


HUICOT of the Instituto Nacionallndigenista. Current projects have aimed to get a road to Tateikita, linking it, at least seasonally, to the outside world. This project was completed in April 1998. Also, Missionaries of various faiths have penetrated the Sierra, disguising religious conversion under seemingly legitimate development projects. Social and Political Organization

Huichol social organization is best perceived at three levels: the household rancheria, the village or pueblo consisting of several rancherias, and the traditional politico-religious cornunidad (community). At the smallest of these levels, the household is typically a nuclear family with husband, wife, and unmarried children (Grimes 1962). More common in the traditional homeland, however, is the rancheria, or extended family household that consists of a matrilocal family with husband and wife, their married female children's families, and any unwed male children. The male children remain in the household of their parents until such time as they are wed, at which point a couple will establish residency with the husband's wife's family (Grimes 1962:104). This differs from Weigand (1979:112) who says that the ideal pattern of postmarital residence is patri- or neopatrilocal.

Huichol marriages are traditionally "arranged," and this practice continues to this day (Weigand 1981). In recent times, however, individual choice has replaced arranged marriages as the dominant marriage system. In the case of those still practicing arranged marriages, however, they are "bilateral and often between first cousins from within the same community" (Schaefer and Furst 1996:8). Marrying and staying within the same community decreases the risk factors associated with subsistence farming, since families are within accessible distance from one another, should sharing of crop harvests or labor become necessary.


Although social organization is matrilineal, the male is still the religious and

social head of household. It is no doubt that much of this is probably due to the infusion of Mexican machismo into Huichol society. Women usually control the land, however, with men tending to any cattle they may own. Inheritance is unilineal, with daughters receiving from their mothers and sons from their fathers. Sometimes, women receive cattle through inheritance, in which case they may come to control ranch land and all animals on it over time (Weigand 1979). It may be possible that these changing inheritance patterns are why patrilocal residence is not as common as it once was.

Huichol children live in the nuclear household, though caring for them is a

communal affair involving all members of the child's extended family. Huichol children are enculturated through a series of formal ceremonies and informal maternal instruction. The most important of these ceremonies for a child is what is known as the Fiesta del tam bor (Festival of the drum) that coincides with the annual harvest festival in the fall (Schaefer and Furst 1996). Only after the completion of five of these ceremonies is a child truly considered whole, showing the importance of the number five in Huichol. cosmology. At each of these annual ceremonies, lasting roughly two days, children are positioned on blankets before their mothers and are blessed by the gods. A series of offerings are made and a constant vigil is maintained through the aid of a cantador (shaman-chanter) and the incessant beating of the tepu (drum). At the end of the ceremony, all families with participating children offer a feast to attendees. In the feast, other kin and guests are treated to tortillas, tamales, and traditional tehuino drink. This ceremony serves for many children and adults as a mechanism to solidify social bonds (see Figure 2.2).


The historical significance of the ceremony lasting five years for each child is

probably rooted in high infant mortality rates (Schaefer and Furst 1996). It was common in the pre-development era for many children to die before their fifth birthday. The conclusion of the ceremony therefore marks an important passage for iluichol children into participating members of Huichol society.

"" N

Figre2.2 Cil inTaeiktaattheFistade TmbrDcme19.

At a colctv lee Huco soit is egltra bu as noe by Scaee and....

MIurst (19:1) "icesn patcpto in th make ecnm ha invtal created... ..

ighave observeid in Tateikita it was noetae nc mo to eeer t9coo9 cal

pspeouss pied o sre (caeterm n public office At the Januasryankng bin eoliasicang

of local authorities). Whether or not they accepted such gestures of appointment was


another matter entirely. Those picked to hold public office, because of the financial constraints involved, are therefore either those with some public debt, or those who the community believes can economically bear the hardship of serving in public office.

The current Huichol political system originated in the late eighteenth century

under the Franciscans "who introduced the comunidad (community) political structure" (Weigand 1979). 1 have mentioned earlier that there are three Huichol traditional communities. There are, however, five gobernancias, which remain from earlier civilreligious hierarchies. Further complicating these political divisions are the presence of temple districts (Weigand 1979:13). Each temple, or kalihuey, has its own religious authorities connected with maintaining it.

Huichol political organization is usually discussed at the level of civil-religious hierarchy. According to this system, the highest traditional office is the gobernador (governor). This individual's functions have been reduced to that of a figurehead in current Huichol organization. His principal role has been as an arbitrator to mediate disputes with the assistance of a panel of judges. He is "generally the eldest member of a community and serves a term of one year" (Weigand 1979:107). The community governor is the head of a council that includes a number of other positions, among them the capitanes (captains), al guaciles (political representatives) and their assisting topiles (police-servants). Alongside the Governor's council are the mayordomos who are responsible for overseeing that particular ceremonies, in the various pueblos (towns or villages) and rancherias, are conducted according to tradition (Weigand 1979).

The members of the council that hold the highest authority and prestige are the kawiteros, who are the elder esteemed members of the community. They are the experts of tradition. According to Weigand (1979:108), "a man becomes a kawitero through


lifelong study of the customs, history, religion, and myths of his comunidad." Kawiteros are often mara'akame, though they may no longer be practicing healers. They traditionally were responsible for overseeing the numerous kalihuey temples throughout the communities. Figure 2.3 illustrates the traditional political hierarchy in the mid1970s. The structure is roughly the same today, though the Plan HUJICOT, as indicated in the diagram, is no longer in existence.


I ..I . . . . .

Figure 2.3. Huichol Political Organization. (Source: Weigand 1979:103).

At the village level, the head authority is the comisario (commissioner) who

serves a joint role as mayor and police chief of a village settlement and temple district. It is his responsibility to mediate local disputes, wed couples, and provide for the general upkeep of the pueblo. The comisario is normally chosen from among the people in the village who are most prosperous or owe a term of service. This is because the position has a lot of responsibilities that can be economically taxing during the one-year term. Someone must also be chosen who holds some knowledge of the rules and regulations of


traditional and civil law. To help him in his duties, the comisario is assisted by topiles who are his message carriers and police force. Their responsibilities include policing the district and keeping the comisario informed of political and social "doings" in the region. Contemporary Religious Organization

Huichol spirituality, at least for the past 500 years, has been based on a

cosmology centered on the ritual use of the peyote cactus. The peyote cactus (see Figure

2.4) is the place from which life emanates, and from which it will return upon one's death. Furst, the foremost authority on IHuichol ceremony, says in his documentary of a Huichol peyote pilgrimage, "It is the doorway to the fifth dimension" (Furst 1969a). Annually, sometimes biannually, the Huichol from various communities will make trips to the sacred land called Wirikuta located in the desert near San Luis Potosi. It is there alone that the sacred peyote cactus grows. It must be harvested by those entrusted to do so, the peyoteros, and brought back to the many village communities for use in rituals and ceremonies.

In the past, pilgrimage trips would involve considerable personal hardship, as the pilgrimage would take up to a full month to accomplish on foot, during which time fasting from salt intake is obligatory. In recent times, personal hardship has changed to economic hardship. No longer are the pilgrimages conducted on foot, but rather by bus and truck, vehicles that must be contracted to carry the people to and from the various sacred sites along the journey, and assist them in returning to their communities with the harvests of peyote cactus (Muller 1978). The major expense has become transportation. These problems with expenses have limited the Huichol ability to make pilgrimages in anything other than organized temple district groups. It is now the plan of INI to assist the Huichol economically in conducting pilgrimages.


Figure 2 4. The Peyote Cactus (Source Culman et al. 1986:202)

Each pilgrimage group is led by a mara 'akame (shaman, or healer) who acts as a spiritual guide to the followers (see Figure 25) Mara'akate (pl.) may be male or female, though I have yet to hear or see a female mara'akame, even though Valadez (aka Susan Eger 1978, 1989) has equated female master weavers and artists with mara'akame status. Moreover, Schaefer (1990, 1996) says that women weavers historically underwent an initiation ceremony much like a "rite of passage." She acknowledges, however, that these ceremonies did little for a women's ability to enter the religious-political hierarchy. This is consistent with Schaefer and Furst (1996), who say that the role is chiefly a male occupation. Were Valadez's statements to be correct, there would be many more female mara 'akate than their male counterparts, as most all women embroider, sew, weave, or use chaquira (beads) to make necklaces and bracelets. These items are chiefly for personal or family use, though there are some rural Huichol, and many urban Huichol, who do make crafts to sell to dealers and tourist shops in Puerto Vallarta, Tepic, or Guadalajara.


To be a mara'akame is a multifaceted role. Spiritually connected with the gods, one must be a diviner, a healer, and an expert in myth and lore (Fikes 1985). Furthermore, a mara'akame must be willing to make personal sacrifices to achieve prominent status within a given community. A good mara'akame is observant, humble, and personable. To be otherwise may label one a witch. One earns the status of a niara 'akame only by example. It is necessary for a potential mara'akame to complete the peyote pilgrimage at least five times to be honored and respected as such. Many have, however, completed the journey numerous times beyond the bare minimum. Because being a mara'akame is not a paid position, these spiritual leaders are dependent upon donations from those they serve. It is not uncommon these days to see a mara'akame go from family to family seeking monetary donations for a pilgrimage, a journey to acquire materials for a ceremony, or for travel funds to perform a ritual in outlying areas of the Huichol homeland (Muller 1978:92).

iluichol cosmology includes a view of the world that interconnects all people and places. The ritual use of peyote is for the purpose of receiving messages from the gods, as well as for honoring them. It is one way to make a direct spiritual connection with the ethereal world. Unlike images portrayed by the popular media, Huichol use of peyote is strictly sanctioned. There are certain contexts when it is permissible to use peyote and others when it is not. Permissible contexts usually involve the presence or guidance of a mara 'akame at ceremonies and the occasional use by artisans to receive divine intervention in artistic creations. Individuals, to prevent or cure sickness and ill health, may also use it. Peyote is present at most ceremonies, though in no way is it as prevalent as it once was in the historical accounts of Schaefer and Furst (1996), Mata Torres (1970), and Benitez (1994). In fact, the modern media continues to present a watered-


down and stereotypical view of Huichol religion and the people in general. Representations such as those portrayed by Ibdfiez and Lavidon (1997) and Zarembo (1999) promote inaccurate images of contemporary Huichol society and religion. In an age of global information exchange, views of the Huichol as peyote consuming secretive people who "are distrustful of outsiders" are detrimental to external relations.

Figure 2.5. Mara'akame and Village Elder at Tateikita Rodeo.

Huichol spirituality revolves around a series of ceremonies performed on an

annual cyclical basis. These ceremonies are connected with events such as the planting of corn (fiesta de la limpieza) in the late spring, and the harvest season (fiesta del tambor) in the late fall (Muller 1978). Some are connected with the peyote pilgrimage. At any given time within the year, the Huichol may visit sacred locations located throughout Western Mexico. These visits are often informal and family-centered, whereas major


events in the ceremonial calendar involve many relatives and families who come together to celebrate an event (see Figure 2.6).

Figure 2.6. Huichol Woman Leaving Offerings. (Source: Geomundo 1997:76)

According to Huichol mythology, peyote, maize, and the white-tailed deer form a trinity in much the same way as the "Holy Trinity" serves as a unifying dimension of Western Christian religion (Schaefer and Furst 1996; Myerhoff 1970). Many names are assigned to each of the three items, as they are constantly associated with deities in the spirit world and are interchangeable, easily confusing the amateur interpreter. For example, peyote, apart from being called hikuri, is also referred to as Kauyumari (Mother Deer). Because peyote flowers possess white tufts of hair atop them, they are also called Maxa Kivaxi (Deertail). The mythological deer that showed the way to the peyote is reverentially called kauyumari (Mother Deer), but may also be called Tatutsi Maxa Kwvaxi (Grandfather Deertail), representing the gender-neutral nature of the figure. In these intersecting themes, the Huichol trinity is inseparable.

Huichol religion is "pantheistic" (Muller 1978:91). All deities are personified by associating them with kinship terms, the most prominent of which are Tau (Father Sun),


Tatewari (Grandfather Fire), Kauyumari (Brother or Mother Deer), Nakaw (Grandmother Growth), Tatei Yurianaka (Mother Earth), Tatei Niwetsika (Mother Maize) and Tukakame (God or Goddess of Death). Each of these deities is honored in ways to manipulate the natural world. These honoring rites usually involve offerings or sacrifices to the deities. Travel to sacred sites is also common. Among the cardinal directions associated with deities are Haramaratsie (San Blas, Nayarit) in the West, Xapawiyemata (Lake Chapala, Jalisco in the South), Wirikuta (near San Luis Potosi in the East), Teikata (the Huichol homeland) and Hauxa Manaka (a site to the North) (Liffinan 2000). Prayers and rituals frequently are for a good harvest, rain, and success in peyote rituals.

Taking the five key directional locations in mind, the number "5" plays an

important role in Huichol cosmology. Not only are there five sacred directions, but also Furst (1969a) says there are "five levels to the underworld," five stages and colors to the corn, and, frequently, five parts to an average peyote button. It can be said that five directions add centrality to the "here and now" orientation of Huichol space and time.

Tateikita: A Community Profile

Tateikita Land Tenure and Economy

The village of Tateikita is more reminiscent of recent urbanization trends within the Huichol territory than as representative of traditional Huichol economics. While in outlying ranches the Huichol rely more on traditional subsistence, those within Tateikita, much like other centralized villages, such as Tateikik or Tuapurie, are now dependent on a foreign economic system that requires them to purchase foodstuffs they are unable (or unwilling) to grow themselves.

The Huichol within each community possess land collectively and families work plots of land using cooperative labor from family members, friends, and more distant kin


(Weigand 1979:109). The fact that land is collective means that the territorial lands cannot be individually bought and sold. It is communal in that "individual titles to plots of land within the overall unit are not granted" (Weigand 1979:111). Weigand (1979: 111) continues, however, "lack of title does not imply lack of very strong and inheritable use rights." Instead, individual families retain possession of plots of land within tracts that are cleared annually utilizing a slash-and-burn technique. Within each cleared tract of land, several different families may have planted crops. Boundary divisions between familial plots are delineated by color of corn that has been planted. In addition, there is little population pressure on the land, so disputes are not common.

Not only may several families share a tract of land, but also each individual

family may possess multiple locations where they have a right to plant. These may be at different elevations so as to maximize the types of crops that can be grown. For instance, while some crops, such as corn and squash, still grow well at higher elevation, other crops, especially beans, do not yield at such elevations. These crops, instead, will be planted at lower elevations, interspersed amongst corn stalks, if they are planted at all.

Because land is considered "women's property," men do not ordinarily clear, plant, and harvest their own tracts of land, but instead will be responsible for preparing and harvesting crops from the lands of their spouses, if married, or those of their mother, sisters, or other female kin. Land is passed on matrilineally, meaning use rights will pass from a mother equally to each of her daughters. Upon the death of a female, her portion of the land will pass directly to her surviving daughters. If none are present, the land will be subsumed and reallocated to another family by the traditional authorities. These observations are in contrast to Weigand (1979: 111), who says "farm plots and farmsteads, however, also go to the eldest son of the first wife if he is capable of


managing them and is present to do so." It may be that, in many cases, the absence of theeldest male, due to urban migration, has resulted in females becoming more in control of land than they were in the past. Males are still, however, preferred to female children, and receive considerable more economic input from their parents than female children. This is noticeable especially in clothing and food allocation.

Use rights for women are very strong, and preserved through inheritance

(Weigand 1979:112). This is probably a secondary factor determining the collective nature of families, particularly sisters, in maintaining access to lands for planting. So, while official roles may show a plot of land as belonging to a male, because of use rights, women will actually be the owners of the land, delegating labor for maintenance of the land and crop tending to male kin.

Within Tateikita, most families still use their familial plots. The variety of

individual crops planted, however, has greatly diminished from the past. Families still plant the traditional five varieties of corn, but this is more ceremonial than practical in nature, as families prefer blue, red, and yellow corn to the other varieties. The planting of additional crops is usually limited to squash. Other smaller crops, such as radishes and cucumber are planted, if at all, within individual ranch homesteads. Some families also have fruit trees in their family compounds, especially orange, lemon, and lime varieties.

The.Huichol mainstay continues to be subsistence farming, as noted in the literature (Nahmad 1996; Schaefer and Furst 1996; Weigand 1981). By subsistence farming, I mean that food production is for familial use, and that surpluses are not ordinarily generated, If so, surpluses are traded with relatives who may not have had a very productive year. In this way, the system maintains equilibrium. A Huichol subsistence economy does not mean, however, that the Huichol produce the entire realm


of food varieties necessary for their diet. This is especially true when it comes to protein intake. Huichol families, for the most part, are very nutritionally deficient. Families have a difficult time clothing their children, let alone worrying about a proper diet. Protein intake within Tateikita comes mainly from eggs, beans, and canned tuna fish. These items are brought in by truck from Huejuquilla, where they are sold in local shops or distributed at a discounted price through the government-subsidized Compahiia Nacional de Subsistencias Populares (CONASUPO). Poorer families will restrict their diet to beans and tortilla, while those who can afford to, will purchase the extra items.

The Huichol of Tateikita are not skilled, trained, or educated in small animal

husbandry. They do, however, supplement purchased items by the occasional chicken, pork, or, in rare instances, lamb. These animals are allowed to run wild throughout the rancherias and villages, feeding on garbage and human waste. Chickens are not raised from birth, but are purchased at a discounted rate through promotional programs of the Departamento de Infancia y Familias (Department of Infants and Families or DIF). Others contract truck owners and/or shopkeepers to bring in animals from outside the Sierra.

While Huichol families will have tracks of land to plant through the collective system of communally owned lands within each of the three rural Sierra communities, many also possess separate family ranches. In contrast to the areas used for planting crops (which are located on the steep hillsides or inter-mesa areas of the region), families from Tateikita will possess individual "ranchos" located outside the village, at higher elevations within the Sierra. These ranches are the primary place of residence for many families during the rainy summer months, when they will leave their homes in the village. Within the ranches, families will possess cattle and small animals, with the cattle being


used for milk production. The nfilk is then processed into cheese, which, when preserved, will keep for many months. Cattle are not normally killed for their meat, except when they have become old or no longer can be used for breeding purposes. Cattle are allowed to wander freely on the ranches during the day to graze, and returned to their corrals in the evening. Families from Tateikita will only return to the village if they need additional supplies or if foodstuffs are depleted.

The rural ranch homesteads, unlike the planting fields, are regularly referred to as mate property (Gerardo's ranch; Agustin's ranch). Women will work with the cattle during the summer months, but because these ranches are used almost exclusively for cattle (men's property), they are labor intensive, something requiring regular maintenance by males. Several families may come together on a ranch, working together for a share of the dairy products, and these groups are always centered on female kin networks (a wife's sisters).

Each of the eight shops in Tateikita is a general store, and all are independently owned, except the CONASUPO (state discount store) and the newly created almacen (hardware store) that is run by a women's collective. Being general stores, they all carry largely the same items. Foodstuffs include eggs, canned goods, pasta, oil, sweets, sodas and beer, MasecaTm (a commercial ground corn-flour mix), flour, salt, beans, rice, canned milk powder, coffee, and a limited selection of fruits and vegetables (chiefly apples, cabbage, and peppers). In addition, stores carry pesticides (bug sprays and insect powders) and general items (sandals, batteries, flashlights, candles, cigarettes, sewing items, and writing materials for the schoolchildren). All of these items are brought in by truck from outside the Sierra, resulting in prices being high for most items.


Not all families can afford to purchase items at the local shops. While most families receive some sort of assistance either from INI and the Departamento de Infancia y Familias (DIF), for children attending school, or the Secretaria de Desorrollo Social (SEDESOL) (for planting particular crops), malnourishment still runs rampant, emphasizing economic differences between have and have-nots. The nutrition of those who can afford to provide additional essential vitamins, minerals, and protein supplements to their diet is much different from that of poorer families who may only be able to provide one meal a day to their children, and this may only be a monotonous daily consumption of beans and tortilla.

The Huichol are very reluctant to try new foods, which makes introducing new foods into their diet quite difficult. Weigand notes:

Huichols have shown little enthusiasm for other introduced plants, such as
carrots, lettuce, radishes, and the like. The scanty use of these garden crops is less a matter of adaptation to soil than one of taste (1979:11).

I found Weigand's observations to be trye. Attempts by the biointensive

agriculture project at the CETMK at introducing lettuce and carrots to students resulted in little interest in their consumption, despite successful yields. The Huichol prefer cabbage to lettuce, because of its durability. Lettuce is also more delicate than cabbage, making it an easy target for hungry ants and other insects. The Material Life of Tateikita

The Huichol of Tateikita, due to their unusually high income levels compared to those in outlying areas, have developed an interest in material goods. These range from battery-operated radios and tape players, to expensive television sets and videocassette recorders. In the case of the former, cheap radios now abound throughout the Sierra, allowing people to listen to news on an IN4-sponsored AM radio station, or to one of


several Spanish-only ranchero stations available at night. FM signals do not reach this portion of the Sierra. As for the "fetishism" for high tech gadgets such as televisions and VCRs, people with a regular source of income will purchase these items de crilito (on long-term loans of two to three years). The items will continue to sit in boxes as "status items" for many months because electricity has not yet reached Tateik/ta, nor will it probably be available any time in the foreseeable future.

Although there is no electricity in Tateikita, homes of the economically

advantaged (teachers and shop owners) have solar units. These units are panels mounted atop poles that convert the sun's energy into a 16-volt current, which, when run through a regulator unit, is downgraded to 12 volts in order to charge batteries. At night, these industrial-strength 12-volt batteries provide enough electricity to run fluorescent lighting within the homes and outside kitchen areas. Two families now possess AC/DC power invertors that enable them to show an occasional video. The local health clinic does the same, on occasion, but uses a gas-powered generator to create the necessary electric current to run a television and VCR.

Tate/kita Geography

Tate/k/ta is more developed than the average Huichol village. Located at the end of a newly created road, Tate/k/ta has become an educational mecca for many remote rancher/as and group settlements in the area. Education exists at preschool, primary, and secondary levels. Most recently, in January 2000, an open preparatory school was founded. In addition to educational advantages, Tate/k/ta also serves as a health center for other small settlements in the area. With these recent developments in mind, the geography of Tate/k/ta represents that of a Mestizo plaza-style settlement as opposed to a traditional Huichol settlement that would be dominated by the local kal/huey (religious


temple). Tateikita possess a small kahhuey along the edges of the plaza, but the main religious and ceremonial center is located about two kilometers away.

The geography of Tateikita consists of a central plaza, dominated by a concrete court used for basketball and volleyball by local residents and students. Surrounding the plaza, are several of the local shops, with others located down nearby side roads. The prominent feature of the plaza is the health clinic. Its chain link fence and concrete foundation make it stand out compared to the adobe brick and weathered appearance of the other buildings in the plaza. The local agency is located opposite the plaza from the health clinic, consisting of no more than a two-room adobe structure with dirt floors.

The spacing of buildings in Tateikita is such that the most centralized area of the village is where most of the wealthy families live. They stay close to their shops, managing them themselves during the day and into the evenings. As one approaches the fringes of the village, approximately 100 meters in any given direction from the central plaza, the homes tend to include small plots of land, whereas those living close to the plaza do not have any immediate land at their disposal. Those who five at the fringes of the village, however, are the most economically disadvantaged of the Huichol citizenry. They generally keep to themselves, preferring to only come to the village when it is necessary to purchase supplies, attend meetings, receive government assistance, or participate in ceremonies.

Located within the boundaries of Tateikita, but near the road's departure from it, is the primary school alhergue, or dormitory, and across from that, a one-room preschool. As one heads east out of the village, the road approaches the airstrip, newly constructed primary school classrooms, and, finally, the secondary school, located below the village next to the soccer field Oust prior to the edge of the mesa). In-between the


primary school and the secondary school is the Franciscan mission. Its doors stay locked, save for the presence of a Franciscan ftiar who continues to live within the mission's confines. One rarely, if ever, finds any Huichol attending or making use of the services of the mission. While once an important landmark, tensions with the local Huichol over evangelism and land-use rights have resulted in its activities taking place in seclusion. Mass is still held nightly, but one will not find any Huichol in attendance. Only visitors and the local doctor attend mass.

Gender Roles in Tateikita

Gender roles within Tateikita are strictly defined. Women are the primary

caregivers of children, while men take a more peripheral role. Women's work consists of preparing meals, making and embroidering clothing, and tending to small animals. It is not a woman's place to be vocal publicly. Traditionally, women did not hold political offices. While this continues to be the case within Huichol society, some women within Tateikita are more vocal as advisors, though they do not hold public office. This is especially true of those who are teachers at the primary and secondary level (a traditionally male occupation for the Huichol), the local indigenous nurse, and those whose husbands are economically advantaged shopkeepers. These women will freely express their opinions in public (something very rare traditionally), and tend to be younger, educated women. Sex segregation continues to be common, however, as women's social networks do not intermingle with those of males. This division of sexes has an important historic basis as a means of discouraging adultery.

It is men, not women, who are the most concerned about their children's

education, particularly that of their male children. Fathers are very protective of their daughters, however, due to traditional marriage occurring shortly after menarche (ages 13


to 15). The education of female children is considered a substantial economic investment, because the early marriage of a female child will bring more labor into the family economic unit. Men are expected to contribute financially to the well-being of their nuclear and affinal extended families. As a result, migrant labor is common, although within Tateikita, the population is not as fluid as in more remote rancherias. This is because several economically advantaged kinship networks (e.g., the Saludos family) dominate the local economy.

Nationalism and Ethnic Identity

The remainder of this chapter is about the connections between nationalism and ethnic identity among indigenous peoples. I will define the terms "ethnicity" and "identity," showing how they are interrelated in discussions about indigenous peoples in the modern world. I will then discuss how the themes of autonomy, self-determiAnation, and resistance have generated arguments among indigenous peoples, particularly in Latin America. These debates serve as arenas for the assertion of ethnic identity at national and transnational. levels. I conclude here by discussing the literature concerning the relationship between freedom and culture, and how indigenous peoples associate their reasons for mobilization with rights of sovereignty to control their own internal affairs and cultural traditions.

Who are We? Defining Ethnic Identity Among Indigenous Peoples

No discussion of indigenous peoples and culture change could be constructed

without first going to the roots of what indigenous people are and how they perceive their world. At the heart of ideology for indigenous people lie discussions of their identity and ethnicity. What are these concepts, and what roles do they play in defining the daily life of indigenous peoples? Moreover, how are these notions created and recreated?


According to Eriksen (1993), a sensitivity to these types of questions has been common in cultural anthropology since at least the 1960s, and perhaps earlier. These questions continue to be important in the late twentieth century and early twentieth as well, because groups of indigenous peoples are continually striving to define who they are and where they see their future taking them. Constructions of identity and ethnicity serve political and social functions for people to control their own livelihood. As such, they are core attributes in the life of a people.

When one speaks of "identity," it is usually heard in conjunction with "ethnicity" as "ethnic identity." "Identity," in its most common definition, pertains to the distinct personality of an individual. Defined more broadly, identity is "the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is recognizable or knowrf' (American Heritage Dictionary 1989). This second definition encompasses the vast number of individual traits that make an individual who he or she may be. On the other hand, "ethnicity" is the "perception of oneself as a member of a social group which allows the culture to exist as a meaningful entity, make sense of the past and present, and give direction to the future" (McBeth 1983:19).

What makes ethnicity distinct from identity is that it is both an emic and an etic construction .2 Emic "self ascriptiorf' enables people to create a personal sense of belonging, a connection if you will, with others. Ethnicity is also etic as it requires others, such as social scientists, to recognize that one pertains to a particular group of people. These joint emic-etic constructions of ethnicity are what Barth (1969:13) calls

2 Borrowed from the linguist Kenneth Pike (1967) from the terms "phonemics" and "phonetics" and further elaborated upon by the anthropologist Marvin Harris (1990, 1999), emics and etics serve to define the differences between "insider" and "outsider" domains of perception in anthropology.


"self-ascription and ascription by others, and are consistent with those found by other scholars, including De Vos (1995), Hutchinson and Smith (1996), and Mead (1995).

Ethnicity is a social category as opposed to a personal-psychological one. As a social category, ethnicity is defined by one possessing certain cultural or linguistic characteristics that serve to form boundaries between one's reality and that of others. It is probably Weber (1996) who first pointed out the exclusionary basis of ethnicity through its delimiting of social groups. He said, "it is primarily the political community, no matter how artificially organized, that inspires the belief in common ethnicity" (Weber 1996:35). Moreover, Weber saw that there was a distinction between ethnic membership and a purely kinship definition, because one's ethnicity is based on a series of perceived similarities with some individuals, yet differences from others.

The point I have been trying to make regarding "ethnicity" and "identity" is the way in which they are almost always considered synonymous, yet there still remain important differences between the two. These differences are important when one begins to look at "representations of identity" in ethnic variation. There is a dynamic interplay between self and group that may cause an individual to behave one way in some social contexts and still another way in others. As a result of these connections, most scholars consider ethnicity and identity as inseparable parts of a two-sided coin. When one looks at Native American peoples, however, the link is not so simple because we must include social definitions of native peoples as a "race."

Creating a "race of Indian peoples" has its own complications because to be

"American Indian," in the U.S. at least, one must possess a certain blood quantum that meets the minimum requirements for tribal enrollment. As Fogelson says:

It is assumed that there exists a linkage forged by a chain of blood and
continuous social interaction between historical tribes and their modem


descendants, even though there may be such radical discontinuity that
present-day Yoruks or Sioux would have a difficult time recognizing, let
alone identifying with, the culture of their ancestors (1998:43)

Upon proving one possesses, in most cases, at least one-quarter Indian blood as reflected by generational kinship charts from historical "lists" of Indian tribal enrollment, one can be officially enrolled as a member of a particular tribe with various membership cards. Because of a growing concern that requirements are too strict, many tribes are now reducing the percentages required for affiliation to one-eighth or even one-sixteenth (National Public Radio 200 1). These legal definitions of American Indian "race" using biology are problematic. As Fogelson (1998) pointed out, one may be affiliated with a tribe even though s/he may not practice or even be aware of his/her cultural heritage within a particular Indian tribe.

In order to more clearly define indigenous identity in the United States, Fogelson (1987, 1998) has proposed three characteristics by which Native American identity is constructed: blood and descent; relations to land; and sense of community. These broader definitions of native identity characterize the other ways that definitions of Indian identity can be constructed. Relations to land and sense of community He at the heart of arguments about ethnic group membership, particularly in what is known as "symbolic ethnicity" among individuals who no longer have any direct familial and/or traditional ties to ancestral homelands. It is an issue especially affecting urban Indians in the U.S. and elsewhere who in response to continual contact with a dominant culture and society, must "negotiate" their identities, becoming truly "bicultural" as has been argued by those who study contemporary Indians (Furst and Havighurst 1973; Moore 1998; National Public Radio 2001; and Thornton 1978). These "bicultural identities" are in constant renegotiation as one adapts to societal change. Like Sandstrom's Aztec-descendent


Indians in Corn is Our Blood (199 1), the Huichol make it a point to stress their Indian identity when it may be advantageous to do so. In essence, they are carefully weighing a cost-benefit analysis when choosing which identity to place forward.

Arguments about the biculturality of Native American identity can be used to

point to consistent parallels between identity negotiation among U.S. American Indians and those of Latin America. There is, however, one additional factor in identity determination among the indigenous peoples of Latin America: Indigenous peoples of Latin America do not have blood quantum criteria that can legitimize their status as indigenous peoples. Instead, they must rely on notions of self and group identity. For the Huichol, as will be pointed out in later discussions, relations to the land appear to be of primary importance in determining Huichol membership. Other factors include use of the native language and participation in ceremonies, but these are of secondary importance. One can be urban and still be Huichol, but one must retain familial ties to the ancestral homeland in the Sierra. Once that pattern is broken, urban Huichol would no longer be considered to be Huichol by some rural members, regardless if they still spoke the language.'

Distinctions between "identity" and "ethnicity" lead to a discussion of "ethnic

identity." What are the components that make up one's ethnic identity and how do these components factor into the Huichol situation? According to Keefe (1992:3 8), "the domain of ethnic identity consists of: the perception of differences between ethnic groups; the feelings of attachment to and pride in one ethnic group and cultural heritage

3 The experiences of one Huichol teacher at the CETMK who had considerable difficulty reintegrating into rancheria society after a period of prolonged upbringing in an urban setting, helped reveal this aspect of Huichol identity. For second and third generation urban Huichol, the divisions between urban and rural Huichol are even more apparent.


as opposed to others; and, at least where there are perceived physical differences, the perception of prejudice and discrimination against one's own ethnic group." Indigenous peoples in Mexico, including the Huichol, have struggled to remain distinct from the collective mestizaje (Mestizo or "mixed") national identity that indigenous peoples see as assimilationist and therefore destructive to their survival as a people.

Until recently, research on the role of ethnicity in indigenous cultural

identification and preservation was limited to American Indian peoples of North America, even though the concept of ethnicity was applied to immigrant groups worldwide, including the Afican Diaspora, and the former Yugoslavia and Soviet republics (Alba 1990). Studies dealing with indigenous ethnicity in North America concentrated on the importance of blood quantum and an emerging concept known as "symbolic ethnicity" (Gans 1979; Roosens 1989; Sprott 1994). It was for quite some time that researchers struggled with how or whether to remove blood quantum percentage as a necessary component to defining ethnicity among indigenous peoples. The main problem with doing so is that in the opinion of many indigenous scholars, removing blood quantum from discussion of indigenous peoples' ethnicity would "dilute" their ability to remain distinct peoples and make it easier for their rights to be gradually stripped away (Nagel 1996; Thornton 1987). Among the Huichol, and others of Latin America, historical classifications of ethnic identity have been based on appearance alone, as no clear biological links have been established. It was not unusual to hear racial stereotypes of "gradations of skin pigmentation" factored into identification of people as indigenous. And the dominant Mexican ideology favors "light skin" over "dark skin" in social constructions of superiority-inferiority (Amselle 1998; Nassau 1994). Coupled with geographic residence and language, appearance helped label someone as indigenous


or not. Such generalizations, based on attributes often measured independently of one another, caused confusion and inaccuracy in historical demographics of indigenous
peoples in Latin America.

One way to counteract the removal of blood quantum as a determinant for ethnic identity has been to concentrate instead on self-identification and degree of involvement in what are called "traditional cultural practices." Weigand (1981) and Keefe (1992), like myself, claim that the cultural component to ethnic identification is much more important than blood quantum. Fishman (1980) used participation as an important component to his "being, doing, and knowing" model of ethnicity. The reasoning here is: "If you don't participate in your heritage, how can you claim it?" By focusing on participation as a necessary component of ethnic identity affiliation, categorizing people based on levels of melatonin in the skin (appearance) is limited, and we shift from racial definitions of identity to cultural distinctions. For the Huichol, participation in a multitude of religious practices is inseparable from daily existence. By intertwining the daily with the spiritual, a complex cosmology emerges that defines one's social and spiritual relations.

A final theme needs to be discussed when considering ethnic identity among

indigenous peoples: symbolic ethnicity. If one can become a member of an ethnic group without blood affiliation, but instead through cultural participation and self-declaration, what is the secret ingredient that brings together this ability? Gans (1979) proposes that "symbolic ethnicity" is one way to look at ethnic identity among people who are several generations, third or forth, removed from their ancestors. While he applies this reasoning

4 The population enumeration procedures for indigenous peoples in Latin America have varied from one census to the next, explaining why there is a lot of variability in the figures. The most recent population estimate of the Huichol by INEGI was done independently of one's use of a native language, relying instead on self-declaration and place of residence.


to looking at the future of ethnic groups and cultures in America, it has use in cultural revitalization and preservation movements for indigenous peoples. I argue that much of the "pan-Indian"' movement relies on a people's ability to create connections with other individuals based on perceived cultural similarities, when in reality there may be a lot of difference between a person's behavior and the traditional cultural practices of his or her ethnic group. By creating and using symbolic ethnicity, ethnic lines are dissolved and people can be united based on common beliefs and goals.

When talking about the Huichol, symbolic ethnicity may explain one way mn which the intelligentsia think and act when they create a school culture. By aligning themselves with the common goals of all indigenous peoples, they see the ability to "fight for the common good of all." At the same time, constructing a new collective social identity may act as a device to alienate traditionalists within the community, causing conflict and political side-taking when it comes to conflict resolution. Creating a collective symbolic ethnicity, however, may help to maintain group identity by justifying some acculturative (or assimilationist) aspects of culture change, such as changes in one' s dress or language to that of the dominant culture as non-indigenous. Pacheco Salvador (1995:209) writes about this from the point of view of a traditionalist when she speaks of the Huichol children of today who "combine traditional festivals with Christian ones," "play the same games" as the Mestizo children, and "swear off the Huichol language by not speaking it with other Huichol when there are mestizos present for fear of being criticized." I have been fortunate in a rural setting to have not seen this linguistic drop off to habitual Spanish use when in the presence of teiwaritsie (outsiders). Huichol appeared to be comfortable shifting between their native language and using a translator


or switching to Spanish when something was said for the non-Huichol speaker to understand.

Peasant Economics and Indigenous Class Formation

Kearney (1996) and Hale (1996) suggest that the identities of indigenous peoples of Latin America historically have been cast in terms of a domination-exploitation model that restricts the dynamics of a peasant economy and casts them in a series of coreperiphery relationships first identified by Wallerstein (1976). By labeling indigenous peoples as "peasants," they are stripped of their collective identities. The reality is that these very "peasants" have become a sort of "post-peasant," something that Kearney (1996:141) refers to as "polybians." Imbedded in this term, argues Kearney, are the multiple identity roles that peasants must negotiate. They are not only living biculturally, but have learned multiple coping strategies that enable them to shift comfortably within an economic system that has recast our thinking of Wolf s (195 7, 1986) "closed corporate community." Indigenous peoples, including the Huichol, have maintained two distinct economic systems that act parallel to one another, one is communal, and the other is capitalist. By keeping these systems distinct, the Huichol have been able to resist acculturative pressures on their ethnicity, preventing what Stavenhagen (1963) saw as the disappearance of distinct Indian cultures and separate identities due to capitalist expansions into formerly indigenous regions. While the Huichol and other indigenous peoples of Latin America do partake of the capitalist economy, their communal economy (subsistence horticulture) remains largely intact and separate from capitalist ventures.

Stavenhagen has since taken an interest in ethnic resurgence among the indigenous peoples of Mexico. He believes the ethnic resurgence is the result of indigenous organization, pan-Indian transnationalism, and the formation of the


intelligentsia class (Stavenhagen 1994). These formns of collective organization are yet another aspect of "identity politics" that Hale (1997:568) calls "collective sensibilities and actions that come from a particular location within society, in direct defiance of universal categories that tend to subsume, erase, or suppress this particularity." Identity politics then serve as a form of resistance to national policies, such as Mexican indigenismo that seeks to marginalize indigenous peoples to promote the existence of national culture (Aguirre Beltr~n 1970;-Diaz Polanco 1997; Giroux 1983; Stavenhagen 1994).

The studies of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Latin America have been significant since Redfield (1941) first examined Chan Kom and espoused his idea of a "folk-urban continuum" where he saw peasants at the mid-point of a continuum between traditionality and modernity, receiving modem traits, which, via their acceptance, would transform the peasantry out of existence, killing off traditions considered to be backward or no longer necessary. Redfield's idea of a changing peasantry is synonymous with the pristine view of indigenous peoples of Mexico that do not acknowledge intracultural variation.

The Huichol, and other Indian groups, are often portrayed as disarticulated from the economic systems of the dominant society. Foster's theory of the limited good (1965) sees disarticulated peasant economies as the determining factor in peasant behavior. Based on his research in Tzintzuntzan (Foster 1967), Foster has expressed peasant communities as "closed systems" whereby, "except in a special but extremely important way, a peasant sees his existence as determined and limited by the natural and social resources of his village and his immediate area" (Foster 1966:296). Although he views peasant economics as a closed system, Foster's model of the limited good


recognizes that "an individual or a family can improve a position only at the expense of others" (Foster 1966:297). These types of economics explain how one may be predisposed to use capitalist economics in order to transcend the level of poverty present in a community. In Tateikita, those who appear to possess the most capital (i.e., participate in a market economy) are becoming those with local and regional political influence. In an area of rapid culture change, these associations with a capitalist economy are creating divisions within Huichol society between what I call here "Traditionalists" and "Progressives." To be traditional entails practicing subsistence horticulture on communally held plots of land. It also means participation in religious practices and livelihood. The progressives, on the other hand, appear to be those that straddle the line between traditionality and modernity, embracing aspects of both economies, and following Chayanov's (1966) theory of peasant economies. Some have primary labor responsibilities that lie in teaching or shopkeeping, while still others have turned to selling traditional arts and crafts to vendors for profit, or travel to coastal fields to pick tobacco for money. The selling of surplus food has yet to be established as a viable economic option for the Huichol, as a precarious mountainous environment has too much annual variability in crop production for anything other than subsistence, and, perhaps, the selling of homemade tamales or tacos at local gatherings. .

The gradual expansion of a market economy among the Huichol has had the

impact of creating classes through these social distinctions. These class distinctions are emerging in contrast to traditional ranking systems that emphasized prestige as a prescribed status earned by kawiteros (elders) and mara akates (shaman). The new distinctions are creating a two-class system among the Huichol, which, according to Marx's (1906) critique of a political economy, are between the capitalists or bourgeoisie


(those who own and control capital) and the proletariat (those who must earn their living by selling their labor).

Marx's class divisions are not only existent at micro-scale levels, but are most

apparent between that of the dominant society and that of the indigenous peoples. These principal economic relations are rooted in a history of domination by colonial Spanish forces down to the present day exploitation of indigenous peoples by national governments. The idea is that by destruction of indigenous lifeways, a dominant marketstyle economy will prevail that will strengthen the legitimacy of the nation-state. Autonomy. Self-Determination, and Resistance

Relations that fall into domination-subordination characterize the history of indigenous peoples in Mexico and elsewhere. The Huichol, and others, have long recognized that economically, religiously and territorially they have been denied the ability to continue traditional cultural practices in a system that, in their eyes, has historically stripped them of their homelands and fields, limited their ability to practice their own religion and language, and exploited them economically. Moreover, the indigenous regions have been regions of drastic undervelopment in the areas of health care and education.

Five hundred years of conflict recently came to a head in January 1994 in

Chiapas, Mexico when an organized uprising by the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberacidn Nacional (EZLN) took control of key villages within the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico as a way to protest actions by the government against the indigenous peoples of the region. Government offices were occupied and there was a cry of'"ya basta!" (enough!) throughout the state. The Zapatistas, named after Emiliano Zapata, a peasant hero of the Mexican revolution, sought autonomy for the people of the region as a way to


counteract the oppressive measures of the Mexican military and government.5 By seeking autonomy, the EZLN called for the ability to be recognized as an autonomous people with the right to elect their own government officials and control their own affairs in the highlands region of Chiapas (Diaz-Polanco 1998). The Zapatista uprising resulted in a period of warfare throughout the region, with EZLN forces remaining elusive and strong throughout the conflict. For 25 months the battle continued, finally "officially" ending with the signing of "The Accords of San Andres" by the EZLN and the Commission for Concord and Pacification (COCOPA) on February 16, 1996. The accords awarded the indigenous people of the region the right to practice their own religion and control their own internal affairs. Within seven months of the signing of the accords, however, they were nullified by President Ernesto Zedillo's refusal to implement the changes addressed in the accords. Violence erupted once more in the region, culminating in 1997 with the massacre of 45 indigenous people by paramilitary forces in the town of Acteffl and the ultimate displacement of more than 15,000 indigenous people from the highlands and northern region of the state of Chiapas, according to nongovernmental sources (Olmos 1999).

It did not take long for the repercussions of the EZLN uprising and the militarization of Chiapas to extend beyond the confines of the state. Among the intellectual indigenous community, the news spread quickly. Soon, knowledge of what was going on in Chiapas spread nationally and internationally. The indigenous communities of Mexico identified with the Zapatista cause, and the Mexican government feared an uprising in many of the indigenous regions of Mexico.

5See Appendix C for a copy of the EZLN Declaration of War.


The Huichol were among those to identity with the causes of the Zapatistas. While generally a passive people, they had experienced periods of harassment by authorities during their pilgrimages to sacred sites, and in carrying peyote back to their villages. Most recently, in March 1998, a group ofpeyoteros (those on the peyote pilgrimage) from Tateikid was detained at a military outpost outside Huejuquila del Alto, Jalisco and charged with drug trafficking, a federal offense (Valadez 1998). These actions were considered to be in direct violation of Article 4 of the Mexican Constitution, which says that the Huichol use of peyote is legally protected. Moreover, according to Valadez (1998), "in the International Vienna Treaty of Psychotropic Substances, ratified by Mexico in 1961, there is a clause that specifically states that indigenous groups who use psychotropic plants in their magicoreligious ceremonies are exempt from legal prosecution." After a public outrage, thepeyoteros were released, but the peyote was confiscated, creating anger and distrust among locals in the town and within the Huichol communities. Up until that time, the Huichol had mostly been passive. The state of Jalisco has been primarily friendly toward the Huichol, which has enabled them to maintain a limited degree of autonomy within the homeland region. The Huichol feared that this friendly period was coming to an end.

Since the incident of March 1998, the militarization of the Sierra region has increased significantly. There are now military forces present at community assembly meetings, bags are checked for contraband (principally arms) when flying in or out of the Sierra, and intellectuals are watched closely. The killing of the American reporter Philip True in December 1998 did not help the situation, and the Huichol have grown extra


suspicious of uninvited visitors in the Sierra since that time.6 Because of their dealings with the Huichol, the non-governmental association AJAGI has been threatened on numerous occasions, including the attempted kidnapping of the child of one its directors. 7 Despite these threats, AJAGI continues to help the Huichol with legal counseling in land disputes and development projects within the community of Tateikkg.

Tied in with discussions of autonomy for the indigenous peoples of Mexico are

the ideas of "self-determination" and "regional autonomy." Diaz-Polanco (1996:15) says that it is not possible to understand "the indigenous problem of Latin America without understanding the regional-national context in which it exists. As such, the origins of quests for autonomy must be placed within the socio-political foundations of the nationstate. We must also understand the difference between autonomy and self-determination.

According to Diaz-Polanco (1997:98), "the distinction between self-determination and autonomy is usually based on an identification of the former with the right to political independence and the establishment of a nation-state, while the latter is reserved for the assumption of certain special faculties (such as self-government) without statehood or political independence." He believes that many indigenous peoples are afraid of the International Labor Organization's resolutions from Convention 169, passed in January 1989. These resolutions, ratified into the Mexican constitution in December of 1992, gave the indigenous peoples of Mexico the right to practice their religious and social traditions, but at the same time, the wording is not clear and can be interpreted in different ways. The vague wording is the very thing that plagued Lenin during the 1930s

6 1 personally witnessed the explusion of a pair of anthropologists from Tateikita in the Fall of 1999. Despite good intentions, they did not follow proper authoritative channels in requesting to do their research on "dance and symbolism" in the village.

7 Personal Communication with Angeles Arcos, March 1999.


as he struggled to define the "self-determination" of ethnic minorities as independent of a right to form a federation (Nimni 1991:75-76).

For the Huichol, the road has been mostly one of limited autonomy, rather than the more radical picture of self-determination that implies the formation of an autonomous Huichol state. Diaz-Polanco (1997:151) says that autonomy must include three elements: 1) political-territorial foundation; 2) autonomous self-government; and, 3) competences (skills and knowledge that allow the political decentralization essential to autonomy). The Huichol have already banded together to form various associations with
political objectives. At this point in time, the Huichol are content with negotiations aimed at reclaiming lost territory and preserving their language and cultural traditions. It is not their prerogative to be militant and to risk losing the largely positive negotiations they are currently experiencing. In the past, the Huichol generally kept to themselves, and this remains to be the case today. They are, at least at a certain mental level, "free." Questions of Ethnicity and Nationalism

Emancipation and freedom are inherent qualities of mobilization in a quest for ethnic autonomy. In explaining the status of emancipation as "liberating," we are left, however, with the "national-ethnic" question. The "national-ethnic" question arises from how autonomous ethnic groups and regions fit into the national image of a nation-state. It was Stalin (1953:300-301) who first defined a nation as "an historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make up, manifested in a common culture." By this definition, it is possible to see that a nation of peoples can be quite distinct from a

8 The Uni6n de Comunidades Indigenas Huicholas de Jalisco (UCIH.) and the government's Procuraderia de Asuntos Indigenas (PAI) and Departamento de Educaci6n Indigena (DEI), mentioned in Chapter 1, are examples of this phenomenon.


"4nation-state" which includes a political dimension. If an indigenous ethnic group, such as the Huichol, can be considered a "nation of people," such as is common among the many indigenous peoples of Native North America, then without freedom,4 how can they be autonomous? The term "nation-state," on the other hand, expands the idea of freedom to the formation of an almost idealistic state. This idealistic state then possesses a political dimension that is seen as the "liberating force" for the freedom they seek. The ethnic group uses their political power to retain their culture.

Cruz Burgette (1998:98) refers to these political dimensions as methods of

resistancec" by which an ethnic group can maintain itself as a distinct nation of people. She further states that these ethnic traits are present in three dimensions: "social, cultural, and historical" that act as legitimizing factors in quests for ethnic autonomy (Cruz Burgette (1998:99-100). Lastly, she also points out that native language use is one of the most important strategies for survival of an ethnic group (Cruz Burgette 1998). Along with its loss, she believes, comes the loss of an understanding of traditional religious symbolism. The Huichol believe that their language reflects their reality and equate loss of it with loss of their native ways of thought (G6mez; L6pez 1995). This is further supported by Altamirano and Flirabayashi (1997: 10) who define "the uses of a native language," in conjunction with "religion," "common conceptions of time and space," and musicc and dance" as significant characteristics in defining regional identities needed for ethnic mobilization of nations of people.

In Mexican indigenismo policy of the past, the identity of indigenous groups in Mexico was diminished. The idea of being "Indian" was stigmatized into being something negative. The nationalistic movement among indigenous peoples of Mexico is now changing this idea, especially since the Zapatista uprising in 1994. Friedlander


(1975), in her classic study of forced identity in Hueyapan, Mexico, noted at the time the negative stigma attached to being "Indian." At that time, the dominant ethos among Hueyapan villagers was to deny their indigenous identity as something shameful and backward. She writes, "early in my stay I learned that villagers were embarrassed about their Indian identity" (Friedlander 1975:72). To be Indian meant that one was lazy, did not speak Spanish, or was poor. Friedlander found villagers referred to the term indict (Indian) as a synonym for "backwardness." According to her interviewees, being Indian was closely connected with the idea of "underdevelopedness," and was the result of "progressivist propaganda" that equated modernity with adoption of an identitdad mestiza (Mestizo identity). Conditions of a Mestizo identity included fluency in Spanish, conversion to Catholicism, and movement from an agrarian society to a society that included centralized social agencies and their respective services (Friedlander 1975). The identidad mestiza would, in turn, create an illusion of unity among Mexican peoples, despite social class divisions.

In Friedlander's (1975) study, Traditionalists and Progressives were virtually unanimous in their rejection of being labeled indios. Among the Huichol, there is no apparent rejection of indigenous identity. The conflict between the two is more centered on what it means to be indigenous, or, more to the point, how much of the "other" can we accommodate into our own culture and still consider ourselves to be Huichol. One cannot rely on Friedlander's study alone, however, without realizing the historical situation from which it arose. At the time of her study, nationalist propaganda ran strong. In fact, she labeled those that espoused Indian identity as "extremists." She was also quick to point out that those that advocated cultural preservation were primarily Mestizos


from outside the village who came to warn villagers of the evils of "assimilation" into mainstream society.

Perhaps, because of their prolonged isolation in the Sierra, or because of their present situation of sudden contact with outsiders, the Huichol in this study do not conform to the same set of attitudinal beliefs mentioned by Friedlander among the Hueyapan villagers. Instead, the Huichol do not reject their indigenous identity. I do not argue that there are not those among the Huichol who consider their state as being one of underdevelopment, but rather that the overall attitudes among the Huichol appear to be ones anchored in preservation of their traditional ways of life. In contrast to other rural peoples in Mexico who have sought urban migration as a way to escape the poverty and underdevelopment of their surroundings, the Huichol are most interested in preserving their traditional language and customs, and this requires them to stay in their rural homeland.

In Friedlander's study, it was the outsiders who influenced the actions of local extremists among Hueyapan villagers. Among the Huichol, the outsiders are only solicited as political puppets for their interests. The pan-Indian movement, mobilized chiefly through the actions of the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberaci6n Nacional (Zapatista National Liberation Army), shows that the Indian peoples of Mexico are not the closedcorporate communities that they were once thought to be. The Huichol, despite their geographic isolation, are quite aware of the larger political climate in Mexico. Some of this can be attributed to the movement of intellectuals into and out of the various Huichol villages and communities; still other awareness can be attributed to their current legal struggle to reclaim more than 4000 hectares of land which they consider to have been stolen by cattle ranchers and logging and farming industries.


Lastly, another trend in ethnic identity and nationalist literature, particularly in education, is the use of the term "intercultural." Used by indigenous scholars, chiefly Nabmad (n.d.), Mondino (1993), Acevado Conde, et al. (1996), and Rojas (1999a, 1999b), this term has been applied to the blending of native and non-native educational systems, and proposed as a solution to defining indigenous people in the context of social change. This process, while seemingly beneficial on the surface, trivializes the degree of ethnic variation within a group and irresponsibly used can actually serve as integrationist and assimilationist propaganda that gradually introduces aspects of a dominant culture, down to language use, into the lives of indigenous peoples. The proposal is that "indigenous control" can counteract any misuse of intercultural education, and that more research needs to be done in this area to determine the long-term positive or negative affects on an ethnic group.


"La escuela me da chanza de aprender del mundo ajeno mientras
quedarme igual. No me pueden cambiar [los mestizos]. Ya s6 quin soy

"The School gives me the chance to learn about the outside world while
remaining who I am. They [the Mestizos] can't change me. I already
know who I am."

Indigenous Educational History

Indigenous education is a recent area of concern in educational philosophy. This chapter begins with a general history describing the historical developments leading to the creation of indigenous education programs in the U.S. and Mexico. Despite geographic separations and different governments, the historical timelines of federal Indian education policies in the U.S. and Mexico are surprisingly similar. As of yet, there do not appear to be any comparative approaches to studies of indigenous education programs in the U.S. and Latin America, with reasons lying in linguistic, geographic, and political-territorial distinctions. In each of the subsequent sections, I mention the various forms of legislation leading up to the present state of indigenous self-control of public and private Indian education on both sides of the border. I do so in order to show that the shifting tides of political climate have influenced claims for Indian sovereignty that now appear to be entering a new era emphasizing local control of education.

Personal Communication with Pr year Huichol student of the CETMK, July 2000.



Native peoples, regardless of geography, have been at the whims of federal

policies. For Mexico, the slower progression towards Indian self-empowerment may, in part, be due to their limited understanding and views of the imperfect success of native attempts at self-empowerment in the U. S. On the U. S. side, tribal efforts at indigenous self-control developed faster because of shifts in federal policy towards Native Americans, while in Mexico, two parallel (and competing) systems developed, one marked by federal assimilationist policy, and another marked by community development (Nahmad 1998). Both U.S. and Mexican dominant-subordinate cultural histories began, however, with religious conversion agendas by missionaries. With a strong basis of indigenous activism in education approached from a U.S. perspective, I conclude this chapter by looking specifically at previous educational research among the Huichol, explaining how knowledge gained from U.S. studies of Indian education can assist in understanding the present situation in Tateikita. Much can be learned about effective Indian education program implementation in Mexico by looking at the successes and failures of indigenous programs in the U.S. and applying what is useful to analyze and improve upon indigenous education in Mexico or elsewhere. A General -History of U.S. Indian Education and Policy

The history of American national policy towards the education of indigenous peoples dates to a treaty signed in 1794 between the federal government and several Indian elders (Pewewardy 1998). Although this treaty called for Indian children to be educated, it did not include any specifics for policies determining the methodology of such education. The history of Native Education as it relates to current classroom and institutional processes cannot be discussed without first relating the different stages in


Native American history and putting the development of reservation schooling within that context.

Little is known about American Indian education before the American

Revolution. What is known, however, is that the start of Western education and the concept of formal schooling were first brought to Native Americans by Roman Catholic priests who arrived with the first missionaries to the Americas (Fuchs and Havighurst 1972). The Midwest and East were primarily under the tenitory of the Jesuits, while the Southwest was the territory of the Franciscans who organized the many Indian peoples into settlements near missions. The Jesuits concentrated on teaching French language and customs, whereas the Franciscans were more concerned with practical skills such as agriculture and carpentry. There was, as McBeth (1983:75) states, "no clear distinctions between separation of Church and State with respect to Indian education in the 1700s and early 1800s." It must not be forgotten, however, that apart from teaching practical skills, Indian education served little purpose. Fuchs and Havighurst note the following trend:

The school was established as an agent for spreading Christianity and the transmittal of Western culture and civilization. No consistent attempts to
incor-porate Indian languages, culture, or history were made in the
curriculum offered. The issues raised by the white man's efforts to extend
the benefits of his educational tradition to the peoples of the new World
were clearly defined at an early date-and still endure. (1972:3)

The impact of education on the Indian peoples of North America was quite

limited at this point in time. Indians strongly resisted attempts at conversion, and there were frequent periods of violence and unrest.

There are five generally accepted historic cultural periods of importance in U.S. national policy towards Indian peoples. They are: 1) extermination; 2) assimilation; 3) separation / autonomy / sovereignty; 4) termination-, 5) separation / autonomy once again.


Each of these periods influenced the development of reservation schooling today, as well as native attitudes toward national Indian policy. These indigenous policy periods differ slightly from the official designations, outlined by Fischbacher (1967:201-203): the Reservation Period (1870-1887); the Allotment Period (1887-1934); the Reorganization Period (1934-1952); the Termination Period (1953-1972); and the Self-Determination Period (1970s to the present).

The first period, which I call "extermination," occurred during the 1860s and was marked by repeated attempts to subdue and eliminate Native American peoples by U.S. forces stationed in the Southwest. Native Americans were considered a threat to the territorial expansion of the United States under the "manifest destiny" program, and the prevailing attitude was that they should be eliminated because they were "savages" incapable of being "civilized" (Berkhofer 1979, Morris and Weaver 1990). The Fort Fauntleroy massacre of 1861 and Navajo slave trade were examples of this policy, as was the attack on Fort Defiance in 1860 that led to the "Long Walk" in which Navajos were removed from their homes and retained at Fort Sumner (Roessel 1983). The government had no intention of educating Native Americans at this time, but only of terminating their existence according to what Duran et al. (1998:63) call "cultural genocide" and a "holocaust" (1998:66).

The Second period, "assimilation," lasted from 1868 into the 1920s and reflected a policy change from one of extermination of Indian peoples to one that involved an attempt to assimilate Native Americans into the general population by destroying their culture and lifeways. With the treaty of 1868, the Navajo reservation was established, and, soon thereafter, came the first regulations requiring mandatory Indian schooling and


attendance. In addition, the first major treaty affecting Indian education was passed, effectively allocating $100,000 for creating educational programs for Indian peoples. It was quickly followed, however, by congressional action that prohibited the creation of further treaties with Indian peoples.

This period also saw the production of the first federal boarding school at Fort Defiance in 1881, and it quickly led to a proliferation of such institutions by the 1920's (Roessel 1983). Federal boarding schools were intentionally placed long distances from Indian communities, if possible. Students were actively discouraged from, and often beaten for, expressing their heritage and language publicly, and the schools were organized around the concept of producing "productive citizens" out of "savages." Boarding schools were established in major urban centers and students were shipped in from remote locales, separated from their families to partake of a foreign formal education. Students frequently fled from these schools, experiencing "culture shock" and wishing to return to their families and old ways of fife (Johnston 1988, Szasz 1999:22).

The educational situation for Native peoples was further complicated by the passage of the Dawes Act of 1887 that "broke up communally-held Indian lands into individual allotments" which could freely be bought or sold (Fischbacher 1967:222). By breaking up communally held lands, the federal government saw yet another avenue into gaining control of Indian-occupied lands. With the dissolution of Indian lands, there was reason to push Indians into mainstream society and into trade occupations. Students were encouraged to attend coeducational facilities by the start of the 2& century, and these types of coeducational facilities sprung up throughout the NEdwest, where Indian peoples were not as isolated as those of the Southwest. McBeth (1983:74) writes that there were


twenty-five off-reservation schools by the start of the 201h century. In the Southwest, institutions were few and far between. A congressional act of 1918 led to large numbers of Indian children who had no way to attend school because they were either considered state citizens or of less than one quarter Indian blood (Fuchs and Havighurst 1972:9). By making Indians citizens of the United States, the U.S. could escape honoring previous treaties and legislation regarding Indian education and federal policy.

The next historical stage was "separation / autonomy / sovereignty," which began in the 1920s and continued until 1953. With results of the 1928 Meriam Report, the problems with the under-funding of Indian boarding schools were brought to light (Fuchs and Havighurst 1972). These revelations were studied hard when John Collier became Commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1933, appointed under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He held the position until 1945. During Collier's tenure, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 was passed, returning much local control to tribes that were subsequently encouraged to develop their own tribal governments (Adams 1971:75). This act eliminated individual allotment of tribal land and made native peoples responsible for their own economic rehabilitation.

It was during this era that many of the boarding schools were converted into "day schools. Day schools enhanced the learning experience for Native Americans by allowing students to complete their schooling in much closer proximity to their families, with the privilege to return home at night. It was also at this time that the government pushed Indian tribes into public school attendance. Many of the Indian boarding schools had met their quota, making it difficult for other Indian children to be educated without


constructing more federal schools, or by what seemed to be the easiest solution the transfer of Indian children into the state public school systems.

The Johnson-O'Mally Act of 1934 also gave special monies to public schools that had Indian students in attendance (DeJong 1993:178). Most public schools receiving funds through the Johnson-O'Mally Act, however, were much more interested in the federal funds they would be receiving than in the act's true purpose, monetary assistance to public schools to help them to better accommodate Indian students (Szasz 1999:92). Transportation proved to be extremely difficult in some rural areas, particularly of the U.S. Southwest where lack of roads and sporadic-seasonal variations made accessibility a troublesome endeavor.

The turnover at the federal level to the Eisenhower administration in 1953 produced a drastic change in federal policy toward Native Americans in general. President Eisenhower did not support Indian self-empowerment, and as such, there were cuts in federal assistance programs and progress came to a near standstill. Once again, the policy had returned to one of "termination," though not as drastic as the previous period of the 19th century had been. President Eisenhower believed that Native education should not be actively encouraged as "separate," but instead proposed an integration of Native Americans into the contemporary public school systems. Under the Eisenhower administration, what little funding was appropriated to the federal boarding schools was insufficient to keep many of them running, forcing them to close their doors.

It was not until the late 1 960s that the tide turned, yet again, towards Indian

"separation, autonomy, and self-empowerment," where it has remained ever since. One of the main reasons for this shift was the American Indian Movement (AEI) that


considered tribal control of education as crucial to their goals of gaining tribal sovereignty for all Indian peoples (Pewewardy 1998:3 1). This current period in Indian education has seen the creation of public school districts, private tribally run and controlled schools, contract schools, and the growth of community colleges.

The start of Rough Rock Demonstration School in 1966, the forerunner of Navajo Community, was just one such example of this period's accomplishments. Rough Rock was essentially built from the ground up as a "community school." As such, the school board and dormitory attendants were all local Navajo residents (Szasz 1999:172). The school was the first of its kind anywhere in the U.S. A core curriculum was built around Navajo history and culture. Teachers were encouraged to develop curriculum within this content area. Conflicts erupted between the states and "upstart" schools because the states felt that the tribal schools were not meeting the state-mandated curriculum. Moreover, in order to obtain experts in local language and culture, tribal schools such as Rough Rock and the subsequent Ramah Indian school in New Mexico, employed individuals who did not hold state teaching credentials. As a way to compete with these upstart tribal schools, public schools attempted to improve their image, but subsequent research conducted by the National Study of American Indian Education (NSAIE) in the late 1960s found much of the public school curriculum to be "stereotypical" (Fuchs and Havighurst 1972; Riner 1979).

The focus since the 1970s has been on increasing the numbers of Indian teachers and exploring issues in "Native American Learning Style" research. The education of Indian youth, while having been impacted by changes in national policy regarding Indian peoples in general, primarily remained in the hands of non-indigenous teachers and


administrators. It was not until the first Native peoples became educated, and began practicing in the classroom, that anyone approached problems related to language and culture in a formal academic setting. Several pieces of federal legislation passed during the 1970s aided the Indian self-determination movement, including the Indian Education Act of 1972, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, and the Title )G of Education Amendments Act of 1978. These amendments assisted Indian peoples to gain contracts over federal schools formerly controlled by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. At the same time, the 1980s were especially difficult for Indian education. Indian peoples and Bureau officials, because of cuts to federal education grants and contracts, have heavily criticized the Reagan administration. These cuts resulted in the eventual closure of many tribal schools in the late 1980s (Szasz 1999:203).

The Indian Nations at Risk Task force (INAR) reported in 1991 that there was little change in the conditions of Indian education (Szasz 1999:217). Despite the growth of Indian self-control of education, the huge national debt built during Reagan's administration is blamed for causing the subsequent closure of many tribal schools during the 1990s. Luckily, by the 1990s, argues Szasz (1999:203), "there was an effective network of Indian educators" who had the skills and abilities to reform Indian education. There just was not much in terms of funding. Native political interest groups such as the National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) and the Office of Indian Education Programs (OIEP) were crucial to the survival of Indian-controlled education. Using their political power, indigenous educators pushed for more monetary assistance, resulting in the passage of the Indian Self-Detern- nation and Education Assistance Act of 1987 and the Native American Languages Act of 1990. While the former act aided tribes


in obtaining funds to control their own schools, the latter piece of legislation said that the U.S. government had a duty to "promote and preserve the indigenous languages of the USX' (U.S. Congress 1990).

The trend of the 1990s has been towards establishing programs to teach, preserve, and revitalize indigenous languages (see Rehyner 1995, 1997). Indigenous scholars stress the importance of "native ways of knowing" and different cosmologies that influence how Native American students relate to and experience the educational environment (Cleary and Peacock 1998). 1 will talk more about this in the section on contemporary Indian education.

Despite the passage of these legislative acts, some indigenous scholars have

remained critical of the intentions of these self-determinist acts, chief among them being Vine Deloria (1995) and Ward Churchill (1998). It is the view of these individuals that passing national amendments with little or no monetary assistance to tribes was a way to make the Indian peoples responsible for their own demise, should their attempts at educational self-deten-nination fail. One interesting rebuke to a "debatable" scenario such as this is that since the proliferation of tribal gaming and state compacts, the numbers of tribal community centers and language revitalization programs have grown immensely. Native people are now exploring issues that they deem to be relevant in manners consistent with their own cultural epistemologies. A Brief Histojy of Indigenous Education in Mexico

Indigenous education in Mexico has historically been caught up in the same types of conflict as U.S. Indian education. Since Spanish colonial times, a system of education was implemented with the primary goals of converting the Native peoples to Catholicism and teaching them the Spanish language (Nahmad 1998). Both the Jesuits and


Franciscans established mission outposts in the indigenous areas of Mexico in order to Christianize the Indian peoples and extend their sphere of cultural influence worldwide. Rippberger (1992:34) has divided indigenous education in Mexico into three distinct time periods that prove useful for a study of shifting policies towards indigenous education: Spanish colonization, the Mexican revolution, and since the founding of the National Indigenist Institute.

We know from various historical sources and codices that Indian education before the time of colonization was both informal and formal. For the non-nobility, education was in the home, stressing the values of loving the gods, modesty, honesty, sobriety, hard work, love of virtue, and respect for elders (Acevado et al. 1996:17). While the general populace was not separated for special instruction, among the Aztec and Mixtecs, children of the nobility were trained in special schools controlled by the religious hierarchy (Acevado et al. 1996:17). In these special schools, the nobility received cosmological, religious, and mathematical instruction. In contrast, the general populace learned trades informally in the homes. It is important to note that both women and men of the nobility received special instruction, meaning that it was in no-way gender-biased.

Indigenous education at the time of Spanish occupation of the hemisphere was not much different from the prior integrated religious education. In 1523, the Franciscan friar Pedro de Gante founded the first elementary school for Indians in Texcoco (Acevado et al 1996:18). The primary duties of the school were the evangelization of the Indians as well as the formation of a literate populace because the Franciscans taught the Indians the ability to read and write Latin. Soon thereafter, other schools opened


throughout the New World, including a school especially for the education of women in 15' 4 by the Jesuits, who were deeply involved in women's education.

While these early colonial schools focused on making the indigenous peoples of Mexico knowledgeable about Christianity, they also performed an important function that would impact the goals of indigenous education in much more recent times: by making people literate, they aided indigenous peoples in the recording of their literary works for future generations. While education was principally in Spanish and Latin with a practical orientation, the ability of indigenous peoples to read and write allowed them to record their customs and mythology, contributing significantly to our understanding of these peoples. The period of promoting indigenous scholarship was short lived, however, for in 1688, under King Carlos V, the mandate was for Spar- ish-only instruction (Acevado et al. 1996:19). This stance has continued in many areas, even into the present day, through "Indigenist" Mexican national policy.

The period from 1833-1910, prior to the Mexican revolution, was a period of little preoccupation with indigenous education. Education continued to be primarily religious, and a decree was made in 1842 declaring education to be both free for all, and compulsory as well (Acevado et al. 1996:20). Education's purpose was beginning to shift from religious education to education in skills and crafts for the general populace.

The time of the Mexican revolution saw the first significant changes in the

Mexican educational system. In 19 10, barely into the start of the revolution, a school for the Indians of the Sierra Nayarita was established in El Zapote, Nayarit (Acevado et al. 1996:2 1). Although there is little documentation about this school, it was probably for the Cora and not the Huichol, because of the difficulty in penetrating the heart of the


Sierra, and because Huichol settlements were dispersed as opposed to those of the Cora that were clustered into densely-packed villages due to relocation by missionaries. This school marked the first non-missionary school (public) within the Sierra region. A year later, federal decree in 1911 declared a national campaign to establish schools throughout the rural regions of Mexico for indigenous peoples (Acevado et al. 1996:2 1). The extent of the growth of these rural schools was limited, however, due to the revolution.

A significant turn of events began with the conclusion of the Mexican revolution in 1917, and the writing of the Mexican constitution. Several years later, in 1921, the Secretaria de educaci6npfiblica (SEP) was created (Vaughn 1997:4; Nahmad n.d.:3). Its primary purpose was an "action policy" used to create federal rural schools to educate and discipline the peasant population (Vaughn 1997:27). It was thought that by channeling their energy into other endeavors rather than rebellion, Mexico could begin to focus on national cultural formation. The purpose of schools was to give a primary level education to everyone, principally through teaching basic literacy skills.

The SEP maintained its original mission in building a national collective by

establishing the Department of Education and Indigenous Cultures (DEIC) in 1923. One of the first projects of the department was the formation of the Casa del/Estudiante Indigena (the Indigenous Student School) (Nahmad Sitt6n 1980:4). The indigenous student boarding school eventually became the Escuela Nacional Rural (National Rural School) that aimed to "better the life and literacy" of the 27 different ethnic groups represented at the school (Acevado et al. 1996:2 1). In addition, the DEIC created 690 rural schools in indigenous areas and attempted to educate teachers to become experts in the regions to which they were assigned. The purpose of these schools, however, was


identical to the overall national agenda of raising literacy levels and training students for trade professions. Indigenous identity was ignored.

The post-revolution period of 1934-1940, under the administration of President Lizaro Cdrdenas, was probably the most substantial for the growth of public education in Mexico. During this time period, the public education agenda was significantly socialist in nature, following the labor-dominated PNR party that chose to educate teachers as politicall actors" (Vaughn 1997:5-6). The new government administration made good on its efforts to study the problema indigena by initiating studies of rural Indian education at this time. During the 1930s, the SEP entered Yaqui territory and Michoacdn, appropriating former military and state run schools, and first learning of the problems of alienation and boredom in the classroom by Indian students whose teachers knew nothing of local languages and customs. These studies led to the transfer of control of federal schools to the Department of Indigenous Affairs whose job was to improve indigenous educational relations (Vaughn 1997:153; Nahmad Sitt6n 1998:59). At the same time, President Cd.rdenas founded the National School of Anthropology and H1istory to study the social and linguistic issues of Mexico's indigenous peoples. The decade culminated with Cdrdenas holding the first Pan-American meeting to discuss the issue of the incorporation of the Indian into the Mexican nationality.

It was from this point on that education took a decidedly assimilationist stance in all endeavors, at about roughly the same time as the post-WWII administration of President Eisenhower took a similar position. The Department of Indigenous affairs was dissolved in 1946 and capacitation for teachers was passed directly to the SEP where it took on a "secondary importance" in the SEP's mission under the Direcci6n General de


Asuntos Indigenas (General Office of Indigenous Affairs or DGAI). According to Nahmad (1998:59), "the National Indigenist Institute (IN-T) was formed in 1949 in direct opposition to this policy, creating two contradictory agendas in the direction of indigenous education in Mexico," one via the avenue of assimilation, the other geared towards accommodationAt the national level, a number of moves were taken that limited the ability of the INI to better the conditions of indigenous peoples. This began in the 1950s, becoming labeled indigenismo. Indigenismo, contrary to the suggestion of"indigenist" as meaning self-directed, was an educational and political propaganda aimed specifically at monolingual Spanish instruction and nationalist history, neglecting the diversity of the indigenous peoples of Mexico. In 1968, the SEP eliminated the DGAI, following this with a national program aimed at decentralizing education that continued up until 1994 (Freedson and Perez 1995:384). Included in this decentralization process were the 1973 Federal Law of Indigenous Education and the 1974 National Plan of Castillianization that limited the curricular options available to indigenous schools.

Within the INI, argues Nahmad (1998), a different agenda was taking place. INI promoted indigenous education, including the active recruitment and training of indigenous teachers who lived in the various communities. The idea was that these teachers would be bilingual. In 1978, the General Directorate of Indigenous Education (DGEI) was created specifically to introduce the concept of bilingual education into the indigenous communities of Mexico (Nahmad 1998:59).2 By 1979, INT was operating in

2 There is some confusion over an accurate date for the DGEI, as Bums (1998) equates the establishment of the DGEI with the making of bilingual-bicultural policy official in


85 indigenous regions with 918 escuelas-albergues (boarding schools) (Nabmad Sitt6n 1980:28). TNT continues to offer scholarships to top students in both primary and secondary indigenous schools in Mexico.

Despite TNT' s strong interest in preserving indigenous cultures in Mexico, national policy has proven to be quite inconsistent in its approaches to indigenous education. Recent accomplishments, such as the 1990 constitutional article number 4 and the 1993 Federal Education Law, still sought Spanish as the primary language of instruction for primary schools, even though they officially recognized bilingual-bicultural education (Freedson and Pdrez 1995:392-393). The national "free text" program at that time still was limited to Spanish-only texts, with histories that did not recognize the contributions of Indian peoples to Mexican national society. This was in contrast to primary schools in the indigenous regions of Mexico where many children were still monolingual. Bilingual-bicultural education was never meant to build full fluency in both languages by indigenous students, but rather, to serve to form a "bridge" to eventual monolingual Spanish use. In addition, teachers in the indigenous regions were poorly educated. According to Freedson and PNrez (1995:398), by 1995, 61% of teachers in Chiapas had not completed a preparatory level education and only 24.76% a secondary level.'

1955. Freedson and Perez: (1995) and Nahmad (1983) originate the DGEI in the DGAI that was founded in 1946 and dissolved in 1968.

3 Although Freedson and PNrez do not elaborate on whether the survey was of primary and secondary teachers, I suspect, because of the conservative nature of the statistics, that they were primary school teachers. Mandatory secondary education was still something new in Mexico at that time, and a shortage of teachers in rural areas would be likely.


Indigenous Language and Culture Preservation

Recent trends in indigenous education have focused in the areas of language and culture preservation. The remainder of this chapter will look at the issues related to language and culture preservation studies, particularly in the context of the indigenous self-determination movement. I will compare the relevant literature in U.S. native education to that of Mexico and Latin America. I will conclude with a discussion of current research in Huichol education and how it impacted my decision to do the research for this dissertation.

Border Pedagogy and Cultural Diversit

The lot of indigenous educational research belongs mainly to educators and not anthropologists. In fact, there has rarely been collaboration between the two disciplines. The interdisciplinary studies of "anthropology and education" is something that has been limited to several key authors, Margaret Gibson, Allan Bums, and Elizabeth Eddy among them. In looking at the perspective from which studies of indigenous education have come, it is from what the critical theorist Henry Giroux has coined a "border pedagogy." By border pedagogy, he means "an understanding of how the relationship between power and knowledge work as both the practice of representation and the representation of practice to secure particular forms of authority" (Giroux 1992:29). Moreover border pedagogy attempts to "develop a democratic philosophy that respects the notion of difference as part of a common struggle to extend the quality of public life ... a radical democratic society" (Giroux 1992:28).

Critical educational theorists root the troubles of indigenous education worldwide in an aura of oppression by dominant philosophies that silence the voice of minorities. They are concerned with the political aspects of agency, voice, and control (Cleary and