Rise of the Wixarikari

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The Wixarikari have lived in Mexico for close to 15,000 years. To the larger world they are known as the Huichol, but they refer to themselves as the Wixarikari (‘the people”) in their native Huichol language. This indigenous tribe currently resides in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in the states of Nayarit, Jalisco, Zacatecas and Durango. Due to the isolation of its villages, the Wixarikari have until recently managed to resist all but the most minor modifications to their culture and beliefs from outside sources. Most of their villages have no electricity, potable water or paved roads. A huge portion of the Wixarikari population lives in conditions of extreme poverty.

“If people can’t acknowledge the wisdom of indigenous cultures, then that’s their loss.”

Jay Griffiths

Most of us know about the Wixarikari because of their beautiful artwork, better known as Huichol art. The Wixarikari use beads, yarn, wood, feathers and other items in their art. It is vibrant in color, rich in symbolism, myth and magic. Here in Puerto Vallarta, it is common to see people from all races and economic backgrounds wearing Huichol necklaces, bracelets, earrings and clothing.

As in all cases, we believe education will help indigenous people climb out of the poverty they have been subjected to due to government exclusion and neglect. Last year we participated in an initiative started by the IFC (International Friendship Club) to help Wixarikari students stay in school and dream big by giving them scholarships (“becas” as we call them). We began with four students last year and they each received $6000 pesos each to help them pay their tuition, school supplies, etc. This year nine students received scholarship help thanks to the IFC. Our administrator, Olga, organized all the documentation and made sure the money was received by these needy students. Using our experience with our scholarship program, we know most of these students will one day return to their communities as leaders and be the driving force of change. Education changes lives and it changes communities. We are helping these students begin the rise of the Wixarikari.

A big thank you to the International Friendship Club for this noble initiative. A big thank you to our administrator Olga who does all the paperwork and sends out all the checks to the different Wixarikari students studying around Mexico.


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