tagged w/ Copper Canyon
The Raramuri—also called Tarahumara by outsiders—are some of the last people in North America who continue to live a traditional, subsistence way of life. Corn is their primary crop, used to make everything from tortillas to tesquinada—a home brew for their festivals.
One of the most remote Raramuri communities in the Sierra Madre is Choreachi. Nestled deep in the canyons, surrounded by old-growth forest, Choreachi is one of the most traditional indigenous communities in North America. It is also one of the most endangered.
Logging bosses have altered maps and boundaries—going so far as to move two mountains on a fradulent official map—in order to obtain logging permits to clearcut the forests of Choreachi. The Mexican environmental agency—SEMARNAT—rubber-stamped the permits in 2006.
The Raramuri decided to fight for their ancestral lands. With the help of the Sierra Madre Alliance, a nonprofit focused on defending Raramuri lands and rights, the Raramuri filed a lawsuit last year, which temporarily suspended the logging at Choreachi. They currently await trial, where they will have to contend with decades of fraudulent documents and decisions that have prevented legal recognition of Raramuri land rights.
Having run away from conflict for centuries, the Raramuri now must face it head-on. To defend their lands, they must confront corrupt government officials, corporate logging operations, and murderous druglords. The odds are stacked against them.
Yet one thing is clear: the Raramuri know how to endure. Their quiet determination may enable them to overcome the enormous odds. And their tight-knit sense of community may empower them to unite and become politically active. With over 60,000 people, they are the second-largest indigenous group in Mexico.
Most importantly, they are deeply, intensely connected to their lands. That connection could be their source of strength—both personally and politically—in the years ahead. The canyons, rivers, and forests are not just sources of food and nourishment. They are sacred places where their people have thrived for centuries. The Raramuri’s connection to the land is as deep as the canyons themselves.
The Raramuri—also called Tarahumara by outsiders—are some of the last... more