Huichol Center

The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, 20 de Noviembre 452, Santiago Ixcuintla, Nayarit, Mexico, (323) 5-11-71

The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts is a non-profit organization, located in the town of Santiago Ixcuintla, Nayarit, Mexico, and is coordinated by two offices in the US (one in Oakland, CA, and the other in Cottonwood, AZ). Volunteers and staff from the US and Mexico help to promote the Huichol Center by selling Huichol artwork and networking with individuals, organizations, and foundations, for support.

The goal of the Huichol Center is to help Huichols survive the cultural transition that they are now undergoing as a result of mass migrations out of their tradtional homelands into Mexico's labor force, where they work as field hands. These migrations threaten the continuation of Huichol traditional life, which has remained viable since ancient times. The Huichol Center helps them to preserve their cultural, spiritual and artistic heritage while adapting to the demands of the modern world which they have recently become a part of. The following Huichol Center projects have been created to realize this goal:

Medical: The health of the Huichols who migrate out of their homelands to work in tobacco fields has been seriously damaged by the effects of malnutrition, parasitic diseases, infectious diseases (i.e., measles, tuberculosis, whooping cough), and insecticide poisoning. Medical attention at the Huichol Center is provided by traditional shamans and Mexican doctors. Services include Preventative Medicine, Prenatal Care, Birthing, Emergency Care, Nutritional Counseling, and Alcohol Counseling.

Hunger: The Huichol Center feeds and shelters hundreds of migrant families who find themselves without resources while looking for jobs outside of their homeland. The Huichol Center Vegetable Garden provides education in gardening techniques and exposure to healthy foods they may grow in their homelands for better nutrition. The Center encourages people to learn traditional art skills so they may remain in their homelands, plant their own gardens, and remain economically self-sufficient.

Legal: As Huichol governmental officials become more integrated into the Mexican legal system, they require financial support to hire laywers to protect them against such things as outside encroachment on their land, the illegal cutting of their forests and stealing of their timber, illegal cattle grazing on their lands, and false imprisonment of innocent Huichols. The Huichol Center provides financial support for legal aid.

Economic: As the Huichol people have been forced in recent years to transform their corn trading culture into a cash economy, they have the great necessity to create jobs for themselves inside their homeland. The Huichol Center provides skill training in traditional art forms, such as embrodiery, beadwork, weaving, yarn painting, and more, so that the Huichols may become self-sufficient artesans rather than field workers.

Marketing: The Huichol Center provides Huichols with the ability to market their artwork within Mexico and in the US. The Huichol Center Art School has taught them to not only create works of the highest artistic and cultural integrity, but how to ask for and receive fair makret prices for their work.

Conservation of Traditional Culture: Many of the ancient rituals and traditions are being lost or forgotten as the elders die off and Huichol children are educated in schools rather than in the ceremonies. The Huichol Center Ethnographic Archive contains valuable knowledge from shamans and other individuals who have made a conscious effort to record and document this old knowledge before it disappears. Photographs, music, artwork, and taped interviews are contained in this comprehensive archive. In addition, the Huichol Center Design Archive is composed of hundreds of traditional patterns that have been graphed out and documented for posterity and for distribution to Huichol artists.

Aid to Huichol Temple Groups: The caretakers of the Huichol temples, religious objects, and guardians of the traditiona are faced with extreme economic hardship in modern times which threatens the continuation of these ancient customs. For example, an important part of the Huichol ceremonial cycle is the annual journey the guardians make to their far-off sacred lands. Previously, the religious pilgrims could make these journeys by foot. But now their traditional trails have been blocked off by barbed wire fences, and they are forced to take modern transportation. The costs of these journeys are prohibitively expensive to some Huichols. The Huichol Center provides economic aid to some temple groups in order to help defer the costs of these important journeys.

Huichol Ethnographic Museum: The Huichol Center is in the process of establishing a major museum in the town of Sanitago Ixcuintla, Nayarit, which will provide an economic alternative to working in the tobacco fields. The museum will provide the Huichol people with the proper recognition of their unique culture and safeguard examples of their art and knowledge for future generations. It will also provide the Huichols with a meeting ground outside of their homeland where they may market their artwork directly to the public.

US Non-Profit Foundation Address:

PO Box 1430

Cottonwood, AZ, 86326

(602) 634-3946