Safeguarding the Seeds of Humanity's Future
"The goal of the Huichol Center is to create enduring lifelines between Huichol traditions and the future – lifelines that allow traditional wisdom to thrive in the 21st century by empowering the people who carry its spirit and substance".
Building bridges between Huichol indigenous wisdom and the global community will bring the lessons of a nature based spirituality into mainstream consciousness. These cultural values are deeply rooted in the stewardship of the planet, and provide the tools needed to restore the equilibrium between humans and nature in today's planet in peril. The bridges between the seen and unseen worlds are the gateways to the higher consciousness needed for humanity to ensure a future where people are caretakers of Mother Nature rather than exploiters and destroyers.
The Huichol Center’s approach to problem solving in a threatened culture is a model for other endangered cultures to learn from. As so many species disappear from the face of the earth every day, countless numbers of human populations and languages are also becoming echoes of the past. Maybe this would not have been the case if their struggles for survival as marginalized people would have been sufficiently appreciated and supported over the years to ensure the safeguarding of their precious cultures and indigenous wisdom.
It is not too late to guide the Wixárika people back from the edge of extinction. Our multi-faceted organization is a formidable foe to the destructive forces of poverty, loss of autonomy, language loss, and the disintegration of their core cosmovision. We address the issues head on, with a holistic approach dedicated to assisting the Wixárika people stand firmly at the helm as they navigate the rapids of social change. These interwoven strategies assist and provide relief to individuals and families in crisis and safeguard the spiritual traditions, with programs such as Humanitarian Aid, Economic Sustainability and Cultural Preservation. This is accomplished with a variety of programs that include: The Huichol Center School, the “Handcrafts, not Handouts” art program, the Ethnographic Archive and the Permaculture Demo-Site.
"Handcrafts, not Handouts"
The “Handcrafts, not Handouts” project is part of the Huichol Center’s approach to “problem solving in a threatened culture.” It provides culturally relevant skill training jobs in the arts that support many Huichol families, especially women. In addition, this project serves as a model for future generations of the Huichols themselves, and for that matter, for many other people in endangered cultures to learn how to sustain themselves as native artists. This is especially important in this day and age as the Huichols and indigenous cultures across the globe have arrived at a tipping point of no return in regards to their ability to carry their cultural and artisitc legacies into the future. Each new generation must be trained to support themselves with jobs in the traditional arts, rather than working in jobs such as low paid field workers in the most inhumane conditions. Over the course of the last forty years the “Handcrafts, not Handouts” project has provided countless opportunities for new generations of artists and their beautiful arts to thrive.
Economic self-sufficiency is of utmost importance in the creation of sustainable futures for this endangered tribe. A fundamental belief of The Huichol Center is based on the adage, “Give a hungry person a fish, and you feed them for a day--teach the person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime.” By creating stable jobs and sources of income in the impoverished communities, The Huichol Center offers long term solutions to raise and maintain the quality of their lives.
Permaculture and Biodynamic Agriculture
The Huichol Center’s Permaculture Demonstration Site offers opportunities for adults and children to learn eco-friendly techniques for becoming self-sufficient organic farmers. They are trained in low-cost methods to conserve rainwater, grow organic vegetables and how to create thriving farms, orchards and fish farms. These programs result in healthy diets that combat malnutrition in their impoverished communities while strengthening their immune systems to resist poverty-related diseases. Additionally, the Huichol Center Seed Bank protects ancient non-GMO seed strains like precious gems.
Medical Care for People in Need
Although the Mexican government provides support for many patients, the Huichol Center assists many people who require help but are not enrolled in public health programs. Support is provided for consultations, exams, medications, food and transportation to far away hospitals for the patients and their accompanying family members. The Huichol Center also assists families with funeral arrangements and expenses when necessary.
For over four decades, anthropologist Susana Valadez has dedicated her life to the documentation of the Wixárika cultural heritage, by recording a repository of knowledge and ancestral wisdom for posterity. A few examples of what is contained in the encyclopedic Huichol Center Ethnographic Archive include: The Photo and Video Archive, The Compendium of Ethno- Botanical Knowledge, The Huichol Symbolism Archive, The Catalog of Traditional Arts and Designs, The Chronicles of Shamanic Practices and many more.
Huichol yarn artist Gonzalo Hernandez contributes his indigenous wisdom to the Ethnographic Data Base
Campaign to Halt the Destruction of Endangered Sacred Sites
A major peril that threatens the Wixárika culture with extinction is the destruction of their sacred sites, which are the cornerstones of their spiritual traditions. These sites include San Blas, Nayarit; Lake Chapala, Jalisco; Real de Catorce, San Luis Potosí; Cerro Gordo, Durango and others. The Huichol Center advocates for the support of global humanitarian institutions, such as UNESCO, to protect these ancient sacred sites and to ensure the right of the Huichols to practice their native religion, which centers on the ceremonial use of peyote. The Huichols are organizing like never before to protest the destruction of their sacred sites, such as the biodiverse habitat of the peyote desert, Wirikuta, under siege by industrial tomato growers and mining companies. Thousands of acres of sacred peyote lands have already been destroyed and fenced off the land for as far as the eye can see, while cloud seeding chemicals affect the rainfall and fill the soil and aquifers with toxic pesticides.
The Huichol Center School
The Huichol Center School provides approximately 50 children (ages of 5-15) with a multi-pronged educational curriculum originating from their unique world view, cosmology, ancient agricultural practices, art, music and ceremonial traditions. This native language school teaches them to read, write, count, decipher their symbols, sing Huichol songs, and to record and re-enact creation myths through theatrical performances of ceremonies and sacred dances.