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Biocultural Defense in Sacred Wixarika Territory

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Greetings, dear friends and supporters!

Over the past three years, we have been solidifying our small-scale but steady environmental and cultural work in Wixarika territory and are excited to fundraise for our next stage of project development. Coordinated by the Wixarika Research Center, and the newly formed Mexican non-profit, the Intercultural Alliance for Ecosystem Regeneration (AIRE), this crowdfunding campaign invites the public to support our upcoming summer workshops and ongoing work in Wirikuta as well as sustain our growing network of community-based project coordination in the Western Sierra Madre of Jalisco.

Building on the activities of previous workshops in the summers of 2021 and 2022, our third yearly gathering this coming July will continue to provide cost-free biocultural immersive educational experiences to Wixárika youth and local campesinos in the heart of the sacred pilgrimage destination of Wirikuta, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. This effort builds on fifty years of hands-on work that leverages intercultural knowledge and community participation to foster tangible solutions to the multifold land use challenges and threats in sacred Wixárika territory.

Not only is this region sacred to the Wixaritari, but it is also home to generations of small farmer families and is one of the most biodiverse semi-desertic regions of the world. In particular, the Wixárika Research Center and AIRE, will dedicate this upcoming gathering to expanding the agroecological and cultural training workshops following an agroforestry management system model with mesquites and agaves, and starting a nursery and biocultural education for the strategic reforestation of the region.

This year, as last, we are inviting several partner associations with missions dedicated to promoting the ecological restoration and cultural resilience of indigenous and rural peoples of Mexico. These organizations include Proyecto ConcentrArte A.C., Etnoeco Cultura y Medioambiente A.C., Casa Wilmot Artes y Oficios, and Agroasis.

Our cost-free public activities will continue to center regenerative land planning, dryland agroforestry, reintegration of the native ancestral crops of mesquite and agave, creating credit cooperatives and solidarity economies, female empowerment and community organizing, and participative and educational games for both adults and children.

Threats to Wirikuta–In the past, transnational mining made itself the most visible threat to the region. However, in recent years, a multiplicity of industrial projects have expanded across the various corners of the natural and culturally protected area of Wirikuta, bringing with them a drastic change in land use and accompanying social tensions. As the natural expanse of the desert continues to be divided, privatized, and developed by agribusiness multinationals, local communities are placed between a rock and a hard place. Entrenched poverty and shrinking farm outputs force too many to work for these industries, rent out their land to corporations or migrate to find work elsewhere in factories, mines or elite households. We believe that it’s possible to transform these destructive patterns of development, and we believe that together we can create regenerative economies in Wirikuta that benefit the local ecosystem, the well-being of its inhabitants, and the protection of this sacred place for the Wixarika People.

Milestones of Previous Gatherings–One of the most important achievements of last year's event was our ability to bring together nearly 40 Wixáritari—mainly youth and women—from communities in Jalisco and Nayarit that include Tateikié (San Andrés Cohamiata), Tuapurie (Santa Catarina Cuexcomatitlán), Waut+a (San Sebastián Teponohuaxtlán), Xatsitsarie (Guadalupe Ocotán), and Kuruxi Manuwe (Tuxpán de Bolaños). For many, it was their first time in Wirikuta, a place of great spiritual and cultural importance, making it a truly transformative experience and igniting in them a deep desire to be active participants in the stewardship of Wirikuta.

In 2021, we designed an agroforestry system for a traditional cornfield and planted 180 mesquites and agaves as part of an agroecology workshop. This cornfield, or milpa, is located next to the sacred site of Tamatsi Kauyumarie (Our Elder Brother Fawn of the Sun), also called El Bernalejo. The majority of these plants survived their first challenging year, facing periods of extreme cold and heat. However, 2022’s drought alerted us to the need to direct our reforestation to a space where the trees could be cared for more easily by the inhabitants of the ejido. In this way, we were allowed to reforest the primary school of the community of Margaritas with several large mesquite trees, agaves and nopal along the school perimeter with their rainwater basin filled with manure and mulch. In addition, mesquites were donated so that each family in the ejido could plant trees at their home.

Providing opportunities for Wixárika community members and local families, schools, and cooperatives of San Luis Potosí to co-create paths away from land privatization and polluting industries have been the highlights of these past two years of gatherings which also included conversations on women’s rights and community film screenings.

Vision for this year’s gathering and what your donation supports:

The Wixárika Research Center, AIRE and other partner organizations are currently working with our Wixáritari and local allies in collaboratively implementing biocultural education for the strategic reforestation of the region.

Your donation supports the realization of our cost-free summer workshops and the ongoing maintenance of the project, including the following expenses:

Transportation and Accommodation: for the 30-40 Wixárika participants traveling from various communities in Jalisco and Nayarit; transportation for local participants from the Altiplano small farmer communities in San Luis Potosí to the location of the workshops. ($3,000 USD)

Food and Nourishment: for Wixárika and local small farmer participants and the event organizing volunteers. We source all food locally which enables all resources to stay within the community and support local families. (approx. $1,500 USD)

Reforestation and Agroforestry: A crucial aspect of our work involves reforestation efforts and promoting agroforestry techniques. Funds will be used to procure native plant species, including mesquites, agaves, and cacti, which will be planted in designated areas like the Las Margaritas primary school and the agroforestry milpa in the sacred site of Bernalejo. We hope to kickstart the propagation of threatened species of native and endemic plants during this year’s gathering with a cacti propagation workshop. (approx. $1,000 USD)

Workshops and Educational Initiatives: We aim to promote ecological and cultural regeneration by organizing workshops on topics such as herbalism, sustainable resource management, regenerative land care practices, solidarity economies, and ecotourism. Your donations will support facilitator honorariums, materials, and resources required for these educational programs. (approx. $1,500 USD)

Cacti propagation greenhouse: We’ll be hosting a cactus propagation workshop where participants will learn how to germinate native and endemic cacti species from seed for conservation initiatives. For this first round of propagation to be successful, we’ll need to install a small greenhouse where temperature and humidity can be adjusted and controlled. (approx. $1,000 USD)

Monthly stipends: A portion of the funds raised will be allocated to maintaining and caring for the greenhouse throughout the year as well as paying stipends to the Indigenous team members who form part of AIRE. (approx. $2,000 USD)

Any remaining funds will be allocated to the ongoing maintenance of the project in Wirikuta, our pre-existing work with the community of Tuapurie, Jalisco, and stipends for Wixarika team members.

By donating, you help support a tangible and collaborative project for environmental regeneration, cultural conservation, and community empowerment.

The Wixárika Research Center is a 501(c)3 corporation registered in California. We promote awareness of the Wixárika culture of Mexico through our extensive online archive: We provide support for community initiatives within Wixárika territory and work to defend their sacred lands and natural resources. We design and finance environmentally sustainable projects, authorized by the elected traditional authorities. Our Wixárika Scholarship Program helps students cover some costs of their higher education.


Diana Negrin
Berkeley, CA
Wixarika Research Center

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