Tarahumara Children's Cultural Education Fund

Here is the problem:
Tarahumara children are lost between two worlds.  Public schools in Mexico are failing 50,000 children of the fleet footed people, the Ralámuli. The schools diminish bilingual education and ignore the traditional knowledge of the Grandfathers.  By fourth grade, most are two years behind their Mexican peers. Nine of ten drop out. Loss of cultural identity and native tongue follow.  
Now, the children are catching up by learning the ways of their ancestors. 
As the children awaken to their cultural traditions, another awakening is happening; they are performing better in school.  In Mogótavo, junior high registration has more than doubled each year since the Busuréliami Program began. 

They are the first generation to read and write in Ralámuli. 

A Ralámuli leader, Makawi, discovered the solution within.  The Ralámuli concept for education is Busuréliami, which means “Inner Awakening”.  Guided by the wisdom and ceremonies of the Grandfathers, the children learn to dance, sing, run, pray, plant, gather, cooperate, share and heal in Harmony with Nature.


Help Makawi teach, train, and promote educational reform for the Tarahumara.
Tierra Nativa seeks thirty thousand dollars to transform primary and secondary education for seven communities, 500 children, and regional outreach to over 70,000 Ralámuli through Busuréliami syndicated radio and regional ceremonial gatherings.

With your help, Busuréliami will keep growing.
Busuréliami education embraces harmony with nature, cooperation, and sharing. 
Busuréliami students are performing better in school, learning both languages, both cultures. They pay attention. They help their families. They listen to their elders. They learn to be One with the oak tree, the ancestors, and the spirits of the waters. 

Busuréliami is a right. The Busureliami Program is 100% designed and led by Ralámuli, and fully respects the rights and desire for self-determination of indigenous pueblos.
Busuréliami is a model, setting replicable standards and methods for Ralámuli education, leading the way in developing and teaching reading and writing in Ralámuli.

Please help today.   Here is how your donation will be used:
$ 500 will provide school supplies to 135 children now learning to read and write in Ralámuli and much more.

$ 1,200 will record four Busuréliami Syndicated Radio Programs of a total of 21 that will continue to inform and inspire Ralámuli each week, for years to come.

$ 5,000 will help sustain six community Busuréliami teachers to lead field and classroom activities in their communities, providing compensation for a semester.

$5,000 will cover travel and meeting costs to train Busuréliami teachers, meet with parents and traditional leaders and to provide special workshops to the children in at least four communities.

$6,300 will complete graphic design and the first publication of a thousand textbooks and workbooks in 100% Ralámuli, written by Makawi.*

$12,000 will help purchase a safe and dependable field vehicle to transport Makawi, teachers and parents to educational, training, and community planning events.
*These texts and programs, the first in the Ralámuli tongue, will transform education for thousands of Ralámuli children.

About Tierra Nativa
Tierra Nativa has worked for sixteen years to advise and support traditional indigenous communities, advance the preservation of traditional culture, and protect their native lands and natural resources of the Sierra Tarahumara, land of the Ralámuli.
Tierra Nativa is a Project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs, an organization dedicated to nonprofit, tax deductible administration of projects that share common values. Tierra Nativa A.C. is our Mexican partner organization.
In 2016, Martin “Makawi” Chavez began teaching traditional Ralámuli knowledge, language, and practices to the children of Mogótavo, a small community near the Copper Canyon in Northwestern Mexico. The response of the children, teachers, and parents was incredibly positive. 

Our Team:
Program Director: Makawi has dedicated his life to restoring Tarahumara traditions, inspired by a vision he received in 1994. He is a self-made recording artist, poet, and the principal developer of written Ralámuli, with linguist Dr. Enrique Servin. Makawi has provided support for endangered communities for over 25 years.
Executive Director: Randall Gingrich has over 25 years of experience as well, initially coming to the Sierra Tarahumara in 1991 to investigate the impacts of a World Bank Forestry Program and stayed to help Ralámuli communities endangered by illegal logging, land fraud, violence and corruption.
Busuréliami Teacher: Candelaria Lechuga Batista is a Tarahumara mother of four and the daughter of a shaman. She suffered from chronic illness and domestic abuse prior to becoming a gifted and cherished teacher.
Busuréliami Teacher & Community Organizer: Irma Chavez holds an MS in Social Development, and is a Tarahumara mother of two.
Busuréliami Teacher: Prudencio Ramos, son and grandson of great shamans, has led his community, Choreachi, in successful defense of their lands and ancient forests for three decades. He became a Busuréliami teacher in 2020.

Busuréliami Teachers in training: Mariano Ontiveros, Choreachi, Fermina Martinez, Rejogochi, and Cristobal Perez, Rejogochi, are training and gaining experience to become Busuréliami teachers. Meanwhile, Makawi seeks more Busuréliami teachers, and to re-orient current Ralámuli school teachers who have the desire to teach traditional knowledge, practice sacred traditions, and learn to read and write in Ralámuli.

More about the Tarahumara

Ralámuli means the fleet footed.
The Spanish called them Tarahumara.

Ralámuli are resilient. A millennium of traditions and landscape have sculpted some of the greatest ultramarathon runners on Earth. They are the most traditional indigenous pueblos left in North America. However, their homelands and culture are threatened by severe drought and treacherous conflicts over lands and forests. 

The state of education is a threat to cultural survival.   The children that drop out of school, often fall prey to alcohol, abuse, drugs, and child labor forced by hunger.  Eleven- and twelve-year-old girls become pregnant. Throughout the Sierra, under-educated teens now speak rudimentary cholo style Spanish amongst themselves. 

Youth influenced by cultural education, Busuréliami, maintain their language and customs.  They walk a difficult path in life, but each step is guided by confidence in their ancestral ways.
  • Anonymous
    • $5 
    • 8 mos
    • $320 
    • 9 mos
  • Steve Marlatt
    • $10 
    • 9 mos
  • Mark Grimes
    • $50 
    • 9 mos
  • Joe Loschiavo
    • $25 
    • 9 mos
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Fundraising team (3)

Randall Gingrich
Raised $420 from 3 donations
Calabasas, CA
Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.
Sarah McMahon
Team member
Raised $50 from 1 donation
Justine MacRae
Team member

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