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Tarahumara / Yaqui History


With few store-bought toys and fewer televisions , nature becomes the playground.

This treatment was developed by a Yaqui Indian doctor for his people. The herbs and other natural uncultivated ingredients used to make the teas are gathered by the Tarahumara from their remote habitat in the Sierra Madre in Mexico.

Nearly 50,000 Tarahumara live throughout the mountains near the Copper Canyon in the State of Chihuahua in Northern Mexico. Many live in rock shelters, using the nearby 350 species of plants for food, fiber, medicine, and for religious purposes. They represent a remarkable adaptation to a rugged environment and have preserved their native culture perhaps better than any group in North America. They are among the worlds greatest long-distance runners and it is said that during special festivals they run 100 miles per day for 7 days. Respect for others is of primordial importance in the Tarahumara philosophy. They give greater value to persons than to objects. To be hospitable with their people, or even strangers who are on a journey or passing through, is also of their philosophy of great respect towards a person, since practicing brotherhood and sharing their food is, for them, a sacred duty; not to do so is an unpardonable sin. Tarahumara live in areas that are remote, poor, and have little water. They survive because they are able to eat day by day either growing their own food, hunting, or collecting wild plants. The Tarahumara are not interested in becoming part of Mexican society because they are culturally so different from their neighbors the mestizos. Most Tarahumara communities are autonomous and try to be self-sufficient. This adds strength to the survival of their culture however the future for the Tarahumara is uncertain. Other cultural groups live in the vicinity including the Yaqui, linguistic relatives to the Tarahumara.

Plants, large and small, play an important role in everyday life.

The civilization of the Yaqui is said to have been the oldest of Mexico. They are such a nation of warriors that even the Aztecs passed them by in their march of conquest. They had the reputation of being the best workers and the best fighters in Mexico. The first Spanish contact with the Yaqui was around 1533 A.D. Quickly the Spanish made plans to conquer all groups of the area and had successfully done so within a dozen years, all except the Yaqui. The Yaqui were known to be fierce warriors and after defeating the Spanish on three occasions, sent word to the Spanish that they would like to live in peace on their terms without Spanish military or political ties. However, they requested two Jesuit missionaries be sent to live with them. The Yaqui are Indian, evident when they give dances and ceremonies, which are an essential part or their religious observances. They consider themselves more Indian and Spanish (because of the missionary influence) in custom and heritage, than Mexican.

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