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For centuries dating back to the invading armies of the Spanish under Cortez, the Huichol Indians have been struggling to maintain their traditional culture, art and religion in a world that has unsuccessfully attempted to integrate them into the mainstream of Mexican life. One of three remaining indigenous people in all of North America, the Huichols, estimated at only about 8,000, chose to adapt to the rugged and remote mountains of the Sierra Madre Mountains of North Central Mexico rather than give up their way of life to those who would see them civilized.

As agriculturists, the Huichols have for centuries grown their own food, gathered plants and herbs and hunted deer and other small game and tended domestic animals to survive in an age that has all but passed them by. The Mexican government over the last three decades in an attempt to “civilize” them have intruded into their rugged homeland, building roads, airstrips, lumber mills, hospitals and schools resulting in a disintegrative impact on their way of life.

More than ever before the Huichols are discovering a need for money to pay their land taxes, buy agricultural products and cover medical expenses. As a result, the need for money is threatening their traditional way of life.

Like walking through a time warp, the Huichols are truly strangers in a strange land, migrating during harvest season from their primitive and beloved mountains to seek jobs in the tobacco fields on the coast for lower-than-average wages and less than healthy conditions, where because of a lack of immunity, they are especially vulnerable to disease, alcoholism, and suicide.