THE PICTURES BELOW are part of Native Nation: A photographic effort to preserve the traditions and customs of more than 57 Mexican indigenous groups. Nowadays, these groups are threatened by the lack of job opportunities inside their communities, but also by the growing presence of drug cartels in their territories. These factors have forced people to migrate, leaving behind their unique and irreplaceable identity.

1

The Raramuris from Nogoachi, Chihuahua, start their Holy Week festivities by lighting fires on the top of the hills surrounding their community. This festivity is a great example of the religious syncretism that characterizes Mexico.

2

Chichimeca warriors from San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato. The Chichimeca nations occupied a great part of northern Mexico.

3

The Sierra Tarahumara is the highest part of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental and is also home to the Raramuris. The isolation in which these communities live has contributed to the maintenance of their ancestral traditions.

4

In the mountains of Jalisco, Wixarika girls learn to speak with frogs and clouds, they learn to walk during days and nights, and they also learn how to be mothers for their younger siblings.

5

The traditional clothing of Wixarika men from Jalisco.

6

These Chichimeca warriors in their typical clothing demonstrate the pride of being part of Mexico’s native communities.

7

Marakames are the priests of the Wixarika people. They’re in charge of keeping the community's traditions alive.

8

The Mazatec community of Huautla de Jimenez, Oaxaca, is the land of Maria Sabina. She was the first contemporary Mexican shaman who allowed visitors to take part in traditional healing rituals, where the doors of the mind were opened through the consumption of hallucinogenic mushrooms.

9

Raramuri means “those who go by foot” or “those who run fast." The great distances among their settlements have forced Raramuris to maintain the tradition of running long distances (up to 200 miles in just two days) through the canyons of the Tarahumara mountains. They run just with their traditional footwear (huaraches).

10

Wirikuta, San Luis Potosí, is the most sacred place of the Wixarika people. According to their beliefs, this is the place where the world was created. The pilgrimages to Wirikuta are an important part of the Wixarika traditions.

11

The Raramuri communities in Valle de los Monjes, Chihuahua, endure the extreme weather of the region with little more than their traditional clothes.

12

The typical attire of a Chichimeca warchief.

13

A Raramuri man standing in front of the Cinco Santos Señores temple in Cusarare, in the middle of the Tarahumara mountains. Cusarare is a Raramuri word that means “the place of eagles."

14

The railroad that runs across the Sierra Tarahumara isn’t a badge of progress for the Raramuri. The train is a tourist attraction and the inhabitants of these mountains obtain very little from it.

If you’re interested in this visual archive of Mexico’s indigenous groups, you can obtain a first edition of Native Nation through your support for the project at Kickstarter.

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