Photos by José Luis Aranda with commentary by Claudia Itzkowich
The southern part of the Chihuahua desert is home to Wirikuta, the sacred land of the Wixáritari, who carry out ritual pilgrimages from the remote mesetas where they have lived for centuries. Their ceremonies centre on music and dance and offerings involving feathers, arrows, corn, deer blood and peyote, perpetuating the traditions and beliefs of a people that was never subdued by the Spanish Catholic conquerors of current Mexico.
In 1988, Wirikuta was included in UNESCO’s list of Natural Protected Areas and Sacred Sites, and 140,211 hectares were declared an ecological, natural and cultural reserve in 2000.
For decades, though, this open-air sanctuary has been invisible to the developers and mining companies that are blind to everything but the silver, lead and zinc that lie below the surface.
Since 2010, a group of Wixárika activists has mobilized to halt the plans of Vancouver’s First Majestic Silver Corp. to expand into Wirikuta, endangering the water supply of the local population and disregarding the symbolic importance of the place. But the threat is still present, as is the need to listen to the voices opposing it, led by the Consejo Regional Wixárika por la Defensa de Wirikuta.
With these images taken in 2011 by Mexican photographer and environmentalist José Luis Aranda at one of the most critical moments of the resistance movement, Montréal Serai joins the effort to stop the senseless exploitation of natural, economic and spiritual resources.
Trailer with subtitles: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/huicholesfilm
Link to actual film ($3.99 rental fee) https://huicholesfilm.com/es/huicholes-film-mx-free/
For more work by José Luis Aranda: www.joseluisaranda.com