Introduction / History
The Huichol refer to themselves as Wixárika or simply "people." This kind of autonym is widespread in Mexico as well as much of the rest of the world. Historically, the rough topography of their homeland insulated them from outside influences. They held out against Spanish colonialism for years and always maintained a high degree of self-rule. Today the Huichol are no longer as isolated and are integrating into the general Mexican society and economy.
Where are they located?
The Huichol live primarily in western Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. This area includes some of the most rugged terrain in Mexico. It is typified by mesas, cliffs and river valleys and is covered mostly by scrub and thorns.
What are their lives like?
Most Huichol provide for themselves by growing their own food. Maize, beans, squash, and chilies are common crops. These crops are cultivated with animal-drawn wooden plows and digging sticks. Most families own livestock such as cattle, donkeys, horses, pigs, chickens, and turkeys.
Huichol men wear brightly embroidered cotton or muslin shirts as part of their ethnic costumes. They also wear leather sandals and braided palm hats. Women wear colored skirts and blouses and decorate themselves with bright necklaces.
Marriages are arranged by the parents when the children are very young. Huichol usually marry between the ages of fourteen and seventeen. Extended Huichol families live together in rancho settlements. These tiny communities consist of individual houses which belong to a nuclear family. Each settlement has a communal kitchen and the family shrine, called a xiriki, which is dedicated to the ancestors of the rancho. The buildings surround a central patio. The individual houses are traditionally built of stone or adobe with grass-thatched roofs.
What are their beliefs?
Although they live in an overwhelmingly Catholic nation, the majority of Huichol hold to animistic beliefs, similar to many of Mexico's peoples. This means that they believe spirits reside in much of nature and in some objects.
Huichol believe witch doctors can mediate between the gods and man. These shamans supposedly receive guidance through dreams which instruct them how to treat illnesses and perform ceremonial functions. The shamans communicate directly with the gods through prayers which sometimes last as long as three days.
The Huichol believe that when a person dies, his soul embarks on a five year journey through the underworld. After the journey, the soul returns to earth and is captured by a shaman in the form of a rock crystal. The crystal is placed in the family xiriki to be anointed with blood and offered food.
What are their needs?
Today, there is an unprecedented opportunity to reach the Huichol with the message of Jesus. The New Testament and the Jesus film are available to them. The Huichol need much prayer and additional laborers to work with them so they may have adequate access to the message of Jesus.
* Pray that God will strengthen and encourage missionaries presently working among the Huichol.
* Pray that God will give Huichol believers boldness to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
* Pray that God will bring forth much fruit as the Jesus film is shown to the Huichol.
* Pray that God will save key Huichol leaders who will boldly declare the gospel to their people.
* Pray that God will raise up strong local churches among the Huichol.