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Native American Nations in Mexico

Updated on July 12, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

A descendant of Mohawk Nation and trained in anthropology, Patty has researched and reported on Indigenous Peoples for over four decades.

West Indian Cultures

Huichol Museum in Mexico.
Huichol Museum in Mexico. | Source

Indigenous Peoples of Mexico

While speaking about peoples in the discipline of anthropology, the indigenous nations from Canada to Mexico are called Native North Americans. Each country's indigenous populations divide further into First Nations, Native Americans, and Native or Indigenous Mexican Americans.

At least 60 separate Native Mexican American Nations (Mexicas, in their own language) have lived in their country since these peoples first appeared on the land, migrating gradually from the Old World.

We think that their forbears came across the Bering Strait on foot, but also across the Pacific Ocean by dugout and other watercraft. Once in North America, waves of immigrants intermixed with each other and later, with Europeans.

The Indigenous Peoples of Mexico still living there today are called:

  • Purepecha,
  • Tarascan, and
  • Huichol.

The Huichol are a very interesting people. Huichol Indians live in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Mexico and are well known for wonderfully intricate yarn paintings and for their beautiful bead work.

Before doing one of their yarn paintings, they take peyote, a drug made naturally in a cactus type plant. This hallucinogen is so powerful that it allows them to have an alternate experience in which they travel with spirits and speak with them about their art.

Huichol People

A markerSierra Madres, Mexico -
Sierra Madre 155, Lomas - Virreyes, Lomas de Chapultepec V Secc, 11000 Ciudad de México, CDMX, Mexic
get directions

Reindeer Visions In Mexico

For the Huichol that has taken the drug peyote in this manner, it is a goal to have the vision of a reindeer in their travels with the spirits. This is unusual, since there are no reindeer in Mexico.

To envision a reindeer while under the influence of peyote as a spiritual experience means that they have made with their Gods and that their communications with them are all sacred. From all of this, the artist uses what was seen in the alternate experience to make their paintings.

I have read Russian poets refer to this experience as the Other World or Other Light. Australian aborigines call part of it "The Dreamtime." Christian mystics have experienced visions of Jesus Christ. We must not belittle these experiences, since they are important or useful to the people.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Huichol beaded art piece.A Huichol gathering.Huichol brightly embroidered art piece.
Huichol beaded art piece.
Huichol beaded art piece. | Source
A Huichol gathering.
A Huichol gathering. | Source
Huichol brightly embroidered art piece.
Huichol brightly embroidered art piece. | Source
Source

I have read Russian poets refer to this experience as the Other World or Other Light. Australian aborigines call part of it "The Dreamtime." Christian mystics have experienced visions of Jesus Christ. We must not belittle these experiences, since they are important or useful to the people.

How interesting it is that the reindeer pulls up the sun each morning in the legends of the People of the North in Russia and the reindeer becomes a Dragon in the East, then becomes a reindeer again in Mexico. Such stories can be a marker for these civilizations to be closely related in culture and DNA/RNA.

This lends credence to the beliefs that the People of the North migrated through Northeast Asia, into Alaska, Canada, what is now USA, and southward all the way to the tip of south America - and probably back up into the Ohio Valley.

I found in 1996 research that the Iroquois Confederation - at least one member nation - is related to the Zulu Nation of Africa. One accepted marker for the relationship between tribes is having the same word for "cousin" in both languages.

"Rites of Spring" by Woody Crumbo (1912-1989), a Potawatomi painter.
"Rites of Spring" by Woody Crumbo (1912-1989), a Potawatomi painter. | Source

Blue Deer Historical Fiction

So Sings the Blue Deer
So Sings the Blue Deer

This book is based on the true story of the Huichol Indian's 600 mile pilgrimage to save the Earth. Native North American histories are perhaps not promoted as fully as are those of other ethnic groups on our continent, but this book gives a compelling portrayal of the culture and beliefs of the Huichol and their desire to re-populate their forests with native animals.

 

Re-population of Endangered Species

The Huichol Indians wanted to populate their forests with deer, believing the reindeer once roamed free in those areas. So, they traveled 600 miles to find the deer they needed.

The Mexico City Zoo gave 20 blue deer to the Huichol People in 1986 and the people started a new wild herd on their own lands in the forests.

Two years after the project began, in 1988, the Mexican government recognized the Indians' re-population of forests with deer by giving them the National Ecology Prize.

The government of the state of Nayarit, Mexico, where the Huichol live, signed an agreement with the Cousteau Society to preserve their area for ecologically safe tourism. The blue deer is the intuition that speaks to their heart, if they just listen.

show route and directions
A markerState of Michoacan, Mexico -
Michoacán, Mexico
get directions

B markerSierra Madres, Mexico -
Sierra Madre, Lomas de Chapultepec, Miguel Hidalgo, 11000 Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
get directions

C markerState of Nayarit, Mexico -
Nayarit, Mexico
get directions

Huichol beaded skull.
Huichol beaded skull. | Source

Purepecha and Tarascan People

A markerMichoacan, Mexico -
Michoacán, Mexico
get directions

Purepecha and Tarascan Indians

The Purepecha live in the Sierra Madres in the State of Michoacan. They still speak their native language and keep many ancient customs.

They make sculptures from local clay and paint. They combine Catholicism with their native beliefs in surreal and imaginative folk art.

Purépecha are also called "Tarascans" or "Tarscos",and "Porhé." Their ancient empire rivaled the Aztec Empire during the Fifteenth and early Sixteenth Centuries (1400 - 1500 AD).

Their language is classified as an isolated language, spoken along southern fringes of south Jalisco.

These folks make colorful cars that are riden by skeletons and devils, in order to warn about the dangers inherent in reckless driving.

Artistic masks frighten away evil.
Artistic masks frighten away evil. | Source

Mayan People

show route and directions
A markerMayan Museum Mexico -
Blvd. Kukulcan km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
get directions

B markerCalakmul Biosphere Reserve -
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, Campeche, Mexico
get directions

Additional Mayan City Discovered

Archaeologists found the rubble of another large Mayan city that was lost for centuries on the Yucatan Peninsula.This was near to the Mayan Museum of Mexico that was already located in the area. Mayan artifacts were discovered in other digs on the peninsula for many years.

The uncovered city includes 54 acres of pyramids, plazas, Mayan ball courts, and stone slabs engraved with various inscriptions. Among the 15 pyramids found, one stands 75 feet tall.

The city is 75 miles west of Chetumal in the southeastern region of the State of Campeche on the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve and is named Chactun, meaning "Red Stone" or "Great Stone."

Mayan Sun God.
Mayan Sun God. | Source

Mayan Wall Sculpture

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Copan ruins/MayanNotice how this looks very Eastern, much like Thai art.
Copan ruins/Mayan
Copan ruins/Mayan | Source
Notice how this looks very Eastern, much like Thai art.
Notice how this looks very Eastern, much like Thai art. | Source

Sources:

  • Cohen, Luc. Archaeologists discover lost Maya city in Mexican jungle. Reuters. June 30, 2013.
  • Russell, Steve. "Restoring Deer to the Huichol: Sacred Animals Return to Jalisco, Mexico" in Indian Country Today Magazine. May 25, 2016.

© 2007 Patty Inglish

Comments & Additions

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Yes, an overview of names and locations. The original HubPages question asked how many Native American Tribes exist and the questioner was not expecting several thousand! Little by little, I add Hubs about the various nations and communities. Thanks for reading!

    • unvrso profile image

      Jose Juan Gutierrez 5 years ago from Mexico City

      Interesting, although brief view of the Mexican indian communities.

      Voted interesting!

    • GinaCPocan profile image

      GinaCPocan 6 years ago from Chicago

      Interesting

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 6 years ago from North America

      Amazing course, emeraldkell. The Native history of Mexico is indeed vast and fascinating.

    • profile image

      emeraldkell 6 years ago

      Very interesting article. My hubby is Mexican American. A few years back I took a class called Mesoamerican Archeology. I studied Mexico's indegionous population from teh Olmecs to the Aztecs. What a vast, colorful native history Mexico has. I told my hubby he should be proud of his heritage. Thanks for writing this piece.

    • profile image

      To'nal gide 7 years ago

      Why do ALL my Border Brothers say:

      "Yo soy Azteca."

      Why don't they know that there are almost one hundred OTHER

      Cogent Nations there?

      But, then again, here, we are mostly told:

      "I'm Cherokee."

      Um hummm...

      We are To'chini, And We're still here. My children are too.

      Just like Gomer used to say:

      "Surprise, suprise, suprise!"

    • AndyBaker profile image

      AndyBaker 8 years ago from UK

      I'm really interested in ancient clutures, and particularly ones still existant today that haven't been "destroyed" by western influence.

      I humanity today wasn't so blind we may all be living a bit more like this.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Berta - read this link for Otomi at Britannica.

      http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/434758/O...

    • profile image

      Berta  8 years ago

      I need to know if there were any atomi indians in mexico, if so.....

      How do you spell the name and where did they originate

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 8 years ago from North America

      Check the two on the Amazon.com link above called Tribal Spirits and look at:

      Rainbow Tribe: Ordinary People Journeying on the Red Road by Ed McGaa & Eagle Man

      Tiger-men and tofu dolls: Tribal spirits in Northern Thailand by Jon Boyes

      Twin from Another Tribe: The Story of Two Shamanic Healers from Africa and North America by Michael Ortiz Hill (he has written several)

    • profile image

      leon 8 years ago

      i would love if you could recommend a book about tribal spirits if there is even such a book out there thanks leon

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Thanks; I'm glad you like it.

    • gabriella05 profile image

      gabriella05 9 years ago from Oldham

      Thanks Patty is a pleasure to read your hubs

      Great hub fantastic historical story

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      O that is wonderful! Happy Holidays to you and to them! I hope they send us more information about Mexico... :)

    • Guru-C profile image

      Cory Zacharia 9 years ago

      Dear Patty, Thank your for this marvelous hub. I plan to send to all my relatives and friends in Mexico!!!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      A book? About this? Thank you O Great 1000-Fans-in-One. Excuse me while I lie down for a while first at the thought, though ...heehee

      There is an encyclopedia of 4 voumes each 3 inches thick or so that does not even include the updates from the last 4 years! I think an online Directory of Links would be just the ticket and I think I might start a webpage and blog about it! I think you just gave me a good idea.... :)

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 9 years ago from Scotland

      Patty, another great addition to the series, I wonder though shouldn't you publish this as a book,YOUR BIGGEST FAN.....JIMMY