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The Wirikuta Preservation Project

"we are defending the sacred territory and by this, we are defending the life of the whole planet"

Juan José "Katira" Ramírez - Intercontinental cry - 2014


the center of the universe

The Wixárika peoples, also known as the Huicholes, are an indigenious community who live in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico along the states of Jalisco, Zacatecas, Durango and Nayarit. They are one of the few indigenous people in Mexico that still preserve their pre-columbian traditions. Wixárika spirituality is based on their connection with the elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and the spirits of the different places of power, or sacred sites, located throughout their Mexican territory.

Every year the Wixárika peoples make a pilgrimage to the sacred desert of Wirikuta to collect the Hikuri (peyote cactus), central to their spiritual rituals. Here they return to the place where life originated and to heal themselves as a community. In this sacred journey, the Marakate travel 250 miles and assume roles of their ancestors, along the trail that they once took by foot.



“The sacred territory of Wirikuta is located in the state of San Luis Potosi and covers the Sierra de Catorce and its lowlands. It was declared a Cultural and Ecological Reserve which covers an area of more than 140,000 hectares in the municipalities of Catorce, Charcas, Matehuala, Villa de Guadalupe, Villa de La Paz and Villa de Ramos.

Wirikuta is one of the most important natural sacred sites of the Wixárika (Huichol) indigenous people and the world. Wirikuta is the birthplace of the sun and the territory where the different Wixárika communities make their pilgrimage. In this desert springs the peyote or jicuri, the cactus that the Wixárika ritually ingest to receive the “gift of seeing”.

The Reserve of Wirikuta is an indivisible and continuous sacred territory. Everything there is sacred: every plant, every animal, every spring, and every hill within the 140,000 hectares that make up the Reserve. Wirikuta is the material and cultural foundation upon which the identity of the Wixárika people is based. The destruction of Wirikuta involves the destruction of the Wixárika people as such. In 1988, Wirikuta was incorporated by UNESCO into the World Network of Natural Sacred Sites.

Wirikuta is a “unique ecosystem within the world and forms a part of the greater Chihuahuan Desert where investigators have found the greatest biodiversity and concentration of cacti per square meter on the planet. It is much more than a desert: it is a garden. Most of the cacti of Wirikuta are contained in the Mexican Official Standard of Threatened and Endangered Plants. A large proportion of its flora and fauna is endemic, meaning that is found only there. Wirikuta is also a habitat of the Golden Eagle, a symbol of our country that tops the list of the national conservation of priority species. The Golden Eagle is one of 157 bird species that nest in this area”



In 2008 the “Treaty de Hauxa Manaka” was signed by the 􏰁Federal 􏰀Government of􏰁 Mexico, represented by President Felipe Calderon. This treaty was broken when the Mexican Government sold the land to over 22 mining concessions to Canadian Companies, the largest being􏰀 First Majestic Silver Corp in the Real de Catorce area.

Today Tomato Greenhouse companies are taking􏰀 thousands of􏰁 acres of􏰁 this ancient desert. The delicate biodiversity of􏰁 flora and 􏰁fauna is destroyed by bulldozers and the spraying􏰀 of􏰁 agrochemicals in the air. This not only threatens the cultural heritage of􏰁 the Wixárika Nation, but also the entire ecosystem of􏰁 this World Herita􏰀e UNESCO site and all surrounding􏰀 areas.

Another threat that continues is the privatization of􏰁 land. This has made it increasingly difficult 􏰁for the Wixárika People to walk their lands and complete their sacred peyote hunt.

Not only is Wirikuta threatened by corporations and companies, there is also a 􏰀growing􏰀 over consumption of􏰁 peyote by Psychedelic Tourism. Many flock to the 􏰀gardens to harvest peyote without the authorization of􏰁 the Wixárika Nation. This has added to the rapid depletion of􏰁 Wirikuta’s peyote and natural resources.

Phase 1 and Phase 2... completed.


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