Background on the Huichols

Background Huichol Information



Huichol (Spanish name) vs Wixarika (meaning ‘the people’, the term the Huichol use to refer to themselves)


  • Statistics are not very reliable, but about 45,000, half in the traditional territory (central box), half outside
  • Communities in traditional territory include:
    • San Andrés Cohamiáta (Tatei-Kie) [2010 population: 1317]
    • San Miguel Huextita     (Tsikuita) [2010 population: 539]
    • San Sebastián       (Waútia) [2010population: 332]
    • Santa Catarina      (Tuapurie)  
    • Tuxpan de Bolaños      (Kuruxi manuka) 
    • Guadalupe Ocotan  (in Nayarit) (Xatsitsarie)
  • Communities outside traditional territory: Tepic and Guadalajara, with smaller groups in San Blas, PV, and small communities throughout Jalisco, Nayarit, Durango and San Luis Potosi

Housing conditions (San Andres Cohamiata only)

  • 63% have electricity
  • 25% have a fridge
  • 37% have running water
  • 28% have a mobile phone; less than 1% have internet

Education (San Andres Cohamiata only

  • 38% of adults are illiterate 
  • Average number of years of schooling: 5

Cosmology and sacred sites

  • Five sacred sites at the corners and center of Huichol ceremonial territory (See the above map.)
  • Key symbols: deer, corn and peyote. Many rituals, including the annual peyote hunt in Wirikuta

Some key historical dates

  • 1524: First contact
  • 1550-1590: Chichimeca wars
  • 1717: Spanish Viceregal land ‘grant’ to the Huichol
  • 1917: Separation of Nayarit from Jalisco; second wave of Mestizo land seizures of Huichol land
  • 1952-3: Third wave of Mestizo seizures of Huichol land
  • 1960s-1970s: Concerted state action to open Huichol territory via construction of roads, landing strips, electricity, schools and clinics
  • 1994: NAFTA  and the beginning of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) rebellion
  • 2010: Huichol learn about First Majestic Silver’s plans to mine in Wirikuta; creation of the Wixarika Regional Council and the start of the national and international campaign against the mine
  • 2017: Assassination of two land repossession leaders (Miguel & Augustin Vazquez Torres)
  • 2018: Huichol communities prevent the Mexican election from taking place on their territory

First Majestic Silver (FMS) and mining

  • Canadian share of ownership of mining in Mexico: 78.5% (2010)
  • Size of FMS: assets $771 million US; 7 operating mines in Mexico; revenue $245 million US
  • FMS claim in Wirikuta: 12,298 acres
  • Current status: before the Mexican courts

Land repossessions

  • Huichol campaign to repossess stolen land (47 lawsuits in the agrarian court of Nayarit) started in 1993; first favorable decision and repossession: 2016
  • Land repossessions by Huichol: 2016, 2017, 2018 and ongoing

Key Indigenous organizations

  • WRC: Wixarika Regional Council – unites Huichol communities in the Sierra Madre in dealing with state and corporations
  • EZLN: Zapatista Army of National Liberation (‘Zapatistas’)
  • NIC: National Indigenous Congress
  • ICG: Indigenous Council of Government

What you can do

  • Learn more about the Huichol and Mexico, and then talk to others
  • Attend other HSF events at the IFC: Thurs Feb. 6th Film at 7PM; Tues Feb.18th presentation at 10AM

How to learn more about the Huichol

  • Books:
    • (1) Huichol Territory and the Mexican Nation: Indigenous Ritual, Land Conflict and Sovereignty Claims, Paul M. Liffman (2011)
    • (2) Racial Alterity, Wixarika Youth Activism and the Right to the Mexican City, Diana Negrin;
    • (3) Grand Masters of Wixarika Art: The Negrin Archive, Diana Negrin (for sale at the IFC, Tue. Feb.11 at 10 AM; late Feb., on sale at the Colectika Gallery)
  • Website (in Spanish):

Huichol Scholarship Fund (HSF)

  • Second year of operation (2019-20): awards of $6,000 pesos to each of 13 university students 
  • Ambition: expand the number and size of scholarships to better support the cultural survival and political autonomy of the Huichol


  • Donations: To make a tax exempt donation to the HSF, please go the HSF page on the IFC website and follow the instructions:
  • For more information about the scholarship recipients and the HSF program, consult the HSF web pages on the IFC or join us for a special presentation about the HSF (free admission): Tuesday Feb. 18th, 10 AM in the IFC office
  • To assist us in expanding the HSF: please contact: