The goal of this project is to protect "The Route of the Jíkuri (Peyote)" by conserving and protecting the territories where this cactus is harvested. We seek to compile all of the information and agreements needed from the governmental authorities and the communities involved, in order to propose that it be protected as a part of the country's tangible and intangible cultural patrimony.
Protection can be sought on several levels: the municipality, the state of Chihuahua, the federal government, and UNESCO. The designation of Protected Cultural Patrimony is important, because it allows for the conservation and protection of the species itself (Lophophora williamsi) as well as of the cultural practice of harvesting and using this plant in ceremonies celebrated by the Rarámuri people who come to the area for that purpose.
One of the sites where the peyote is harvested in the Chihuahua desert is threatened by the indiscriminate extraction of the peyote by people who are not from the ejido or from the Rarármuri people, and who use the plant for non-ceremonial purposes.
We submitted a proposal to the Chihuahua Institute of Culture (ICHICULT) seeking to get jíkuri declared a tangible and intangible cultural patrimony of the Rarámuri people. ICHICULT in turn submitted it to the federal government, which then submitted it to UNESCO.
As we await UNESCO's response, we are working on the local level with the municipality where some of the existing desert harvest sites are located. Additionally, the Rarámuri people of the community of Choréachi have initiated a dialogue with the ejidatarios (ejido members) of the ejido in which the hill is located where the Rarámuri harvest the plan and hold their curing celebrations. Fortunately, those ejidatarios, who are poor mestizos, have shown a great deal of respect and understanding towards the indigenous people.
The ceremony of scraping the jíkuri or peyote is of the utmost importance for the Rarámuri people, as it has been a part of their culture since before the Spanish arrived in these lands. Choréachi is one of the very few communities in the Sierra Tarahumara that continues to strongly preserve this tradition.
The peyote cactus is harvested in the desert by many indigenous communities that travel there from the mountains. The regularity of their visits is everything from yearly to every seven years. Notwithstanding the prohibition established by the Catholic Church in the 17th Century against all rituals and ceremonies associated with peyote, the tradition lives on.