Culture

One Group Of Indigenous Mexican Women Is Using Their Fashions To Keep Their Culture Alive

Fleeing drought, deforestation, and drug growers high up in the Sierra Madre, the Rarámuris, commonly known as Tarahumaras, are making new homes in the pueblos and cities of Chihuahua.

Many are making a new home for themselves in the pueblito of Oasis. It’s here that the Rarámuri people stand out while also facing hardships the generally Mestizo population doesn’t.

And despite the hardships, the Rarámuri women are refusing to give in to the pressure.

Credit: @TerralinguaBCD / Twitter

Despite living in large towns and cities, the community continues to practice tribal traditions and wear typical Rarámuri dress.

For the Rarámuri people, assimilation is the same as erasure. They don’t want to face the same fate as other Indigenous groups across the country.

The women are typically dressed in colorful, bright, ankle-length dresses, which can take entire afternoons to sew. They do this despite the pressures from other residents to assimilate with a more Western style.

Across Mexico, the pressure to ‘assimilate’ is powerful.

Credit: @queeraftrans / Twitter

From Chiapas to Veracruz, Oaxaca to Chihuahua, there is a pervasive idea that progress is dependent on cutting your ties with your Indigenous identity.

One young woman leading the charge in Oasis is Yulissa Ramirez. In an interview with the New York Times, she admits she wants to challenge the notion that you must lose your Native roots to move forward in the country. She plans to attend nursing school after graduating from high school. She’d be expected to wear white scrubs but hopes that the school will allow her to wear her traditional white Rarámuri dress. She tells the NYT: “Our blood runs Rarámuri, and there’s no reason that we should feel ashamed.”

To some, the community’s unwillingness to conform to a ‘Western-style’ is costing them economic opportunities. But some are working to challenge that idea.

Ms. Ramírez, for example, believes that completing her nursing program in traditional dress will be an important statement that Rarámuri people are a vital part of Mexico’s future — and present.

Other Rarámuris are monetizing their craft.

For example, Esperanza Moreno, 44, embroiders tortilla warmers, aprons, and dishcloths with depictions of Rarámuri women in traditional garb, and sells them to Mexican nonprofits who then resell the items to shops and Walmarts throughout the country. Rarámuri women have begun sewing traditional dresses to sell, as well.

Ms. Moreno also works in a dress-making workshop which allows her to provide her family with enough money for food and utilities, but also to uphold Rarámuri traditions. Fabric and sewing supplies for a traditional dress can cost more than 400 pesos (approx. $20 USD), which is more than some families earn in a month.

For Rarámuri men, it’s a bit different.

Most who arrive in the city are looking for work in construction – a difficult but decently paid job so they can better support their families. The men are quick to ditch their traditional looks in favor of blue jeans and boots.

While women rarely trade in their dresses for the uniforms required by employers. “I only wear Rarámuri dresses,” Ms. Holguin told the NYT. And she’s not alone as Rarámuri women are dedicated to not only keeping their traditional dress but also their people’s way of life.

As an Indigenous community, like so many others across Mexico, the group has faced violence.

Credit: @73rocket / Twitter

To many, it would seem that assimilation might be a clear path toward economic liberation, protection, and safety. But to many Rarámuri women, making and wearing traditional dresses is part of their deepest identity and not something they’re willing to give up.

Even Rarámuri women brought up under the influence of Chihuahua’s urban culture, and who mix elements of Western dress like hoop earrings and plastic necklaces, continue to wear traditional dresses.

It’s their way of keeping their traditions, culture, and identity alive.

READ: This School Is Fighting Back Against Prejudice And Using Its Uniforms To Empower Indigenous Students

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Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Things That Matter

Mexico City Could Soon Change Its Name To Better Embrace Its Indigenous Identity

Mexico City is the oldest surviving capital city in all of the Americas. It also is one of only two that actually served as capitals of their Indigenous communities – the other being Quito, Ecuador. But much of that incredible history is washed over in history books, tourism advertisements, and the everyday hustle and bustle of a city of 21 million people.

Recently, city residents voted on a non-binding resolution that could see the city’s name changed back to it’s pre-Hispanic origin to help shine a light on its rich Indigenous history.

Mexico City could soon be renamed in honor of its pre-Hispanic identity.

A recent poll shows that 54% of chilangos (as residents of Mexico City are called) are in favor of changing the city’s official name from Ciudad de México to México-Tenochtitlán. In contrast, 42% of respondents said they didn’t support a name change while 4% said they they didn’t know.

Conducted earlier this month as Mexico City gears up to mark the 500th anniversary of the fall of the Aztec empire capital with a series of cultural events, the poll also asked respondents if they identified more as Mexicas, as Aztec people were also known, Spanish or mestizo (mixed indigenous and Spanish blood).

Mestizo was the most popular response, with 55% of respondents saying they identified as such while 37% saw themselves more as Mexicas. Only 4% identified as Spaniards and the same percentage said they didn’t know with whom they identified most.

The poll also touched on the city’s history.

The ancient city of Tenochtitlán.

The same poll also asked people if they thought that the 500th anniversary of the Spanish conquest of Tenochtitlán by Spanish conquistadoresshould be commemorated or forgotten, 80% chose the former option while just 16% opted for the latter.

Three-quarters of respondents said they preferred areas of the the capital where colonial-era architecture predominates, such as the historic center, while 24% said that they favored zones with modern architecture.

There are also numerous examples of pre-Hispanic architecture in Mexico City including the Templo Mayor, Tlatelolco and Cuicuilco archaeological sites.

Tenochtitlán was one of the world’s most advanced cities when the Spanish arrived.

Tenochtitlán, which means “place where prickly pears abound” in Náhuatl, was founded by the Mexica people in 1325 on an island located on Lake Texcoco. The legend goes that they decided to build a city on the island because they saw the omen they were seeking: an eagle devouring a snake while perched on a nopal.

At its peak, it was the largest city in the pre-Columbian Americas. It subsequently became a cabecera of the Viceroyalty of New Spain. Today, the ruins of Tenochtitlán are in the historic center of the Mexican capital. The World Heritage Site of Xochimilco contains what remains of the geography (water, boats, floating gardens) of the Mexica capital.

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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