The remote Copper Canyon region in northern Mexico is the home of 50,000 Tarahumara Indians who have preserved much of their distinctive culture (language, dress, customs, beliefs) into this century, partly because of their extreme remoteness. Many live untouched by the trappings of modern civilization, moving between caves just below the canyon rim and warmer, winter shelters at lower altitude near the Urique River.
Their radically different lifestyle and extreme isolation beg many questions. Their ancestral homelands are already being invaded by marijuana-growers and trampled on by outside developers who have very different notions of property rights and very different customs.
Questions to think about:
- Are the Tarahumara Indians really in any position to make informed decisions about their future?
- Should we leave them entirely alone and let them decide entirely for themselves?
- Should we offer education about what we would consider the benefits of the modern world?
- Should we improve their access to health services and hospitals?
- Should we encourage them to acquire computers and internet access?
- Might these progressive elements destroy their existing lifestyle, break down their social and political structures and ultimately wipe them out?
- What do YOU think? Now, imagine you were a Tarahumara Indian – would you think the same?
- Who should decide the future of this region?
Previous Geo-Mexico posts related to the Copper Canyon:
- Cultural and Eco-tourism in the Copper Canyon region
- Mexico’s Copper Canyon train is one of the world’s great railway trips
- Mexico’s Copper Canyon is one of the world’s most amazing natural wonders
- Map of the State of Chihuahua
- Los Mochis and Topolobampo: examples of “new” towns
Chapter 10 of Geo-Mexico: the geography and dynamics of modern Mexico is devoted to Mexico’s indigenous peoples, including the Tarahumara Indians. If you have enjoyed this post, please suggest to your local library that they purchase a copy to enhance their collection.