Tepehuana-Wixárika Community Celebrates Five Years of Autonomous Government (San Lorenzo Azqueltán, Jalisco)

This short article covers the recent five-year anniversary celebration of the Indigenous autonomous government in San Lorenzo Azqueltán, Jalisco. The article was written by Omar Ramírez and published by Noticias de Abajo ML. The original in Spanish can be found here.

On November 9th and 10th, San Lorenzo Azqueltán celebrated five years of autonomous government, administered by the uses and customs of the Indigenous peoples that live there, Tepecanos and Wirrárikas. With different artistic and sporting activities giving life to the event, the most important activity was the traditional ceremony, woven in relation to the two cultures that make up the community. This was a commemoration full of joy and at the same time testimony of the processes of the recuperation of territory, nature and their culture.

San Lorenzo Azqueltán is located twenty kilometers from the municipality of Villa Guerrero in Jalisco. It is a Tepecano and Wirrárika town that five years ago decided to undertake the process of autonomous organization through direction action. A consequence of the dispossession of lands and the ignorance of the government, who is unaware of their existence and seeks to erase the history they share.

Making use of vice royal documents and legitimizing themselves through their culture, the Indigenous peoples have been resisting and recuperating their territory for years—territory that has been taken away through deceit and violence. Thousands of hectares remain in dispute because of the interests of small land-owners, the government and large companies, while Tepecanos and Wirrárikas defend the territory to continue existing.

In spite of the threats and the context of violence in which they live, the inhabitants of San Lorenzo convoked two days to share and celebrate a special moment within their process of struggle. Through an emotional ceremony that lasted all night around a fire that didn’t go out, Hikuri was shared while the Maracame that guided the evenings gave songs to the five winds.

Sound waves open doors to a connection beyond what words can describe. In the middle of all of this, a fundamental conversation came about. In that intimate circle, the foundations were laid for the work of the new communal authorities, in charge of fulfilling tradition and custom, always in relation to the benefit of the community as a whole. Finally, the respectful sacrifice of an animal gave the blood with which the offerings were bathed in San Lorenzo, waiting for good times in the community and the resistance that continues.

It should be noted that November 10th, 2018, was the inauguration of the communal house of the autonomous government of San Lorenzo Azqueltán. Five years into the process, Wirrárikas and Tepecanos already have a space to continue organizing themselves.

Photos by: Alejandra Padilla