Huichol in Mexico

Photo Source:  Fernando Rosales  Creative Commons  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Huichol
Country: Mexico
10/40 Window: No
Population: 52,000
World Population: 58,200
Primary Language: Huichol
Primary Religion: Ethnic Religions
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.40 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Aztec
Affinity Bloc: Latin-Caribbean Americans
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Huichol refer to themselves as Wixárika or simply "people." The Huichol live primarily in western Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. This area includes some of the most rugged terrain in Mexico. It is typified by mesas, cliffs and river valleys and is covered mostly by scrub and thorns. Historically, the rough topography of their homeland insulated them from outside influences. They held out against Spanish colonialism for many years and always maintained a high degree of self-rule. Today the Huichol are no longer as isolated and are integrating into the general Mexican society and economy.

What Are Their Lives Like?

For centuries the Huichol people have been subsistence farmers. They grow corn, beans and squash, commonly called "the three sisters." Their agricultural practices involve a slash and burn method which causes ecological problems. The land they till is not fertile so there is malnutrition and low yields. They often hunt deer and other wild game. Cattle ranching is an important part of their economy. They seldom eat the beef, but instead they consume the dairy products. They sell the cattle and lumber.
The Huichols have a complicated relationship with the Mexican government which tries to tax them and enforce Mexican law. Since the Huichols have lived autonomously for centuries, this sometimes means conflict with their way of life.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Traditional Huichol religion is closely tied in with their social and political practices. They have 120 deities, one of which is Tayau, the "father sun" god. He can bring danger and misfortune if they don't obey him. An important part of traditional Huichol religion is shamanism which is tied in with peyote and a 300 mile pilgrimage to their paradise, Wirikuta. When the pilgrim reaches Wirikuta, he seeks out the peyote, eats the first piece he finds, and collects a year's supply to take home to the shaman. Huichols believe the visions that come from the peyote-induced hallucinations help the shaman to contact the gods. The shamans are able to communicate with the gods through long prayers and ceremonies. This is how they find out how to deal with practical matters like illnesses and other misfortunes.
The Huichol believe that when a person dies, his soul embarks on a five-year journey through the underworld. After the journey, the soul returns to earth and is captured by a shaman in the form of a rock crystal. The crystal is placed in the family shrine to be anointed with blood and offered food as if it were a living being.
The Roman Catholic church has made inroads into Huichol belief systems, but they typically allow for non-biblical beliefs to remain. There are efforts to take Jesus Christ to them to help free them from fear and unclean spirits that torment them.

What Are Their Needs?

Today, there is an unprecedented opportunity to reach the Huichol with the message of Jesus through groups like the Seed Company. The New Testament and the JESUS Film are available to the Huichols. The Huichol need much prayer and additional laborers to work with them so they may have adequate access to the message of Jesus.

Prayer Points

Pray that current mission efforts will result in spiritual blessings for the Huichols so they will be free from wicked spirits. Pray for power encounters that will convince the Huichol people that they can only depend on the power and holiness of Jesus Christ.
Pray for a spiritual hunger that will lead Huichol leaders to the cross and the empty grave.
Pray that God will strengthen and encourage missionaries presently working among the Huichol.
Pray that God will give Huichol believers boldness to share the love of Jesus with their own people.
Pray that God will save key Huichol leaders who will boldly declare the gospel to their people.

Text Source:   Joshua Project