The photographs of don Jose and the Huichol that you see in my website galleries were taken between 1970 and 1980: 38 to 48 years ago. When I was there, I realized it would all change, via many influences of modernization. Don Jose’s family wanted me to take pictures, because they knew the old ways were going to disappear.
A road was cut into the mountains in 1973, and this made possible the construction of Aquamilpa Dam, which has been completed, and a lake is now visible from the historic location where don Jose’s mountain top village existed. Many local people have moved down the mountain and live close to the reservoir: roads have been cut into the Sierra and small air strips for STOL aircraft.
Schools have been set up in most Huichol villages, and these have been teaching Spanish and modern subjects for the last fifty years. In addition, the Summer Institute of Linguistics has helped with language research, and the Liga Biblica published the New Testament into the Huichol Uto-Aztecan language: missionary activities have occurred throughout the Sierra Madre region. Don Jose and I met (1976) Joseph Grimes,PhD, in Atonalisco, Nayarit; I listened to him speak fluent Huichol with don Jose. Joseph Grimes is the only person from the USA who I heard speak fluent Huichol.
YouTube has many presentations listed under Huichol; and there are many excellent Huichol pictures to be seen via: Google Images. For information about the Huichol, Wikipedia has a good page: be sure to take note of references concerning legal issues with peyote in Mexico. A short documentary about peyote is worth seeing, even if you do not speak Spanish: YouTube: Peyote La Mistica Planta (in Spanish) .
In recent years, several books have been published about the Huichol experience: The Shamanic Wisdom of the Huichol: Medicine Teachings for Modern Times, by Tom Pinkson, Ph.D; and People of the Peyote: Huichol Indian History, Religion and Survival, by Stacy Schaeffer, PhD and Peter Furst, PhD.
The World of Shamanism: New Views of an Ancient Tradition, by Roger Walsh, MD, PhD. This book is the finest definition of a shaman, and about the subject of shamanism that I have read, I highly recommend it to anyone interested.
Websites to visit: Huichol Foundation and the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival.
Tourism and visits to the Huichol Sierra: You need to speak Spanish and have a good guide or contact with the Huichol. Plan on hiking and backpacking in hot weather and high humidity. Risk factors are: venomous scorpions (very common), coral snakes (rare), vicious fleas (the dry season, from dogs), and possibly digestive disturbances – due multiple causes.
Mexico: Tourist Information for Huichol visits: National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples, located in Tepic, Nayarit; Guadalahara, Jalisco; and Mexico, DF.
(c) Paul C Adams 2018 updated: 4-9-18