By Randall Gingrich Tierra Nativa

The Yumari Project, which is coordinated by Tarahumara shaman and artist, Makawi, has evolved into a more comprehensive program for cultural awakening in the community of Mogotavo. The Tarahumara word for cultural education is busuréliame, which signifies to awake the conscience of the pueblo to universal knowledge.

When accompaniment and support for Tarahumara ceremonies proved to be insufficient for many reasons, including seasonal migration schedules that keep the majority out of the pueblo for increasing amounts of time each year, Makawi called together the elders and advisors.

Because of migration and many reasons, the children are not learning the traditional ways as they should and the cultural dysfunction is also hurting their academic performance.

Together, they designed a more comprehensive program for cultural education and awakening, BUSURÉLIAME, which trains indigenous cultural facilitators to work weekly in the schools to bring in traditional leaders and elders to share cultural knowledge and practice with the children. This program just began in October, 2016 and will continue throughout the school year and summer, funding permitting.

As a result of the ceremonies and workshops supported by the Yumari project, the community has taken another important step to return to guidance by traditional values. They elected a new governor, Rosario Batista Cruz, the first female governor in Mogótavo. Rosario is owiruame, a traditional healer who is known throughout the region. Rosario as a young orphan, found herself in an abusive living situation with relatives. One night she fled to the mountains in fear. There, she found a little boy sitting in a tree. He extended his hand to her and she rose into the tree. His name is Rolichi, a spirit child who is known to have passed the healing powers to the first owiruame in the region. Rosario lost her fear as Rolichi once again extended his hand to her, saying: “With this hand, I pass on to you the gift of healing.”

Rosario Batista, Governor of Mogotavo

Rosario has been dedicated to healing others every since this encounter when she was just seven years old. Her community has elected her as their guide, knowing she will guide them in a good way. That guidance is the core of the Busuréliame program that merges traditional wisdom with primary education, to help children know that the spirit of Rolichi is still among them. This strategy will bring greater strength to the ceremonies and traditional assemblies to come.

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