Defending Land & Lineage from Psychedelic Tourism | Wirikuta Preservation Project (ENG)
The Wirikuta Preservation Project is an internationally-run endeavour to protect 500 acres of land for the Wixarika Nation in Estacion de Catorce in the state of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Their mission is to preserve Wixarika sacred lands & cultural heritage while supporting future generations to continue living their traditional way of life by purchasing threatened land in Estacion de Catorce.
Our guests today are Maria Guadalupe Valazquez, Santiago Alonso, and Kristen Alyra Hughes from the Wirikuta Preservation Project. For our English language interview, we’re speaking with Kristen Alyra Hughes.
Kristen Alyra Hughes has lived and worked in Indigenous communities throughout the Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and Indonesia for the past decade, building bridges between the transient spiritual communities and native peoples of the land. Currently, Alyra is the Secretary and Project Coordinator for the Wirikuta Preservation Project team of For Goodness Sake. It is one of her greatest passions and dreams in life to see First Nations People receiving their land and creating a future for their generations to comes which fosters sustainability of their culture and way of life.
In this episode, we discuss land and institutional betrayal, heritage as intangible, the impacts on Wirikuta territory, lack of respect from foreigners, cultural appropriation, land privatization, the invasion of tourists, and how to support the project.
Season 2 is dedicated to our late friend and mentor Gustavo Esteva, grandfather, sage, and co-founder of the University of the Earth in Oaxaca, Mexico. These episodes have been planned and organized in collaboration with our colleagues from the Unitierra Oaxaca.
They are dispatches from the resistance.
Support the podcast and the movement through our Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/theendoftourism
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Wirikuta Preservation Project Origins
Deforestation / Land Privatization in Northern Mexico
Psychedelic Tourism and Peyote in Wirikuta
Sacrament Consumption without Ecological Awareness
Proceeding and Walking Ceremonially / Living Responsibly
The Disappearance of Jicuri / Peyote
Wirikuta Preservation Project Goals / Vision
More Resources / How You Can Help
Chris: Welcome to The End of Tourism Podcast. Alyra.
Alyra: Well, good morning. Good evening, relatives, listening to this podcast. Currently I'm tuning in from Bali Indonesia. In just a few hours, I'll be heading back to the United States and meeting up with some of our, our crew of the Wirikuta Nation, Lupita and Santiago, my partner.
Chris: Beautiful. Thank you. And we just finished the first part of this interview in Spanish and a little bit in Wira with Lupita and Santiago, your companeras and companeros in the Wirikuta Preservation Project. Could you offer a little bit to our listeners about your place in the project and maybe how you came to it, originally?
Alyra: Yes. Thank you. Well, coming to this project has been a complete gift of grace, gift of spirit, gift of divine timing, if you will. Right place, right time. My first time visiting the pueblo Wixarika of San Andres Cohamiata, in Jalisco, Mexico was in 2019. I had been in my own own journey, in my own world, asking to, to, to, to actually go on a different type of spirit quest, a different type of ceremony, a hum Blache vision quest ceremony.
And in that particular year, in this pueblo, San Andres Cohamiata, there had been a Lakota elder, an Oglala, Lakota Sioux who had brought his vision quest altar his AIA altar down from the states down to, to Mexico. And in honoring this, this vision, this, this calling, I guess you could say in my heart, I found myself there in Jalisco, in San Andres Cohamiata, meeting different elders, marakames, healers and women, children from the Wixarika nation and living with them. And so through that commitment, a four year commitment, I started to spend more time and eventually I, I began walking with them, visiting their sacred sites, helping in social work projects, helping sponsor women's prayers, igniting these, these visions of, of not only support empowerment, giving them a voice.
And my, my partner, Santiago and I, we were traveling in the states and we had a, a phone call come in that there was a piece of land in the Sacion Catorce for sale or about to be bulldozed. And one of our Wixarika older brothers, Namatika, he called Santiago and said,
"Hey, uh, you might have some friends, you might have some support. You might have some relatives there in the north that might wanna help you because this is about to be destroyed. And you guys have been praying for a solution to how, how you can help. So here you go."
And so they gave us the contact number. They gave Santiago the contact number, and sure enough, there were 256 hectares or around 500 acres for sale that were about to be bulldozed and Santiago and I, as, as a, as a partnership, as a couple, we, we, we work really fast. And so next thing you know, I'm, I'm contacting different friends networks, putting out social media, organizing posts, calls.
And so in a way, my role in the project as project director and secretary... it just kind of like fell into my lap and whatever I could do to support Santiago as intertribal relations, that's his, his spot in the nonprofit of For Goodness Sake Foundation. And that's the, the nonprofit organization out of United States that sponsors and supports this project. So, in his role is to communicate, to spend doing social work and visiting the tribe for over 10 years.
And he has permission to speak at the assemblies, the tribal go. Assemblies. And for me, my role is, is to support that, to make it as easy as possible to put together the calls, to put together the social media promo packets, to put together the GoFundMe and get not only our kind of community of support that we work with, friends, relatives, uh, they call them Taywarees is the word in Wira.
"Those that are not native, but support the tribe." So, those of us that work together, get everyone on board. We have a network of friends and family all over the world. Israel, United States, Mexico, Columbia. There are people and friends that have been helping this pueblo, San Andres Cohamiata, for over five years now.
And that's really what I've been doing. Whatever I can do to get the word out there, to connect the dots, to help this project, which originally started as a deadline. We had a deadline, September 1st is still up and coming and I'm really excited to say that we've reached our Phase One Goal of raising $200,000 by September 1st.
And so that was my main mission and it continues as we start to head towards phase two and further phases of the project.
Chris: Mm, beautiful. Well, congratulations. And thank you for joining us and I think it's a beautiful thing. A blessed thing that we have someone here speaking with us who can offer a bit of this story.
And this, this struggle to the English speaking listeners who might not be aware of what's happening in the north of Mexico. And so we're gonna speak to , two specific aspects issues, dilemmas that are facing the Wixarika pueblo and culture today.
And so I'd like to, to begin to speak to those as there are two major aspects, that the project also touches on and is attempting to confront. One being deforestation or pollution and the other being psychedelic or spiritual tourism. And so according to the Wirikuta Preservation Project, (this can be found online).
"In 2008, the treaty of was Waxamanaca was signed by the federal government of Mexico represented at the time by president Felipe Calderon. This treaty was broken when the Mexican government sold the land to over 22 mining concessions, to Canadian companies, the largest being First Majestic Silver Corp in the Real de Catorce area of Mexico.
Today, tomato greenhouse companies are taking thousands of acres of this ancient desert. The delicate biodiversity of Flo and fauna is destroyed by bulldozers and the spraying of agrochemicals in the air. This not only threatens the cultural heritage of the Wixarika nation, but also the entire ecosystem of this World Heritage UNESCO site and all surrounding areas.
Another threat that continues is the privatization of land. This has made it increasingly difficult for the Wixarika people to walk their lands and complete their sacred peyote or jicuri hunt.
What is currently happening in the Wixarika traditional territory in regards to the deforestation of jicuri? Could you elaborate for our listeners about the mining, land privatization and contamination of their traditional territory?
Alyra: Yes, definitely. So as the website and, and we have access to these documents, as well as of the Preservation Project says, this treaty was signed in 2008 and through different efforts that rose up between the Mexican people and different festivals and protests, there has been a stop in a way, a standstill there's. There's not any active mining going on.
What's happening now and one of the things that I witnessed recently in an assembly meeting within the tribe is that there's a growing, in a way it's almost like a, a push from those that live near Wirikuta and in the areas farmers, the union of farmers was there. They had representatives of the union of farmers there and in a way they want the mining companies to continue. They want them to open again because it provides income. It provides jobs and if anyone listening has ever visited San Luis Potosi, Asesion de Catorce, Wirikuta
specifically near Real de Catorce, it's full on desert environment. It's not necessarily the most pleasant to live your day to day lives. And so on one hand, and there's a really great film for anyone wanting to see more, called The Last Peyote Guardians, that shows about this time period, 2008 to 2012 and where we're at now.
There's not a lot of job opportunities. So on, on one hand, there was this opportunity for income and kind of way out of poverty, but also the hardship of living in desert environments. And then on the other hand, there's this very clear impact trail of what happens when the sacred sites of Wirikuta, is one of the five sacred sites they have what's called "Ojo de Dios" ("Eye of God"), almost like a diamond rumbo of four cardinal points and in the center Tekata Tata Warita and in the four points Wirikuta in the east, OutoManaKan in the north, Rapa Biame in the south, and in the west, uh, Tatia Ra Mara, which is the oceans. And so in the east, the Wiras have to make a sacred pilgrimage every year, every other year, depending on the family to leave offerings, to give thanks.
And, and Wirikuta is the place where they learn everything. They learn how to sing. They learn how to do their weavings. They learn how to make their art. Their culture has arrived from there. They say it's the house of their gods, the house of their deities. And so for them, for the bulldozers to come in, you mentioned tomato plantations, uh, for the mining companies to come in to extract minerals, to destroy the land.
It means destroying where they go to learn their way of life and has the potential repercussions to change that course of their culture and the course of their entire history. From the moment they recorded the beginning of time for them all the way to now for their future children, their future generations.
And so even though right now actively, there's no active mining, there is a growing voice currently where, and probably influenced by the times that we're in, to kind of start them up again and to provide jobs.
Chris: Wow. Lots of, lots of contend with there. Definitely. And so this confrontation with modernity and it's discontent, the notions of money making, has another side, which in those areas, in the, the areas of Wixarika nation like many places in the world, we find tourism and we find pretty much, any historical or cultural thing or being, being modified in order to serve the necessities of people and people being undone and subverted by this thing we often call modernity. And so I'd like to ask you a little bit about that. You know, we sometimes refer to as psychedelic or spiritual tourism. And so this is by all means become a big business, spiritual tourism in Mexico.
People come from all over the world, searching out healing and enlightenment through medicine, such as peyote or jicuri, the children that sprout or magic mushrooms, as well as DMT or sapo, it's often referred to as here. People often arrive bringing their spiritual ailments with them and this contributes directly to the spiritual ailments of the peoples who have stewarded these medicines since time immemorial.
Do you think you could tell us a little bit about what you've experienced in your place and among your own people and among the people that host you in the Wixarika nation, as it pertains to psychedelic tourism and the consequences of people arriving mostly uninvited to search out jicuri or peyote for personal gain or healing.
Alyra: Yes. Thank you. It's a, it's a very multilayered question and topic. Uh, so I appreciate the opportunity. One of the things that comes to heart, comes to mind first, is really acknowledging that the times that we're in lend themselves to what I would call a distortion or an imbalance first and foremost in, in the mind and in the heart and the way those two connect, because whether we're talking about jicuri, peyote, ninos santos, the little ones or Sapo, or even if we go all the way down to south America and talk about madrecita, the vine, ayahuasca, we see the same, same thing, which is that there is a mindset in modernity, as you refer to, of how much can we consume, how much can we experience?
How much can we take for our own healing until we realize that there's a consequence, that there's a cost. And, and, and if we look at humanity in general, all across the board, whether it's the fishing industry or the oil industry, or even our trees, our old growth forests, where I come from in the States, same way of being, which is, ah, I'm going to experience.
And without asking myself, what trace am I leaving? What impact am I making? And so if we apply it to what's going on with jicuri and peyote and psychedelic tourism, there, there is a hundred percent, uh, and, a reaching out for healing for wholeness. And there's medicine there. There's beautiful medicine there.
And what most people don't understand and don't know out of, out of their own, just simple human not knowing is that it takes 20, 30, 40, 50 years, sometimes a hundred years to grow one peyote button or one family of buttons that then someone harvests to eat.
And to make the powdered, which, which a lot of bought medicine, bought peyote, bought jicuri that gets sold and distributed to ceremonies that are unauthorized by the tribe ends up in powdered form. To make one kilo of medicine, roughly 2.2 pounds, it takes over a hundred buttons. Wow. And sometimes 150, depending on the size of the potato sack that the tribes have to fill. And so in that regards, if, if we were to look, kind of like essential oils, like how much of one product it takes to make one usable product that then gets bought and sold and offered in ceremonies, authorized or unauthorized by the tribe, there's hundreds of years or more of, of information and wisdom in time, actual time it takes.. And so if, if we think about time and products and energy, it's easy for the modern world to say, oh yeah, you know, pay me this much, especially if, if it's people that come into the blessing of having a lot of abundance, but when we're looking at something in front of us and we're consuming it and we don't really understand the time and the energy and what goes into it, there's a disconnect.
Same when we go to our grocery store and we just purchase our things and, and the farmers, right? Don't they don't get acknowledged. They don't get seen, they don't get the appreciation. And so there's, there's this huge industry that is coming out of a big call for healing and wholeness.
And the distortion I personally see in not just this field, this is one little fractal, but all of humanity. And so then the question I ask when I go into these places, when I work with the tribe, when I walk with the Wixarika is, how can I align my life? How can I see where even myself, now, doing what I'm doing, 10 years ago, I wasn't thinking about my impact. I wasn't thinking about the balance or the reciprocity that I was offering in every action. It's not always easy or accessible, but even just asking the question, we may start to orient ourself, align ourself to solutions rather than creating more of the same thing.
Chris: Hmm Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. One of the things that, you know, that you mentioned, I think there at the beginning is,, in this sense that when people tourists, spiritual or secular tourists go to these places or when they sign up for ceremony, whether it be legitimate or not in the sense of being sponsored or facilitated by traditional stewards the notion so often is that this, this healing is from me, right? This healing exists on an individual level whether it's conscious or not. Right. And in my time with traditional communities and traditional medicine people, healers, and especially, especially their, their communities that those ceremonies are undertaken for the health of the community and not the individual. If an individual is healed, it is done for the community, not for the individual. And I wonder, in regards to your time-in with the people in San Andres and elsewhere and perhaps in your own time-in in other ceremonies, you know, what, what kind of difference have you seen in that regard between the way the medicine is held and carried and facilitated as not just as a medicine, but as an ancestor and as something that is directly tied to the community and not just a means to an ends for, for example, personal healing.
Alyra: Hmm. Yeah, the great, great questions. One of the things that really inspired me about the, Wixarika nation and the Wiras, the first time I had the opportunity to sit with them and, and to visit Wirikuta, we have to clean ourselves. And so before the Wiras can enter into Wirikuta, before they can even cross the doorway, they have a sacred site there that they they know, and they say, this is, this is the door before we can enter.
The whole tribe or family, if, if they're pilgriming as a ceremonial center within the tribe, there's many different temples, many different family temples. So, before they can enter, they have to present themselves, their names, to the fire, Tata Wari, and clean all of their sexual energy, to clean their mind, to clean, clean their entire being.
Uh, for example, within, within a clan or a family temple, if someone had an affair with another one, they would have to say that in front of the tribe and say, "Hey, this happened, this is what I stole, or this is who I was with and I'm going to come to my truth. I'm going to speak my truth. I'm gonna clean myself in front of you in front of everyone, in front of the fire."
And in that way, the whole family temple or the whole ceremonial center can go in together and partake of this medicine, which to them is, is, is the light. It is, is the spirit of the deer. It's the spirit of the corn. It's the spirit of their entire creator or, or creation energy Kayumari because for them, if they're not in that alignment of truth, then it's not that they're not worthy. They aren't ready to eat the, the sacrament or the sacred medicine. And that's one thing that gets really disconnected when we aren't operating from a tribe. We might not ask ourselves, "how is what I'm thinking, feeling, doing, affecting the other ones."
And so, as you said, people come because they want their own healing. They're they're asking themselves, oftentimes, "why is life not working out for me? Why am I not getting what I want? Why am I feeling this pain? Why am I still suffering? Why did this thing happen to me? And there is a place for self inquiry.
There's a beautiful place for self inquiry. When we're working with medicines that come from the tradition of a community, it's really important that we honor and respect their culture and respect how and why this sacrament, or this medicine, this plants exists the way that it does. And there's a really beautiful opportunity to heal for many people that very disconnect that they're seeking, maybe they don't know it, by honoring this kind of tribal way. And if someone's giving out jicuri or peyote or any medicine and they don't have authorization, then they create even more of a separation gap between where that medicine, where that sacred plant spirit, where that came from and the people that are using it.
And so it keeps really far removed. And so then again, we just, we see more and more of a bridge that has to happen for the understanding and the wisdom of why some of these plants are here, how we can respect the cultures that use them. So a hundred percent. I, I, I see it. It happens all the time.
People come for their own journey. And oftentimes if, if the, if the marakame or rather non-marakame, if the person isn't authorized by the Wixarika nation. So if they're not marakame, if they're not even given permission by the tribe to have it, not always, but oftentimes the money goes to that person or their vision or their plan or their center.
And so any potential for there to be help and support is lost. And so then if we think about, okay, it takes 20, 30, 40, a hundred years for just one peyote to grow, imagine where we might be in five years, in 10 years, and is it possible to plant and grow and propagate because of the desire and the demand for people to go and find their healing, isn't gonna stop.
That's still there. And so how, how can we even look at even that, the rate of consumption for personal healing versus how fast it takes to grow and then to consider this whole piece of community, how does that affect... In the tribe, in San Andres, the marakames can give personal healings. People we work with, a marakame, he's authorized to speak on behalf of this project, Don Rafael Pisano Carrillo and he does healings in his house.
One of the requirements for him to do what he does as marakame is to speak on behalf of the tribe, on top of everything, he's done his entire life as an elder, to earn his healing powers, to receive them, to learn, to study, he has to stay connected to the tribe. He can't be a representative of the Wixarika Pueblo, San Andres Comiahata as a marakame, to speak on this project, to speak in general, on the medicine and even to give the medicine... if he doesn't live in the community, travel and pilgrim when he's asked to, as jiquereros, they have to commit to their five years of holding the position within the ceremonial center. Oftentimes if they don't, they might end up getting sick.
They might end up having to go on a healing journey just so that they answer to the responsibility of their community. And so there are specific dynamics of what living in community really means.
And in my own experience, living and traveling in transient communities. What, what many call spiritual communities there's so much love and there's so much beauty of what we can do, ideals and some places are anchoring it more than others. And it ends up being a very transient space. I have have yet to come across a community that, a hundred percent, everyone that's there, all members, live there full time.
I, I know there's some out there. And so I, I look forward to one day meeting them, but, the ones that I've come across are, are indigenous, are native and, and they follow their ceremonial calendar. They follow the ceremonial way and it's not easy, by any means. It's not glorious. I just can't even imagine having to, every time before ceremony having to confess or having to share the truth. It's so hard for us as humans to be vulnerable.
And so they have a lot to be respected for. I call them my elders and Namatika, "older brother and sister." They teach me so much about what I would love to learn how to cultivate as really living in community and showing up fully, even when it seems, even when it seems difficult.
Chris: Mm-hmm . Wow.
Yeah. So much of the touristic mindset, which is just the consequence of modernism, of modern modernity of exile, of countless generations in flight, you know, as far as immigration is concerned the last well, who knows how many centuries or millennia. But that there's, this kind of learned, as you said, transience and the willingness to, to always look elsewhere for solutions to the lostness or the orphanhood of contemporary Western people.
But you know, at the same time, it seems to be that the first casualty of our healing is the, the thing we expect to heal us or the thing we go in search of. The first casualty of our search is the thing we go in search of. And so. You know, I think it's really important, especially for cultural Americans is probably, maybe one of the best ways of describing it, is to consider where they are, where they live and maybe take a page from a lot of these traditional peoples who understand that their way of healing and their way of healing themselves and their culture is to honor the place they live in by doing work there and not searching for it elsewhere. And so, you know, you mentioned a little bit about this notion of illegitimate ceremonies, right? Illegitimate peyote, mushroom ceremonies, et cetera, in Mexico and all over the world, of course. And the, for lack of a better word, charlatans, that that often run them. What is the official position of the Wixarika people or pueblo in regards to these ceremonies? And what do you think personally, of their commercialization?
Alyra: Good question. It's definitely a very alive and real topic within spiritual tourism, psychedelic tourism, not only in Mexico everywhere. So anyone listening and there's, there's many places around the world, that this is happening. So I'll just share an experience with the, Wirikuta Preservation Project.
We've had to take every stride with the approval of San Andres Cohamiata and their traditional government. We can't do anything without first presenting our project and getting signatures, having consensus from all the tribal government seat holders and their approval. Now, I said can, so yes, any like we could have, have, we could have in theory, done it without them. The way that we operate and the way that we believe to live our lives is to, in a certain level of integrity, ask permission.
I wouldn't just walk into a stranger's house and then do whatever I want and, and leave or stay there, without knocking, without seeing if I can come in and in a way, this is what's happening. That there's a realm and sometimes it's out of not knowing, it's out of ignorance.
It's out of just blindness, that often is, and sometimes done consciously. And maybe as you mentioned, charlatan sense, someone that wants to be the healer or be the guide, or be the shaman, so to speak. They might actually not want to bring in the people that are actually capable and authorized to run the show. It could also be unconscious, which is part of our human dilemma: needing to be seen, needing to be right, needing to be the one needing to be the leader.
And so then there's that breakdown unconsciously. And so if we're looking at ceremonies and cultures as houses, we would respect someone's house. We would respect someone's culture. If we had the opportunity or if we knew and so there there's one level of just not knowing this and the The Wixarika nation, San Andres Cohamiata, all of, uh the communidad Wixarika, they are one of the last indigenous tribes in Mexico to preserve their pre-Columbian way of life almost to the hundred percent and a big part of this is because at the times of the conquest and then, later, and the times of Cuahetemoc and where mini tribes were being either absorbed into the empire, into the, the times or they were having to go into hiding, in the Wixarika, they went into hiding, into caves.
And so as they went into hiding, they were able to retain this way of life. And so on top of that, they operate within their own autonomous government. And so there also are, out there, places where there hasn't been that preservation. So, that adds to this veiling of, of being able to find either the link to respect cultures or respect.
Tradition or respect the ceremonies. So there's, there's many layers to why, why this is happening. So when we were there to present our project for the second time we had to do a preliminary project release. We received almost all the signatures that we needed, but there were some position holders that weren't present.
And so we had to wait for the, the big assembly that was happening. And this was on April 11th, just this year, 2022. And that's another reason why all of our crowdfunding, all of our fundraising has had to be very private. Before we had the permission by all the signatures of the tribal government position holders, we, we didn't promote it publicly.
We didn't have a GoFundMe. We weren't posting on Instagram, because for us, that's just what we needed to do. So, in this assembly meeting, this conversation, "what are we going to do about the people consuming our medicine," came up directly from them in different ceremonial centers, positions, whether it's the main singer or the captain of the pilgrimage.
They have their different positions within the ceremonial center. So this, this came up in the meeting as we were promoting our project and a big reason why we are getting the support that we are, from the tribe, is this issue hasn't been addressed by their culture. They have, this is the first time in their history relative like 10, 20, 30 years looking, looking at how spiritual tourism, psychedelic tourism has progressed rapidly due to internet due to word of mouth.
I mean, we are living in a time where information wise, we are receiving so much data point stimulation on a collective level. So it's just everything's happening rapidly. So this is the first time that they have had to speak within their tribe at this very real situation, which is there are people that they don't even know using their medicine and for many, they don't even know how it's getting there because there are people that'll come out into the desert and just harvest medicine and leave and sell it. And then there's the bulldozers. From the tomato plantations. We don't even know a hundred percent.
I mean, we have speculations of what happens with that medicine. There's the medicine that gets taken when their medicine is confiscated, that's just put aside. So, there's all these places where the jicuri somehow down the line gets into these hands of these people and they they're asking themselves now for the first time in their history, what can we do?
And the really old ones that are living in a different time and dimension, they really don't even grasp the situation. We've asked some of our elders, "hey, you know, what's the situation if your children and your grandchildren don't have medicine" and to them, they're like, oh, it's, you know, Kayumari, their Spirit's gonna take care of them.
And we have to really look at the situation at hand because the hand of modernity is a real situation. And we, can't kind of just like push it aside. And now they're starting to organize. So we had some of the Wiras, they've come up and, and thanked us. Hey, thank you for inspiring us by getting organized.
As much as this project is, is to start donating and giving the land back to them, it's also about reminding them that they have a voice and maybe they didn't think about it before. Maybe they didn't even need to that the issue wasn't an issue. It was still under the skin waiting to boil its head. And now they're, they're seeing it. Now there's repercussions.
Now, just this last pilgrimage, we saw the amount of jicuri that was harvested wouldn't even fill probably five or 10 ceremonies that happen in this kind of Charlatan way that we see happening in Mexico. People that... I've even seen them. They put on the same outfit. They buy it. They put it on and then they tell people, "oh yeah, I'm I'm marakame. I'm this. I'm that." And so they, it's kind of like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
They're fooling, fooling people and. I do trust that this, this powerful spirit, jicuri, will take care of the people. So, it's not necessarily to be afraid of who's taking care, but it's more of like, why is there such a disrespect? And, and so this project is, is to give them a voice it's to help.
We didn't expect it. We were so surprised to see how excited they got to mobilize. So, now they're considering, okay, what do we need to do? Do we need to hire security? Do we need to have a patrol? Do we need to start making a list of all the people that we know are unauthorized? Do we need to be talking to our own authorities?
They have their own, they call them to appeal their own security, their own assistant, like security guard to the staff of the governor. And it's a really great opportunity to see what happens. We don't, we don't know what is gonna happen in the movement of things. They've talked about make making this list more official of every person that comes.
This is also a reality that the peyote deposit kind of like, a geologic layer. When peyote was put on the earth, it used to stretch from (theres documentation), like way north of Mexico City, all the way to the south of Texas. A big band of peyote that was growing.
It's hard to find in that band if even possible. So it's really concentrated where Wirikuta is but all the way up to the south of Texas. The Native American Church, the native Americans there in north America and the States, they're facing similar issues, they're facing similar issues for this reason.
And also in their own ways not realizing how fast the medicine goes and how much it takes to have one ceremony. And so whether they're seeing it happen from this tourism space, but also just seeing in general the consumption rate is off the charts.
So now. comunidad Wixarika is starting to see what they can do. And, uh, we'll, we'll see what happens.
Chris: What came out of those discussions, those gatherings? I mean, now you have the Wirikuta Preservation Project and of course that's something that's been, that's sponsored and co-facilitated by the Wixarika nation.
Could you tell us a little bit about the specific goals and the path forward for the project? The project is written that, you know, the solution, first and foremost, to acquire lands and immediately put them in the hands of the tribe. Could you elaborate a little bit on the goals for us?
Alyra: Definitely our, our first goal, our first phase of the project we knew because there was a deadline when we got the call in July of 2021. We had a deadline. Okay. You can pay a down payment. You can do one, two payments over time, but by September 1st, 2022, if you don't have the entire payment for these lands, it's gonna be bulldozed.
And, and so we had to set up lawyers, lawyers within the tribe and lawyers in the government. And of course there is a recognition. We do recognize that as you were saying, the, the first casualty is the thing that we're, we're seeking. Like we know the privatized land is an issue because sometimes the land gets sold and then turned into tomato plantations or gets given to potential miners or gets sold to other people that wanna harvest the medicine that have nothing to do with the tribes. So, there is this, this double-edged sword happening. And so in a way we were, we were kind of like, wow, this, this feels like a race, right?
Because as, as soon as we purchase the land, then, we donate it. Put it in the name, the title gets given to the name of the tribe, San Andres Cohamiata, and we can start making a plan. We can start making a vision. We can start, uh, like an actual, uh, like not an owner's manual, but a vision plan, like how to steward the land.
So, one of the next phases that we've, we've started talking to the tribe about. They have biologists and scientists that are, have already been behind the scenes acknowledging that this issue is coming, the jicuri being cut down and harvested faster than it's growing. There's not as much rain happening due to agrochemicals and that's something we saw this year in Wirikuta. it started to rain just a little bit.
And so immediately the main singers they said, okay, we need to leave an offering for the rain, we need to like actually acknowledge that this is part of what's contributing to the peyote drying up, to the desert drying up. And then we found out through talking to locals there that a hundred percent are agrochemicals being sprayed.
And so that's a whole other thing to look into with them and in the future phases, however, this first phase, land purchased. Next phase, bring the scientists, that are studying how to propagate it, that wanna work specifically in the school. So there's a school there, a secondary school preparatory school, and we are side by side, raising funds and awareness to reconstruct their greenhouses there and rebuild some of their learning centers. And the biologists and the teachers want to work together to educate the children, how to propagate this medicine.
And the Wixarika they know this is for their children. This is for their grandchildren. This is so that then the elders, these generations now see they're learning the power of this medicine. They wanna make sure that it's there for their future children, and for their children's children, for this way of life to continue for them. It's it's about the way of life.
It's not about seeking some healing or some great experience. They, they even eat the medicine, when they're planting their corn because to them, the corn and the jicuri are the same. They have specific times when they can harvest medicine and when they can eat medicine. It's not whenever they want kind of thing.
Mm. And so the second phase is to start helping, raising the funds to pay the teachers, the scientists, to rebuild the greenhouses, to make a way for the children to get involved, as well as the teenagers, the adults, it's a whole community project, it's it won't just be in the schools. And there's also reeducation for the current generation of how to harvest their medicine, where it actually regrows, because there's actually a way to cut the jicuri, to cut the peyote where it can and has a chance to regrow itself, whereas there are ways that if it is cut, it won't ever regrow. So, then that root is lost and, and in a way it's a beautiful metaphor of when we cut ourselves off from our roots, where we come from, we become spiritual orphans.
We become this great potential, and yet there's nothing left behind to continue our legacy to continue forward. And so even within the tribe, they have some of them that have been harvesting. They didn't know. They, they were never anticipating. There might one day be a moment where they'll have to think about these things.
And so there's reeducation, there's propagation, there's replanting and, and there's a conversation of, of this conservation and sustainability, and also, once there's the security and building a house where a family can be a guardian of this land, and then moving more into the bigger topics of how, what kind of power, what kind of voice do they have to then monitor where's the medicine going.
Even within the tribe, it's a reality that there might be some really, really, really old grandpas that or grandmas or elders that have a little bit of dried medicine that they, they harvest it and they really need money. And they're gonna try to sell it because the gap of poverty is really strong there.
And the water resources are still an issue. We do have friends on our teams that are working to install different water catchment systems. We are actively looking for solutions on all fronts of how we can address the multilayered elephant in the room because it's definitely not just one thing.
So our, our phase two and phase three is, is about building this project out to bring in the community and to make a way forward while continuing to grow the land, that then will be preserved, because if the race then turns into privatized land selling tomato plantations, these kinds of things versus it being destroyed, we wanna give them a chance to preserve their land if possible.
Chris: Yeah. So much to contend with there, but you know, what a gift and what a blessing that, you know, this communion between the Wixarika people and the Wirikuta Preservation Project is had an opportunity to confront these things in a good way and in a way that might be very beneficial to the descendants of our people here and there. And so how might our listeners find out more about the project and how can they participate? How can they donate?
Alyra: We have links, which I believe will be posted for your listeners. We have a GoFundMe currently underway and we also have the website of, For Goodness Sake Foundation, the nonprofit that is sponsoring this project. They have information on the website. Direct links to both their own PayPal account through the nonprofit.
There's also direct bank transfer, checks. There's a whole page dedicated to... if someone wants to know already that they wanna donate, boom, they, they can go in a few clicks. And we also love conversation. This is definitely a topic that is really great to spread the words. Happy to leave our personal contact details if someone wanted to host a, a talk we're gathering.
We're going to be at the Plant Spirit Medicine Conference in November. November 4th, through 6th in Canada. This is sponsored by MAPS, which is a really well known organization of psychedelic sciences. And they'll be speaking alongside names like Paul Stamets and the McKenna family and Don Rafael Carillo Pisano. They're authorized by I San to speak on behalf of this project.
So, there's gonna be some really great things that will be public. And also we can have private conversations any way, that your listeners feel inspired, as well as our Instagram is @WirikutaPreservationProject. And we're building that social media platform. And yeah, looking for more ways to get out there now that we have that seal of approval, the government seals and we feel very blessed and grateful to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of this cause to speak on behalf of another earth and the water and all the elements of life.
This is for the Wiras, their way of life. They, they, they are pilgrims. They continue to follow. The sun and the spirit and the way of life. And we just feel blessed that we can walk with them and support them and their great mission for mother earth.
Chris: Mm amen. Thank you. And all of those links will be available online through theendoftourism. com, the end of tourism website.
And finally, what message, if any, would you have for the people who come or want to come to the desert looking to sit and commune with jicuri? How might they understand their places, people of consequence and what might be required of them in these times? We've already heard your partner Santiago and Lupita, a marakame herself, and wife of the current governor speak to this. Maybe you could reiterate a little bit what she said as well for our listeners.
Alyra: Thank you. Oh, first I would say, first go within, right? Like why, why, why, why even go to the, why go to the desert? You know, is it seeking healing? Is it seeking or following someone's ideas? Following something that someone read. The Wixarika Nation, they, they open up their community at certain times in the year. Semana Santa (Easter Week) is the most well visited time period of the year where they honor their, their holy saints.
And this is an open public time that they, they invite people from outside the tribe. And so there is the grace that they're kind enough to let us come and visit them. So, I would say finding a rhythm that is already in line with their invitation or, or finding, looking for a way to be directly linked to one of their representatives out of respect and honor for not only this medicine, but for the lineage that they've been taking care of. In this documentary, "The Last Peyote Guardians" it's really said like that they are the last peyote guardians. They're the ones, not only taking care of the physical peyote, but the spirit and the energy and everything that comes with it.
And so to really go towards them to find them, to find ways to support them directly if possible. And that's not always the case and in doing so, ask those questions. How may my contribution, my donation. How may my steps here be in right relationship, be in reciprocity with the people that steward it.
And in turn, that's gonna give back to the people that's gonna give back to their fulfillment, to their heart. When we are in that sacred balance of reciprocity, there is a flow that we can't really describe and it, and it fulfills us. It lifts us up. It, it leads us to more healing that maybe we didn't even think that we knew or that we wanted.
And so I would really say to do your research and find those times. This is the time that we live in that we walk mindfully rather than blindly. And in that mindfulness, we start to make a path for others to follow us in a good way. And we do this for the future generations of mother earth for this planet, for all the ones that we love near and dear, all the ones that we include in our healing prayer that we think is for ourself really it's it's for all of us. We're all in this together.
And, and we unite in that, in that way for the future of the planet.
Chris: Beautiful. Well, it's been a great gift and, and blessing to speak with you, and Santiago and Lupita today. So on behalf of our listeners, I offer you a deep bow for your willingness to do so and all the organization that it took for us to be speaking together today. May we succeed in all the ways that we wish to, in all the ways that we can't, we can't yet see in these projects.
So thank you for speaking with us.
Thank you very much. Many