Many vendors in the plaza in Bucerias are members of the Huichol indigenous group and sell their cultural art, such as gorgeous jewelry and animal pieces.
The Huichol people are native to the Sierra Madre region, in an area where the states of Nayarit, Jalisco and Zacatecas meet.
They speak Huichol and are easily recognized by their native dress and intricate artwork. What makes their artwork so unique is the use of “chaquira”, or colorful beads, that they individually press into wax to create beautiful patterns. These patterns traditionally record ceremonies and parties. Some examples of these ceremonies include celebrating Mother Earth, the feast of the cornfield, and other offerings to the gods.
One of the common images made with the chaquira beads is that of a deer, which represents the highest of the Huichol. A doe is the older sister of Huichol women and images of corn represent a guide for better thoughts.
In an effort to recognize the cultural importance of Huicholes, the Nayarit government allows them to sell their work without the same permits required of other vendors. Due to the lack of economic opportunities in the Huichol homeland, the ability to sell their artwork freely is an economic benefit that attracts many Huichol migrants to the region.
We are grateful to see the growing Huichol influence here in Bucerias. In fact, Leonarda, one of our clients, is Huichol herself and speaks of her culture when we visit her on tours!
Although their presence is very apparent in Bucerias, the Huicholes are not the biggest indigenous group that lives here or that we feature on our tours. We have clients who speak Nahuatl, Tzotzil, and Mixteco, all of whom pertain to cultural groups that add to Mexico’s diverse population.
The concept of the “Ejido” is an important one to understand when looking into what led Bucerias to what it looks like today.
An ejido refers to communally owned land. After the land reform in the nineteenth century, private property was redistributed and granted to local communities so that they would work in cooperation regarding how the land is used (note that the term “ejido” can also refer to the community that owns the land). The Bucerias Ejido was granted 1928 hectares of land in 1937, and this is when they changed the name of the town from “Santa Juana de las Tablas” to “Bucerias”! Check out the timeline to know more about that time.
The families within the ejido came together in the 1970s to sell portions of the land to the government so that they could develop the area for tourism. This exchange was the turning point as now the tourism development was in the hands of the government and not the local families.
Until 1970, the Rivieria Nayarait region was considered to be marginalized and of low economic activity. Work on Highway 200 began in 1960 and lasted until 1969 and it brought incredible growth to the region because it coincided with government purchasing this land to develop tourism.
As is evident today, money and energy was poured into developing the coastal side of the highway. The local population, on the other hand, is developing neighborhoods farther and farther inland.
This is where Human Connections comes in, as our work is to connect tourists with the local culture and that generally means taking people to the other side of the highway.
The highway has also had implications on the wildlife by contributing to water desalination and habitat destruction. This has had an effect on wildlife reproduction, the effects of which are still taking place today.
With any big development project that changes the face of the landscape, there will be negative effects. However, the jobs and opportunities that the highway and other projects brought to the region are undeniable. Our hope is that with the growing awareness about sustainability practices, Bucerias and the Nayarit region can continue to grow in a beautiful, thriving manner.