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Faith and Values
  Religion    Semana Santa  Dancers Shamans Links

According to the Tarahumara philosophy, respect towards other people is essential and therefore, visitors or tourists should also be respectful towards them and their traditions just as they are towards everyone else. They value people over things.


A great part of today’s Tarahumara traditions relate back to those learned from the Jesuit missionaries during the almost 150 years they lived together in colonial times. As main god, the Tarahumara Indians have a merger of Christ and their god, who is called Onorúame, who made and governs the world. Religious concepts include the concept of soul and its loss. Men are surrounded by good and bad beings; the wind is good and a tornado is bad. They have added to their beliefs the names of Jesus, Mary, God, hell and sin, the use of the Holy Rosary and the Crucifix, as well as crossing oneself. Their mythical and religious festivities are made up of dances where the traditional corn alcohol beverage called "tesgüino" is always present. To the Tarahumara, dancing is a prayer, thus, by dancing, they can seek forgiveness, ask for rain ("dutuburi" dance), give thanks for the rain and for the harvest, and they can help "Repá betéame "– he who lives above—to not be defeated by "Reré betéame" – he who lives beneath—(the devil.)

Semana Santa

Semana Santa (Easter) is a very important festival time for the Tarahumara. Wherever there is a church, these festivities are still observed according to the teachings of the missionaries. During these celebrations, they place pine tree branches showing the way to the various processions. Two groups are the main participants: Pharisees and soldiers. Each group has captains that lead them, "tenaches" that carry the saint’s images and "pascoleros" who participate in the "pascol" dance, wearing bells around their ankles and dancing to the sound of violins and flutes. It is interesting to note that Tarahumara include the white people "chabochis" among the evil ones, the Pharisees, who paint themselves in white and represent those in favor of Judas. Throughout the dance, the Pharisees dance all around controlling every move but at the end they are conquered by those who represent the good, the soldiers.


Matachines are dancers who act in church festivals. They are outstanding for their colorful garments. The Matachine dance is performed by a number of couples, eight or twelve, who dance to the music of violins and guitars. It is a dance full of fast movements, turns and quick swirls.


Also present in Tarahumara culture are Shamans (sukurúame) and peyote cactus (híkuli). A shaman is the guardian of all social traditions of the people. Their obligations as ritual and therapeutic specialists bind them to tradition. Their job is to establish a balance between the body and the cosmos. Some shamans use peyote cactus for their healing activities. It is a hallucinogenic plant that is restricted and only shamans know the right amount to use, as well as how to collect and store it.


Indigenous People - Tarahumara Links   List of Tarahumara Linksplus good description of ceremonies and dance celebrations.

Rarámuri Cultural Information  Heard Museum curriculum on "Rain" and its effect on the indigenous people of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico.

Tarahumara Indian Feasts  Quick description of major holidays celebrated by the Tarahumara, by Pilot Guides.

Easter in Copper Canyon  Description of an Easter celebration by the Tarahumara by California Native Travel.

Tarahumara Journey   Story of an Easter weekend visit in the Tarahumara village of Ojachichi.

Tarahumara Mission in Creel  Article about Fr. Luis Verplancken who runs a mission in Creel and has helped dig wells and form a medical clinic to help the Tarahumara help themselves.

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