Tarahumara Indians - Raramuri
The Tarahumara people (known as Rarámuri in their own language) of northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre are among the largest and most traditional native American societies in all of North America. There doesn’t appear to be a consensus regarding the number of Tarahumara Indians living in the Sierra Madre (also known as the Sierra Tarahumara) but estimates range from 35,000 to 70,000. They are currently confronted by the rapid loss of their language and cultural traditions and severe degradation of their environment. Gold and silver mining along with the logging of forests and the cultivation of drugs by drug traffickers has had adverse effects on their culture. Excessive logging and pulping have increased soil erosion and have adversely affected the Tarahumara fields. The culture of the Tarahumara is bound to their physical environment and the way they live. They cultivate crops of corn, fruit, potatoes, beans and squash and supplement their diet through hunting and gathering herbs, nuts, berries, cactus fruit and seeds. Wild plants are also used for seasonings, medicine and ceremonies.
Running or "foot throwing" has always been a tradition and necessity of the Tarahumara. It is their only mode of transportation and many of the small communities are far apart. They also have their own events, and this is were "foot throwing" comes into effect. It is a competition known as Rarjíparo and consists of a small wooden ball which is "thrown by the foot" by teams in race to finish before the other teams. The races can last days. The Tarahumara are very religious and desire their privacy and respect if you should happen unto their festivals. The Mexican Government recommends asking for permission when taking photos, entering accommodations or crossing Tarahumara land. Respect all celebrations as well as rights to privacy by these proud, but quiet people.