Susana Eger Valadez traveled to Mexico about 20 years ago while working on her Master of Arts Degree in Latin American Studies. She completed the degree from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). In the process of studying the Huichol people, her life was changed forever.
In 1981, Susana Eger and her Huichol husband, Mariano Valadez, co-founded the Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization located in Nayarit, Mexico with an office in Seattle, Washington.
The Huichol Center for Cultural Survival and Traditional Arts, a U.S., non-profit corporation (known in Mexico as the “Centro Cultural Huichol”) has been working for the past 13 years to empower the Huichols with the strategic thinking they need in order to understand what is happening in the world around them, and how to be successful within it, without compromising the integrity of their core belief system.
The premise of the Huichol Center is that it is entirely possible to provide the Huichols with the opportunities, techinical skills, and problem solving abilities they need in order to interface with the world around them while at the same time protecting their traditional culture and way of life.
The Huichol Center logo stresses the importance of “sustaining cultural identity through trade and tribal wisdom.” Center projects have brought together a network of tribal leaders, religious practitioners, healers, artists, naturalists and others who have joined in a concerted effort to solve problems with creative solutions generated from within the Huichol belief system. The focus is on creating projects within three major categories: environmentally sustainable projects that promote a self-sufficient economic base, educational programs that foster Huichol values, and a holistic health program that integrates Western medicine with traditional healing. For example, one of the projects dealing with environmeental sustainability is the ongoing Sustainable Futures program. This cross-cultural, educational project has provided an opportunity for several Huichols to come to the U.S. to learn about ecological retoration techniques, organic gardening, and how to creatively utilize their numerous renewable resources. The program is a joint project of the Huichol Center and the Sol y Sombra Foundation, Permaculture Drylands Institute, and the Center for the Study of Community in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Other Center projects which contribute to the economic and cultural stability of the Huichol homeland include the documentation of tribal wisdom, literacy development, skill training in traditional arts, and principles of trade and marketing. In the area of health care, the Huichol Center provides a range of services including a primary care medical clinic with tuberculosis treatment facilities, a birthing center, and a soup kitchen. Huichol public awareness activities include museum exhibits and cross-cultural tribal interchange with other tribes of the Americas.
It is the Huichol Center’s experience that communities which derive a sense of security based on group pride are the ones best prepared to make the hard choices the future demands of them.
While teaching people to value themselves so that they can play a valuable part in the world in which they live, the Huichol Center promotes an integrated problem-solving strategy that combines economic development, cultural preservation, and a health care system. Our goal is to build a sturdy bridge between tradition and the future – a bridge that allows traditional wisdom to enter the 21st century without destroying the people who carry its spirit and substance.
All Huichol Center projects are supported by the sale of Huichol art created at the Center and contributions to our non-profit corporations in Mexico and the U.S.
For More Information Contact:
World Trade Center
2200 Alaskan Way #110
Fax (206) 374-0571
Tel. (206) 374-0571
The Huichol Center,
Huejuquilla Calle Victoria #24,
Huejuquilla El Alto,
Tel/Fax (498) 983-7054