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MEXICO: Chihuahua



Dick Hancock, whose special field of interest is the Mexican state of Chihuahua, writes: "Satevó, Chihuahua is an historically-important town in southern Chihuahua. It was founded in 1640 as San Francisco de Xavier de Satevó by the Jesuit missionary José Pascual from Valencia, Spain. There is another mission, Santo Angel Custodio de Satevó, founded in 1699 and located five miles down stream from Batopilas, is called "the Lost Cathedral" by Richard Fisher, who has published several books on Chihuahua. I feel sure that the Batopilas Satevó is associated with the earlier Satevó, but some people in Chihuahua said they were both named after a Satevó in Spain. I have searched through a world atlas, several Spanish guide books, and the Espasa Calpe encyclopedia but find no reference other than Satevó, Chihuahua. I would appreciate any information on a connection between the two Satevós. Zacarías Máquez Terrazas, in Satevó, (Chihuahua:1990) states that Satevó means "sand dune" in the Tarahumara language. fariseos and soldados dance to drums and flutes. They have effigies of Judas, his wife, and a coyote--representing the devil. After a conflict between the fariseos and the soldados, the effigies are shot full of arrows, violently destroyed and then burned. Although the dances were held at the mission churches, there didn't seem to be any participation by priests. The Indians processed in an out of the churches, but it was hard to identify this as a Christian ritual. The Indians believe that they are the children of God and that the Mexicans are the children of the Devil. All of these festivities feature the drinking of tesguino, their corn beer, and, as time passed, we saw unconscious Indians, both men and women, sleeping off intoxication. Drinking is the universal lubricant in all their tribal gatherings.

Governor Martínez has asked us to do a book on Indians of Chihuahua--Tarahumaras, Tepehuanes, Pimas and Garajíos. We will also cover the pre-columbian Paquimé, as well as Apaches, Comanches, and whatever else we can find about the vanished tribes such as Tobosos, Conchos, Jumanos, Sumas, Chisos, Jovas, Chínipas, Guazapares, Tubares, Témoris, etc., etc. The Governor is a bookman and seems to see part of his legacy as books produced!

RH: I know no place in Spain called Satevó. Easter celebrations such as Dick describes are common in Mexico, although usually they are clearly Christian. A long time ago I attended a Christmas celebration in Isleta Mission, New Mexico. There was an Indian performance first. Only after it was finished did the priest enter to say mass. It looks as though the Church does not wish to give its formal approval to something of dubious orthodoxy. Mexicans are the children of the Devil? Technically the Indians are Mexicans. Does it mean those who have adopted Western ways and the Spanish language? Or is it simply a variant of the hatred of chilangos common in northern Mexico? Is chilango strictly someone from Mexico City, or someone from central Mexico? I cannot find the origin of the word chilango. In the rest of Mexico, these ceremonies do not have this anti-"Mexican" character. As for drinking corn beer, it is commonly said that the white man introduced alcohol to the Indians of the US. It would seem that, like those of Mexico, they must have drunk corn beer in the areas where corn in grown. I hope Dick will keep us informed about developments in Chihuahua. If anyone cant throw light on the questions raised, we would be grateful.

Ronald Hilton - 5/10/03


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