Tag Archives: History & Traditions

Benito Juárez Life and Legacy

By Brooke Gazer

March 21 marks the 205 anniversary of the birth of Benito Juárez. It is astounding that from his humble beginnings in Oaxaca, he became one of the most respected figures in Mexico’s history. Orphaned at age 3 and raised by his grandparents, Juárez moved to Oaxaca City at the tender age of 13. He arrived in the city illiterate and speaking only Zapotec, the language of his Indian heritage. He must have been both brilliant and charismatic to have acquired a Law degree, married a woman of high social standing and had a triumphant albeit turbulent political career. Continue reading Benito Juárez Life and Legacy

The Legend of Princess Donaji

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.55.24 PM By Frances Lopez (age 11)

Once upon a time in the beautiful hills of Oaxaca, hidden in the lush forest was the palace of the great Zapotec king. His daughter, princess Donaji went every morning to stroll through the forest and listen to the birds with the extraordinary feathers sing. One day she discovered a stream that soon became a river and as she walked along the river she saw a silver sheet of water cascading over a beautiful rock. Today this rock is known as Guela Bupu. Every morning thereafter Princess Donaji would go to a cave that was hidden behind the waterfall and bathe. Continue reading The Legend of Princess Donaji

The Blues: Indigo

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.40.58 PMBy Julie Etra

Añil, scientific name generally referring to Indigofera tinctoria, belongs to the pea family and is the source of the beautiful color indigo. In Nahuatl it is called jiquitle. The plant is a shrub, growing up to 1.5 m in height also used for a blue dye is its close relative Indigofera suffruticosa, which is the species used in Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America). Like other plants in the pea family, these plants ‘fix’ nitrogen through the interaction of bacteria living in the nodules of the plants’ roots, thereby and enriching the soil without the need for supplemental nitrogen. They are also excellent plants for erosion control. Continue reading The Blues: Indigo

The Color Purple

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.37.51 PMBy Brooke Gazer

Since Ancient times, in both Europe and Mesoamerica, purple has been associated with royalty and special religious ceremonies. As this exquisitely rich color was both rare and time consuming to achieve, collectors of purple dye were highly respected. Today only twenty five men remain on earth who are continuing the ancient tradition of collecting purple dye. This craft has been passed down to them by their ancestors over several centuries. These dyers travel from the remote village of Pinotepa de Don Luis to work the rocky Oaxacan shoreline north of Huatulco Continue reading The Color Purple


Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.16.44 PMBy Neal Erickson

Music has, for centuries, been an integral part of the life and culture of the indigenous people of Mexico. Before the arrival of the first Spanish Conquistadors they used conch shell horns, reed and wooden flutes and various drums and other percussive instruments to make music to enhance their ceremonial life. When the priests of the Spanish Conquest began introducing their brand of Christianity to the Mexican people, they brought instruments whose intended use was to be strictly for religious ceremonies but to the dismay and objection of the clergy, the indigenous people began to use them for secular songwriting and performance as well. Continue reading Mariachi