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Nahua peoples of Morelos, the Hueyapan case

Nahua peoples of Morelos, the Hueyapan case


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The name of the Nahua group comes from the verb “nahuatli” (to speak clearly); This term is used to designate both the group and the language of the Mexica, the Mexicans.

Currently, the Nahua peoples do not form a political unit but are located in an area that goes from Durango to the south of Tabasco and are mainly concentrated in Puebla, Veracruz and Hidalgo. To a lesser extent, they are located in San Luis Potosí, Hidalgo, the Federal District, the State of Mexico, Tlaxcala, Morelos, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit and Oaxaca.

“In December 2017, the Municipality of Hueyapan became municipality number 36 of Morelos and the third indigenous type in the entity, after it was published in the Official Newspaper Tierra y Libertad edition 5561, decree 2343, which was added from the current municipality of Tetela del Volcán”.

In the vicinity of the Popocatépetl volcano there are several towns of Nahuatl origin, owners of great cultural wealth, they are dispersed in about 16 municipalities and there are around 35 Nahua communities that are concentrated in Hueyapan, Tetela del Volcán, Tetelcingo, Cuautla, Santa Catarina, Tepoztlán, Cuentepec, Temixco, Xoxocotla and Puente de Ixtla.

One of them is Hueyapan, Morelos, which is derived from “Huey” which means “Big”, “Atl” which means “Water” and “Pan” which indicates “On or in” meaning “On the big water”. “and it is one of the 4 localities in which the Municipality of Tetela del Volcán is divided, which limits to the north with the State of Mexico, to the south with the Municipality of Zacualpan de Amilpas, to the east with the State of Puebla and to the west with the Municipality of Ocuituco.

Health among the Nahua peoples of Morelos means being in the best physical, mental and spiritual conditions to carry out all their activities. The disease is treated within the domestic group by traditional therapists or through institutional medicine. Housewives and traditional doctors resort to medicinal plants and massages, as well as a careful selection of food, according to its quality of hot or cold, also depending on the nature of the disease, in addition to carrying out various healing rituals.

In these towns, residence is patrilocal. When the sons get married, they live in the paternal house for two or three years, then they build their own home on a lot bought or donated by the father. An important aspect that distinguishes this town are its houses made of adobe. To make adobe you only need three things: water, earth and some dry leaves from the ocote tree.

The traditional clothing made by hand and used mainly by the elderly still subsists. In daily life it is the elderly, men and women, who wear this dress; the men breeches and a blanket shirt, the women chincuetes (very wide skirts wrapped around the body) and embossed blouses or huipiles and girdles. The Hueyapan gabaneras still preserve the traditional wool weaving technique. After shearing the animal, they wash and select the wool that will be used to spin, then they straighten it to make the weft and, once prepared, it is colored with natural products to start weaving.

In the Nahua towns of Morelos, the main economic activity is agriculture, for which various agrochemicals are used. In Hueyapan, with a population of approximately 7,800 inhabitants, agriculture is practiced for self-consumption. When the rainy season arrives and along with them the growth of fungi. Mushroom picking is not an easy activity because you have to walk a lot; it is important to know where to look and which mushrooms to take as some are poisonous.

The worldview of the contemporary Nahua peoples, specifically those of Morelos, has its origin in the ancient worldview that the Nahuas shared with the other Mesoamerican peoples. This is based on a great dual opposition of opposites that divides the cosmos for its better understanding. Thus, heaven and earth, light and darkness, the feminine and the masculine, form a duality that has two fundamental types of complementary and opposite forces, similar and inverted, understood in terms of polarity: the positive and the negative.

Few schools focus on preserving the language and traditions of the community. The teachers at the Hueyapan bilingual preschool have made an effort to encourage pride in their culture in the students. The children sing, paint, dance and play to learn their language. One of the customs of the peoples who live around the Popocatépetl volcano is to express in paint everything that surrounds them, such as trees, flowers, animals, birds, etc.

These towns celebrate their festivals with the magnificence that their limited resources allow them. In all its celebrations, the Catholic mass and the liturgical acts guide the collective and individual celebrations. That is, the church brings them together and the dances are the point by which it makes sense to be from a certain town. In these festivities around 15 different dances are presented, among which those of the Ramas, Tecuanes, Pastoras, Chinelos, Gañanes, Aztecas, Tenochmes or Apaches, Contradanza, Moros, Tres Potencias, Sayones and Inditas stand out.

The cultural values offered by the members of a community is the sense of belonging and ethnic identity: the uses, customs, traditions and forms of social organization continue to be factors that give social identity to the communities as indigenous.

The Nahuas of Morelos, whether they speak their language or not, largely conserve the knowledge of their ancestors, their vision of the world, of nature, their ways of choosing their representatives, their agricultural rites, requests for water, their processions to the sacred places, their dances, their music, their memories of a recent past full of ecological possibilities and abundance of resources in the face of economic poverty and the deprivations in which they currently live.