Nancue Ñomndaa women wearing typical huipiles walk on the red clay streets

Xochistlahuaca (Xochis) is located in the Costa Chica region of Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico. In Xochis, the majority of the population are indigenous Nancue Ñomndaa (Amuzgo) with smaller percentages of Na savi (Mixteco), Nahua and Mestizo ethnic groups. In the region, most people speak the Nancue language on a daily basis, while Spanish is the official language of the government.

Daily life in Xochis

The Nancue Ñomndaa live in small towns such as Xochis cabecera—the seat of the municipal government, Cozoyoapan, and Guadalupe Victoria, and remote villages located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre. Paved roads connect the main towns, but travel from and to other communities is often difficult due to poor road conditions. Most villagers rely on irregular public transport, including group taxis and vans. In the communities, most people live in simple homes made from clay and straw bricks with dirt floors and tiled roofs.

The majority of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture on collectively owned property (ejidos) subject to customary law and their own governing bodies. Farmers employ traditional slash-and-burn methods to grow corn, beans, chilli peppers, tomatoes, squash, jamaica (hibiscus) and ajonjoli (sesame). Many women supplement the household income from farming by baking and selling tacos and tortillas and by selling textiles they weave on backstrap looms. From a young age girls learn how to weave tablecloths and make the embroidered tunics or huilpils worn by women in the community.

Men have a dominant role in family life and social and political institutions. Women are gaining participation through groups of textile weavers and, more recently, as bilingual teachers in local schools. However, most women are illiterate and monolingual (with some passive knowledge of Spanish) and lack proper schooling.

Religion plays an important role in daily life in Xochis. Most Nancue Ñomndaa identify themselves as Catholic but incorporate other traditional origin myths and animistic beliefs in their religion.

Visit our photo gallery to see scenes from daily life in Xochis.

Indigenous health in Xochis 

The population of Xochis suffers from many prevalent health problems such as gastrointestinal diseases (dysentery, parasites, and diarrhoea), malaria, flu, and pneumonia. In rural areas there is a risk scorpion sting both outside and inside the home. Malnutrition is also widespread among the indigenous population of Guerrero state. Costa Chica has the highest rate of maternal mortality in Guerrero, which in turn has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in Mexico.

Health services in Xochis consist of five primary care centres, a 24-hour first-level hospital with a gynaecologist, anaesthesiologist, and general practitioners and a second-level hospital in Ometepec, one hour from Xochis. This is where most women and their families from remote communities must travel during obstetric emergencies.

Since its earliest days, CIET has been deeply committed to improving health conditions in Xochis. We have partnered with the communities on several projects to tackle pressing health issues, to develop research skills, and to promote micro-regional planning. We have also trained indigenous community health promoters and joined them in several research initiatives, such as Safe Birth in Cultural Safety, throughout the years.



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