Not well-known to many of those visiting the Costa Alegre part of Mexico (that area along the Pacific Coast of Mexico between Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo) is that an ancient Nahua community of about 3,000 people — the Ayotitlán community — resides in the mountains above Manzanillo. Most of the pueblos making up this community are within the Sierra Manantlán Biosphere Reserve, a place of remarkable natural beauty and a possible cradle for one of man’s most important crops, corn.
The Nahua of Ayotitlán, like indigenous peoples the world over, have experienced a long history of marginalization and dispossession of their lands. For these people, recent struggles stem from the fact that while the Ayotitlán’s Nahuas live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, that same place is also covered with valuable timber and underlain by nearly pure iron ore, two things that outsiders covet zealously and will go to almost any extent to obtain.
In the midst of this, one group of Nahua women on the northern edge of the Ayotitlan community have found a way to quietly better their lives and in the process are casting a ray of hope for their community and other communities like theirs. These women and their families have organized a collectiva, “Color de Tierra” that runs a remarkable little store in the pueblo of Cuzalapa, Jalisco.