Greetings and Welcome to Indigenous Roots Productions!

Just one month into IRP’s Roots Pre-Production Phase here in Mexico and I have some especially exciting news to share! First I’ll catch you up on a couple of other important developments before wrapping up with our most substantive opportunity!

In last month’s letter I explained some background about IRP and why I chose Mexico to begin growing the archive. There is certainly no pre-existing blueprint for exactly how to fulfill IRP’s mission and vision. However, since arriving it has become clear that willingness to make connections as well as demonstrating passion and competency for the work inevitably leads to opportunities with the potential to empower indigenous communities!

On Tuesday January 9 while resting at a park in Morelia, Mexico a friend and I discovered a group who were clearly preparing for a ritualistic dance. Upon joining, we sat with the hosts and other locals in a circle of about 10 people around a candle and incense. We all shared who we are and why we’d arrived at the event. Jao, the principle host, spoke about:

The image above is a tapestry from the Indigenous Museum in Mexico City.

Following the greeting, we all participated in a traditional Purépecha dance. Of course, it was such an immersive and powerful experience with drumming, running, shouts and hollers. I must say that this dance certainly requires a significant amount of energy, athleticism, and vitality! Trying to keep up with the steps, I watched Jao jump, spin, and kick as he seemed to levitate in the air. Passing on ritualistic items such as a gourd, Jao and other hosts would run in a circle around a statue and our dance group in the park and then lead a specific form or movement of the dance.

This unique experience further stimulated my interest in learning about other cultures and my desire to participate in the preservation of indigenous cultures!

Arriving back in Mexico City, I was quite motivated for my visit to the Indigenous Museum in CDMX. This museum is sponsored by INPI (Instituto Nacional de Pueblos Indígenas) which I also introduced in January’s newsletter. The institution indicates how invested Estados Unidos Mexicanos truly is in their indigenous history and surviving indigenous cultures.

Therefore, on Thursday, January 11th I visited the museum and met with museum administrator, Rene Lopez Bedolla. We had a fantastic conversation about the museum itself, INPI, and the possibility for a collaboration. Rene was excited to hear about my background and IRP’s resources to aid in preserving and empowering contemporary indigenous communities. I am currently in correspondence with Rene and INPI regarding how IRP may be able to partner with INPI!

....and now for the big news!

Upon meeting new friends from Guadalajara I shared with them about IRP’s work and why I am in Mexico. This conversation has ultimately led to a partnership with Mexi-HA, a Mexican brand founded by Janette Casas of Guadalajara. Her work partners with indigenous artists facilitating the preservation of indigenous art and culture while also promoting ecological conservation. Mexi-HA’s merchandise, including their flagship product - a reusable drinking thermos 100% hand-painted by indigenous artists - also provides opportunities for financially supporting the artists’ families.

IRP and Mexi-HA have now officially partnered to produce a work Janette has been preparing for some time now. The film, Recuperando Tradiciones [Bringing Back Traditions], will delve into indigenous practices of Día de los Muertos carried out by a Nahuatl community in Guerrero, Mexico.

Janette and I officially began working together in our initial Google Meet on January 11th as well! Our meeting illuminated the great potential and mutual focus of our collaboration. For example, a significant theme in Janette’s film is the renewal of indigenous connections for modern, urbanized Mexicans. Reconnecting indigenous people with their culture and providing empowering opportunities to amplify their stories is fundamental in IRP’s mission and vision.

Mid-January I made my way to the beaches of Nayarit which led to a serendipitous happening. When Janette found out I was in Sayulita she asked for some footage of a mural that just happened to be displayed in the hostel I was staying at: Viajero Sayulita. This mural was painted by the same Nahuatl community that we will be working with on the film this Fall! I was able to put a short reel together for Janette and, when complete with narration and music, it will be shared through Mexi-HA and IRP’s social media outlets.

From Sayulita I made may way to Guadalajara for our second meeting - this time in person. On February 1, I was able to walk Janette through IRP’s methodology and we discussed pre-production in further detail. The following day on the 2nd, we met with two key members of the Nahuatl community from Guerrero whom Janette has worked with for years.

During this meeting our indigenous partners explained important logistics, discussed past experiences with other partners which did not turn out so well, and had the opportunity to learn more about IRP and myself. As a result, they are able to analyze the benefits and potential costs of our partnership. 

Before wrapping up we were able to set plans for the end of February when Janette and I will visit the Nahuatl pueblo of our partners to formally present the project to the community. This will give our partners and their community leaders time to review IRP's Pre-Agreement Package. The focus of this package is to ensure narrator agency and protections throughout the production process.

As you can see, the Roots Phase of project development is well underway! The information above does not even cover all of the leads and indigenous connections I have been able to make so far. In order to find out more, feel encouraged to reach out on IRP’s social media or website. Otherwise, be sure to look for IRP’s March newsletter!