Mexico's indigenous Tarahumara live in the deepest canyon on the continent, growing traditional varieties of corn and beans. Tarahumara make their own clothes and sandals, which consist of used tire tread wrapped to their feet with leather straps. Through rugged canyon trails and thorny sagebrush, the Tarahumara travel virtually barefoot, the soles of their feet thick with calluses. Despite their primitive footwear, they are widely regarded as some of the greatest endurance athletes. Tarahumara runners wearing tire-tread sandals have defeated the world’s most highly trained ultramarathoners.
Running and hiking are integral to their daily lives. Women trek dozens of miles daily gathering firewood and food—often with infants strapped to their backs. Three-year-old children run barefoot through the canyons herding goats. For centuries, the Tarahumara have fled conflict by running deeper into their canyons, enabling them to preserve their culture and continue living traditionally.
However, in the past few decades, roads have penetrated deeper into the canyons, drug mafias have murdered Tarahumara leaders, drought has decimated crops, and timber companies are illegally seizing and logging their ancestral lands.
Barefoot Seeds assists the Tarahumara's efforts to protect their ancestral lands and traditional farming culture by providing seeds, tools, and support. We have spent many years with the Tarahumara and forged lasting relationships that have deepened our understanding of the challenges they face.
We also provide a cultural exchange and work program for Tarahumara. Leaders from Tarahumara communities travel to the United States each summer to raise money and awareness for their villages in the Copper Canyons.