Tarahumara (täräōmäˈrä) [key], indigenous people of N Mexico, mostly in Chihuahua state. About 60,000 strong, they live for the most part in the barren wilderness of the Sierra Madre Occidental, subsisting largely by hunting and practicing rudimentary agriculture. They are renowned for their ability to run down deer and horses, but are known chiefly for their religious practices, in which consumption of the peyote cactus figures prominently. The visions and ecstasies produced by mescalin, the active ingredient of this plant, are the culmination of Tarahumara ceremonies. The Mexican poet Alfonso Reyes dedicated to the Tarahumara one of his finest works, Yerbas del Tarahumara (1934; tr. Tarahumara Herbs, 1958).
See W. C. Bennett and R. M. Zingg, The Tarahumara (1935); C. W. Pennington, The Tarahumar of Mexico (1963, repr. 1969).
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