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A Botanical Garden is Helping to Revitalize the Kumiai's Endangered Traditions

San Antonio Necua, Baja California Sur, Mexico – Here in the binational Kumiai tribe’s largest community south of the U.S. Mexico border, a guided tour of the living medicine chest yields an abundance of traditional knowledge that centers on indigenous remedies and edibles.

The native herbal garden is a focal point for revitalizing the nearly lost traditions of the ethnic population of 6,000 that the Mexican government considers to be among the most in danger of extinction.

Nurtured by the women’s cooperative here since 2003, the medicinal plant project is the crowning glory of a community ecotourism venture that has received ample participation from non-governmental consultants, academia and authorities.

For its potential to strengthen the culture and serve as a bulwark against climate change disaster, it won the National Merit Award for Forestry in 2009 and went on to serve as a sustainable development model for the three other Kumiai villages located in Baja California.

Women’s cooperative member Leticia Arce guides tours of the garden, pointing out natural remedies and edibles, such as mint, rue, root beer plant, islaya cactus (for headache), valerian and chakpil (an aromatic), noting: “We reforest with local plants, which are used as medicine and food, to teach respect for them.”

Her colleague, Rosa Morales Dominguez, says that even the oak tree and its products are medicinal. “The oak is part of the culture. That is why it is a protected species. It provides food, shade and strength. We do not allow any damage. We try to protect it,” she says.

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Tags: #health, #indigenouspeoples
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