Collaborative Ethnobiological Research with an Indigenous Mexican Community (Pjiekakjoo/”Tlahuica”): TEK Survives in Close Proximity to Mexico City

Aldasoro Maya, E. Miriam - El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Cátedra CONACYT
Eugene S. Hunn - University of Washington

The Pjiekakjoo are one of the smallest indigenous groups in Mexico. Their homeland is in the mountains southwest of Mexico City on the margins of the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park. They thus must respond to intense external social, political, and economic pressures. Nevertheless the community has developed and maintained a complex knowledge-practice-belief system (Traditional Environmental Knowledge (TEK) that contributes substantially to the biocultural diversity of the region. Aldasoro Maya documented TEK through a collaborative and contextualized research project involving participant observation, interviews, and workshops. Of particular interest are local knowledge systems with respect to mushrooms, animals, and important useful plants. We argue that TEK should be recognized as essential for evaluating public policies, development projects, and the reinforcement of common property systems. Traditional knowledge systems represent an immense living cultural heritage that should be preserved through the active and empowered action of the people with active support of academicians.