Running the Standstill
Running the Standstill is a project about the Rarámuri of northern Mexico on the challenges they are facing after being secluded for 400 years, a severe drought affecting the area, drug cartels in the area recruiting them for labor, and becoming assimilated into western society.
The first time I encountered the Rarámuri culture was during a trip I made to the Copper Canyon in the spring of 2002. I had gone there for the allure of the canyon itself, and to visit the land of my forefathers. I had heard of the Rarámuri through news and TV clips: they are high endurance runners, but were famishing due to a severe drought in the area. What I encountered took me by surprise, people that are proud of their culture and heritage, with their own views and practices of Catholicism. The Rarámuri are highly reclusive and have been resisting western culture ever since the first Jesuits missionaries arrived almost four hundred years ago. In the past twenty years however, due to the prolonged drought, pressure from outside sources, along with them being positioned along a drug cartel route, their culture has begun to shift.
I began this project in 2009 with the purpose to document this transition, as it has changed substantially since that first trip seven years before. What I show in my images is the transition some are embracing, while others are holding on to tradition. The funds from the grant will allow me to continue to go back and continue to document the transition of the Rarámuri from being secluded people to being in the middle of a drug war, along side what the Mexican government and other developers who are trying to turn the canyon and its surroundings into a highly touristic area, showing the impact that outside influence can have very quickly on a tight knit community.