UTEP sophomore Sergio Baltazar was excited to attend the “Two Tribes, Two Runs” opening reception at UTEP’s Centennial Museum on May 28. Displaying through Sept. 17, the two-part photography exhibit features the running traditions of the Tarahumara and Mescalero Apache Indians.
“I’ve enjoyed this exhibit,” Baltazar said. A native of Guadalajara, Mexico, he trained for various mountain biking events while living in the country. He later learned about the Tarahumara Indians, who are renowned for their long-distance running along the canyons of northern Mexico’s Sierra Madre Occidental.
“I can’t believe they don’t use actual running shoes,” Baltazar said. “They don’t train or anything. It’s all so meaningful.”
Documented by photojournalist Diana Molina, the Tarahumara are featured in the “Run! Super-Athletes of the Sierra Madre” portion of the exhibit. The other portion of the exhibit, “Running for Life: The Mescalero Apache Girls’ Coming-of-Age Ceremony,” features photos by UTEP professor of anthropology David Carmichael.
Molina’s work has appeared in several national publications including Elle, Vogue and National Geographic Traveler. She spent an extensive amount of time documenting the Tarahumaras starting in 1993. Her photos give viewers glimpses of their way of life, from their sandals made with chunks of discarded tires and thread to their participation in the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.
“I went to the depths of the Sierra Madre, and it was just life changing,” Molina said at the exhibit’s opening reception. “What I have learned from them is the power of simplicity, the connection to nature and the big picture – the connection to our environment. There is so much we can leave for our future generations. At the end of the day, it’s about our water and our resources.”
During an introduction to his part of the exhibit, Carmichael said it’s fairly unusual for the Mescalero Apache Indians to allow archaeologists into their lives. He was allowed to photograph a girl’s coming-of-age ceremony after becoming friends with some high-ranking Mescalero Apaches.
“A coming-of-age ceremony is similar to a Bar Mitzvah or quinceañera,” Carmichael said.
Called the Sunrise Ceremony, the ritual takes place over four days and entails multiple hours of dancing, praying and lessons for the celebrated girl and her loved ones.
Aside from the photography, there will also be opportunities to enjoy a workshop, a film screening and several lectures that coincide with the exhibit, broadening viewers’ perspective of running and the significance it holds for different cultures.