Places of memory and living traditions of Otomi-Chichimeca people in Toliman, Queretaro, as well as the Ritual Ceremony of Voladores (Flying men) of Papantla, Veracruz were included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in September 30th 2009.
Decision was made during the 4th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage, taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, until October 2nd.


Alfonso de Maria y Campos, general director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), remarked that the inscription entails measurements that highlight the role of the Institute, in charge of negotiations with the international organism.

“INAH is not only manager of cultural richness; it contributes with society allowing the nation’s symbolic universe to rely on different cultural contexts. As specialists, we need to approach this challenge to provide future generations the confidence on counting on with the common legacy”, he expressed.

INAH World Heritage Direction remarked this is the first time Mexico achieves inscription of intangible heritage in the UNESCO list.

Places of memory and living traditions of the Otomi-Chichimeca people of Toliman, in Peña de Bernal, Queretaro, conform a symbolic territory which main feature is represented by family chapels, spaces where ancestors dwell.

This inscription acknowledges cultural richness and efforts of Otomi-Chichimeca communities to safeguard their traditions, among them, yearly pilgrimages, their more than 200 family chapels, many of them dating from 18th century, and their sacred territory.

Otomi-Chichimeca, or Hñañhu people is one of the most numerous and ancient groups of Mesoamerica. Settled in the semi desert zone of Queretaro, the Toliman Region of Peña de Bernal, it was inscribed in the World Intangible Heritage List   because it has conserved traditions that express their relation with surrounding topography and environment.

Inhabitants of the semi arid region agreed to advocate in favor of their culture, language, traditions and territory through workshops, meetings, polls and forums that originated the Declaratory of Otomi-Chichimeca people proclaimed in 2006.
 
With them, a team of specialists formed by anthropologists, historians, architects, biologists, environmentalists, geographers, photographers, designers and cultural promoters integrated the Technical File presented to consideration of the UNESCO Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Heritage in September 2008.

These places of memory make the encounter between living and dead possible, as well as the preservation of familiar lineages that articulate community organization. Cultural uniqueness of these communities resulted from the fusion between the nomad and warrior memoir of Chichimeca tribes and the language and traditions of Otomi people, one of the oldest and numerous of Mesoamerica.
 
On regard of the inscription of the Ritual Ceremony of Voladores from Papantla, Veracruz, the INAH World Heritage Direction explained it is a Prehispanic ritual associated to fertility practiced by several ethnic groups of Mexico and Central America, being Totonaca the most acknowledged.  

Evidence of the existence of this dance dates from 600 BC, which expresses fundamental values of indigenous worldview: Totonacas, Nahuas, Otomies and Maya-Quiches perform this ritual with variations.

At the Totonacapan region, the place where the ritual has more strength is in Papantla municipality in Veracruz, near to El Tajin, where flyers poles from the 1930’s decade still remain.

Documentation and file integration work was done by Centro de las Artes Indigenas and the 3 levels of government, and includes an extensive plan for the safeguard, preservation, divulgation and development of cultural heritage focused on 3 groups: Voladores from Mexican states of Veracruz, Puebla and San Luis Potosi; Voladores from Guatemala, and flyers from regions of Mexico and Central America where the ritual has taken place.

The plan includes actions like the International Encounter of Voladores that takes place every year; the School of Flying Children at Centro de las Artes Indigenas, the integration of a Voladores Council, and the Safeguard Plan presented to UNESCO as part of the official file.

The Mexican delegation at United Arab Emirates is integrated by Francisco Lopez Morales, INAH World Heritage director, Fidel Herrera, Veracruz State governor and Manuel Suarez, representative of the Queretaro State Government and coordinator of the technical file.