Lesson of the Day: ‘An Intimate Look at Mexico’s Indigenous Seri People’

Lesson of the Day: ‘An Intimate Look at Mexico’s Indigenous Seri People’

Featured Article: “An Intimate Look at Mexico’s Indigenous Seri People.” Photographs and Text by Núria López Torres

The Seri, an Indigenous nation of only about 1,000 people, have lived in northwestern Mexico for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Their identity is deeply tied to their natural environment, which in recent decades has been susceptible to an increasing number of threats related to climate change.

In this lesson, you will learn about the Seri people’s culture and what they have done to protect and fight for their territory and heritage. Then, we invite you to reflect on specific lines and photographs from the highly visual article.

Watch this one-minute video that tells the Seri story of how Earth was created. Then, answer the questions below.

  • What is one thing you can infer about the Seri people based on their origin story of the Earth?

  • Does this story remind you of any others about how Earth was created from other cultures and religions?

Read the article, then answer the following questions:

1. What emotions, images or memories come to mind when you read the first sentence of the article: “A light wind laden with the scent of the sea softened the stifling heat: The temperature had reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was only 10 a.m.” How does this line set the tone for the rest of the article?

2. What are some of the ways Seri women make money to support their families? What other jobs and responsibilities do people in the community hold?

3. How has climate change threatened core aspects of the Seri people’s culture? What other challenges has the community faced?

4. What actions have Seri women taken to protect their territory and heritage?

5. One young Seri woman, Paulina, said she planned to become a lawyer so she could help her people. Another, Salma, said her dream was to study biology so that she could help with local conservation efforts. What do these statements tell you about young Seri people’s relationship to their community and their hopes for the future?

6. Media Literacy: This article is written in the first-person, meaning the author tells the story from her own perspective, using “I.” How does that point of view affect the story and your understanding of the Seri people? Why do you think the author made that choice?

Part 1: Journal

What is your reaction to the article? What did you learn? What emotions, thoughts or questions did you have after reading? Respond to these questions in your journal.

Then, react to this quotation from the article: “We are the ones who can support and defend our identity.” After reading the article, ask yourself: What significance does this quote carry? How do you see it illustrated in the article through the photographs, the author’s observations and the stories from the Seri people? What does this quotation mean to you? How might it apply to your own life and community, if at all?

Part 2: Photographs

Choose one photograph from the article to analyze. In a lesson plan about the elements of art, Kristin Farr says about the element of value in photography:

Photography can be defined as drawing with light. Photographers often capture high-contrast colors to emphasize parts of an image, and low contrast colors to add dimension, foreground and background.

Look closely at the photograph you selected and ask yourself these questions from Ms. Farr’s lesson:

  • Does the photo have high-contrast colors, low-contrast colors or a mix of both?

  • What’s the first thing you see in the photo? What’s the next thing you notice?

  • What do you think Núria López Torres, the writer and photographer, wanted to reveal about her subjects in this photo?

Finally, choose one quotation from the article to pair with the photograph you selected. How does the photograph help illustrate an idea from the quotation? You can share your selection with classmates and then discuss which photographs and quotations you selected and why.

Want more Lessons of the Day? You can find them all here.