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Children of the Desert: Mexico: Thelma Guadaloupe, Child of Punta Chueca (1999)
Some 2,500 kilometers northwest of Mexico City, not far from the American border, Mexico’s state of Sonora spreads from sea to desert to mountains. This second-largest province of a giant country contains an exceptional diversity of nature. And perched on its fringe alongside the turquoise waters of the Gulf of California is the village of Punta Chueca.
Thelma Guadaloupe is a 12-year-old Seri Indian. Seri Indians are traditionally nomadic fishermen. Before the arrival of the Spanish invaders they were divided into six groups which sub-divided into several clans. As the Seri had few riches, the forces of Cortes tended to leave them alone, and so for a while the Seri held on to their autonomy and their culture. Eventually, though, the Spanish, and then the Mexicans unleashed a campaign of systematic extermination against them. A few centuries ago they counted ten thousand. Today there are only seven hundred Seri grouped into two villages; Punta Chueca and Desemboque, which is thirty kilometers away to the north.