Cattle Ranchers of the Huasteca - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. Almost all Huasteca rancheros are nominally Roman Catholic, although some are quite anticlerical while others are devout. There is no tradition of some sons becoming priests, however, so there are few ranchero priests (compared to many ranchero teachers or doctors). In terms of personal beliefs and practices, especially those concerning healing, traditional rancheros have a lot in common with the rest of the population. For example, rancheros are just as likely to consult native healers. Some rancheros also participate in the same religious ceremonies as mestizo and Nahua or Huastec peasants. Mestizo rancheros also celebrate the Huastec version of the Day of the Dead, as do other people from the region.

Arts. Male rancheros in the Huasteca developed their own country-music tradition, consisting of improvisational vocal singing ( sones ) accompanied by a violin and a four-string and a five-string guitar. Verses sung with a high falsetto were ripe with sarcasm, satire, and humor. Several musical groups ( trios ) whose members came from ranchero families achieved national and even international fame. This music was played at all dances held in ranchos and rancherías throughout the Huasteca until about the mid-1970s. With the invasion of new, externally created styles of music and ballroom-style dancing, the traditional huapango dances fell into decline, to be performed for occasional folklore or school displays. This decline of ranchero-style music is another indication of the rapid ebbing of ranchero hegemony.

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