The Xiximes, the cannibal tribe that inhabited Durango Mexico


It has always been rumored that the members of an ancestral and isolated tribe that lived in what we now know the region of the gorges ate their fellowmen, maintaining the hope of being able to eat corn in the future …

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Now an analysis of more than three dozen bones confirms the proof that the Xiximes practiced cannibalism. 

The Xiximes believed that by eating the bodies and souls of their enemies and using their clean bones in rituals, they would guarantee the fertility of their crops, according to the historical annotations of the Jesuit missionaries.

The last bones found prove samples of cannibalism “was a crucial aspect in their perception of the world and their cultural identity” as confirmed by José Luis Punzo, the archaeologist responsible for the finding.

Eating each other

In the mountains that we know today in the state of Durango, 5,000 Xiximes lived in coexistence with other pre-Columbian groups. There were only rumors of cannibalistic practices around the Xiximes and the Acaxées, and only the former has been confirmed as anthropophagi.

Through their rituals, cannibalism and the use of bones, they marked limits between the Acaxées and the Xiximes and the rest of the world.


Both groups fought against members of others, but only those belonging to certain groups, especially men, were eaten since Spaniards and members of other tribes were undervalued as ritual subjects.

A cave with a cache of boiled bones

Some historians have always taken the chronicles of the missionaries as mythical and exaggerated stories, but the bones that appeared in the Cueva del Maguey confirm that there were no myths in the stories.

Tests show that 80 percent of the four dozen bones found in houses date back to 1425, with marks of having been boiled and cut with stone blades.

The bones have remained intact for centuries and stored in the isolated Cueva del Maguey, deep in a pine forest at 2600 meters above sea level.

The circle of life

For the Xiximes, the cycle of planting harvest was intervened by a cycle of cannibalism and bone rituals according to the INAH report.

After their corn collections, the Xiximes warriors had to go out to hunt enemies.

Many times, the Xiximes hunted peasants from other villages who were working isolated lands, at other times ambushing small groups in the forests.

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The warriors carried the corpses back to the village, where the Xiximes would gut the bodies, taking care not to spoil the bones. In case of not being able to take the whole body to the village, they cut off their hands and heads only, according to the INAH study.


The parts of the body were cooked in pans until the bones were completely clean, and the meat was cooked in a kind of soup with beans and corn, which were eaten later in a night of rituals with dances and songs.

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After the feast, the bones were stored for months in Treasure houses. When the time of sowing arrived, the Xiximes hung the bones of the trees and the houses so that the spirits could help them with the harvests.

As a result of these practices, the Jesuits nominated them with the name of the most barbarous and wild tribe of the new world.

Source: Durango Official

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