The southern Sierra country of the nearly 40,000 strong Chatinos is a 1,200-square-mile (3,072-sq.-km) enclave surrounded by Mixtecs on the west, Zapotecs on the north and east, and mestizos and African Mexicans on the south coast. Their language, part of the Zapotec subfamily, resembles Sierra Zapotec. Chatino market centers, besides the central and dominant Santa Catarina Juquila, are Panixtlahuaca, San Juan Quiahije, San Pedro Juchatengo, Nopala, and Zacatepec. Besides its commercial and political influence, Santa Catarina Juquila is a major pilgrimage center, especially for the hundreds of thousands of faithful who arrive on December 8 to honor their beloved Virgin of Juquila.
Most Chatino families are subsistence farmers; Zapotec and mestizo traders dominate commerce in the market centers. In addition to the customary corn, beans, and squash, farmers also cultivate coffee, either as day laborers or on their own land, in which case they sell the surplus for cash at the market.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition