About 50 miles (80 km) farther north from the Amusgo territory, about 15,000 Trique (TREE-kay) people live in their 20-by-15-mile (32-by-24-km) highland pocket of the Mixteca Alta. You’ll see plenty of them in the Juxtlahuaca town market—especially Trique women—selling their brilliant red-striped wool huipiles in the middle of the town square. Long ago, the Trique fled into the mountain vastness, from first Mixtec, then Aztec, and finally Spanish, invaders. Some of their main centers are San Isidro Chicahuaxtla, San Juan Copala, and Tilapa, all south of Juxtlahuaca and north of Putla de Guerrero.
The Trique have only grudgingly accepted outside authority. Rebellions broke out often during the colonial era and later. In 1843 Trique forces rebelled against state and federal authorities, who needed five years to jail and execute the responsible leaders. Subsequently, during the later 19th and 20th centuries, coffee became a major Trique product and coffee beans became their money, which traders turned into alcohol and guns. Rebellion, which again required federal forces to suppress, broke out in Copala in 1956. The federal garrison remains in Copala to the present day.
Only at Chicahuaxtla, in the high Mixteca country (just off of Hwy. 125, about 25 miles/40 km west of Tlaxiaco), did Christianity have much effect. This was due to the compassionate persuasion of Father Gonzales Lucero hundreds of years ago. Consequently, much of the Trique’s folklore survives to the present day. An oft-told creation myth describes the sun and the moon, gods who once lived in a calabaza (calabash), but who broke out and rode a rabbit and a cat into the heavens to light the world. Around March 25, traditional curanderos lead services to appease the old gods at a sacred cave near Copala, about 13 miles (20 km) down the highway south of Juxtlahuaca. They sacrifice a lamb and a goat while the gathered crowd offers incense and flowers.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Oaxaca, 5th edition