Although Oaxacan native peoples are divided by their diverse languages and rugged topography, they nevertheless share many folk customs, not only with each other but with tens of millions of other native peoples in a broad belt, beginning around Mexico’s Tropic of Cancer and stretching south and east to Honduras and El Salvador. Anthropologists call the entire region Mesoamerica, a single label reflecting its broad cultural unity. Anthropologists believe that this universal symphony of belief and practice flows from tenaciously held traditions handed down from Mexico’s great pre-conquest civilizations. And nowhere are these folk practices more persistent than in Oaxaca, Mesoamerica’s heartland. If you’re curious about how most Americans lived before Columbus and Cortés, you needn’t look any farther than the Oaxaca countryside.