An Intimate Look At Mexico’s Indigenous Seri People

A light wind laden with the scent of the sea softened the stifling heat: The temperature had reached 108 degrees Fahrenheit, and it was only 10 a.m.

Salma’s house was at the end of the main road in Punta Chueca, a small town on the mainland coast of the Sea of Cortez, also known as the Gulf of California, some 75 miles west of Hermosillo, Mexico. She was a young woman — 22 years old when I first met her in 2017 — with a serious face and few words. A member of the Seri people, also known as the Comcáac, she was the only woman who worked in the Indigenous group’s traditional guard, which had been protecting Seri territory for many decades.

“I like to defend my people and my land,” she told me proudly, while holding the weapon she used while out on patrol. “If we don’t do it, no one else can.”