photo by Shaman Chocolates
A socially responsible chocolatier and shaman has been giving the profits from the sales of Shaman Chocolates to the Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The Huichol, declared a national treasure of Mexico, are one of the few American tribes to maintain their pre-Columbian traditions. Chocolate has been a rich part of their tradition for hundreds of years, and the sweet-tasting candy is now being used to conserve their culture and lifestyle. The Backstory of the Shaman
Brant Secunda is a Huichol Shaman and the creator of Shaman Chocolates. Secunda wasn't born into the Huichol tribe. He graduated from a New Jersey high school in 1970. Influenced by the writing of Carlos Castaneda, he traveled to Mexico. A schoolteacher in Ixtlan told Secunda about the Huichol, and Secunda set out on a five-day trek to find them. On the third day of the trip, Secunda passed out due to dehydration. It was the Huichol that rescued him.
Life Amongst Huichol
In order to become a member of the tribe, Secunda underwent a five-day vision quest, a period of isolation without food and water. In 1978, Secunda undertook a twelve-year shaman apprenticeship with the don José Matsuwa, a shaman who lived to be 110. During his training, Secunda had to catch a rattlesnake barehanded and undergo other grueling trials. Brant has since gone on to co-found the Dance of the Deer Foundation, Peace University in Berlin, and he has been nominated for a MacArthur Award for worldwide service.
The Socially Responsible Chocolate
Secunda had a dream, a vision. He dreamed that people were eating chocolate, and it was filling them with love. Secunda then decided that chocolate would be the way to preserve the Huichol culture and aid them economically.
"The Huichol know that gifts of chocolate help people develop and strengthen a mutual love with the earth and with each other," said Secunda.
What the Proceeds From Socially Responsible Chocolate Buys
Not only do the chocolate bars go to support the tribe as a whole, but the first Huichol is going to college. She plans to become a lawyer in order to protect her people and their lands. Other plans for the profits include, a high school that teaches in the native language of the Huichol and a bead factory.
But is the Chocolate Organic?
The chocolate is made of 100% organic ingredients and comes in a variety of flavors. These chocolate bars are fair-trade certified, and all proceeds go to the Huichol. The chocolate bars retail for around three dollars.