These photographs, dating to the 1960s and 1970s, document life in various Mixtec settlements in the mountains of Oaxaca, in the high country also known as the Alta Mixteca, the birthplace of the Mixtec. Florentino Cruz, the Mixteco whose story is told in A Man of His Village, was born in 1971 in the highland village of San Felipe Cahuixtlan, or, in the Mixtec language, Yaa Yucu.
These pictures of village life — the houses, the crops, the women at their weaving, the potters on the road, the market, the shrine, the sweat bath, the dance, the animal sacrifice — these evoke the world into which Florentino was born and which he leaves behind at the age of fifteen, a migrant farm worker bound for the fields of the north and bound ultimately and tragically for the wilderness of Alaska.
Many of the conflicts Florentino encounters during his northern odyssey grow out of the immense contrasts in his experience and his expectations. This is always true for immigrants. The world Florentino meets in the 1980s and 1990s, the world of urban Tijuana and San Diego and Seattle, is vastly different from the world of his origins, the world of the highland Mixtec as it is documented in these photographs.