Sierra Mixe

Sierra Mixe


Gaura Coupal



Sierra Mixe is an indigenous corn found in Oaxaca, and it’s quite the marvel. Using careful growing and breeding techniques over thousands of years, the Ayuukjä’äy grow this corn, which fixes its own nitrogen from the air, by way of gel secreting, reddish, aerial roots. The corn does not need external fertilization, or very nutrient rich soil, in order to thrive. It also grows in colder, northern ecosystems.

There is so much wisdom and agricultural tech knowledge that industrialized countries can learn from indigenous people.

The Sierra Mixe region of Oaxaca is named for the people who live there (who call themselves the Ayuukjä’äy). Zapotecs, Aztecs, and Spanish conquistadors did not conquer them in the past. When peoples are conquered, culture is often decimated. It’s not “lost.” Agriculture is part of culture. Colonization and conquests have ramifications we don’t even know how to measure.

My quilt block is a visual invitation to look for creative techniques in growing food crops, be it in the traditions of the Ayuukjä’äy, in one’s kitchen container herb garden, community gardens, or large scale farming.

Publication Date

Spring 2023


Art and Design | Urban Studies and Planning

Sierra Mixe