(Lander, Wyo.) – The Lander Valley High School Interact Club this past month learned first hand about how to help students in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lander, the high school club heard from Rennard Savanoe of Anahuac, Chihuahua State, Mexico, about the Tarahumara and Mestizo peoples, who inhabit the rugged canyon area.
Members of the Rotary Club of Lander and the LVHS Interact Club have made several trips into the canyon this past decade to help build recreational facilities, rehabilitate a school building and lay a water pipeline for the people living there, among other projects. The Rotary Club and individual members have also contributed to the Canyon Scholars fund, to help continue students’ education. Without that financial support, the young people of the canyon and their families could not afford to go to school.
According to the Canyon Scholars program, Tarahumara Indian and Mestizo families must pay for fees, uniforms and supplies in middle school (grades 7-9) and high schools (grades 10-12). Because many of the children leave school after the sixth grade to help their families make a living in the harsh environment, the scholarship program is making it possible to further educational opportunities there beyond elementary school.
The canyon is located in the remote Sierra Madre Mountains in Northern Mexico. In the 17th century, the ancestors of the current residents escaped into the far reaches of the canyon to protect themselves from the Spanish Conquest of the country. The canyon is said to be larger and more spectacular than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.