The Mennonites of Chihuahua
At the beginning of this journey, during our crossing of the United States on the Trans-America Trail, Alvaro, Thierry and I have met a Mennonite community in Tennessee. This community is living like a century ago, without technology, such as electricity and combustion engine. See Meeting Mennonites.
When I visited the city of Cuauhtemoc to meet some of the area's Mennonites, I thought I would meet with people living in a similar way to those in the United States. It was not the case. Mennonites in the state of Chihuahua live essentially like most people nowadays. Their particular feature is to have their own education system where children learn German as a first language in a very religious environment.
I would have liked to see a more rustic community, but nevertheless, the Mennonite Museum was interesting. The museum has the history of the Mennonites migration since their origin in Russia. You will notice that the community once live in a similar way to farmers from Quebec or even Europe.
The Mennonites have their origin in the old Russia in the end of the 1700, beginning of 1800. Most of them are descendants of German and Dutch. In 1873, the Mennonites left Russia because of persecutions against them. They moved to Canada, in the provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
In the years leading to the First World War, the government of these provinces changed the education laws forcing young Mennonites to attend provincial schools. The community wanted to keep its own education system and was thus forced to leave the country to go to Mexico.
Indeed, Mexico offered to the Mennonites freedom regarding education. In 1922, some of the Mennonite population of Canada immigrated to Mexico. Other Mennonites from various regions of the world have also joined the Mexican community. Nowadays, they are about 50 000 of them living around the city of Cuauhtemoc.
The Mennonites are an important group economically since they are excellent farmers. They live with modern technology, but the women can still be seen in traditional dress.