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Comcaac leaders ask tourists to contract directly with community members for visits

Members of an Indigenous community in neighboring Sonora, Mexico, are asking tourists not to contract outside tour operators when visiting the tribe’s territory.

The Comcaac New Year, the community's most important celebration, is coming up at the end of this month. And ahead of what is often a popular tourist event, leaders are asking visitors to directly contract boat rides to Tiburon Island, lodging and other services with members of the community.

"The enemy isn't tourists, the enemy isn't even tour businesses. The enemy is inequality that enlarges marginalization of some and enriches others," said Alberto Mellado Moreno, a tribal leader who represents the community in Hermosillo. "And as I've said before, these businesses haven't given their lives and their blood for this land. Our ancestors have."

Mellado said for more than a decade, outside tour operators have abused community members by charging tourists significant sums of money for visits to Comcaac territory, little if any of which goes to members of the community.

The Comcaac Nation wants tourists to visit, he said, but is opposed to the benefits of those visits disproportionately going to outsiders, who take advantage of the beautiful land — and seascapes that Comcaac people have protected for millennia.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.