José Reyes Cruz Gardea was born in Norogachi, Chihuahua, Mexico and spent his early years living in the town of Rojasárare with his paternal grandparents. At the age of five, his mother brought him to the city of Chihuahua, where he completed his basic and upper-level studies at the Children’s Home Farm. Due to his taste for drawing, painting, and sculpture, he then enrolled in and graduated from the Industrial Design Engineering degree at La Salle Chihuahua University.
From 2013 to 2018, José worked with the José A. Llaguno Tarahumara Foundation, where he had a training process in human development and worked as a community facilitator in educational, food, and water projects in his hometown.
In 2019, he worked on computer design of mechanical parts in a lathe and milling workshop in the city of Chihuahua. His intention was always to return to the Rarámuri territory to continue supporting social projects for his people, which became a reality when he became a consultant on the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST)’s Rarámuri Experiences project in Barrancas del Cobre adventure park.
He lives in free union with his life partner Susana Chavez, originally from Tewerichi and from Rarámuri parents as well. They have a 5-year-old son named José Julián Cruz Chávez.
Although he was a long time away from his native community and distant from the Rarámuri people, his identity has not changed. His family has always been in his mind, along with the cultural ceremonies and places he walked as a child.
Due to the interest he has shown in the Rarámuri people and his understanding of the meanings of the customs and ceremonies of his culture, the people have entrusted him with various positions, starting as a “tenanche” in the traditional matachines dances, then as an “abanderad” for the “Dance of the Pintos” in the Holy Week ceremonies, and now as a “Monarco” assistant during the matachines dances.
José is always in search of collective well-being and the free self-determination of native peoples.