The years 1891 and 1892 witnessed a series of disturbances in the western sierras of Chihuahua, Mexico, resulting in the embarrassing defeat of the Mexican army by a ragtag group of locals inspired by local cult figure Teresa Urrea, “la Santa de Cabora,” and the massacre of 217 men, women, and children in the small village of Tomochí. The events became fodder for myth, rewritten over subsequent generations to reflect the changing needs of the storytellers and history writers. Some interpretations of Tomochí figure it as a precursor of the 1910 revolution (which originated in the same region), others characterize it as a local rebellion against the overbearing centralization of the administration of dictator Porfirio Díaz, while still others see it as a random uprising of religious fanatics following a messianic leader.

Lilián Illades Aguiar argues that the rebellion resulted from “the consolidation...

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