A light wind laden with the scent of the sea softened the stifling warmth: The temperature experienced arrived at 108 levels Fahrenheit, and it was only 10 a.m.

Salma’s property was at the conclude of the principal road in Punta Chueca, a little town on the mainland coastline of the Sea of Cortez, also acknowledged as the Gulf of California, some 75 miles west of Hermosillo, Mexico. She was a younger girl — 22 decades old when I to start with met her in 2017 — with a serious face and few words. A member of the Seri individuals, also regarded as the Comcáac, she was the only lady who worked in the Indigenous group’s common guard, which had been guarding Seri territory for several a long time.

“I like to protect my people today and my land,” she explained to me proudly, when keeping the weapon she used though out on patrol. “If we don’t do it, no a person else can.”

“We are the ones who can support and defend our identity,” she stated.

In late 2016, I traveled to India to address a tale about a nongovernmental business that was teaching women from rural parts how to build and fix solar panels and storage batteries in their local communities. 4 of the trainees were Seri women: Guillermina, Veronica, Francisca and Cecilia. They would invest the subsequent six months in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, discovering about solar engineering.

When I heard the women of all ages speaking Spanish, I went to greet them and listened as they told me their tales. Involved about the survival of their people today, a country of only about 1,000 people, the 4 females had traveled hundreds of miles — to a place whose language and customs had been completely international to them — in get to obtain a established of skills that would assist them improve the circumstances in their possess local community.

I was moved by their wrestle.

Although documenting the do the job of the N.G.O., I grew to become close with the Seri girls, eventually promising them that, when I could, and when they have been again in Mexico, I would pay a visit to them to help share their stories.

Several months later, in 2017, I was finally in a position to fulfill my promise.

The Seri people today stay in a stark and unforgiving — and intensely biodiverse — corner of the Sonoran Desert, in northwestern Mexico. Most of its customers live either in Punta Chueca or in the close by coastal village of El Desemboque, some 40 miles to the north.

Ordinarily, their communal homeland also incorporated Tiburón Island, the place sure bands of Seri lived for hundreds, if not hundreds, of years. Now, the island — the most significant in the Sea of Cortez — is administered as a nature and ecological maintain. It remains a sacred area to the Seri, who sustain unique fishing legal rights in the channel in between Tiburón and the mainland.

The identification of the Seri people is integrally tied to their normal atmosphere, which in the latest decades has been inclined to an growing variety of existential threats: warming temperatures, intensifying storms, regional growth, encroachment from mining corporations, the overfishing of the bordering waters and the reduction of common understanding about regional crops and animals.

For a long time, the Seri have also contended with confined accessibility to fresh new water — though the the latest installation of a next desalination plant in Punta Chueca has made available some relief.

These threats have prompted big improvements in the Seri’s patterns and customs. Just one consequence — the end result of a decline in common eating plans that relied on fish and as soon as-ample vegetation, paired with the introduction of sugary drinks and processed meals — is a major enhance in the prevalence of diabetes.

The community, whose territory lies alongside a corridor for drug trafficking to the U.S. border, has also witnessed an improve in drug abuse between its members.

And but the group stays fiercely protecting of its territory and its heritage. In 2014, for case in point, a smaller team of Seri girls — with the assistance of the tribe’s standard guard — defended on their own and their land from a mining corporation that experienced started prospecting at a close by site for gold, silver and copper. The operation, they mentioned, threatened a sacred web-site where the tribe customarily collected medicinal vegetation and cactus fruits.

Even with these issues, and a relative absence of financial opportunity, youthful people like Paulina do not want to go away their community. “We are the long term,” she explained to me, including that she prepared to come to be a law firm so she could assistance her individuals.

“I won’t go away listed here,” she explained.

Salma echoed the sentiment, telling me that her dream was to research biology so that she could assistance with nearby conservation attempts.

Her supreme hope, she claimed, was to secure the flora and fauna that her men and women have relied on for a great number of generations.