Santa Cruz’s Museum of Art and History (MAH) will host a launch party for the Huichol Foundation this Sunday. The foundation intends to preserve the lifestyle and culture of the Huichol people, one of the last indigenous communities in Mexico.

Although the Huichol Foundation is in its incipient stages, its ambitions are large. The organization centers on preserving the economic, cultural and environmental facets of the Huichol way of life. For one thing, the foundation will subsidize materials, such as yarn and beads that the Huichol use when creating art, in order to ensure their artistic legacy.

Brant Secunda, who heads the Dance of the Deer Foundation helped establish the Huichol foundation after being immersed in Huichol culture.

After travelling around North America in the mid-1960s, Brant Secunda found himself in Huichol territory without food or water. After becoming unconscious, he awoke in the care of the Huichol people. They helped him and soon he began an apprenticeship with a Huichol shaman.

This engagement with the Huichol culture and practices led to Brant’s establishment of the Dance of the Deer Foundation, which supported the Huichol and helped to market their art.

Brant included his son in his endeavor. Nico Secunda is the current chief financial officer of the Huichol Foundation.

“I’ve been a part of the Huichol culture my whole life,” Secunda said. “I grew up going to Huichol villages and I went all over the world to teach their ways with my father.”

Now, Secunda wants to further the prospects his father worked for. While Dance of the Deer supported 600 Huichol people in three villages, there are 30,000 Huichol people total. Secunda hopes the Huichol Foundation will reach out to the many other Huichol people and begin to form lasting bonds throughout the entire community.

“If you look at diversity in food, cultures and languages,” Secunda said, “we know somewhere in our hearts that it is [important], and that we need to preserve it.”

The launch party will feature: Brant and Nico Secunda, Hawaii Ironman world champion Mark Allen, former senior global vice president of Whole Foods Market Michael Besancon and the NASA Ames Deputy Director of Education and Outreach Darlene Gross.

The event begins at 6:30 p.m. Adult tickets are $20. Student tickets online are $10, but at the door will be $15. All donations will go toward the Huichol Foundation.