Using documentary and ethnographic information, an analogy is drawn between conquest-period (ca. 1722) and contemporary political and religious institutions among the Cora (Nayari) people of the Sierra del Nayar in the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. Fundamental to these political and religious institutions--then and now--is the idea that the deceased elders of the Cora people continue as active agents in the lives of living Coras, particularly as the seasonal rains. Based on this analogy, an inference is extended from contemporary attitudes of Cora people in the town of Santa Teresa toward the political and religious customs that mediate their relationships with these deceased ancestors, to the possible attitudes of Cora people toward their religious customs at the time of the Spanish conquest of the region. Millenarian fear, an anxiety that is widespread in Santa Teresa as contemporary Coras confront their own failure to adequately continue the customs of their ancestors, is inferred to have been a motivating factor in the Cora's acceptance of Catholic religious customs during the colonial period of their history.
Keywords: Cora, millenarianism, religious conversion, ancestor worship, ethnohistory
How to Cite: Coyle P.E., (1996) “"The Customs of our Ancestors": Cora Religious Conversion and Millenarianism, AD 1722-2000”, Arizona Anthropologist 12.