By Fernando Elizondo Montaño
Bucerias was founded on May 26th of 1936 and registered as a settlement on October 14th of 1937 under the presidency of Lazaro Cardenas del Rio, occupying a territory of 1928 hectares of which 17% was farmable.
The first president of the Ejido committees was Don Pablo Muñez and the first auxiliary judge Don Pedro Ibarra. Theirs was the task of registering it under the new name of Bucerias since the place as recorded on the existing maps was denominated “Santa Julia de las Tablas”. This name arose from the fact that the region was known for its extraction of tropical wood such as Tampiciran, Palo Fierro (used today fro handicraft and sold on the beaches presenting diverse forms), Amapa, Huanacaxtle, Brazil and many other species which were sent by ships to the old world.
The new name Bucerias was adopted due to the fact that the major activities that the inhabitants undertook were divided in the following manner: diving (buceo) and fishing 60%, farming of corn and beans (20%), extraction of coconut oil for soaps 10%, hunting 5% and the rest for cattle raising. From here derives the new name since the majority of the inhabitants were divers.
According to the data of the Spanish chronicles the Bay was recorded during the conquest as “Ensenada de Banderas” for a short period of time, later being changed Bahia de Banderas due to its real shape.
Previous to the Spanish arrival the region of Bucerias was the sacred grounds where the inhabitants of the legendary Tintoc, with a population of more than 10,000 buried their dead there in 2 phases: one was a temporary burial until the body decomposed (one year). During this period a rock sculptured human figure of approximately 70 cm. was placed in the rear and are considered to be burial guards. These figures accordingly indicated the sex of the buried one*. This primary tomb was then unoccupied and used again for another burial.
The people of this era believed that the bodies underwent a transformation process and were only considered dead until they were a year old and once they were converted into skeletons, the second phase began. During this phase they were reburied in other areas in baked clay pots. On the site, they placed a long thick stick at the end of which they placed a dissected white heron in flight position. This according to their customs would help the dead one on his journey into the beyond.
Upon the arrival of the Spaniards by sea, and due to the fear of the Indian tribes Inhabiting the area at a distance they saw, the herons that looked like flags. This is how the Ensenada de Banderas and now Bahia de Banderas came to be.
*Some of these pieces of the conquest era were stolen from the sacred ground, where Bucerias is now and hidden in the village of San Vicente. They were recently found and now are on exhibit in the regional museum of Bahia de Banderas, Located in Nuevo Vallarta.