Cucapá culture at risk of disappearing

As a result of the migration to the cities of the members of the Cucapá tribe settled in the town of Pozas de Arvizu, culture and language have been lost, which leads to an imminent extinction of their ancestral traditions.

Indigenous languages of Mexico. Every two weeks, on average, an indigenous language disappears in the world
Indigenous languages of Mexico. Every two weeks, on average, an indigenous language disappears in the world

The traditional governor of the Cucapá ethnic group in Pozas de Arvizu, Aronia Wilson Tambo, said that fewer and fewer people practice the dialect and there are few interested in transmitting it to their children.

Aronia Wilson is one of the few who daily practices her mother tongue, so she speaks little Spanish. Out of about 25 families living in Pozas de Arvizu, about 100 people, only ten know the dialect but not all practice it daily or teach it to children, so he considered that soon will be lost. This situation prevails not only in this village but also in sister communities in the region.

The governor of this tribe said that the ejido Pozas de Arvizu has many needs, as it lacks basic services such as drinking water pipes, drainage, pavement, and public lighting is scarce.

There are no sports fields or public parks for the recreation of its inhabitants.

That's why people leave, but in spite of the above, some members of the ethnic group remain in the ejido preserving their traditions and culture, because they want them to prevail.

The meeting of the Cucapá nations of Sonora, Baja California and Arizona was a good opportunity to make known the culture of these people, but it was canceled, said Yolanda Mitzuko Domínguez Tambo, ex-registrar in the San Luis city council in the triennium 2006-2009 and one of the women with 100% Cucapá blood, who asked the traditional authorities of the group to take the necessary steps to "lower" resources to maintain their culture always seeking progress for the tribe.

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Yumanos, Mexico's most forgotten Indians

Of the 40,000 nomadic Indians of the Yuman-Cochimí linguistic family that inhabited the peninsula of Baja California today there are less than 2,000 natives of five indigenous peoples and, according to official forecasts, will have disappeared in less than 20 years.

The investigation involved a year of work, for the production of multimedia that has chronicles, maps, videos, photographs, and podcasts. At that time, three of the interviewees died, so most likely what is found in this special is the graphics and audio record of the last speakers of tipai, ku'ahl and pa ipai.

"The last Cochimies did not become extinct 100 years ago; they were transformed, "says anthropologist Alejandra Velasco.

The Spanish colonizers justified the exploitation of the yumanos with the argument that they were barbarians who should be evangelized to save their souls. 500 years later, history repeats itself: The richest men in the country (Carlos Slim, Germán Larrea, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Alberto Baillères) have mining or energy interests in the peninsula. All the subsoil of Kiliwa Ejido, to give an example, has been granted to Slim's companies. The same happens with energy companies such as Spain's Iberdrola, which had former President Felipe Calderón as an advisor. To that are added projects, such as wind farms.

The biggest mistake has been only to see them in the past, to think that they existed, because only if we think of them in the future do we give them the possibility of surviving.

Of the 40,000 nomadic Indians of the Yuman-Cochimí linguistic family that inhabited the peninsula of Baja California today there are less than 2,000 natives of five indigenous peoples and, according to official forecasts, will have disappeared in less than 20 years.

The five ethnic groups: Cucapá, Kumiai, Kiliwa, Pa iPai and Cochimi, are on the list of 14 peoples with accelerated extinction process of the former Development Commission for Indigenous Peoples (now the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples). And Unesco considers these languages at serious risk of disappearing.

A team from Pie de Página toured the peninsula to look for traces of this story that began 12 thousand years ago when the first nomadic groups arrived in those lands.

The investigation involved a year of work, for the production of multimedia that has chronicles, maps, videos, photographs, and podcasts. At that time, three of the interviewees died, so most likely what is found in this special is the graphics and audio record of the last speakers of tipai, ku'ahl and pa ipai.

However, contrary to the official discourse, the history of these peoples has not ended: Each year, the Cucapá meet during the six weeks of fishing that mark the times of the moon; from the inhospitable sierra, the kumiai make freedom their ideology of survival; the Kiliwa are transformed to play with the same rules of the whites; the pa ipai resist oblivion (they are, paradoxically, the ones that have had the most intervention from state institutions) and the last speakers of ku'ahl build their own museum when they no longer exist. Far from everyone, considered extinct by the official story, the Cochimí support a battle for the recognition of their identity.

"The last Cochimies did not become extinct 100 years ago; they were transformed, "says anthropologist Alejandra Velasco.

The yumanos preserve languages with more than 8 thousand years of antiquity, while the Castilian will hardly have a thousand. They are also protectors of the oldest cave paintings on the continent and were painted by their ancestors throughout Baja California. Why then, the official story insists on erasing them? Why is it only spoken of the natives of the center and the south of the country as references to the pre-Hispanic cultures that still survive?

The Spanish colonizers justified the exploitation of the yumanos with the argument that they were barbarians who should be evangelized to save their souls. 500 years later, history repeats itself: The richest men in the country (Carlos Slim, Germán Larrea, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, Alberto Baillères) have mining or energy interests in the peninsula. All the subsoil of Kiliwa Ejido, to give an example, has been granted to Slim's companies. The same happens with energy companies such as Spain's Iberdrola, which had former President Felipe Calderón as an advisor. To that are added projects, such as wind farms.

The multimedia is part of a larger project of Periodistas de a Pie: "The color of poverty", a series of reports on the everyday life of native peoples who are still alive despite centuries of colonialism and exclusion, and who show the relationship direct between racism and inequality and the conditions of marginalization to which the original peoples have been assigned.

The biggest mistake has been only to see them in the past, to think that they existed, because only if we think of them in the future do we give them the possibility of surviving.

What indigenous languages are spoken in Mexico?

Among the most spoken languages in Mexico are Nahuatl, Maya, Tzeltal, Mixteco, Tzotzil, Zapoteco, Otomí, Totonaco, Cho, and Mazatec.

The National Federation of Indigenous Organizations A.C., in its cultural work program, seeks to recover, preserve and promote knowledge of the 68 native languages of Mexico, to improve the quality of life of peoples and society in general.

This is a 100 percent sustainable system, that is, viable economically, socially and environmentally "our ancestors did not generate garbage, they had high knowledge in the sciences and they had high ranks of discipline," says a statement. The way to do it is to collect all the bibliographical stock that allows preserving the maternal languages and develop what is needed so that it remains and does not stop promoting.

It should be noted that the diversity of cultures in the country, is reflected in what is eaten, dressed and what is spoken, is danced, however, one of the impacts of globalization has been the disparagement of one's identity and origin as Mexicans.

Approximately 40 languages are on the verge of disappearing as paipai, kamaiai, and cucapá of Baja California are the most serious cases, with less than 200 speakers each; This is because children and young people speak less and less their native language since they communicate in Spanish and even in English.

Mexico has 11 families of indigenous languages

According to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (Unesco), linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened with a greater number of languages that disappear

It pointed out that the idea of celebrating International Mother Language Day was an initiative of Bangladesh, was approved by the 1999 General Conference and has been observed in the world since 2000.

"Every two weeks there disappears a language that takes with it all a cultural and intellectual heritage," lamented the international body.

However, thanks to the understanding of the importance of mother tongues, achievements have been made in multilingual education based on these, especially since the first studies and the growing commitment to evolve in the public sphere.

There are 6,700 languages spoken in the world, half of which are in danger and 90 percent are in danger of disappearing before the end of the century.

Keeping the indigenous languages alive

In the country, there are 25 million people who recognize themselves as indigenous, of which seven million 382 thousand are speakers of one of the 68 indigenous languages that exist in Mexico, and although several of these languages are at risk of disappearing, the music It has become a key tool to preserve them.

According to information from the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (Inali), the United Nations (UN) warned years ago about the risk of disappearance facing 40 percent of the seven thousand original languages spoken in the world, by what this 2019 decreed as the International Year of Indigenous Languages. 

In this context, music is one of the ways of reproduction and transmission not only of ideas, emotions, and culture itself, but a way to make the indigenous languages immortal, and in the national territory is not the exception as there are several proposals that fight to keep these languages alive through the sounds.

Mexico is one of the countries with the greatest cultural diversity, as well as one of the eight nations in which half of the world's languages are concentrated since without considering dialectal variants, there are 68 indigenous languages, of which around 23 are at risk of disappearing. According to data from the National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI), the foregoing can be derived from the adverse conditions in which their relations with non-indigenous society have occurred.

Thus, the leagues that face the greatest threat are Cakchiquel, Chichimeca Jonaz, Chocho, Chuj, Cochimí, Cucapá, Guarijío, Ixcateco, Ixil, Jacalteco, Kekchí, Kikapú, Kiliwa, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlatzinca, Mocho, Pa ipai, Pápago, Pima. , Quiché, Seri, and Tlahuica. Some of the conditions that limit the reproduction of the set of indigenous languages are the exclusion in most of the public and institutional domains, the decrease of their use in the community and family spheres, their absence in the media and a lower prestige with respect to Spanish.

For this reason, Yune Va'a or Alfredo Díaz, originally from Santa María Pápalo, Cuicatlán, Oaxaca, seeks to enhance their indigenous identity and keep their roots alive to the rhythm of hip hop, funk, and even huapango, with songs that fuse the mother tongue with the Spanish.

With a "Dbaku" phonogram, which was developed based on a contemporary music composition project, Yune Va'a, which means "House of the Wind" in the Cuicatec language, also aims to rescue their mother tongue, the Cuicateco that is at risk to disappear, because according to census data there are only 12 thousand speakers. There are the musical movement batsi rock, which are musical creations performed in bats'i k'op, that is, in the Tzotzil language of Los Altos de Chiapas.

At present, there are groups such as Yibel jme'tik banamil, Vayijel, Slajem K'op, Lumaltok, Hektal, and Sak Tzevul. There is also a fusion music proposal in May performed by the band Isaac Montijo and Los Buayums. From the south of Sonora, these musicians belong to the Yoreme culture or May, the project was initiated by Isaac, a native of the town of Los Buayums, municipality of Navojoa, Sonora, and his interpretations seek to resignify and spread the traditions of his people. "The songs to the mountain" is the first production of this band whose sound is characterized by arrangements that integrate traditional instruments such as jirukiam, a kind of scraper, and seenasom that is a type of rattle, as well as congas, flamenco box, electric bass, and electro-acoustic guitar.

The group fuses yoreme music with genres and styles of origin and characteristics such as salsa, cumbia, corrido, rap, are Cuban, norteño, country, ska, and jazz, and for the lyrics they use their mother tongue, May, sometimes interspersed with lyrics in Spanish, to sing themes related mostly to everyday life and May thought.

Another way to know the sounds of Mexico is the application of the National Music Library, "Musiteca.mx", which brings together a selection of concert music, music from indigenous cultures and music from the regions of Mexico.

The platform, available for Android and IOS mobile devices, has a music section of indigenous cultures with audios, photographs, publications and videos of 55 of the 69 ethnolinguistic groups registered in Mexico, as well as other sections to learn in-depth the sounds that are born from Mexican lands.

Source: Notimex

The silence of indigenous languages

Although the multi-award-winning film by the Mexican Alfonso Cuarón has drawn attention to the indigenous people in Mexico, the languages of these peoples face a different and unrelated reality.

Alfonso Cuarón, director of the film 'Roma', said that the most relevant of the multi-nominations to the Oscar prize that the film has received is that an indigenous woman, Yalitza Aparicio, of Mixtec descent, has been chosen as a candidate for the award for 'Best Actress' for her role as Cleo, the nana that the filmmaker had in real life: Liberia Rodríguez, an Oaxacan woman of Zapotec origin.

Since proclaiming 'Roma' became the rule, the opportunity has been opened to praise the indigenous culture of which Aparicio seems to be, at this moment, his most mediated face. However, their language, which is criticized by one of the children at the beginning of the tape, is spoken only by 517,665 people out of Mexico's 128 million inhabitants.

Language, for each people, is at the same time the form and content of their culture, their particular way of articulating thought, of understanding the world and relating to their peers. In this sense, according to experts, the Mexican State has a historical debt with the 68 indigenous peoples, speakers of the same number of languages, with 11 linguistic families and 364 variants, of which 31 are considered at very high risk of disappearance.

But the opportunity for not only a film to make visible the condition of indigenous languages in Mexico was ignored. On December 18, the Mexican Senate approved, unanimously, declaring "2019, Year of Indigenous Languages", with the aim of raising awareness about its serious loss and the urgent need to conserve, revitalize, promote and take urgent measures to Nacional level.

However, the lower house rejected the initiative and determined that it was the year of Emiliano Zapata, one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, 100 years after his assassination, under the instruction of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

"It meant to make visible the problems that our indigenous peoples are experiencing, to give them a vision of their needs." It is an act of justice that, for the first time, the Senate of the Republic makes indigenous peoples visible, beginning with the language, "he told the media. senator Casimiro Méndez Ortiz, who had been the main promoter of the measure with which, upon entering into force, all the official correspondence of the State should contain, to the capro or capce, the legend "2019, Year of the Indigenous Languages".

The general director of the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (Inali), Juan Gregorio Regino, warns about the case of Mexico, where each census reflects that the population speaking indigenous languages begins to replace them with Spanish.

"In linguistic terms, indigenous languages, in general, are threatened languages, because there is still a policy of hegemony, in which Spanish is the lingua franca and is the language used for all official acts, the entire Administration is generated In that language, putting indigenous languages in a subordinate status. While there is that status, there is no equality and this is fundamental so that indigenous languages remain and can play the role of official languages, insofar as they are in use in public and private spaces, that's something we have to look for."

At the national level, there are 7,382,785 speakers of some indigenous language, with Nahuatl being the most spoken, with 1,725,620 (23.37%), followed by Maya, with 859,607 (11.64%). In contrast, the least used is the awakateco, with 17 speakers, followed by Ayapaneco, with 24.

On the other hand, for Enrique Hamel Wilcke Rainer, of the Department of Anthropology of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) and expert in conflict and linguistic displacement, the lack of impulse to the indigenous languages is found in a political, social and economic system, imposed since colonial times, "which, to a large extent, says that indigenous peoples should not exist."

"Nowadays, nobody would say this in public, but the history of Mexico, Latin America and other parts of the world, shows that in colonization processes, indigenous peoples, as organized peoples, with their own customs, laws, and languages, they became a nuisance, but also under the idea of a modern, independent State, there was behind a historical racism, a rejection of their cultural forms."

In Mexico, in addition, speakers of minority languages are in an unfavorable economic situation of poverty or extreme poverty.

71.9% are in a situation of poverty, according to the Evaluation Report of the Social Development Policy 2018 (IEPDS), published by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval).

Additionally, 3.2 million had three or more social deficiencies and did not have the economic capacity to acquire the basic basket, which placed them in a situation of extreme poverty. "This is not a coincidence, it has a historical explanation, which has as a result that indigenous communities and their languages are associated with poverty and that has been the predominant historical policy since the Colony, nowadays more veiled, but that he points out that they are poor because they are indigenous ", highlights Wilcke Rainer.

Although Mexico has had important and sustained advances in illiteracy, the indigenous population still faces gaps: in 2016, 19.8% of the segment between 30 and 64 years could not read or write, while only 4.3% of the non-indigenous was in the same situation.

Although it seems surprising, Mexico does not have an official language, because although in 2003 it was established that all indigenous languages and Spanish are national languages, "in legal terms that means very little, because it does not establish specific rights or obligations" explains Wilcke Rainer.

In this way, the current educational system formally accepts the two languages in schools, however, it has a unique and compulsory curriculum for all basic education, which does not develop materials or specific methodology for teaching among populations indigenous

"The work that the current Government should undertake with much more determination is to transform the prevailing indigenous education system into one that systematically supports the development of indigenous languages, not as a piece of folklore, but as perfectly functional languages to transmit any modern content. , to communicate and that constitute wealth and pride for the country, also going through a reconstruction of all public education in Mexico."

In the same sense, the general director of Inali speaks of the need for a coordinated work with the Secretariat of Public Education, so that the indigenous education system struggles not only to maintain the original languages but also to affect the society of knowledge.

"Education has to play a very important role so that we stop seeing indigenous languages as languages with which we can not build knowledge and that we only see them, in the best of cases, as something folkloric."

San Isidro and Uringuitiro are two small indigenous communities of the P'urhepecha plateau, in the state of Michoacán, western Mexico. Its inhabitants are mostly monolingual, speakers of P'urhepecha or Tarascan, as is also known to this language, which is spoken only by 141,177 people throughout the country.

Since 1995, the management and teachers of the schools of these communities decided to teach reading, writing, counting and doing arithmetic operations in p'urhepecha and working with Spanish as a second language, and not as much of what is known as education. bilingual, where there is an effect of displacement of the original language, the indigenous language.

Thus, he initiated the project 'T'arhexperakua-Growing Together', which took 23 years from its first phase to the last, together with anthropologists, pedagogues, and linguists from the UAM and the National Pedagogical University. To do this, it was necessary to start by defining an alphabet in p'urhepecha, articulate a methodology for literacy in the mother tongue and elaborate didactic materials.

"We achieved in the first year that the children read and wrote in their language, which is the p'urhepecha, we were learning ourselves on the way, we were not experts in P'urhepecha language (the teachers are trained in the Spanish system), especially in the writing, we were learning and there was a learning together, "says Professor Gerardo Alonso.

After the project was systematized, a curriculum was made for the teaching of Spanish as a second language, a bilingual intercultural curriculum was created, based on the official program, which does not exist until now in Mexico.

The results of the program show that in those schools where reading, writing, and mathematics are taught in the mother tongue, children obtain better results in p'urhepecha than the Spanish schools, but the same happens when they read and write in Spanish.

In the framework of the euphoria for 'Roma' and the International Day of the Mother Tongue, which is celebrated on February 21, the indigenous languages will not celebrate their year this 2019, but the intention to start an action plan of the Government to safeguard those that are at high risk or to record that they were once spoken.

"We are promoting the creation of a program for the safeguarding of languages at high risk of disappearance, in which we seek the direct participation of the communities in the definition of strategies to revitalize, maintain or, in the worst cases, so that there is testimony of those languages."

Also, there is plenty, the creation of a fund with the participation of the Federation, the states and municipalities are proposed, without the amount being known until now.

"The situation is that a more solid legal base is needed to know in what conditions these languages will be protected, to encourage their use, but also in those spaces where the State can legislate, they have to be spaces of prestige, from where these languages were excluded, and until they exist, it will be very difficult to reverse the situation of asymmetry and prestige."

Source: RT