Tag Archives: arts

Indigenous Languages Sustain Cultural Heritage: At Risk of Extinction

Zapotec, Mixtec, Huave, Nahuatl and the other 12 indigenous languages of Oaxaca have fewer and fewer native speakers.  As young people want to become part of the “mainstream” Spanish-speaking culture they leave their mother language and their culture behind — often out of the strong desire to assimilate.

And continuing education requires commitment, resources, and a lifting out of rural poverty.  Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico and one of the most rural.

Many villages have kindergartens and primary schools that offer bilingual education.  For example, in Teotitlan del Valle the kindergarten teaches in both Zapotec and Spanish and encourages children to learn and speak Zapotec at home and as part of their everyday communication.

A new indigenous language center is opening in Oaxaca city supported by the Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation.  The historic building that will house the center is under renovation now and I don’t know exactly when it will open.

The Center will preserve and teach indigenous languages in Oaxaca.  Our friend Janet Chavez Santiago, who speaks fluent Zapotec, Spanish, English, French, and a smattering of other European languages, will coordinate the educational programs designed to inform the public about the importance and value of teaching language to sustain culture. She will also develop programs to bring in young people to study, learn, and enjoy the languages spoken by their parents and grandparents.

The British publication The Guardian published an essay on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, as part of a journalism competition entitled Lessons From Oaxaca: What stops children in rural areas going to school?   

Here is the link:

San Francisco State University Professor Troi Carleton is determined to save Zapotec, a language indigenous to Mexico — and to do it before it is lost to new generations transformed by technology and social change. “When a language dies, its culture dies, too,” Carleton said.  For years, she has been bringing linguistics students to Teotitlan del Valle to live with families and record the language — an oral tradition that has not been written down.  I’ll be talking to Troi more about her more recent work in upcoming posts.

FYI:  The new indigenous language center will be next to the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, corner Hidalgo and Fiallo, two blocks from the Zocalo.

Oaxaca, Mexico to Host 2011 North American Textile Conservation Conference

When you travel to Oaxaca, Mexico this coming November, be sure to stop in to visit the Museo Textil de Oaxaca.  Arts and educational programs are scheduled during the North American Textile Conservation Conference from November 8-11, 2011.  (Consider attending our Day of the Dead Photography Expedition as a pre-conference cultural immersion.)

“Plying the Trades – Pulling Together in the 21st Century”, features lectures, discussions, demonstrations and social events that bring together artists, collectors, academics, and textile experts from throughout North America.

Caracol handwoven rug with natural dyes by Federico Chavez Sosa

Hector Meneses, the textile conservator at the Museo Textil de Oaxaca, is the chair of  the event, and is assisted by the other wonderful staff of the museum:  Ana Paula Fuentes, director; Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education; and David Silva Garcia, promotion director, plus many others.

Here is the registration information, prices, and discount deadlines:

– Early Bird, Full Registration (June 6 – 30): US$295.00

– Regular fee, Full Registration (July 1 – October 7): US$325.00

– Late fee, Full Registration (October 8 – 21): US$350.00

– On-site Registration (Nov. 8 – 11): US$350.00

– Student fee (June 6 – Oct. 21): US$200.00

*Full conference registration includes the conference preprints, two lunches, breaks during the papers sessions, one entrance to the welcoming reception at the Former Convent of San Pablo and one entrance to the closing dinner at the Ethno-Botanical Garden of Oaxaca.

You can register through the organization’s website.  Also take a look at the titles of the papers and posters that will be presented, as well as the optional workshops and tours that will be offered.  Workshop and tour registration is now open.    www.NATCConference.com

Hector invites you to contact him if you have questions or need more information.  The entire museum looks forward to welcoming you to Oaxaca.

Hector Manuel Meneses Lozano, NATCC 2011 – Chair,  Museo Textil de Oaxaca, Tel. + 529 51 501  1104,            Email: restauracion@museotextildeoaxaca.org.mx