How Indigenous Communities Are Fighting To Keep Their Language Alive. 


By: Miguel Hernandez

The battle for the preservation of indigenous languages ​​and culture has been and continues to be one of the most important battles for the indigenous communities. For languages ​​and cultures to persevere, it is imperative that new generations learn them and embrace them. With this in mind, Puentes, a program within the Mixteco Indigenous Community Organizing Project (MICOP), embarked on a project to create a children’s book in Mixteco for children called “Nuestros Juegos De La Infancia.”

The book consists of the childhood games that the author, Irene Gómez Castellanos, and the collaborators Celia Méndez, Erika Hernández, Catalina Almazán, Verónica López, Carmen Hernández experienced as young girls. The book “Nuestros Juegos De La Infancia” is in three different languages: Spanish, Mixtec, and English. With illustrations by Jocelyn Jiménez Gómez, the book teaches children about life in Mexico and indigenous culture through games such as climbing trees and playing tag. The book was named “Nuestros Juegos De La Infancia” with the hope that parents or children identify with the aspects of the book and feel represented. 

The book “Nuestros Juegos De La Infancia” is a vast goal for the Puentes program and for MICOP since it is one of the few efforts that exist to preserve and teach Mixteco to younger generations. The organization, the Endangered Language Alliance, reports that there are only 500,000 people who continue to speak Mixtec frequently, with fewer than 2,000 in the United States. These data reveal how Mixteco is a language that is in danger of extinction.

The authors of the book are proud that the book is aimed at children in their stage of development, which is years 0-5, and urge parents to encourage their children to learn Mixtec and preserve their culture.

One of the book’s authors, Irene Gómez, shared in an interview with Radio Indígena 94.1 F.M. that her favorite part of the book is when all the girls are together, and they invite the audience to read the book. The ecstatic author also shared that she is thrilled and proud that the characters in the book have names in Mixtec.

The Book, “Nuestros Juegos De La Infancia”, can be found on Amazon. The program Puentes also has its very own radio show every Wednesday from 2 to 3 in the afternoon through Radio Indígena 94.1 FM. Finally, the author shared, “I am very grateful for this opportunity and to be able to collaborate with everyone. “The book is dedicated to our daughters and sons and to all children of indigenous parents to promote pride in their mother tongue, culture, and origin.”

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