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Indigenous collectives strengthening their languages

On International Mother Language Day 2024, we invite you to learn about the work of three Cultural Survival partners who received a grant from the KOEF (Keepers of the Earth Fund) in 2023 for projects that strengthen indigenous languages from their own culture and with diverse strategies.

Yankuik Kuikamatilistli Cultural Centre (Nahuatl language, in Mexico)

In September 2023, the Yankuik Centre held the twelfth Book Fair in Our Mother Tongue "Amoxilhuitl tonemillis in tonanyoltlahtol in Xoxogulan", through an artistic and academic programme with face-to-face and online activities, to contribute to the exercise of the linguistic rights of several indigenous peoples of central Mexico. Various activities were carried out, including film screenings, workshops, language courses, conferences and artistic presentations.

Over the course of 11 years, the Fair has consolidated itself as a proposal for the dissemination, meeting and participation of people from indigenous peoples, around the strengthening of their identities, mother tongues, linguistic rights and cultural expressions articulated in the region. The languages represented in different editions of the fair have been: náhuatl, mee pá, mixteco, zapoteco, wirárika, purépecha, mazahua, maya-tsotsil and ñahñuh.

Runapacha Collective (Inga and Kichwa languages, in Colombia)

In a demonstration that the indigenous language is indispensable for the transmission of non-linguistic knowledge related to their own culture and their particular way of seeing the world, the Runapacha collective developed a project that unites the Inga and Kichwa languages with Chumbe weaving, traditional in their region.

In the course of knowledge dialogues, the collective collected information and reflections on the symbolism of Chumbe weaving, which led to the creation of guide cards with the symbols and words associated to the traditional weaving. The material was then shared in weaving workshops with people involved in the teaching of the community's languages, in order to continue developing creative proposals that strengthen the knowledge of their Inga community.

Tuteayen tse sungün (Tse sungün language, in Chile)

In August 2023, the Tuteayen tse sungün collective carried out a three-day language immersion internship to enable the Mapuche Williche tse sungün teachers to reach a better level. In order to achieve full immersion, the team prepared well in advance the pedagogical material and guides to be used in the internship. It is hoped that the event, which received a greater response than expected, will have an impact on the motivation of Mapuche Williche people to speak or learn Tse Sungün and that it will contribute to increasing the number of teachers of the language. The collective hopes that attendees "will be able to see an advance in themselves, to feel that [Tse Sungün] is a recoverable and living language".
Photo: University of East Cancun