October 14, 2021
Indigenous Community Media Fund Grant Partner Spotlight: Radio Tosepan Limakxtum
By: Radio Tosepan Limakxtum
Radio Tosepan Limakxtum is a community radio station that broadcasts from the Northeastern Sierra and North of Puebla, Mexico. During the nine years of its existence, it has promoted the revitalization of the Nahuat and Totonac languages, creating different and inclusive communication spaces. We are proud to be Indigenous and we acknowledge that our language (Nahuat) is the vehicle to transmit our worldview to the next generations, and to promote our ways of life.
We acknowledge that both men and women have the same rights to enjoy our lands, to participate in the stewardship of our territory, and to protect the cultural values inherited by us. Community life is part of our existence and contributes to our happiness. We can’t live without interacting with those who live in the villages in our territories and radio is the bridge that unites us and makes us stronger.
Over the years, we have learned and identified some shortcomings to improve our programs to bring quality content to our audience. Upon learning of Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Community Media Fund, we saw an opportunity and started writing our proposal. We proposed the production of a series of radio programs focused on the knowledge of the Macehaul Peoples (Nahuat) with the intention of strengthening our collective memory and the fabric of our community. We proposed content on the following aspects of Indigenous knowledge: traditional medicine, Tayolchikawalis and food security; protection of sacred places; traditional tales and storytelling; and care of the environment.
The participation of the community was integral when deciding on the content. Radio Tosepan Limakxtum convened an assembly agreeing that the dialogue would revolve around issues facing the communities, among them: extractive projects and the COVID-19 pandemic. "Likewise, we managed to identify knowledge, actions, and processes that would strengthen the fabric of the community," says Adrián López Angulo, a radio host. We were able to gather the voice of the communities of Tepetzalan, Pepexta, Cuamayco, Cuautamazaco, Tepetitán, as well as the members of the Union of Cooperatives Tosepan. The radio's team of hosts, mostly young people, planned the process of research, interviews, recording, editing and transmission. After collecting the information, we listened carefully to the stories and reflections of our grandmothers and grandfathers, to turn them into short messages, radio programs, and videos.
“Radio is an important tool to keep communities informed,” says Francisco Vázquez Ignacio, one of Radio Tosepan Limakxtum’s collaborators. "I was interested in producing content on how to care for our environment, knowing that in our territory there have been many environmental issues and that many companies have arrived wanting to extract the resources and minerals from our lands. In the research process, I approached organizations working to defend our territory, COTI, ALTEPEJPIANI Mountain Caretakers, in addition to TOCHAM, an organization of women who work to care for Mother Earth. Likewise, members of the community and I realized that several community members were not informed about what was happening in the territory and others pointed out that since the community assemblies were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they did not have access to up to date information.”
We collected the knowledge of people in the community about food sovereignty and concluded that organic gardening guarantees us a better quality of life, by raising our animals, and planting our corn and fruit. At the same time, we must be grateful to Mother Earth, because sometimes we only think about producing, but we never give anything back to her. The wisdom shared by our grandmothers and grandfathers strengthens our Macehual life that is full of riches and that are not economic, but with many principles that guide our lives in community and in our territory.
The Impact of Radio Programs
One of our objectives during the planning of this project was to measure the impact of the productions on the social fabric of the communities. We took it upon ourselves to ask our listeners and collaborators what they thought about our programs. We realized, with joy, that they valued our work and valued the fact that someone is making our knowledge relevant to the context we live in.
"When I heard my neighbor talking about healthy food I was very surprised. I realized that we as people in the communities have a lot of knowledge to share. Sometimes people think we don't hold knowledge because we didn’t go to school.I talked to my daughters and was able to understand that when a person does not have a degree it does not mean that he/she does not know things. We, as people from the communities have all the knowledge of a biologist, because we learned from the land and our parents taught us. Radio is a great tool to amplify our voices... may the mountains feel proud of us when they turn on the radio and listen to the knowledge that they and our parents have taught us, and may the rivers of voices and wisdom reverberate in the communities," community member Juan Lino Molina shared.
The programs were also of great help for people to freely express themselves and share their experiences, and what they know. When people listen to each other and recognize that our words resonate with other people, we feel the confidence to continue sharing, to build bridges of dialogue with other people. For example, something curious happened to Josefina de Jesús Trinidad when she heard herself on air.
"I belong to the Zoquita Tepetzalan community, I’m 62 years old and when I listened to the program where I participated it felt good. I was a little worried because I had never listened to myself. It is very good to listen to each other. As a woman, I realize that I have a lot to share because there are many things that concern all of us. It is important that our lands are not sold and we have to talk to our children so they will not exchange our lands, mountains, and rivers for money."
Another impact was the training of young radio broadcasters with the knowledge and stories of the Elders intertwined with the Macehual language (Nahuat). This is a way to keep the values and knowledge of the communities alive. María Aurora Francisco Ramiro shared, "I like to listen to the radio because everyone speaks in the Nahuat language and I recognize the voices of people I know. My daughter always calls the radio and sends me greetings. I get very excited when I hear her greetings as she lives in Puebla and it makes me very happy that I’m always in her mind. That's why I listen to the radio all day because I like that they speak Nahuat."
May the mountains feel proud when listening to our radio! New technologies open new windows of information that we must take advantage of to protect and strengthen our collective memory to take care of our territories. It is a source of life and wisdom. We want to thank Cultural Survival for their support, without them these productions would not have been possible.
Radio Tosepan Limakxtum was supported by Cultural Survival with a grant from the Indigenous Community Media Fund in 2020. Cultural Survival’s Indigenous Community Media Fund provides opportunities for international Indigenous radio stations to strengthen their broadcast infrastructure and systems and creates training opportunities in journalism, broadcasting, audio editing, technical skills, and more to Indigenous community radio journalists around the world. In 2020, the Indigenous Community Media Fund supported 35 media projects in 8 countries, totaling $214,000.