March 15, 2021
By Women from Mixe Jënpoj Community Radio
We are the women of Mixe Jënpoj Community Radio, which operates in the Sierra regions of the Ayuujk, Zapotec, and Chinanteco Peoples in Mexico. We are located in the northwest of the state of Oaxaca, with an altitude of 2,700 to 3,000 meters above sea level. Our municipality is home to 10,000 inhabitants. Our town is a Ayuujk-speaking community, the wind music identifies us, as well as the religious syncretism of the Judeo-Christian and Ayuujk spirituality. We organize ourselves rooted in the concept of wejën kajën, which means developing the mind-spirit-heart to stay awake and to solve problems that arise in our personal and community life.
Radio has been fundamental in developing three lines of our collective work. The first, nakyäjpxwëjë, implies that the radio carries the responsibility of transmitting educational and cultural themes, which contribute to revitalizing our traditional ways of life and encourage people in their self-determined development and community planning. The second is natyukmatowë, which refers to ensuring participation of the community, reporting information and facts from outside and from within the community. A third is kajpxyë’yën, creating a space where topics of common interest are discussed and disseminated. These include strengthening Indigenous rights, autonomy, taking care of Mother Earth, biodiversity, and maintaining good gender relations, among others.
We, women of Radio Jënpoj, walk collectively with our colleagues to build this dream of community communication. Throughout these years we have seen that community dynamics, social organization, and the use of the Ayuujk language are changing. Community festivals that involve sacred ceremonies and rituals in the processes of agricultural cycles, personal, family, and community life are no longer the same. Traditional knowledge in relation to the various trades and jobs that community members have developed, such as techniques, instruments, tools and the identity of the Ayuujk Peoples, are left in oblivion or remain only in memory. Many youth leave the communities and move to urban centers causing high migration rates of younger generations due to the need to earn an income. There they face constant discrimination and racism, which causes them to stop speaking their Indgienous languages, and even deny their Ayuujk identity. In our community, some fathers and mothers are denying this identity and not teaching the Ayuujk language with all its implicit knowledge. This greatly undermines our futures which are rooted in our traditional cosmology and worldview of life, biodiversity, our collective memory, the oral stories and histories that grandparents have inherited from generation to generation.
We, as the women of Radio Jënpoj, are concerned about this situation we are experiencing and are asking ourselves what we can do to generate collective reflection about cultural loss using the power of radio. This awareness raising could not happen if we do not have the necessary tools to broadcast these words of reflection, to share what we are doing to strengthen our community life. With the support that Cultural Survival has given us, we acquired these tools to ensure our words flow towards the ear and the conscience of our people who listen to us in the Ayuujk, Zapotec, and Chinanteco languages.
Radio Jënpoj is a Cultural Survival Indigenous Community Media Fund grant partner. In 2020, the Fund supported 35 community media projects in 8 countries, totaling $214,000.