'I am my house and my house speaks': the plan to revitalize indigenous languages ​​in Oaxaca

Juchitán, Oax.- The pilot project of nests of languages ​​that has as its slogan “I am my house and my house speaks…” is promoted by the Secretary of Culture and the Arts of Oaxaca (Seculta), directed by the linguist and historian binnizá (Zapotec), Victor Cata.

The project seeks to promote and revitalize the linguistic families that give identity to the southern state of the country.

Víctor Cata proposes working from orality with families, grandparents and grandchildren, groups, linguistic landscapes, documentation and any strategy that allows the word of the eight regions keep aliveas indicated by UNESCO in the decade of indigenous languages.

This project will begin in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, as it is the only region of Oaxaca where there are five of the six linguistic families “Zoque, Mixe, Huave, Chontal and Zapotec”, for which they have begun to hold meetings with women and men who dedicate themselves to the preservation of the language and who make art.

Cata, who has dedicated herself to revitalizing her mother tongue, Zapotec, recognized the importance of maintaining indigenous languages ​​from all the arts.

Cata said that worldwide there is a concern to recover the world’s languages ​​that are becoming extinct and that unfortunately are spoken by adults and older adults, so it is necessary to turn to the roots.

“We come with everything, our main axis is to carry out permanent caravans of culture, and for this we are starting with this first project, which will tour the entire state, whose purpose is to guarantee culture as a human right.”

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Cata and her work team have started with the pilot project of language nests and for this they held meetings with the makers of the word, theater, writing, dance, music and all the arts that men and women perform.

“We already had the first approach with people who have taken root in the communities of San Mateo del Mar, Santo Domingo Petapa, Juchitán, Unión Hidalgo and with the groups that work to strengthen the Chontal language in Salina Cruz. The idea is to work in favor of languages ​​based on what they are doing in their communities”.

The secretary of culture and the arts of Oaxaca said that they intend to hold a forum with the Chontal people, to learn about the situation of this language, which, like many others, is undergoing a strong linguistic displacement.

“We talked with the Chontal women, whose intention is for us to dialogue in a forum, collectively, communally, as we are in Oaxaca, and so it will be. I am my house, it is just that, from home, family, society and the community it is possible to work in favor of what gives us roots and identity”.

He said that after the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the next region to visit is the Oaxaca coast where he will dialogue and work with the Afro-descendant community, who have been forgotten and marginalized for a long time.

In addition to language nests, Víctor Cata also seeks to recover cultural public spaces in the entity, as well as to make culture present at all times with links with universities, promote cultural scholarships and print the historical memory of the peoples.

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“We are working on one of the axes that this government proposes: the recovery of the historical memory of the peoples. Many of the towns do not know the documents where their sacred, ancient songs, their sermons, their vocabularies were recorded, and it is important to reissue these works and return them to the towns, that is urgent”.

From his house which he named “Yoo Dachi”, Víctor Cata reflects, analyzes, shares and makes art ensuring that their sole purpose is to work and make verbal arts.

The challenge is great, I accepted it, now it’s time to meet it communally, I know I can, I’m not giving up, and we’ve already started.


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