Oaxaca Indigenous Language

The state of Oaxaca is home to 53 percent of Mexico’s indigenous population. Approximately 1,091,502  people in Oaxaca speak an indigenous language in addition to, or instead of, Spanish. The native people of this region have clung fiercely to their ancient traditions and cultures, assisted by the rugged, mountainous terrain that has historically shielded them somewhat from the outside world.

In the past, indigenous Oaxacan parents often chose to home school their children, teaching them practical skills and traditional arts and crafts, rather than send to schools where they would be taught exclusively in Spanish. However, a recent article from the Guardian points out that this strategy is no longer working, and has in fact become counterproductive:

“Self-sufficiency is the historic norm in Oaxaca, but in recent decades as rural life has become increasingly entretejidos – interwoven – with the modern market economy, Zapotec children who have not gone to school are finding themselves on the wrong side of an urban-rural education divide that excludes them from employment and contributes to deepening poverty.”

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Last Two Speakers of Dying Language Won't Speak

It’s a story that’s been repeated thousands of times in the past: an indigenous language is eventually replaced by another, more common tongue, finally dying out completely along with its last speakers.

That’s what’s happened to the indigenous Mexican language of Ayapaneco over the centuries. When Spanish became the language of education, children were discouraged from speaking Ayapaneco and the language was lost. Only this time, there’s an interesting but sad twist: the last two people who speak Ayapaneco refuse to speak to each other. Read more