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Often the claims of indigenous peoples tend to focus on land restitution. It is very understandable and also clearly fundamental to have your territory, because without a title of property, any multinational, landowner or local politician could throw them from their ancestral territories, to which they have a linkage that can become millenarian.

However, there is an element as fundamental or more than the earth for the survival of a culture, which is the very essence of a people's worldview: language. This is an element that encodes the whole reality, the way of thinking and seeing the world. Language is the limit of thought. The way we express ourselves reflects the way we think, the way we relate to others and to the world. What we can not name in the new imposed language, ceases to exist: sensations, feelings, spiritual entities, etc. If they do not have translation, they end up being lost, usually forever. The people who lose the language quickly adapt the forms of communication (not only verbal) of the culture of the language imposed and that process of colonization is the most powerful, hence the tongues of indigenous peoples, even today, in very few places have a space in the official world, in the government, in the media. At best, winks are made in the form of statements that sound good or in activities without real transcendence, because it is very dangerous for the colonizer when the language of the colonized gains speakers and becomes strong, because along with the tongue goes the culture and when culture collides head-on in values ​​and objectives with that of Western capitalism, then it is dangerous. That explains why the advances in this field are practically null in fact or merely anecdotal.

Another language about to die in Mexico

Manuel Segovia, one of the last two speakers of Nuumte Oote (Mexico).

In reading the news, I was struck by several things:

1) The sensational and misleading title of the article: "El Zoque-Ayapaneco will live in a documentary when his two speakers " die. Anyone would think that the language is going to be saved thanks to the documentary result of a scholarship for young people who are just starting out. Let's say "A documentary will tell the story of the last two speakers" or something, it is not necessary to confuse people with the linguistic resilience of an isolated documentary.

2) You are still reading and you are almost moved by the great feat of the young filmmaker of 28 years who will direct it: "To keep recorded in video what could be the last sighs of the indigenous language , the Mexican filmmaker Denisse Quintero decided to record a documentary. " Although the tremendous crusade was later deflated a little and I ended up saying, in the same article," I can not expect much, especially because of the age of the two speakers and the permanence of their memories ".

And as a neophyte filmmaker is going to interview the last speakers (on their deathbed, I imagine, therefore the" last gasps " ), and perhaps ask them to speak something in their language and subtitling it, the language will live forever ... Why are you going to mention the linguist anthropologist at Indiana University, Daniel Suslak, who worked with the two speakers documenting his words to do a dictionary, which is what will allow the language not to disappear for always.

3) If you are going to make a documentary to remember the memory of a language that is extinguished (in addition to these two speakers, it only has two passive speakers, the son and wife of one of the lords, who can not transmit the language ), it would be well to do it from the respect to that culture, which does not call its language "Zoque-Ayapaneco". That is a name imposed by the National Institute of Indigenous Languages ​​of Mexico, which should not have liked the name with which the speakers always knew their language: Nuumte Oote, which means "The true voice." But since it is financed from the government that imposed the name, I imagine that they can not get out of the way too much ...

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Reflections on this

Beyond the scientific frivolity and the sensationalism with which the subject is treated, there are interesting lessons from this situation.

1) Indigenous people united or indigenous people to the books of History

Those last two speakers mentioned are not treated among them (he does not mention it in the article, but it was already published last year): "They both live in the small community of Ayapan and, although their houses are separated by only 500 meters, they have not maintained any relationship for years by a mismatch of which origin unknown " (See full story). It is very human to take badly with others, to form confronting groups, etc. However, experience shows that indigenous people pay dearly for this lack of unity: with their disappearance as a people, nothing more and nothing less. Considering that the American indigenous peoples are colonized and their voice is a minority in the new political and economic system (usually even when they are majority in number), the internal division is a price that can not afford to pay if they want to survive as a people.

2) When roads arrive, extinction arrives

In Chaco, the area where I work most with indigenous peoples, this is perceived very well. The Qom people, who occupy a large territory, as we go south, towards the capital, in the area of ​​Aboriginal Cologne, the language is in a very weak state. However, in the area further north (farther from the capital, towards the Impenetrable), in Castelli, the language maintains very good vitality. Regarding the Wichí people, in the heart of the Impenetrable, it can be said that practically all speak it and its communication in Spanish shows that this language does not have much use among them. I always tell you that as soon as those 285 kms of dirt and dust are asphalt (and they will be at some point), when the Impenetrable has ceased to be so impenetrable, you better have already organized and made strong or will be preparing to be a cultural memory like so many other indigenous peoples that already only maintain the name and the speech. It is curious that Mr. Segovia remembers the construction of the road as the element that started the extinction of his language ...

3) Dictionaries, documentaries ... made and managed by whites the indigenous