Indigenous Language and Culture of Oaxaca Kept Alive in California
Gloria Moreno walks with a slight limp under the weight of the black messenger bag slung over her shoulder. It holds something of a botanical encyclopedia, petals and leaves gathered from the streets of Greenfield, which Moreno says help alleviate any number of ailments – pain, anxiety, weak bones.
Moreno says her collection is part of a medical tradition she began practicing as a teenager in Mexico. It was there, at 15, that she says she was instructed in a dream to take up herbal medicine.
Moreno dreamt her directive in Triqui de la Baja, an Indigenous language of the Copala region of Oaxaca in southern Mexico.
As native Triqui speakers disperse, leaving behind a notoriously violent region, there’s pressure both to preserve that language, and to leave it behind.
Of an estimated 40,000 Triqui speakers worldwide, about half of them are thought to have migrated away from Oaxaca, and as many as 10 percent live in the Salinas Valley.
That density made Greenfield a destination for Javier López Sánchez, director of Mexico’s National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI), on his U.S. tour last fall. Himself a native Tzeltal Maya speaker, López is developing a directory of Indigenous languages, which he hopes will parlay into better translation resources.