Celebrating Native Languages in the Schools

Celebrating Native Languages in the Schools

# Celebrating Native Languages in the Schools

As part of our work in the schools we assist teachers who are committed to undoing the damage done in the past to the expression of cultural identity in this region. Discrimination caused people to stop speaking their languages in public and even to deny that they were indigengous when confronted. In a generation, people stopped teaching their children to speak Mocho (Qa to&o;k), Mam and Kackchiquel which are the languages spoken in this region. You can imagine the mixed messages a young person would recieve in such a situation where their family is ashamed of their culture.

There are a handful of langauge activists who attempt to revive interest among their students for their native langauges. Sexto Sol has long provided them with assistance by obtaining books, posters, and people with expertise that can help. Dr. Brennan has consulted with the group of activists on how to organize elders to serve as language teachers. We gave a good try to creating a radio show in the Mocho language but a wind storm damaged the public station's tower.

The people are fortunate to have the expert help of linguists Naomi Palosaari and Amy Brunett who have both focused their graduate studies on preserving the Mocho language. Mocho is the language of native people. Sadly only 30 or so fluent speakers remain.

# Projects

January, 2013: It was a great day at the elementary school as we brought traditional healer Don Flaviano Juarez Mateo to give the students a hands on experience. Our intern linguist Amy Brunett... More information coming soon.

December, 2007: Josue Diaz, artist and activist served as artist in the schools. His focus was to use art to help children express what is it to be indigenous in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas, planet Earth. He worked in two indigenous schools. Josue also organized a substantial donation of art supplies, book and more for these schools. The principals were thrilled with his work to support the message of cultural pride.

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Fundraiser heroes: How about doing a fundraiser for Sexto Sol? It's as easy as holding a yardsale, throwing a benefit dance party, or wherever your creativity leads. Amy from Michigan held an open mic night, Rubi in Washington sold coffee, Cheryl and friends in Colorado recycled goods, Melinda in Oregon organized two benefits raising 2,000 dollars. Sarah in San Cristobal sponsored a reggae dance benefit. Alex organized fans of actor Edward James Olmos to collectively donate as a birthday gift to him. Rick got sponsors for his marathon run. Need ideas? tamara@sextosol.org.

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Success! Thanks to a grant from Water Charity, we installed 260 meters of rain gutters on buildings at an elementary school located at 10K elevation. The school had suffered from flooding which made classrooms dark and wet. See Sexto Sol's Project (opens new window) featured on Water Charity's site!

# June, 2012: Emma Avery from Canada and Lewis McAulay from Australia installed a solar bottle light in a dark school. Teacher says it makes a difference! See great photos on Facebook (opens new window). We're in the process of starting a soap making business to create jobs for single mothers. Executive Director Tamara Brennan will be doing workshops for 500 families on how to think and live sustainably. Stay tuned.