Indigenous Echoes, Broadcasting the Voices of Mexican Diversity on the Web

XETAR "La voz de la Sierra Tarahumara" (emisora del Sistema de Radiodifusoras Culturales Indigenistas). Imagen de CDI utilizada con autorización.

XETAR, “The Voice of Sierra Tarahumara” (Indigenous Cultural Broadcasting System). CDI image used with permission.

A project called Indigenous Echoes brings together a number of regional radio stations in Mexico with the goal of making their broadcasts available online, thus breaking down boundaries and encouraging the preservation of languages that are in danger of falling into disuse or becoming extinct.

According to the official statistics, about 6.7% of Mexico's population over the age of five speak an indigenous language in Mexico, and that percentage has declined every decade since records began.

Decades ago, the Indigenous Cultural Broadcasting System was created to promote indigenous community radio stations, and now the network of stations are expanding their reach through Indigenous Echoes. The federal government agency in charge of the project is called the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (abbreviated as CDI), which describes the initiative in the following way:

Gracias a los enlaces en vivo con las transmisiones locales de cada una de las emisoras del Sistema, se amplían los horizontes de difusión de los pueblos indígenas de México para llevar mensajes a lugares remotos. Gracias a Ecos Indígenas es posible escuchar una gama infinita de voces y manifestaciones musicales de todas las regiones del país, las palabras y las lenguas de muchos mexicanos, y llevar a todos los puntos del planeta un mensaje de la diversidad y pluriculturalidad mexicana.

Links to live local transmissions from each of the stations in the System expand the messages of the indigenous peoples in Mexico to remote locations. Thanks to Indigenous Echoes, it is possible to listen to an infinite range of voices and musical events from all regions of the country and to the words and languages of many Mexicans, and to bring to all parts of the world a message of Mexican diversity and multiculturalism.

The commission also describes what languages are included in this space:

La emisora transmite cada jornada en las lenguas: maya, náhuatl, p'urepecha, pames, tanek, mayo, yaqui, guarijio, mazateco, cuicateco, chinanteca, zapoteca, mixe, mixteco, triqui y muchas más. Actualmente el número de lenguas y las variantes regionales integra más de 36 lenguas indígenas vivas distintas.

The station broadcasts every day in the following languages: Mayan, Náhuatl, P'urepecha, Pame, Tanek, Mayo, Yaqui, Guarijio, Mazatec, Cuicatec, Chinantec, Zapotec, Mixe, Mixtec, Triqui and many more. Currently, the number of languages and regional variants include more than 36 different indigenous languages still spoken.

You can listen to Indigenous Echoes by clicking this link.

The CDI regularly uses social media, including Twitter, to promote Indigenous Echoes, such as the following tweet about XECARH, a station located in the Mezquital Valley in Hidalgo (in the central eastern part of the country):

Listen to “La Voz Del Pueblo Hñahñu” (“The Voice of the Hñahñu”) broadcasting in Hñähñu, Náhuatl and Spanish

XECARH is a station that opened in 1999 and has sought through its work to strengthen the identity of the Otomí people residing in the region.

Indigenous radio in Mexico has been studied for many years. In 2010, Dr. Inés Cornejo recounted in an article for Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales (Mexican Magazine of Political and Social Sciences):

Las radios culturales indigenistas se han dedicado generalmente a la producción y a diversas tareas más que a la investigación propiamente dicha, pues existía una idea proclive a “hacer” la radio más que a investigarla. Cabe mencionar que en cada emisora se ha realizado la investigación de campo que mejor ha funcionado en la producción radiofónica, y cada una de éstas lo ha hecho con diferentes grados de sistematización.

Indigenous cultural radios have generally dedicated themselves to production and various tasks rather than actual research, because the idea was to “do” radio, rather than to investigate it. It is noteworthy that each station has carried out field research that has worked best in radio production, and each of them has done so with varying degrees of systematization.

In the past, Global Voices has written about Mexican efforts to preserve indigenous languages, such as a resolution of Mexico's judiciary which recognized the right of the indigenous peoples in the country to transmit their “invaluable cultural identity, but without their language, it is difficult to achieve this,” as well as a daily newspaper with national circulation which launched an edition in Mayan language (the second indigenous language of the country, after Náhuatl).

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