“I think it is very important to know the history, and the little that remains of the Coca language. I remember that before, I was very embarrassed to speak at meetings or even at home, but now that I have learned part of my story, I’m not ashamed to speak. Being involved in this project has allowed us to empower ourselves. For years I have seen young children who, when learning their history, carry themselves in a different way, proud to be Indigenous.”
—Leonor Robles (37 años)
The goal of this project is to rescue the Coca language, the mother tongue of the Mezcala people.
The Indigenous community of Mezcala, Jalisco, once belonged to a large region of Coca people and it is currently one of the few communities that identifies itself with these origins and cultural belonging. A town of fishermen and farmers, it is the only Coca community that has more than 3,600 hectares of communal territory, a traditional government (assembly of commoners), and countless parties, dances and music that are based on the traditional community structure.
But the community is also dealing with a loss of identity among the new generations. For this reason, since 2008, a group of inhabitants passionate about its history have promoted a series of workshops for more than eleven consecutive years. Now, this same group would like to rescue the few Coca words that have been preserved and pass these on to the younger generations.
The project will unfold in three stages. The first will be to research and select texts and words and establish the vocabulary that will be taught. The second stage will involve the design and printing of the teaching materials. Finally, there will be seven public presentations in different villages, where the materials will be disseminated.
The people of Mezcala believe that to recover and save a language, even a part of it, is an important part of saving a culture, an entire town. Mezcala is an example of a community that has lost a language, but it could also become an example to the world of a place that has reclaimed and rescued its language and its connection to its original people.