We promote our Mayan languages online so they will not be forgotten

The locality of Oxchuc where the digital activism project will be carried out. Photograph courtesy Celfa Iraida Sántiz Sántiz.

Name: Celfa Iraida Sántiz Sántiz
Language: Tseltal
Locality: Oxchuc, Chiapas.

Project summary: A digital magazine in Tseltal, to promote our language and our illustrative creations on free internet platforms.

Ich'a spatibal awo'tanik. Lek me ayex ta apisilik

My name is Celfa Sántiz, but my other name that connects me with my ancestry is Celfa K’ujul. I am 31 years old; my mother tongue is Mayan-Tseltal. I am registered in Naranja Seca, in the municipality of Tenejapa, Chiapas, but unfortunately I have no family in that area; most of my family is based in the municipality of Oxchuc, Chiapas.

I currently live in San Cristóbal de las Casas, where I am completing my postgraduate studies. But I have had the good fortune to live during an important part of my life in the municipal capital of Oxchuc, where my mother, my maternal grandparents and other relatives live.

My project

Using my graphic design skills of editing, image creation programs, and editorial design, I will share through in-person workshops some techniques for magazine editing. The goal will be to publish our first issue of a digital magazine in Tseltal, so that people (whether Tseltal or not) can know our language and our illustrative creations on free internet platforms. These workshops will be held in the municipal capital of Oxchuc, Chiapas. Tseltal youth will be given priority for this project, especially those who want to write in Tseltal and learn to illustrate digital images. We will work on our phones where we can download free applications, or on our own computers, as well as on the electronic devices I managed to gather.

I will promote the project by distributing flyers on the main streets of the municipal capital and by visiting homes. The workshops will be held on Fridays and Saturdays.

My motivation

This current digital age is transforming social life in the world; however, we communicate more in Spanish or English, while we seldom use our indigenous languages ​​in these emerging spaces. I am sure that, if we promote our Mayan languages ​​on the Internet, they will not be forgotten; on the contrary, it will be a way of resisting hegemonic ways of seeing and understanding life. Another very personal reason for engaging in this project is to expand my knowledge of the Tseltal language, to know in depth the meaning of some words that we must recover and thus improve literacy in my mother tongue.

It will be the first time I will be engaging in a project that focuses on promoting the Tseltal language. Although I have previously collaborated on community projects for indigenous rights, this project is exciting because I will be able to share my skills with other people in my locality. I know that not all of us have the same opportunities to have access to workshops to learn how to use digital tools, and it is precisely these Rising Voices projects that open the door for us to share with our communities.

What is inspiring about community projects is that learning is mutual. From what I have learned so far is that one of the most important values ​​in carrying out a project is respect for different ways of living and thinking.

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