Francisco Icala Tiriquiz spent his childhood being a translator for his household, however it wasn’t till 1995, when he witnessed the interplay between a good friend and police in Los Angeles, that he determined to pursue a profession as an interpreter.
His good friend, who like him is a Okay’iche’ Maya, an Indigenous group from Guatemala, was pulled over by officers who mistook the saggy shirt he wore for an indication that he was a gang member, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
In Spanish, the officers yelled at his good friend to place his palms within the air, although he solely knew methods to communicate Okay’iche’, the language of the Okay’iche’ individuals, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
Icala Tiriquiz, who occurred to be along with his good friend on the time, started to translate for his good friend and for the officers, who ultimately let his good friend go.
However by the top of the encounter, one of many officers harshly suggested Icala Tiriquiz to cease talking his maternal language and “go research English,” he stated.
“I began pondering, ‘What ought to I do?,” Icala Tiriquiz stated of the confrontation. “’’Surrender my tradition, my language and my customs? Or rescue my tradition?’”
Three years later, Icala Tiriquiz acquired a grant at what was previously referred to as the Monterey Institute of Worldwide Research to coach to be knowledgeable interpreter.
After greater than twenty years of working within the discipline, Icala Tiriquiz added the title of radio host to his resume final month with the premiere of a twin language program in Okay’iche’ and Spanish on KBBF-FM, Sonoma County’s bilingual public radio station.
This system, which runs from 5 to six p.m. on Sundays, is called “Rescatando Nuestras Raices y Tradiciones,” which interprets to “rescuing our roots and traditions.”
The matters he’s coated to this point embody the Maya calendar and the use and advantages of conventional Maya herbs. In future applications, he plans to host Indigenous artists from Guatemala and speak about temazcals, low-heat sweat lodges, Icala stated.
He hopes this system will assist younger individuals with Okay’iche’ roots who’re raised within the U.S. study extra about their very own tradition and historical past, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
He’d additionally just like the present to function a useful resource for Okay’iche’ natives, a few of whom may not communicate Spanish, in addition to set up a way of pleasure amongst these raised with the Okay’iche’ language, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
“I believe for many individuals, it’s one thing very stunning (to listen to Okay’iche’ on the radio),” Icala Tiriquiz stated. “It’s a great way for individuals to worth what they’ve.”
The Okay’iche’ individuals are simply one in all a number of Indigenous Maya teams which are unfold throughout components of southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize and different close by nations.
In Guatemala alone, there are 21 different Mayan communities that make up nearly all of the nation’s inhabitants and roughly 26 Indigenous Mayan languages which are nonetheless in use, in accordance with the Minority Rights Group Worldwide, a human rights group primarily based out of London.
However the measurement of the Mayan group throughout the U.S. has traditionally been arduous to seize because of language limitations between census staff and people teams, amongst different points, stated Marisa Christensen Lundin, the authorized director for the California Rural Authorized Help, Inc.’s Indigenous Program, which provides authorized and academic assist for the state’s rural Indigenous Mexican and Central American communities.
Whereas the U.S. Census permits Maya individuals to point the place they’re from underneath the American Indian and Alaska Native response to the query about race, an in depth breakdown of the completely different teams who recognized as such in Sonoma County was not obtainable on the census web site.
A 2010 research of California’s Indigenous Employees that the group was part of estimated there have been 165,000 Mexican Indigenous residents, counting each youngsters and adults, residing in rural California, the study showed. Most got here from the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.
One problem for most of the those who the nonprofit works with is entry to data of their native language, versus Spanish, which they could be not communicate very fluently, Christensen Lundin stated.
In Sonoma County, the nonprofit has labored with Indigenous Chatino, Mixteco, Triqui and Zapotec individuals, teams that originate from Mexico, she added.
Whereas Indigenous those who transfer to the U.S. from southern Mexico and Central America usually face discrimination from each Latinos and Individuals due to their id ― which may result in disgrace ― Christensen Lundin has additionally seen a brand new wave of younger Indigenous people who find themselves proudly embracing who they’re, she stated.
“We do see a resurgence, or a way of significance and desperation to say and protect their languages,” she stated.
You’ll be able to attain Workers Author Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or email@example.com. On Twitter @nashellytweets.