Native Village News Articles For Grandmother Julieta
[Below are several articles selected from Native Village News publications housed in our archives. The Grandmothers say that in the Spirit World, all time exists at once. To remind us of this, each article's publication date is omitted.] 
For more information about these and other news articles, please visit:
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Mexico:  Several thousand police recently attacked teachers' protesting in the state of Oaxaca . Entering the teacher's camp at 4.40 am, police fired tear gas and brutally beat strikers, killing several. Some believe the attack was an attempt by Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortmz to crush the more than 50,000 striking schoolteachers who called for his resignation. According to teachers, Ortmz has spent millions of pesos on unnecessary buildings and siphoned money to his business. Moreover, strikers allege that some 900,000 pesos have disappeared into PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) funds. The lengthy teachers' strike more than a dispute over teachers' salaries. The National Education Workers' Union has attracted massive support for its demands:
Equal pay throughout the state. Oaxaca is now divided into three salary zones based on cost of living;

An increase for students receiving grants, which now amount to 450 pesos per month (that's $40 U.S. dollars);

Decent schools, classroom supplies, and government funding for uniforms, which poor families can't afford, so kids stay home. 

The National Education Workers' Union has attracted massive support for its demands. Teachers in Mexico are usually very underpaid but highly popular in their local communities. They have long been a center of militancy and the social movements.

The Fleecing of Navajo Weavers
Arizona:  90% of indigenous peoples who live in America's Southwest depend on crafts as their principal or secondary source of income. Yet, of the yearly $1,000,000,000 sales of American Indian arts and crafts, more than 50% is “fake,” said Andy Abeita of the Council for Indigenous Arts and Culture. Thousands of Diné (Navajo) weavers are finding their historic patterns copied abroad, then imported and sold in the U.S.   Imitation Navajo weaving is produced in Guatemala, Peru, Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Japan, Egypt, Hungary, Romania, northern Thailand and, in particular, Oaxaca, Mexico. In fact, a Google search for “Navajo rugs” returned more than 140,000 hits.  The first 100 sites were either those reselling historic Navajo textiles,  or dozens of firms advertising “Navajo-inspired” rugs.  Navajo weavers say that their incomes have declined at least 40% in the past 10 years.  Only a handful of the 25,000 weavers make an adequate living.   Many are hoping anthropologists will help Navajo weavers by bringing this into discussion within the academic realm. Fair traders can help by marketing cultural diversity and encouraging weavers to use their own designs. 

Cultural Survival Quarterly

Preserving a language, safeguarding a culture
Mexico: An Oaxacan woman, Emiliana Cruz, has completed a Ph.D. on her indigenous language. She hopes her knowledge will help improve conditions for her community. "The primary force that motivates me in striving to keep the Chatino language alive is that the language is not just a verbal form of communication," she says, "but rather it is intimately connected with the cultural reality of the Chatino people and their complex history, dynamic cultural development, and diversity with all its own richness." Although some experts believe 50-60 languages exist in Mexico, Enrique Fernando Nava, from the National Institute of Indigenous Languages, believes up to 150 different languages are spoken nationwide. "Zapoteco, for example, is not really one language but rather a family of languages," he explains, referring to the largest linguistic group in Oaxaca. "The same is true of Mixteco and Chinanteco and many others."  The number of people speaking indigenous languages is in rapid decline. According to Emiliana, it's because the dominant mestizo (mixed-race) culture devalues indigenous language and culture. "In Mexico, indigenous languages are not considered valid for education and for written communication because they are thought of as incomplete and are looked upon as simply dialects or sub-languages," she says.

Goldman Winner Donates Prize to Forest Struggle
Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, a Tarahumara Indian leader from Mexico, has received the 2005 North American Goldman Award. The Goldman Awards, knows as the "Environmental Nobel," honors environmental heroes from each of the six continental regions. Lopez was honored for his fight to protect Tarahumara land from the illegal logging. Baldenegro is donating his $125,000 prize to the Sierra Madre Alliance, a U.S.-Mexican nonprofit aimed at helping the Tarahumara and the Tepehuan pursue land-rights claims.
Sierra  Club

Mexican drug gangs force Indians to drop tradition
Sinaloa, Mexico: Armed drug gangs from Sinaloa state are forcing Indians in Sonora and Chihuahua to abandon their traditional crops and grow marijuana and heroin poppies. The tribes--the Tarahumara, Guarijio and Pima--have lived in caves and log cabins in the Western Sierra Madre Mountain range in the area for millennia, surviving on subsistence corn crops.  "While some elders are trying to conserve traditional festivals linked to the maize harvest, the arrival of these groups from Sinaloa brings ... western clothes, cassette recorders, pistols and the consumption of alcohol," said anthropologist Alejandro Aguilar.  Aguilar also said the drug gangs had forced some Indian communities to worship Jesus Malverde, the patron saint of the drug runners. "The elements from Sinaloa are ... asking them to venerate the image of Malverde, the patron saint of the narcos, who is not recognized by the Church."

Mexico: Each year, Mexico imports between 5 - 6,000,000 tons of maize from the United States.  Almost half of that corn is genetically modified. In 2001, the Mexican region where modern corn originated showed signs of genetic contamination. The report raised alarm and sparked protest from global activists and groups around the world.  Now according to reports from Ohio State University, the problem has disappeared. "We sampled maize seeds from 870 plants in 125 fields and 18 localities in the state of Oaxaca during 2003 and 2004," researchers wrote in their report. They tested more than 150,000 seeds and found no evidence of transgenes -- the spliced-in genes used to engineer the corn. "We now know that transgenic maize isn't growing in Oaxaca."  said Exequiel Ezcurra, a former Mexican official who worked on the study. He credited an educational campaign that raised awareness among Oaxaca farmers.  "If transgenic material had got into the community because people were planting imported grain inadvertently, then from 2001 onwards, the communities were well-informed and they knew how to avoid planting grain of unknown origin," Ezcurra said.

Zapotec women make art their business
Mexico: San Marcos is a Zapotec Indian village in the central valley of Oaxaca.  It is rapidly losing its men -- and,  increasingly, whole families -- to the prospect of higher wages in the North. In response, women like Macrina Mateo Martínez make up for their absence by adapting the ways of an ancient tradition: red-earth pottery. "We work red clay," Mateo said proudly of the women of San Marcos. "We’ve done it for centuries... We go to Oaxaca and other places to sell our work, to make a little money to support the family." Mateo began pottery making at age 8 by watching her mother and grandmother roll out red clay in the house where Mateo still lives. The clay comes from nearby  mines where women dig out the red earth during the winter months before bringing it back to dry. The location of the mines remains a well-kept secret.