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Judi Lynn

(161,382 posts)
Wed May 11, 2022, 03:32 AM May 2022



In California and several other states and cities in the United States, we Indigenous people Specifically, Zapotec and Mixtec, from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, make their way to the streets of Los Angeles.

Many of us who grew up eating tortillas and chiles daily found our calling in becoming taqueros and taqueras here.

On the border with Mexico, in Southern California, and the Central Valley, it is common to identify areas and neighborhoods where our presence is becoming more noticeable and visible day after day. In these cities, you will find establishments with products generically called “from Oaxaca” and see establishments that use unpasteurized briny quesillo self-imported from Oaxaca, not “Queso Oaxaca.” You will see our large tortillas with texture, aroma, and flavor made from heirloom corn. In these places, we supply ourselves with connections with our communities of origins back home in Mexico through our food and drinks.

We are a powerful presence that resists assimilation in California. We enunciate through our languages in our daily lives mixed with our daily mix of an Indigenous language, Spanish, and English in our words. It has turned into that after a long trajectory where constant migration has been part of our life, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples now have third-generation migrant communities here in California.



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Historical Notes about the Mixtec: Pre-Hispanic times through the Conquest

Much about the Mixteca’s pre-history is unknown, but archaeologists agree there were small farming settlements in the region by 1500 BCE. These communities grew and expanded in number so that by the period 500-750 CE there were socially stratified, urban centers. These early societies developed monumental architecture, a calendar, terrace farming, irrigation systems, and glyphic writing (Bartolomé, 1999; Carrasco, 2001).

The 10th century marked the emergence of Mixtec kingdoms, called “señorios” by the Spanish. The señorios were founded on marriage and political alliances which led to the formation of dynasties. Señorios were hierarchical in structure and included classes of greater and lesser nobles, artisans and peasants.

The first reference to Mixtec dynasties appear in the codexes1 from the 10th century. One of the greatest of the Mixtec dynasties was the Tilantongo dynasty, established upon the marriage of two nobles in the holy Mixtec city of Tilantongo in 990CE. The Tilantongo dynasty ruled until the 17th century. One of its most illustrious descendants was 8 Venado, Garra de Jaguar (8 Deer, Jaguar’s Paw, 1053-1115 CE). Several of the codexes tell his story. 8 Venado, Garra de Jaguar became lord of both Tilantongo, in the Mixteca Alta and Tututepec, on the coast, locations separated by a distance of 200 kilometers. He is hailed for having united the entire Mixteca region through battle, alliances and palace intrigues (Bartolomé, 1999).


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Sunday, 30 October 2016
Zapotec Empire of Central America

The Zapotec civilization was an indigenous pre-Columbian civilization(700 BC - 1521 AD) that flourished in the Valley of Oaxaca in Central America in present day Mexico. Archaeological evidence shows that their culture goes back at least 2,500 years.

The Zapotec left archaeological evidence at the ancient city of Monte Albán in the form of buildings, ball courts, magnificent tombs and grave goods including finely worked gold jewelry. Monte Albán was one of the first major cities in Mesoamerica and the center of a Zapotec state that dominated much of the territory that today belongs to the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

The Mesoamerican ballgame was a sport with ritual associations played since 1,400 BC by the pre-Columbian peoples of Ancient Mesoamerica. The sport had different versions in different places during the millennia, and a newer more modern version of the game, ulama, is still played in a few places by the indigenous population.

The Zapotec languages belong to a language family called Oto-manguean, an ancient family of Mesoamerican languages. It is estimated that today's Oto-manguean languages branched off from a common root at around 1500 BC. Zapotec is a tone language, which means that the meaning of a word is often determined by voice pitch, essential for understanding the meaning of different words. The Zapotec languages features up to 4 distinct tonemes: high, low, rising and falling.


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