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 buddy and police in Los Angeles, that he determined to pursue a profession as an interpreter.
His buddy, 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 buddy to place his palms within the air, although he solely knew learn how to converse Okay’iche’, the language of the Okay’iche’ individuals, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
Icala Tiriquiz, who occurred to be together with his buddy on the time, started to translate for his buddy and for the officers, who finally let his buddy go.
However by the top of the encounter, one of many officers harshly suggested Icala Tiriquiz to cease talking his maternal language and “go examine English,” he stated.
“I began considering, ‘What ought to I do?,” Icala Tiriquiz stated of the confrontation. “’’Hand over my tradition, my language and my customs? Or rescue my tradition?’”
Three years later, Icala Tiriquiz obtained 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 area, 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 subjects he’s lined to this point embrace the Maya calendar and the use and advantages of conventional Maya herbs. In future packages, he plans to host Indigenous artists from Guatemala and discuss 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 converse Spanish, in addition to set up a way of satisfaction amongst these raised with the Okay’iche’ language, Icala Tiriquiz stated.
“I feel for many individuals, it’s one thing very lovely (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 considered one of a number of Indigenous Maya teams which can be unfold throughout elements of southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize and different close by international locations.
In Guatemala alone, there are 21 different Mayan communities that make up the vast majority of the nation’s inhabitants and roughly 26 Indigenous Mayan languages which can be nonetheless in use, in accordance with the Minority Rights Group Worldwide, a human rights group based mostly out of London.
However the dimension of the Mayan neighborhood inside the U.S. has traditionally been exhausting to seize on account 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 help 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 accessible on the census web site.
A 2010 examine of California’s Indigenous Employees that the group was part of estimated there have been 165,000 Mexican Indigenous residents, counting each kids and adults, dwelling in rural California, the study showed. Most got here from the Mexican states of Oaxaca and Guerrero.
One problem for lots of the folks that the nonprofit works with is entry to info of their native language, versus Spanish, which they could be not converse 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 folks that transfer to the U.S. from southern Mexico and Central America usually face discrimination from each Latinos and People due to their identification ― 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.