In California, growing community of speakers of indigenous Mexican languages

Radio Indigena, a radio station started by Proyecto Mixteco Inidigena, has been broadcasting in indigenous Mexican languages such as Mixtec, Zapotec, and Triqui for about a year and a half now. It serves the growing community of Mexican migrants in Ventura County, many of them farmworkers.

When Linda Ford became CEO of Natividad Hospital in Salinas, CA, one of the first things her staff wanted her to change was the fact that they could not communicate with many of their patients, speakers of indigenous languages. However, when she searched for local interpreting agencies for languages such as Mixtec, she came up empty. This prompted the hospital to start its own interpretation agency, Indigenous Interpreters Plus.

Many members of the Mexican community in the area had already been acting as interpreters for friends and family, like Angelica, who has informally interpretted for two decades. Ready and willing interpreters were not hard to find in the hospital’s own waiting room.

Many of these indigenous farmworkers came after NAFTA was signed, when they felt they could not make a living off of their own corn farms. Some children who came over with their parents for this reason are now adults, like Israel, who is now a Triqui translator for Natividad Hospital.

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Image source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/74/Amtrak_train_station_Salinas_ca.jpg/320px-Amtrak_train_station_Salinas_ca.jpg

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About Leo Schumann 15 Articles

Hello! I am Leo. I am interested in languages and linguistics. I study many language/linguistics related topics in the college. I am also an avid language-learner hobbyist; on my own, I have taught myself some North Frisian (Nordfriesisch/Nordfriisk) and basic Spanish. I have also taught ESOL and enjoy teaching others. I am currently teaching myself to read Mayan hieroglyphs. I am relatively comfortable speaking English, German, and Spanish.

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