Culture

You Can Help Save Indigenous Languages From Extinction By Downloading One Of These 5 Apps

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For many of us, our ability to speak Spanish or Portuguese is a huge part of our Latinidad. But with millions of people speaking Indigenous languages in Latin America, we know this is far from the truth. Spanish is, of course, one thing that unites most of Latin America together, but it’s a language that was imposed on us. It’s one reason some Mexican writers have rejected Spanish to write in Indigenous languages. For those of us who are interested in learning Indigenous languages, technology has become a serious lifeline.

We already use apps for dating and social media to checking the weather or shopping, so why not use it to help us get in touch with our deeper identity?

Several apps have sprung over the last few years to help us learn the Indigenous languages of Latin America. If you’re looking to take on a new language, here are a few apps you should check out:

Náhuatl

Credit: Matthew Powell / Flickr

With an estimated 1.5 million speakers, Náhuatl is the most commonly spoken Indigenous language in Mexico. Yet despite its prevalence in rural Mexico, there are still few courses or resources available for learning it.

The digital app “Vamos a Aprender Náhuatl” (Let’s Learn Náhuatl) offers learners the chance to approach the language as spoken in the town of Acatlán, in the southern state of Guerrero. In a self-taught manner, you can learn the numbers, greetings, animals, body parts, fruits, plants, and some verbs. The app – which is in Spanish and Náhuatl – also features quizzes to help users retain their lessons.

Mixtec

Credit: @fonsecahendris / Instagram

Kernaia has also developed an app for learning Mixtec, a branch of Indigenous languages spoken by more than half a million people. The app allows learners to navigate through 20 language lessons which teach greetings, numbers, and colors. The lessons are all set in the Santa Inés de Zaragoza community in the southern state of Oaxaca, and the app teaches people about the culture and traditions of the community.

Purépecha

Credit: VillageBosque / Instagram

The Kernaia project says that its mission is to create “an ecosystem of digital content for Indigenous languages.” To move toward this goal, the organization has created a similar app for Purépecha, a language spoken by nearly 200,000 people in the western state of Michoacán.

After the passing of Mexico’s Indigenous language law in 2000, languages including Purépecha were given official status equal with Spanish in the areas where it is spoken. Digital learning aids such as those offered by Kernaia are vital to heightening awareness of both the Purépecha language and the culture of the Purépecha people, who often experience poverty and marginalization.

As well as teaching words related to daily activities, Kernaia’s website says that the app offers a journey into “the space where they take place: the family, the community, the kitchen, the field, the celebrations, and other elements that represent the town’s identity and enrich our cultural diversity.”

Habla Quechua

Credit: ilovelanguages / Youtube

Quechua’s one of the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Americas. PromPerú developed the Habla Quechua app “with the aim of inspiring Peruvian citizens and foreigners to use and take an interest in the Quechua language.” The app – which is available to English, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish speakers – features quizzes and a live translator feature.

Duolingo

DuoLingo offers courses in more than 20 languages, including the Jopará dialect of Guaraní, which is spoken in Paraguay. There is also a course for Navajo that is currently in Beta. The app offers quizzes and immediate grading.

So what do you think? Are there any Indigenous languages you’d like to learn that don’t have an app yet?

Seven South American Nations Sign An Environmental Pact To Protect The Amazon, Just Like Three Months Too Late

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Seven South American Nations Sign An Environmental Pact To Protect The Amazon, Just Like Three Months Too Late

Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images

There is a wise old Mexican saying that goes: “Ahogado el niño se tapa el pozo“. It roughly translates as “Once the child drowns the well is shut off”. In other words, sometimes horrible things need to happen for people to react and come up with solutions or at least a bit of an effort to prevent further catastrophes. Well, that’s the feeling that we get with the recently signed pact to protect the Amazon after fires savaged los pulmones de la Madre Tierra for weeks. 

The meeting was initially called by the host and the Peruvian president, as the Sunday Star Times reports: “The host, Colombian President Ivan Duque, and his Peruvian counterpart Martin Vizcarra called for the meeting following global outrage over a surge in the number of fires in Brazil’s Amazon region this year, which triggered protests at Brazilian diplomatic missions worldwide over Bolsonaro’s alleged indifference to environmental concerns”. So what is the pact all about and what is the deal with Bolsonaro?

The pact was signed by seven South American nations.

Credit: default. Digital image. Euronews.

The signing countries are: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Surinam. The pact was signed in the Colombian town of Leticia, deep in the Amazon, last Friday September 6. The pact has 14 points and it focuses on improvements to disaster response coordination among the seven countries, and increased satellite monitoring of the world’s largest rainforest. Other notable points include education around environmental matters and an increased participation of indigenous communities on policies and projects. The document also looks to curb illegal species trafficking, illegal mineral extraction, deforestation and planting of illicit crops (so, drugs). 

The host, Colombian president Ivan Duque, called for unity.

Credit: Instagram. @ivanduquemarquez

The host said: “This meeting will live on as a co-ordination mechanism for the presidents that share this treasure – the Amazon”. But he also expressed a wider message: “We believe that this is a moral duty, our societies are increasingly aware of the need to protect our shared home, of our Mother Earth”. We certainly hope these are more that pretty words. As abuelitas say, del dicho al hecho hay mucho trecho. It is worth noting that the original owners of the land were present, as CE Noticias Financieras reports: “Representatives of indigenous communities were also present at the meeting and the instance was concretized to a traditional ceremonial area in the Monilla Amena community”. 

Notably absent was Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, who “attended” via video conference.

Credit: Instagram. @michellebolssonaro

The Brazilian leader, who has been widely criticized for his reluctance to accept foreign aid during the fires, was at hospital at the time. Bolsonaro, however, delivered a message that can only be read as support for continuing efforts to mine indigenous reserves and protected areas. He said:  “Our riches will be utilized in a sustainable way, in accordance to the resources that we have”. We don’t have to read too much between the lines to realize that this is a somewhat veiled way to say they will continue exploiting the Amazon for its natural resources… wildlife and indigenous rights be damned. 

Only two Amazon countries did not sign the pact: Venezuela and France, who owns the French Guiana.

Credit: Instagram. @picturesoftheamazon

Will they join in the efforts to protect the biggest single source of oxygen in the world? We certainly hope so. They also have to be held accountable!

And there were some discrepancies over the ways in which the Amazon can be saved.

Credit: Instagram. @TheForestInitiative

The participants in this meeting didn’t all see eye to eye. Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno, who was himself born in the Amazon, said: “We are killing the Earth, and all of us are responsible”. But Bolsonaro claimed that foreign countries were using the fires to conspire against the sovereignty of the regions’ nations.  So clearly out of the seven at least Brazil is looking after industry lobbyists, perhaps?

But at the end we are all responsible for our planet and the Amazon fires were yet another wake up call! 

Credit: Instagram. @climatesavemovement

Environmentalists and activists in pro of animal rights stressed out the fact that the Amazon fires were in part to blame on the meat industry. While we can disagree with a total ban on meat, fact is that climate-related emergencies will be the norm rather than the exception in the coming years, and we do have to thing about our consumption habits and the ways in which we harvest riches from the land. 

Truth is, politicians will always use catastrophes to increase their profile, so we have to ALL make an effort to protect the environment.

Credit: Instagram. @evomoralesayma

Perhaps we are being too cynical, but the Amazon disaster has conveniently brought out the best out of politicians. Evo Morales, for example, has had too many photo ops related to the rainforest relief efforts, right in the middle of an electoral campaign and when his long rule over Bolivia is being harshly questioned by the opposition. So it is up to us, as Latinos and as human beings, to hold those in power accountable for protecting our home. 

Dior Releases Insensitive Indigenous Fragrance Ad Featuring #MeToo Accused Johnny Deep Speaking For An Indigenous Dancer

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Dior Releases Insensitive Indigenous Fragrance Ad Featuring #MeToo Accused Johnny Deep Speaking For An Indigenous Dancer

Update: Dior announced over the weekend that it pulled its campaign for the fragrance Sauvage after complaints of racism.

We honestly thought Dior had learned its lesson. Less than a year after the Parisian brand released an insensitive cultural ad starring Jennifer Lawrence in which she wore Mexican-inspired fashions, the high-luxe company is at it again. Months ago, Dior was completely open about the fact that Dior’s creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri has a love affair with Mexican culture, and that’s totally okay, but why not celebrate Mexico by using Mexican models?

Now they’re doing it again, but it’s worse.

Dior released a new advertisement for their fragrance Sauvage, and the aesthetic is full-on Native American-themed.

The brand released the images and videos on social media, which shows Indigenous dancer, and member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe,  Canku One Star. The imagery is stunning and vibrant. Canku One Star dances while wearing traditional Native American attire on top of the mountainous plain.

The problem with this is that people haven’t forgotten that Dior is a FRENCH brand ( a country that colonized the North Americas and excessively abused Indigenous people). Also, we haven’t forgotten that tiny part about what the brand did with the Mexican-inspired collection that featured zero Mexican models either.

The brand was already expecting the backlash clearly because, on their Instagram page, they were very particular about their wording.

“An authentic journey deep into the Native American soul in a sacred, founding and secular territory,” they stated on Instagram. “A film developed as a close collaboration between the House of Dior and Native American consultants from the 50-year old Indigenous advocacy organization, @americansforindianopportunity in order to respect Indigenous cultures, values and heritage.

Okay, so they had approval, but then it got worse.

The ad also features the one and only Johnny Depp.

Jean-Baptiste Mondino directs the film that shows Depp wearing his traditional “rock star” look that comes with a cowboy hat, walking around the Canyonlands, in Utah — home to the Utes and Apaches tribes. Depp isn’t alone in the ad because he is being spied on by a Native woman, played by model Tanaya Beatty.

Now, before you freak out, Beatty is actually of Native American descent as well. The Canadian model and actress is part of the Da’Naxda’xw Nation indigenous people of British Columbia, Esquire reports. Then Depp finds a guitar and because he is a musician begins to play portions of a song called “Rumble,” written by Link Wray, who is also a descent of Native American people.

Depp is celebrating Native American culture but just a reminder he is a white man from Kentucky. Even if he was adopted in his later age by a Native American woman.

Yes, Depp’s “adoptive” mother is indeed LaDonna Harris of the Comanche people. La Donna and her daughter, Laura Harris, are the president and executive director of the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) organization. They are the same group that was consulted for the ad. However. It is important to note that Depp became adopted as an honorary son by Harris in 2012. The same exact year, and during, his promotion of the controversial film The Lone Ranger, in which he was seen playing the part of an Indigenous person. What’s more, while Depp was adopted by Harris, he was never adopted into, and never became a member of any tribe.

People on social media didn’t seem to care about Depp’s connection to Native people, or that Dior got permission to use Native imagery.

They just want Dior to stop profiting off minority people. Sure, it’s nice Dior attempted to use proper consultations for this ad, their film, and their entire branding. However, is any of the money made from this product going back to Native people at all?

Of course, there had to have been at least one person of color saying stop, right?

Were they too afraid to speak up?

We haven’t even gotten to the fact that the name of the perfume is actually a derogatory word that Native people have often been described as.

Why didn’t the Native consultants say ‘maybe call it something else’?

Did Dior also forget that Depp was awful as a representative of Native people in “The Lone Ranger”?

There a ton of Native male models. We would have loved to have seen any of them.

But let’s see both sides for a second. They did incorporate a lot of authentic Native inclusiveness.

Dior did well with the consultants, and well with the female model and the Native dancer. It was just Depp. He ruined the entire thing. Oh, and the fact that we’re still wondering if Dior is giving a single dollar to Native causes from the earnings of this product. But what do we know? According to People magazine, the Comanche people said Depp is the “perfect embodiment of an intense Sauvage man,” and added that he is after all adopted by the Comanche community.

Watch the entire ad below and let us know what you think.

Update: Dior has deleted all images and video from their social media pages. Guess they learned their lesson.

READ: All Of The Mexicanas In Hollywood Dior Could Have Asked To Represent Their Mexican-Inspired Line That Aren’t Jennifer Lawrence