Culture

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

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

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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

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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?

11 Free Classes To Help You Walkout Of Quarantine As A Better Version Of Yourself

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11 Free Classes To Help You Walkout Of Quarantine As A Better Version Of Yourself

asisebaila/ Instagram

OK…so most of us have now been under stay-at-home quarantine orders for a few weeks now. And although I’ve alternated mostly between getting some work done and then eating (not well, I might add) and sleeping – I’ve been interested in trying to do something different during all of this.

Sure I could binge watch all the new series on Netflix or endlessly scroll through my Facebook and Instagram feeds, but I’m already bored with that. So what’s one to do?

Here is a roundup of some of the top free, fun, and cool classes that you can take online right now to help keep yourself busy:

Brush Up On Your Latin American History With A University Professor

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We all know that we’re taught very little – if anything at all – about Latinx culture in the United States. Thankfully, we have access to great online resources, our families, and Latino literature to help keep us informed. Well now you can also sign up for the University of Houston’s Latin American History Through the Novel course.

Channel That Inner Creativity Into Art

Brit + Co is offering all of their classes for free during the pandemic. All you have to do to take advantage of their top-selling courses is use the code SELFCARE at checkout and you’ll quickly be learning how to decorate cakes, take wedding photos, improve your Instagram skills, and so much more.

Become A Tech Genius And Learn How To Code

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If HTML, JavaScript and JPEG are foreign concepts, then a coding class is the way to get computer literate. This free coding class can teach you coding basics and so much more with over 120 hours of training. It’s a great starting point for anyone, from those looking for web development basics all the way to pros looking to brush up their skills.

Get Yourself Dance Floor Ready For Once We Can Finally Go Out Again

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Everyone can dance, all it takes is some music — and tunes aren’t even needed for some forms of dance. Whether looking to learn ballet or just how to groove at a party, there’s a dance lesson for you. 305 Fitness has a plethora of free classes on YouTube.

Get Yourself An Ivy League Education

Credit: @classcentral / Twitter

The eight Ivy League schools are offering hundreds of online courses to the public for free.

Dhawal Shah, founder of the online course aggregator Class Central, compiled a list of more than 400 classes that are available in subjects as varied as Machine Learning for Data Science and Analytics from Columbia University; HOPE: Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism from Princeton University; The Science of Well-Being from Yale; and Gamification from the University of Pennsylvania.

Work On Your Fitness

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Not interested in stimulating your brain? How about your body? Many gym chains across the country have shuttered but are offering online classes for free.

Peloton is offering new users a 90-day trial on its app. This news comes as the company announced the closing of its showrooms until at least March 29. It added that this week it began producing content from its new studios in New York, “but it will be entirely closed to the public until further notice.”

Golds Gym is offering free access to its app, Goldsamp, until the end of May, where more than 600 audio and video workouts along with DJ mixes get you ready to work up a sweat. Planet Fitness is offering “Home Work-Ins” streamed live at 7 p.m. ET daily on its Facebook page.

Get Into Those Yoga Poses

Credit: Yoga With Adriene

When it comes to online yoga classes, over 6 million people trust Adriene. I’ve personally ditched the couch and went through a few videos. And they are great. In the playlists, you’ll find 30-day challenges for regular yoga practice, which work equally well for complete beginners and people who love sweating at gyms. Plus, Adriene and her doggie are super cute — so you’ll definitely enjoy their company. 

Take Ana Lilia’s 5-Minute Breathwork Meditation

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Right now we are being constantly bombarded with distressing newscasts and never-ending social media updates, so it’s especially important that we know how to de stress and unplug. This super helpful guided mediation class will help you start your day off on the right foot.

Take That Brilliant Idea And Become The Entrepreneur You Always Wanted To Be

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Perhaps because we all have so little to do right now, we’re full of extra ideas. Feel like one of those ideas could be worth launching into your own business? Then Coursera’s course titled Innovation for Entrepreneurs: From Idea To Marketplace is the online course for you – and it’s free.

Gain Some New Professional Insight Into Your Career

Recently launched School16 is offering live, remote classes every week for free, starting April 1st, for anyone who wants to learn about careers in tech like product management, sales, operations and more.

Every session is taught by leaders in companies ranging from fast growing startups to large tech firms like Slack and Google, where students hear directly from people hiring and managing these teams about what skills candidates need to have to be attractive hires, and what jobs will be available in the months and years to come. 

Get Some Cooking Tips From Michelin-Starred Chefs

Credit: MassimoBottura / Instagram

Even if you hate cooking, when else will you have the chance to learn from a Michelin chef? Massimo Bottura, whose name is associated with one of Italy’s finest restaurants, Osteria Francescana, recently announced the launch of his Instagram cooking course. It’s called Kitchen Quarantine and it’s a fun video guide to cooking basic stuff at home.

Or maybe you don’t want to do anything at all…and that’s OK too.

All of these are great options to keep yourself active and motivated during these certain times. But keep this in mind: it’s OK to not be superhuman during this crisis. One-hundred percent totally OK. It’s OK to somehow feel both productive and lazy, both stir-crazy and introverted. It’s OK to feel this crazy need to make the most of these days while nothing is regular and no rhythms are intact.

You can take this unprecedented pause in normality to learn nothing new, do nothing new, acquire nothing new — not a new skill, not a six pack, not even a new outlook on life.

It’s important to remember that there is no shame in being unproductive and uncreative, especially during a global outbreak. If you’re only resolution at present is to emerge at the end of this, with your family, alive and well, that’s OK.

An Indigenous Community In Venezuela Celebrates The Return Of A Highly-Scared Stone That Was Taken By A German Artist

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An Indigenous Community In Venezuela Celebrates The Return Of A Highly-Scared Stone That Was Taken By A German Artist

BerlinXplorer / Flickr | AP

Colonialism is alive and well. Look no further than the frequent examples of Europeans, Americans, and others taking property from Indigenous communities around the world in the name of science or art.

The British Museum is full of incredible artifacts and exhibits from around the world – due to its history as a colonial power that pillaged the communities it ruled. Although there is a growing call to start retuning many of the pieces, the museum has failed to take action.

Although it’s not all terrible news. At least one artists has returned a sacred object he took from an Indigenous community in Venezuela back in 1998.

An Indigenous community in Venezuela celebrates the return of a highly-scared stone that was taken from them by a German artist.

The sacred stone returned to its home in Venezuela, more than two decades after it was taken for a public art exhibition in the German capital, Berlin.

Venezuelan state TV showed a large crate containing the 30-ton stone (that’s more than 60,000 pounds) being lifted by a crane from a ship docked at a Venezuelan port – beginning its journey back to the Gran Sabana region. The stone, sacred to Venezuela’s Pemon community, originated in the famous grassland region known for its flat-topped mountains and the world’s tallest waterfall.

The stone’s removal stirred strain between Germany and Venezuela, including protests by tribal members outside the German embassy in Caracas.

It had been displayed among five large stones in Tiergarten Park in Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate and Holocaust Memorial.

Credit: Z.C. Dutka / Flickr

The so-called Kueka stone from Venezuela represented love, according to the artist’s webpage. Other hulking stones collected from around the world in the Global Stones Project symbolized awakening, hope, forgiveness and peace. 

The Pemons believe it represents the story of star-cross lovers, each turned to stone by a deity as punishment for marrying a member of another tribe.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has described the stone as “spiritual treasure.”

President Nicolás Maduro in a nightly TV broadcast welcomed it home, calling it a “spiritual and cultural treasure” at a time when Venezuela and the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. He said the stone will next be trucked to the remote corner of southern Venezuela where it originated. 

“The Kueka stone begins its its journey back to the place it had always been for thousands of years,” Maduro said.

Venezuelan officials said Germany returned it in a “friendly agreement,” as a sign of “goodwill and willingness to respect the peoples’ cultural rights.”

The Kueka stone was taken from Venezuela more than two decades ago to be part of a public exhibition in the German capital.

Credit: BerlinXplorer / Flickr

Bavarian artist Wolfgang Kraker von Schwarzenfeld removed the so-called Kueka stone from Venezuela in 1998. He claimed that the Venezuelan government had given him permission to use it for an exhibition, saying it would symbolize love.

Von Schwarzenfeld’s Global Stones Project brought together five large stones from across the globe, with the others symbolizing awakening, hope, forgiveness and peace.

“I spoke with ministers, indigenous people, managers and the man on the street, and learned about Venezuelans’ ambitions and problems,” von Schwarzenfeld said. “I filed an application and started the project. South of the Orinoco River, I found a red granite boulder to be the first stone for my project.”

The stone’s return marks a solution agreed to by all sides.

Maduro’s government championed the cause of the Pemon community, working its diplomatic relationship with Germany to get the stone back.

Culture Minister Pedro Calzadilla told state television the donation was “illegitimate” because the stone was part of “the cultural patrimony of the (Pemon) community”. Prosecutors are looking into the stone’s removal because “whoever authorized the removal of the Grandmother committed a crime”, he said.

Pemon tribespeople often demonstrated outside Germany’s embassy in Caracas with spears, feather headdresses and banners saying “The Pemon People Want Our Wise Grandmother Back.” The German envoy promised to relay their feelings to Berlin, while telling them it would be no easy task to return the stone. 

German Foreign ministry spokesman Andreas Peschke said Berlin wanted a solution “agreed by all sides – Venezuela, the indigenous groups, the artist and the city of Berlin.”