The second part of our blog continues looking at the migration of Mixtecs and Zapotecs into parts of California and sees how it has changed not only the Indigenous peoples but also the culture of where they have settled and their homeland when they have returned.
In part one we ended by mentioning a new breed of writer that is now emerging, that is writing about new topics and ideals and the changing culture of the people. In this blog we firstly concentrate on the effect the migrants have on their home culture.
The vast majority of the migrants who left Oaxaca to settle in California prefer to settle in their new adopted country but do return home for visits. It is these home visits that is the critical part of any transnationalism. It has become common for migrants who have been successful in California to be elected to return to their hometowns in Oaxaca and serve in an official capacity in some way or other. This is often to help support festive occasions usually about a local patron saint or other religious matters.
These people are termed mayordomo and this prestigious position usually organizes the important festival event. The downside of this elevated and respected position is that the mayordomo is expected to pay for the event! So it is rather a double edged sword of an opportunity. Many of the migrant Oaxans that live permanently in California often return home for such celebrations. Bringing more money to inject into the celebration and adding to the overall celebrations.
When returning home to their Oaxaca homeland many of the migrants bring with them new attitudes and ideas that they have adopted in California. This has allowed the cross-pollination of a once-closed society in Southern Mexico. Also all manner of boundaries have been redefined, from cultural, political and even religious. And it allows the people of this part of Mexico to have an affinity with a culture that is two thousand miles away.
It is quite remarkable how these Indigenous migrants have been able to transform their social and cultural ideals whilst also resisting acculturation. Most theories about migration hark on about the loss of ethnicity with long-term migration and how this may promote assimilation. The Zapotecs and Mixtecs have shown this theory to be seriously flawed, and points to the actual reverse. As these people have demonstrated it is possible to build a new life and live in distant places and retain a national identity.
The peoples of Oaxaca have shown that they have chosen to remain who they are and to remember where they originally came from. By meeting all the challenges they may well achieve their goal. And that is laid down in the United States Constitution for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And that they have a right to be different to other people, and to be respected as such.
The organization of the Zapotec and Mixtec people has been fundamental in achieving their goal and pointed a way forward for other civilizations to follow suit. These nations have produced a migrant blueprint of success.