Special Issue 2015: Ni sombras ni proscritos: Indigenous Presence in the U.S. Latina/o Community

November 23, 2015 edited by Michele Shaul and Kathryn Quinn-Sánchez
Filed under: Special Issue 2015: Ni sombras ni proscritos: Indigenous Presence in the U.S. Latina/o Community 

Introduction to the present edition


Xujal runa’öj: The Moral Dangers of Transforming from Kaqchikel Maya to Latino/a in the US

By Joyce Bennett

Joyce Bennett earned her Ph.D. from Tulane University in 2014. She began research in the Kaqchikel-speaking region of Guatemala in 2006. Her work focuses on returned migrants’ use of language and clothing. Her teaching focuses on migration, gender, sexuality, and violence.

“Xib’e pa el Norte”: Ethnographic Encounters with Kaqchikel Maya Migration to New York near Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

By Tiffany Creegan Miller

Tiffany Creegan Miller is an Assistant Professor of Spanish in the Department of Languages at Clemson University. Her research interests include indigenous rights movements, gender inequalities, postcolonial theory, performance studies, and digital humanities. She also currently serves as the Kaqchikel Maya Language Instruction Coordinator and volunteers as an interpreter/translator for Wuqu’ Kawoq, a medical NGO which provides health care services and promotes indigenous language rights and literacy in Guatemala.

Maya Migrant Youth in Los Angeles: Telling Oral Narratives on Border Crossings and Survival

By Alicia Ivonne Estrada

Alicia Ivonne Estrada was born in Guatemala and raised in Los Angeles. She is an Associate Professor in the Chicana/o Studies Department at California State University at Northridge. Her research focuses on Maya cultural productions in Guatemala and the United States. She has published articles on contemporary Maya literature, film and radio. Some of her articles have appeared in Journal of Latino Studies, Studies in 20th and 21st Century Literature, Romance Notes, Istmo: Revista virtual de estudios literarios y culturales centroamericanos, among other journals. Her current project is a book manuscript entitled Ka Winaq: The Maya Diaspora in Los Angeles, Memory and Cultural Agency. The book explores the cultural dynamics of Maya diasporic communities in Los Angeles, California. It similarly examines the ways Mayas construct cultural, physical and social spaces in that multicultural and global city. Additionally, she is co-editing with Ester Hernández and Karina Oliva-Alvarado the critical anthology entitled U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memory, Struggles, and Communities. Since 2006, Estrada has collaborated with the Maya radio program Contacto Ancestral. The program airs every Monday night in Southern California on the community radio station KPFK and on www.kpfk.org.

Diasporic Indigeneity: Indigenizing Indigenous Immigrants and Nativizing Native Nations

By Erich Fox Tree

Erich Fox Tree is a specialist in Aboriginal/Native American studies, with a doctorate in Anthropology from Stanford University. He currently teaches in the Department of Religion and Culture at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada.  He specializes in hemispheric pan-Indigenous activism, non-Indigenous mythologies about Native peoples; and the history of Mesoamerican struggles for autonomy, with special emphasis on the Maya Movement. In recent years, he has been working to document the history, structure, and politics of indigenous Mesoamerican sign languages that K’ichee’an Mayas refer to collectively as Meemul Tziij.


Three Poems: “No Longer Insults,” “Ezell’s” and “Sari or Rebozo”

Author’s Statement: Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs

By Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs

Gabriella Gutiérrez Muhs is a Chicana poet, cultural worker, and Professor at Seattle University in Modern Languages and Women and Gender Studies. She is the author of a book of interviews with Chilean and Chicana writers and poets, Communal Feminisms: Chicanas, Chilenas, and Cultural Exile (2007) and a poetry collection, A Most Improbable Life (2003). She is first editor of the renowned publication, Presumed Incompetent: The Intersections of Race and Class for Women in Academia (2012) and the editor of Rebozos de Palabras: An Helena María Viramontes Critical Reader (2013). She is currently finalizing her debut novel, Fresh as a Lettuce: Malgré Tout. In 2011, she represented the United States in India as one of the featured poets at the Kritya International Poetry Festival.

 Artists’ Statement by Jab’ellalih and Julia Gomez Ixmatá

 Recollections of a Native Daughter

 By Jab’ellalih

 At age eleven, Jab’ellalih is still too busy reading, playing, and getting through middle school to have either the extreme disregard or the worries that plague most of the adults she knows.

 Me llaman “Latina,” Aunque No Soy // Kab’iix “Latina” Chweh, Paneh Na In Latina Taj

 By Julia Gomez Ixmatá

Julia Gomez Ixmatá is a K’ichee’-Maya artist and activist, with a teaching degree in primary education. She grew up in the indigenous K’ichee’-Maya town of Nahualá, Department of Sololá, Guatemala, where, following in the steps of her mother, she is known as one of the community’s finest traditional weavers. Since moving to the USA nearly 15 years ago, she has given numerous public talks on Maya culture, worked with scholars, and taught her language at some universities. She has also authored academic works, poems, and stories.  She is the co-author with Erich Fox Tree of a history of her hometown’s development of strategy of non-violent resistance during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, titled, Junamaam Ib’: Solidarid y Defensa Colectiva en Nahualá Durante la Violencia Guatemalteca.


 Enseñanza de maaya’taan en la Asociación Mayab, en SF, CA: Testimonio como instructor

 By Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim

Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim tiene la Licenciatura en Ciencias Antropológicas en la especialidad de Arqueología (pasante), y Licenciatura en Ciencias Antropológicas en la especialidad de Lingüística y Literatura, por la Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán. Es recopiladora de tradición oral y escritora maya. Desde 2012 imparte un taller de lengua maya durante  el verano en la Asociación Mayab, en SF, CA.

K’atik Ri Qa Ati’t: Un Fuego Ancestral                                                               

By Manuel Felipe Pérez

Manuel Felipe Pérez is Maya-Achi. He was born in Carmelita, Petén, Guatemala. Pérez migrated to the United States in the 1980s as a result of the genocide and political repression in his country. He has actively collaborated in numerous community organizations in Guatemala and the United States to address issues on human, indigenous and immigrant rights. In Guatemala, he was the vice coordinator of the program on indigenous rights for the Centro de Acción Legal de Derechos Humanos (CALDH). In 2003, Pérez co-founded the Los Angeles-based radio show, Contacto Ancestral. Since 2005, he has been the sole producer for Contacto Ancestral. The program airs every Monday night in Southern California on the community radio station KPFK and on www.kpfk.org. Pérez has also produced several documentaries. Some of these documentaries include: Mirador electoral (2003) on the participation of Guatemalan youth in the electoral process during the postwar period; Zampoc (2003) an exploration of the violence by landowners against peasants in the Guatemalan highlands; Guatemala: tu nombre da esperanza (2004) on the Maya movement in Guatemala; Exhumación (2004) on the exhumation process in Maya highland communities during postwar Guatemala; Rio (2005) gives an examination of the ecological injustice, racism and its connection to the Los Angeles river; Ixoq (2006) on the experiences of Maya-Ixil guerrilla combatants in the post-war period. Pérez has presented at various community and academic conferences like the International Indian Treaty Council, Summit of Indigenous Peoples, Latin American Studies Association (LASA), among others. He has also been an invited speaker at numerous universities across the United States.

Short Story

Yo no los maté…

By Lamberto Roque Hernández

Lamberto Roque Hernández es profesor bilingüe en inglés y español. Es escritor y artista plástico de origen zapoteco. Actualmente radica en Oakland, California. Es autor de dos obras literarias, Cartas a Crispina y Here I am. Roque es originario de San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Entrevista con Lamberto Roque Hernández

Por Leopoldo Peña

Co-Editors of the Special Edition

Leopoldo Peña is a third-year Ph.D. student at University of California, Irvine. He is a language instructor, independent photographer and somehow everything he visualizes, studies and researches is linked to his experience as a Mexican immigrant. Currently, he is beginning to research literary and visual production related to Mexican indigenous diaspora in the U.S and seeks to continue his research interests exploring the Zapotec literary tradition. He is particularly interested in looking at the emergence of political subjectivities arising from the resistance to State-centralizing projects and how such resistance produces literary and visual aesthetics that destabilize dominant national aesthetic traditions.

Paul M. Worley is Assistant Professor of World Literature in the English Department at Western Carolina University. His book, Telling and Being Told: The Storyteller and Cultural Control in Contemporary Yucatec Maya Literatures, was published in 2013 by the University of Arizona Press, and his work on Yucatec Maya language and literature has recently appeared in Chasqui, A contracorriente, and Romance Notes. His current project focuses on Maya ts’íib as a literary expression of non-Western textuality.