MEXICO IS ONE OF THE WORLD’S most linguistically diverse nations: the country has 364 indigenous dialects that belong to 68 distinct languages, all which branch off from 11 language families. These languages derive from the many indigenous civilizations that inhabited the country before Spanish colonization.
And yet today, it also has one of the highest rates for language extinction. Cultural stigmas around the country often depict indigenous language as backward, and so young people feel pressure to culturally assimilate by speaking only Spanish.
Thankfully, new initiatives are beginning to change this. The Mexican government Fund for the Culture and Arts (FONCA) recently started Sesenta y Ocho Voces, Sesenta y Ocho Corazones (in English, 68 voces), an initiative to preserve Mexico’s indigenous languages through documenting their legends, poems, and stories in film.
Below are the first seven films from the initiative, covering the dialects of Huasteco, Maya, Mixteco, Náhuatl, Totonaco, Yaqui and Zapoteco languages.