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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Indigeous Mexican Books

In 1993 the Oaxaca native literacy project incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in mexico. all board members are native speakers of Mexican Indian languages. The organization is called "CELIAC" which stands for "centro editorial de literatura indigena, a.c.". ... the "a.c." stands for "asociacion civil" which means "not-for-profit corporation." Thus, in 1993, Celiac became a publishing house for indigenous literature, written in indigenous languages. Celiac continues its training mission. Since 1988, Celiac has trained 123 indians from six countries in how to use computers to write books in native languages.

In January of this year, celiac moved into its own building in Oaxaca and began publishing books in indigenous languages. Celiac is marketing its books to scholars, libraries, and any interested persons who may wish to purchase the books. Celiac markets its books in hard copy and on disk. book-length texts on disk are a resource for many scholarly activities, including the making of dictionaries.

A 50,000-word text, generated by a native speaker, is likely to have from 2000 to 4000 unique words. it can take a fieldworking linguist several years to accumulate a list of that many words. and all the unique words in a native-generated written text are, by definition, in context.

Next year, Celiac will begin issuing its books on audiotape, recited by the authors themselves.

Colleagues who work with indigenous peoples of Latin America are invited to contact Celiac. At Celiac, indigenous teachers offer instruction (in spanish) to other spanish-speaking indigenous people on how to write books in indigenous languages. during the training, the authors reside in the celiac building and interact with others who are also learning how to write in various indigenous languages.

Learning to handle the computers and to write fluidly in the indigenous language takes about a month, in our experience. however, authors should stay for at least three months if they wish to leave with a completed manuscript in hand. the costs are modest, but even as a not-for-profit organization, celiac has to cover its costs. celiac has some to support native authors who have no support.

Following is a list of the books now available from celiac.


CELIAC (Centro Editorial en Literatura Indigena, A.C.) is a not-for-profit, indigenous-language publishing center in Oaxaca, Mexico. CELIAC's books are published in perfect-bound, paperback editions and as PC disk files. Most of CELIAC's books cost $30 per volume. Tiburcio Perez' book of Totonac poetry (book #1 on the list below) costs $60. It contains 53 color drawings by the author. Prices include shipping in the U.S. Canada, and Mexico. For other countries, add $10 per volume.

Disk versions of CELIAC books are in MS-DOS, WordPerfect 5.1 format. Disks cost $30 each if purchased separately, but are $10 with the purchase of a book.

Proceeds from sales of CELIAC books support indigenous authors and also support the distribution of books to local schools. Following is a list of the books now available or in press. (Note: We do not show special characters, like the barred i or the dieresis, on e- mail. We do, however, show the Spanish enye as n^.)

1. X'TACHWIN X'TATLIN LI TUTUNAKU (Palabra y Canto de los Totonacos), by Tiburcio Perez Gonzalez (Jun). Poetry in Totonac and Spanish. Over 50 original color illustrations by the author. Publication date: May 1994.

Cost: $60.00 USC

2. KA TEKS CHSO'ONHAN NHA' DILL GOLHZ GAKAN (Cuentos y Leyendas en Idioma Zapoteco de la Sierra Norte; Area Cajonof: Yaganiza, San Mateo, Xagacia, y Carizal), by Alfredo Rios Belem. In Zapotec. Publication date: June 1994.

Cost: $30.00 USC

3. NA KAA IYO YO CHI NUU CHIKUA'A (La Vida Cotidiana de Jicayan,Volume I), by Josefa Leonarda Gonzalez Ventura. In Mixtec. Publication date: March, 1993. Cost: $30.00 USC

4. LA VIDA COTIDIANA DE JICAYAN. (Na Kaa Iyo Yo Chi Nuu Chikua'a Volume I), by Josefa Leonarda Gonzalez Ventura. In Spanish. Publication date: March 1994. Cost: $30.00 USC

5. LALA IA TI JUJMI KI TSA KO WI (Asi se Cuenta en el Idioma Chinanteco de Ojitlan), by Fidel Pereda Ramon and Bartola Morales Garcia. In Chinantec. Publication date: late 1994.

6. TE'EN NI TUI NUU YO (Asi se Fundo Nuestro Pueblo), by Pablo Hernandez Hernandez. In Mixtec. Publication date: late 1994. 7. RA NT'EMEE MAYA'MU 'NE MAPAYA (La Religion Tradicional y Religion Contemporanea), by Jesus Salinas Pedraza. In N^ahn^u (Otomi) and Spanish. Publication date: mid-1994. The English edition of this book is available in H.R. Bernard and J. Salinas, Native Ethnography, Sage Publications, 1989. In Spanish and N^ahn^u, late 1994 or early 1995.

8. RA 'MEDE RA HNINI RA DEXTO (Historia de la Comunidad de El Dexto), by Jesus Salinas Pedraza. In N^ahn^u and Spanish. Publication date: Early 1995.

9. YELESI'IN CHE BENE' GOLHE JSESHE (Los Conocimientos de los Ancianos de Yatzachi el Bajo), by Digna Salvador Eugenio. In Zapotec and Spanish. Publication date: late 1994.

10. TYUSU CHA NAKATYI NUYIVI NUU KASANDO'O (Cuentos que Narra la Gente de Jamiltepec), by Miguel Lopez Hernandez. In Mixtec and Spanish. Publication date: late 1994

In progress:

11. COLECCION DE ADIVINANZAS INFANTILES, by Miguel Lopez Hernandez. In Mixtec

12. FLORA Y FAUNA, by Luis Alonso. In Zapoteco de la Sierra Juarez, Oaxaca

13. CANTEMOS JUNTOS PUEBLO MIO (Composicion de canciones), by Apolonio Bartolo Ronquillo. In Mazatec and Spanish.

14. KOJPK AYUUK, KOJPK WINMAA'NY (Palabra y Pensamiento del Cerro), by Palemon Vargas Hernandez. In Mixe and Spanish.

CELIAC's books may be purchased directly from CELIAC. Contact Box 1530, Oaxaca, Oax. Mexico 68000, or CELIAC, Avenida Ejercito Mexicano 1107, Colonia Ampliacion Dolores, Oaxaca, Oaxaca, 68020 Mexico.

Payment for CELIAC books may be made by international bank draft, or you may wire funds directly to CELIAC. For details in Spanish, contact CELIAC on e-mail at CELIAC@laneta.igc.apc.org or call Jesus Salinas or Josefa Gonzalez at CELIAC: 011-52- 951-59725 or 59729. For details in English, contact H. Russell Bernard at UFRUSS@NERVM.NERDC.UFL.EDU

If you wish to sponsor a native author at CELIAC, or help CELIAC purchase a computer for a village, or underwrite the distribution of CELIAC'sbooks to village schools, contact Russell Bernard (address above). These tax-deductible contributions to the project are handled by the University of Florida Foundation, Inc.

Contact Jesus Salinas or Josefa Gonzalez by phone, mail, or e-mail (addresses below) if you'd like to visit CELIAC.


"Research.Latino" (MCLRIMOD@MSU.EDU)
"Lourdes Kuthy" (Kuthylou@pilot.msu.edu)
"Diana.Rivera" (20676DHR@MSU.EDU)

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.