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Essay: Mixtecs, Triquis and Zapotecs

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  • Subject area(s): Geography essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published: 7 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 490 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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Oaxaca is a state in southern Mexico, which consists of many indigenous groups such as the Mixtecs, Triquis and Zapotecs. Mixtecs are more commonly known because they can be found in Puebla and Guerrero, some of the states that border Oaxaca. In the past, Mixtecs emigrated from Oaxaca to work in the agriculture sector in Sinaloa and Baja California. This same pattern is still happening today and their migration patterns have extended to California, Arizona, Oregon and other southern eastern states in search for better wages. As the Mixtec population continues to grow in the United States, it is crucial to understand their positions in society to provide them the tools that are essential for assimilation. According to Rivera-Salgado, 165,000 Mixtecs worked in California’s Central Valley agriculture in 2010 (Rivera-Salgado 2014).
Indigenous migrants living in the United States face constant racism and discrimination from other Mexicans as well as from the dominant society in the United States because most of them speak neither Spanish nor English, but only their native language, Mixteco. The language barrier has excluded them economically, politically and socially both in their native country and in the United States. Oaxacans overall are becoming a big community and they have created organizations to help them deal with the language barrier, discrimination and support to gain rights as indigenous groups. Some organizations such as the Binational Center for Indigenous Oaxacan Development provide interpreting services to indigenous people in California and other states (Fox and Rivera-Salgado, 2001).
According to the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, twenty thousand indigenous Oaxacans live in Ventura County. The majority of Mixtecs are illegals, and they tend to be concentrated in the secondary sector but mainly in the agriculture working in citrus or strawberry fields. As a result of their illegality, they are constantly exploited in the workplace where they get paid very low wages and work for long hours. Most Mixtecs live in extreme poverty and they lack adequate housing, health care, education, food, and clothing. The fact that they can’t communicate in English or Spanish makes it harder for them to acquire appropriate services in the social institutions (Nagengast and Kearny 1990). As the population continues to increase, there is a strong need for interpreters in different social institutions to assist them.
How have indigenous Mixtecs integrated and settled in the United States? That is one question that has not been answered completely by the scholars. The majority of the research is based on Mixtecs living in Oaxaca Mexico, when we need to put more emphasis on those that live in the United States. It is fundamental to gain a deeper understanding of their lives and their struggle because they are a growing community that face many obstacles, and their children should have a better experience to excel in society. To analyze the problem it is necessary to examine the patterns and lives of those that live in the United States using socioeconomic and demographic variables.

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