document | Chiapas, Mexico and the indigenous language Tsotsil

  • Chiapas is well-known for having one of the largest and most diverse indigenous populations in Mexico with approximately 959,066 indigenous language speakers over the age of five, or 27% of the state’s population. This state is home to nine major ethnicities and was a center of the Mayan Empire with ceremonial city centers in Palenque and Yaxchilán. The history of Chiapas indigenous groups is different from other parts of Mexico in that much of the state was a frontier that has only recently been settled and freed from a long period of relatively lawless exploitation by diverse interests. It is only in the highlands that indigenous territories were left alone. Elsewhere, many indigenous communities had their territories expropriated to establish commercial estates and were either converted to indentured labor or fled to frontier areas to create new settlements. With colonization, a number of indigenous populations from neighboring states with different traditions arrived to Chiapas.

  • Category: Aboriginal language
  • Thematic area: Language endangerment
  • Call topics: Social inclusion and solidarity (e.g. recognition of sign languages)
  • Major objective: Deliver capacities to take concrete actions and measures to support, access and promote indigenous languages
  • Area of intervention: Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation