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New video series addresses widespread violation of Indigenous communities’ language rights

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
October 14, 2019

Contact:  

  • Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Oxnard: Arcenio López, 805-483-1166, arcenio.lopez@mixteco.org
  • Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), Los Ángeles, Odilia Romero: romeroodilia@gmail.com,
    213-359-0264
  • California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA):
    Alena Uliasz, auliasz@crla.org, 209-946-0605 ext. 2012
  • Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), Fresno: Oralia Maceda, Oraliaa@centrobinacional.org, 559-499-1178

 

New video series addresses widespread violation of Indigenous communities’ language rights

Thousands of California residents don’t know they have the right to an interpreter in hospitals, clinics, courts, and schools.

Imagine being in the hospital for urgent care, or attending a meeting at your child’s school—but you can’t understand what’s being said, even though the decisions being made could have a big impact on your life.

Situations like this are all too common for thousands of Indigenous immigrants in California, even though, under US state and federal law, they have the right to access services from government-funded programs in their language.

An unprecedented new video series, “You Have the Right to an Interpreter in Your Language,” aims to address the frequent violation of Indigenous communities’ language rights by focusing on a widespread example: lack of access to interpreting services in hospitals, clinics, courts, and schools.

In legal and medical situations, lack of access to interpreters puts the outcome of a case and the wellbeing of Indigenous people at risk. For example, a Mixteco speaker in a recent study stated that, “They have not given me an interpreter during the three times I’ve given birth… I have asked for one and they say there aren’t any… I’ve had to use only hand signals to explain what I need” (Uliasz, 2018).

Created by the Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP), Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB), California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. (CRLA), and Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño (CBDIO), the videos are recorded in multiple variants of Mixteco and Zapoteco, which are languages spoken by Indigenous communities from Southern Mexico, principally from the state of Oaxaca.

Thousands of Mixteco and Zapoteco speakers reside in California today and one in three California farmworkers speaks an Indigenous Mexican language (Mines, Nichols, & Runsten, 2010). Many Indigenous immigrants primarily speak their Indigenous language and little or no Spanish or English. Often, they don’t know that they have the right to an interpreter in their language or don’t request an interpreter due to fear of being discriminated against if they admit that they speak an Indigenous language.

The “You Have a Right to an Interpreter in Your Language” videos were created to be distributed on social media, local television stations, or other platforms where community members can access them and learn about their language rights. Audio-only public service announcements are also available for radio stations.

To view and share the videos, please visit:

 

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CALIFORNIA RURAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE, INC.  

Founded in 1966, CRLA’s mission is to fight for justice and individual rights alongside the most exploited communities of our society. Through a network of regional offices and cross-cutting programs, CRLA provides legal services to low-income people across California. Our work impacts farmworkers, individuals with disabilities, immigrant populations, LGBTQ+ communities, women, children and families in rural areas. For more information on CRLA, please visit: www.crla.org.

Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project    

The Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project (MICOP) unites indigenous leaders and allies to strengthen the Mixtec and indigenous immigrant community in Ventura County (CA), estimated at 20,000 people. MICOP’s majority-indigenous staff builds community leadership and self-sufficiency through education and training programs, language interpretation, health outreach, humanitarian support, and cultural promotion. For more information on MICOP, please visit: www.mixteco.org.

Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño    

Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño, (CBDIO) was created in 1993 to serve the indigenous migrant communities from Mexico that reside in California. Through offices in Fresno, Madera, and Greenfield, CBDIO implements projects that support and strengthen civic engagement; economic, social, and cultural development; and the resistance of Indigenous communities. The CBDIO Indigenous interpreter program has been active since 1997. For more information on CBDIO, please visit: www.centrobinacional.org.

Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales    

Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB) is a coalition of Indigenous organizations, communities, and individuals with roots in Oaxaca and Baja California, México, as well as the U.S. state of California. FIOB members come from diverse backgrounds, but share a commitment to join forces and advance projects and ideas that address the economic, political, social, and cultural challenges of Indigenous communities, both migrant and non-migrant. For more information on FIOB, please visit: www.fiob.org.


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