INSTITUTO DE DOCENCIA E INVESTIGACIÓN ETNOLÓGICA DE ZACATECAS, A.C.
The Zacatecas Institute for Teaching and Research in Ethnology (IDIEZ) is a Mexican non-profit corporation that works with indigenous students at the Zacatecas State University (UAZ) who are native speakers of Nahuatl. In cooperation with Macehualli Educational Research, our non-profit corporation in the United States, we provide these students with scholarships and include them in our teaching and research activities.
Traditionally researchers employ native speakers of indigenous languages as informants. At IDIEZ our students are trained as teaching and research assistants and participate actively in projects designed to revitalize their language and culture.
Young indigenous people are leaving their villages in droves to study and work in cities. Within a generation they no longer speak their language or practice their customs. IDIEZ is interested in promoting the extended daily use and the development of Nahuatl in Mexican society. To this end we provide indigenous college students with a space where they can communicate with each other and learn to think critically and creatively in their native language. Our hope is that this model will be replicated in other Mexican educational institutions.
IDIEZ values academic freedom, and for this reason we do not work directly with government organizations. Universities and non-profit corporations are the ideal platform for designing and implementing indigenous language and cultural revitalization projects, including indigenous elementary education curricula.
Academia separates the study of indigenous culture into its older (archeology and history) and modern (anthropology and linguistics) manifestations. Nevertheless, experience has taught us that the relationship between older and modern Nahua culture is characterized by continuity and not rupture. For this reason all teaching and research activities at IDIEZ work simultaneously with Classical and Modern Nahuatl. We believe that Mexican indigenous students should be aware of the existence of their cultural heritage and have the opportunity to study it.
The vast majority of language revitalization activities target villages. We are forging a virtual network that will allow rural native speakers, the indigenous college students and researchers at IDIEZ, and academics at foreign universities to work together on projects designed to develop Nahua language and culture.
Our teaching activities include: a). Academic year on-site Nahuatl instruction at the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas; b). Academic year on-site and distance Nahuatl instruction at several universities in the United States; c). An intensive Summer Nahuatl Institute sponsored by Yale University (ww.yale.edu/macmillan/lais/summer.html); d). A monolingual Masters Degree program in Nahua Letters at the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, which is in the planning stages.
Our research activities include participation in two major projects through the University of Warsaw: 1. Europe and America in contact: a multidisciplinary study of cross-cultural transfer in the New World across time, 2. Endangered languages. Comprehensive models for research and revitalization.