Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Living Quechua

Throughout my research on Quechua as a language and culture, with the help of a library professional, I came across a film called Living Quechua that will be available to view later this year, 2015. After my travels to Peru, I have noticed what seems like a global movement for indigenous peoples to reclaim their rights to their own cultures and gain recognition as legitimate communities. I hope that this film, which has already received acclaim, will spread awareness to the struggles that Quechua-speakers and all other indigenous groups face and help move those people to hold on to their roots. Here is the description of the film from Living Quechua's website:
Elva AmbĂ­a Rebatta's first language is Quechua, but when she left her town in Peru as a young woman to find work in the United States, speaking Spanish and English became critical for her to survive. While Quechua–a language indigenous to South America–continues to be spoken around the world as a result of such migration stories, UNESCO and other initiatives recognize it as an endangered language. Now in her seventies, Elva decides to help cultivate a Quechua-speaking community in New York City. Living Quechua follows Elva through the challenges and successes of trying to keep Quechua alive.
While millions of people speak Quechua, it is still considered to be an endangered language. What has happened, which I confirmed by talking to others, is that many people from Quechua-speaking families do not speak the language very well. There are a multitude of reasons behind this. For a long time, Quechua was not recognized as an official language of Peru. It was not taught in schools, nor did parents always pass the language on to their children due to cultural stigma. Because of this, many children grow up being able to speak neither Quechua nor Spanish with desired proficiency. Obviously, this can feed into the cycle of poverty since language is a huge factor in monetary success. This is a really interesting topic, which is why I am so excited for this film.