Guest post by Carla Cella (MALS 2014), creator of the Day of Dead altar and exhibit on display outside International and Area Studies on the 2nd floor of Bostock Library. Read on as she explains and describes some of the influences behind the altar and those it seeks to honor.
In a world of growing global migration, indigenous tribes are often thought of as static relics of a past time, stewarding territories passed down for centuries. However, indigenous people are not exempt from global migratory trends. Although most indigenous groups in Latin America still live in rural areas, an increasing number are becoming urbanized. Some drivers of this diaspora are militarization, land dispossession, natural disasters, deteriorating environments, poverty, and a dream for a better life in the big city. By 2000, a third of Mexico’s indigenous people, approximately 12% of the country’s total population, had migrated to cities. Oftentimes, whole communities are displaced in the global push for energy and development. Such is the case with Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam, which will displace between 20,000 and 50,000 people who live adjacent to the Xingu River.
Aside from representing the incorporation of indigenous groups into a contemporary globalized and mobile way of life, Indigeneity on the Move also aims to keep the memory of past indigenous diasporas alive. The United States’ Indian Removal Act of 1830 was responsible for the Trail of Tears, a cultural trauma that was the Native American’s eviction from tribal lands and consolidation into designated reservations in the mid-west.
This altar honors the efforts of original peoples across the Americas to maintain a connection to their traditional culture, and pass it on to their progeny, as they uproot, pack up, and move away from their ancestral lands.