Yupaychani! Thank you!

On Thursday April 19, 2018, the first-ever Mother Tongues Book Fair took place at Columbia University, organized by the Runasimi Outreach Committee and Movimientos Indigenas Asociados along with the support of the Institute of Latin America Studies at Columbia University and Quechua at Penn and sponsored by the Human Rights Graduate Group and the Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Coinciding with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues 2018, the fair celebrated written works in Indigenous mother tongues from various communities and geographic regions. Languages represented at the fair included Amharic, Arikara, Crow,  Hidatsa, Lakota, Mandan, Maya Mam, Mixteco, Nahuatl, Omaha-Ponca, Quechua, Tsou and Zapoteca. Authors along with publishers displayed and sold a variety of mother tongue works including tri-lingual and bi-lingual children’s books, poetry anthologies, novels, zines, dictionaries, CD’s, and more. Some of those physically present included authors Alem Eshetu Beyene from Ethiopia, Baitz Niahossa from Taiwan, Elva Ambia, Odi Gonzales, Rina Soldevilla, Sandy Enriquez, representing Peru as well as representatives from Hippocrene Books Inc., Grupo Cajola, the Endangered Language Alliance, Hawansuyo bookstore,  La Zenka Sunqu and The Language Conservancy.

Overall, the event was a first-time success. Unfortunately, due to a last-minute move inside because of rain, the event program changed no longer permitting the anticipated Land Acknowledgement and Ganö:nyök led by Alex Jimerson, NYU M.A. Food Studies Candidate 18′ nor a proper Welcome Speech by Javier Enriquez, La Zenka Sunqu. Nevertheless, the fair served as a space to value and honor Indigenous mother tongues and works written in them, a space that is often not present in higher education institutions. A U.N reporter from the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues even attended the event, interviewing various authors and Indigenous organization representatives on their perspectives and contributions to the fair. Ultimately, the fair raised awareness of Indigenous mother tongues and works as well as connected authors and publishers with each other and the public.

The fair was in part inspired by the U.N. General Assembly announcement that 2019 will be the “The Year of Indigenous Languages”. UNESCO will lead this initiative to promote Indigenous languages, highlighting the significance of Indigenous Peoples and critical role that Indigenous languages play in education, science, technology and in the future of the mother earth. The organizers of the first-ever Mother Tongues Book Fair hope to support this work, developing and growing the event for year two in 2019. Until then, please visit this year’s website to learn more about the 2018 fair and reach out if you are interested in getting involved : https://wp.nyu.edu/mtbookfair/