KEEPING ANCIENT ZAPOTEC CULTURE ALIVE AND PAYING ARTISTS MEXICO SERIES V1: WA’HAKA

Hey Nomad Kitties,

This is a continuation of a series on Mexico in preparation to the release of the Death Is A Business Album: Papaya

Specifically, this piece is a continuation of Teotitlan Del Valle, a magical little village in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. In this piece we talk about a special unexpected part of our trip where we fell in love with two inspiring women frustrated with the way artists in their community are treated. 

By merging ancient and modern culture, they have found a way to connect artisans of their community to the world, as well as create a market that gets them respectfully paid. As a result of their frustration, they created Wa’haka, a gallery.

Want access to the complete piece, travel guide, contacts, and gallery? Join our patreon, help us get artists paid.

The Youtube Interview talks about:

  • How are modern humans maintaining an indigenous language and culture?
  • How is an ancient village, rich in culture, using technology to keep up with the modern market?
  • How did two women team up to defy capitalism, help their community, and become entrepreneurs? One young woman grew up in her traditional indigenous culture and the other lived in the U.S for a large portion of her life. How did they come together, mix cultures and build the impossible?
  • Problems solved: Lower-income artists are not able to afford a gallery space
  • How can travelers buy responsibly, educate themselves on the process of the product, the materials etc., and add to the community?!?
  • A delicious indigenous drink called Tejate, the drink of the gods.
  • The process of transmitting knowledge and culture

You can also listen to the podcast here.

This piece was written by our Litty Committee Leader, Coach Steph.

Wa’haka Gallery

Catalina founded Wa’haka gallery when she returned home after living and studying in the US. Catalina and her cousin Sylvia began to build this space when they realized how much the artisans of their community were being underpaid for their goods. Pieces take months to prepare from start to finish and over the years, the community has gotten used to getting paid very little for art that is then sold for three to four times what they pay the artisan. Catalina and Sylvia built this worker cooperative to empower their community and help them earn the right price for their goods.

Wa’haka gallery is important because it’s creating a space for this Zapoteca community to feel empowered and appreciate their culture. The gallery is a space where consumers can learn and even meet the artisans who created the piece they’re purchasing. Wa’haka is also a community space where Catalina and Sylvia host different workshops and keep traditions alive, like preparing traditional Tejate. We might do a piece on Tejate in the future <3

Death Is A Business and fellow Oaxacan Musician

Death Is A Business actually did a show during the pandemic… with proper precautions of course. The event was a great way for the community to come together and connect with someone like Sonia Erika who had just come back to Mexico for the first time after 21 years of being undocumented/illegal. Check out one of the songs from the live performance here, the official music video for this song will be coming out soon, it was recorded in Mexico.

During this event the co-founder of Cafe Vid, Ericka came and shared her story of being a single parent and starting the first cafe in Teotitlan Del Valle. This cafe is very beautiful, definitely a place to get coffee while you are there. We will share more about this place and Ericka in the Mexico series <3.

Erika co-founder of Cafevid and Team Member

A lot of the youth in the community don’t want to learn the language or the traditional recipes, like Tejate, because of the pressure to Americanize and assimilate. Wa’haka is reminding their community of the power of tradition and showing the youth that their heritage is powerful and important. They don’t have to erase their past to have a great future.

My favorite part of Wa’haka gallery was its existence. I love how Catalina bridged everything she has learned living in the US with her culture. I love what the space represented. I see my people being ripped off, and this is how we value ourselves.

SHOUT OUT TO OUR PATREON MEMBERS/ #NOMADKITTIES! Thank you all for making this possible.

If you are not yet a nomad kitty, support our work and join the adventure here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.