Mexico’s native ethnic groups promote their heritage during Oaxaca’s biggest cultural festival

by | Jul 27, 2023 | Religion

OAXACA, México (AP) — Leticia Santiago carries her ancestral heritage wherever she goes. Every time she addresses the crowds during the Guelaguetza, the biggest cultural event in southwestern Mexico, her words, her garments and her skin reveal a clue about the town where she was proudly born.The 35-year-old Mexican was elected as Centéotl goddess in late June, which means she’ll represent the Aztec deity of maize for a year and lead all festivities during the Guelaguetza, which will run in the state of Oaxaca through July 28. During the government-sponsored event, 16 Indigenous ethnic groups and the Afro-Mexican community promote their traditions through public dances, parades and craft sales.
Santiago can’t help but smile when she talks about the history of her ethnic group, known as “Chatinas.” Her hometown, Santiago Yaitepec, is located five hours away from Oaxaca City, between the mountains and the coast.
“It is said that we come from the sea and our ancestors were fish,” Santiago said. “When a sea monster started devouring them, our Holy Father, the Sun, took pity …

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