Culture

Planting, singing, storytelling at workshop brings children closer to their cultural roots

Sahir Padilla, left, and Nicholas Domíguez-Kelley, listen to Rosalba López Ramírez, co-founder of Black Zócalo, as she explains how to plant corn at Saturday's Boom Oaxaca kids' maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas.

Sahir Padilla, left, and Nicholas Domíguez-Kelley, listen to Rosalba López Ramírez, co-founder of Black Zócalo, as she explains how to plant corn at Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas.

mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

For 5-year-old Nicholas Domíguez-Kelley, one of his favorite parts of Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop was singing to the corn and “getting my hands dirty.”

The event at Arte Américas, in downtown Fresno, is part of the ‘Boom Oaxaca: Conversaciones de Campo a Campo,’ an exhibition and programming series made possible by a grant from The McClatchy Fresno Arts Endowment of The James B. McClatchy Foundation, in conjunction with the Centro Binacional para el Desarrollo Indígena Oaxaqueño.

In the bilingual workshop led by Rosalba López Ramírez, children planted corn native to Oaxaca, made seed bombs, and learned about the indigenous practice from La Mixteca Region of Oaxaca while singing a fun song, listened to a story and learned about the earth elements needed to grow corn.

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Rosalba López Ramírez, co-founder of Black Zócalo, shows children how to make seed bombs at Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas. María G. Ortiz-Briones mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

The song in Spanish said “Con la primavera, llega la huerta, vamos a sembrar, un granito de maíz. Con tierrita se tapa, con agua fresca vamos a regar.(With the spring, the garden arrives, we are going to plant a grain of corn. Cover it with a little soil, with fresh water, we are going to irrigate.)

“As kids, you are really special,” said López Ramírez, he co-founder of Black Zócalo, a Black Indigenous People of Color food justice movement in Central California.

López Ramírez – a Mixtec woman, raised in Yokuts land, and the daughter of immigrant parents from Oaxaca, México – showed children and adults a variety of corn, including colorado as well as multicolored.

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Children holding one variety of corn at Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas. María G. Ortiz-Briones mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

Miguel Padilla, of Sanger, was one of the many parents who brought their children to the workshop. He liked that the workshop gives children the opportunity about learning about their roots.

“I feel like this is kind of teaching them what their grandparents did, because I remember doing that when I was a little kid when I went to my grandparents,” said Padilla, who grew up in Valle de Guadalupe, Jalisco, México.” Just bringing that to them and actually understanding a little teeny bit of what they (grandparents) did. It’s very important to me.”

Padilla said he grew up in the ranch, raising corn and helping his parents with their farm, so seeing his children exposed to planning corn, “gives me hope that they get to see a little bit of where their roots come from. It’s a very important part of their cultural richness that they should be learning every day.”

“I really wanted to bring my kids because I wanted them to learn about planting, but to learn about like our ancestral ways of doing it, our indigenous ways. So, connecting with our roots, connecting with our ancestors and, with community as well ,” said Lorena Domínguez, of Fresno.

Yenedit Méndez, program liaison consultant for Arte Américas, said seeing the children participate in all the activities was “beautiful to see honestly.”

“We’re transmitting knowledge to children, to the little ones right for our future,” Méndez said. “And I think that exposing them, as you know, as little as they can be, the better. And having activities that help them with their sensory, helps him with seeing touching, we thought that that was something important.”

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Rosalba López Ramírez, co-founder of Black Zócalo, at Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas. María G. Ortiz-Briones mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

Méndez said the workshop also brings to light people in the Central Valley like López Ramírez, who are already doing the work.

“We have really amazing oaxaqueños who are doing this type of work here in the Central Valley, so we don’t need to look elsewhere,” Méndez said. “We’re right here right and we have people who have this knowledge.”

And when it comes to choosing seed planting maíz as the topic of the workshop, Méndez said “maíz has been known and has been part of our communities since pre colonization” adding that it is of great importance “within the oaxaqueño community and the indigenous communities.”

López Ramírez said seeing the children’s participation and enthusiasm was “really special” in the “cultural space” provided by Arte Américas.

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Sahir Padilla, right, and Nicholas Domíguez-Kelley, during an activity at Saturday’s Boom Oaxaca kids’ maize-planting workshop at Arte Américas. María G. Ortiz-Briones mortizbriones@vidaenelvalle.com

As someone who is from Oaxaca, López Ramírez said “I really wanted people to know that we can be ourselves anywhere we go.”

“So, whether that might be in the Central Valley here, you know, in this big agriculture, or New York City, which is also a place that’s very special where I lived for a few years and seem that you belong anywhere and everywhere, and you, you carry your cultura on your back,” said López Ramírez, who earned her master of science in Community Development from UC Davis. She is an alumnus of Fresno State.

“And let’s not, you know, try to fit into these little boxes, because we are, we are radiant and we have so much to offer to this country, and to this world. So, let your cultura shine everywhere you go.”

Esta historia fue publicada originalmente el 2 de abril de 2022 6:54 pm.

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