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Indigenous Language Music

A new website is in the works to house this project - stay tuned for ICCLBTM (Indigenous Cross-Cultural Language Building Through Music)

Language is a fundamental part of culture.

Indigenous languages are important and beautiful.

There is a wave of creative Indigenous artists proudly claiming their culture, talking about important issues, and bringing language use into communities and everyday life!

You can learn about your world and self through music and language.

For 3 years now, I do a Sunday music project of researching Indigenous languages, songs, and artists. It started as a more broad class project with aims to share and discover Indigenous connections across borders. It still continues in that quest, but through a love of music and language. 

This idea and project is part of a Facebook group called Indigenous Cross-Cultural Community Building (ICCCB). You're welcome to join the group and share anything related to Indigenous communities. What I share are sort of language reports based on global music, but they can branch into so much more!

There is also a Forest Forum category dedicated to this topic. There are endless sharing and discussing options, endless trees you could plant from songs, styles, locations, instruments, specific language needs or general ideas. Music, art, and language are available global connection points. 


For me, maintaining the ICCCB project has meant learning and growing each week. This is not just in language or music, but in learning about our world, its Original People, world history and current issues, traditions and views, injustices, needs, and stories that ignite anger or passion and show an undeniably brilliant resilience, resistance, and determination to be. You can learn about your world and self through music and language. 

I may not have a way to describe it, but Indigenous languages are part of nature from my view. They belong in our world, they are needed in our world. Here is an extra spot to discover new music and artists, resources and learning, language and connection. Enjoy this space for Indigenous Language Music! 

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Artist: Sara Curruchich

Language: Kaqchikel

First Entry Bonus:

Language Song
Artist Overview Video

Guatemala recently had an election where Bernardo Arevala was sworn in. This is the son of Juan José Arévalo, Guatemala's first democratically elected president in 1945 who survived 25 coup attempts.


A few months ago, I discovered  Sara Curruchich: a Guatemalan signer who has been using her music to bring awareness of the challenges for Indigenous women and to promote her Mayan language of Kaqchikel. This 2.5-minute overview video shows some of Sara’s story and how she has been fighting and contributing to making change.



  • In 1986 the Academy of the Mayan Languages of Guatemala standardized an alphabet for the Mayan languages.


  • Literacy rates in Kaqchikel are low. Literacy campaigns are usually conducted in Spanish, and promote Spanish. In fact, most Mayan people are more literate in Spanish than they are in their native tongue. This is changing though due to the movement to promote Mayan language literacy.


  • Kaqchikel is being taught in some public schools such as Guatemala's intercultural bilingual education programs. There are even a few U.S. universities that offer programs to learn Kaqchikel.


  • The glottal stop plays an important role in Kaqchikel; since words can not begin with a vowel and dipthongs do not exist in the language. The glottal stop serves to separate vowels and start words that would otherwise begin with a vowel.

Extras: Guatemala has one of the highest rates of femicide in the world, along with many other types of inequalities and injustices for Indigenous women. It’s a dark rabbit hole trying to find resources or stats, but without a doubt it’s a fact that Sara is playing a larger role than simply sharing music alone. If anyone is interested in finding a way to learn more or contribute in some way, please let me know.


Here is a song that can melt any snow or cold away!

The song is called "Painaha", which means "Leadership".

Narasirato is a bamboo orchestra! This band from the Solomon Islands plays giant panpipes and sings in the ꞌAreꞌare language.

There are about 7 dialects and around 18,000 people who speak the language. The ꞌAreꞌare People place a large emphasis on music and you can see this in the video.

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Xtoles is pronounced chi-tol-les


The melody of Xtoles is thought to be one of the oldest known melodies still in existence!

This performance by students at a university in Mexico offers a unique interpretation of this ancient Mayan song!

"This is a winter song, basically a prayer to the sun reminding it to come back in the spring.” 

Some say this song is a lullaby, others say a war dance song sung to the sun. 

Conex, conex palanxen, xicubin, xicubin yocolquin.

Conex, conex palanxen, xicubin, xicubin yocolquin.

(Xola mayola, xola mayol, ea, ea, ea, o.)

Conex, conex palanxen, xicubin, xicubin yocolquin.

Let's go, let's hurry boys, for the sun is coming out.

Let's go, let's hurry boys, for the sun is coming out.

(Sho-la ma-yo-la, sho-la ma-yol, ay-ah, ay-ah, ay-ah, oh.)

Let's go, let's hurry boys, for the sun is coming out.

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