Embodying Indigenous Languages Wins 3rd place in the Professional Division I – Multimedia category of the 2022 National Native Media Awards


Monday, July 25th 2022

The video “Embodying Indigenous Languages,” supported and funded through the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, has won 3rd place in the Professional Division I – Multimedia category of the 2022 National Native Media Awards sponsored by the Native American Journalists Association.

“Embodying Indigenous Languages” tells the story of the creation of a multilingual manual of anatomy in 17 Indigenous languages in transnational migration. The story, which begins with Mayan children in migration drawing the bodies of their parents as a game, documents the resilience of Native languages among Indigenous peoples in diaspora. Those images on butcher block paper were the basis for the creation of an anatomy manual that has been distributed to shelters and non-profits assisting Indigenous migrants in the United States, Mexico and Guatemala.

All 40 translators and editors in this project are Indigenous, the producer of the manual is Indigenous (Cherokee), while the film producer is Colombian, and illustrator is Mexican; both are mestiza. The Executive Producer – the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders – is a 25-year-old all-Indigenous-led organization based in Tucson, Arizona., a Cherokee owned-project (Blake Gentry), was the producer and conducted research, pre-production and script development. Raquel Mogollon is with Pan Left, an alternative media collective of primarily people of color, contributed through editing services. The Indigenous Alliance Without Borders, as executive producer, and Dr. Patrisia Gonzales (Kickapoo/Comanche/Macehual), ran fundraising, provided site location, and assisted in pre- and post-production.

Seventeen immigrant Indigenous family members and a single O’odham speaker drew 10 life-size drawings and interpreted terms into these languages: Akateka, Awakateka, Ixil, Jakalteca-Popti, K’iche’, Mam (Northeast variant), Mam (Central variant), Q’eqchí, O’odham. Twenty-two Indigenous language translators and editors then collaborated to complete anatomy terms in these languages: Achi, Awakateka-Chalchiteko, Chuj, Garifuna, Ixil, Jakalteka-Popti, Kaqchiquel, K’iche’, Kichwa, Mam, Mixteco, O’odham, Popoqomchí, Q’anjoba’l, Q’eqchi’. Cherokee Artist Joseph Erb designed the manual’s cover, which is featured in the digital story/video.

The video debuted at the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders virtual event commemorating the U.N.’s Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on August 6th, 2021. It was later shown virtually to the UNESCO Chair in Legislation, Society and Heritage at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico on November 17th, 2021. 

The annual competition by the Native American Journalists Association recognizes excellence in reporting by Indigenous and non-Indigenous journalists from across the U.S. and Canada. This year, NAJA received more than 750 entries across numerous categories. The awards will be recognized at the awards banquet on August 27th, 2022 as part of the 2022 National Native Media Conference (Aug. 25-27, 2022) at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix.

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