Ricardo J. Salvador salvador at
Mon Jan 20 06:05:08 UTC 2003

On Thursday, January 16, 2003, at 03:44  PM, r. joe campbell wrote:

>    Tepoztla'n, Morelos (back in the 60s) seemed fairly close to
> "classical", but the "line" of speaker/non-speaker has moved since
> then. Now the youngest Nahuatl speaker that I know of there is 70 and
> most people who really speak it are considerably older than him.
> Another close match is San Miguel Canoa, Puebla.

This prompts me to mention in passing that the last time I was in
Canoa, with a group of my students in March 2000, folks there were
gravely concerned with the acculturative influence of the new middle
school (secundaria) that was established on the road between Puebla
City and Canoa. What the family we stayed with conveyed was that their
kids were now mixing with the hoi poloi (mestizos) from the urban
periphery of Puebla who were also attending the school, and that this
had troubling consequences for the cultural identity of the Canoa kids,
not the least of which was a growing problem with drugs, which they
claimed had not been an issue prior to this.

Another growing concern was the extent to which the City of Puebla was
appropriating the runoff water from Matlalcueyatl and the town was
encountering grave water shortages. For those not familiar with the
region, it was the essence of locating a town (altepetl) in the high,
arid central plateaus of central Mexico that runoff water be caught
from surrounding slopes. We were told that the competition for water
was aggressive, to the extent that a small pipe put in by communal
labor to conduct water from the slopes of Matlalcueyatl was sabotaged.
They of course had theories about who would have motives for such

Lastly, we found everyone concerned about the price of corn. In short,
they could not sell corn profitably because the official price at
CONASUPO outlets was lower than their cost of production. This is a
commonplace in rural Mexico these days, and the people in Canoa were
very clear in identifying the North American Free Trade Agreement as
the root of this particular problem. For these folks, a corn-centered
culture, the implications of losing the economic viability of their
main staple was a crisis of major proportion. Just one consequence was
that they saw themselves as condemned to become menial laborers for the
wealthy of Puebla City.

All this they told us while providing 20 of us a sumptuous meal of
gorditas and refusing to even hear our offers of  restitution. But they
WOULD say "Huel miac totlatlauhtia..."

Ricardo J. Salvador          Voice: 515.294.9595
1126 Agronomy Hall         Telefax: 515.294.8146
Iowa State University        e-mail: salvador at
Ames, IA 50011-1010       WWW:

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