OAXACA TO WISCONSIN
Tamazulpam del Espíritu Santo is home to the indigenous Mixe people of Oaxaca, Mexico. The Mixe people have relied on themselves for survival and growth while being mostly overlooked by mainstream Mexico, and barely known by the world at large. They have proudly maintained their pre-hispanic culture and communal autonomy, initially in the face of colonization by the Spanish, and later to modern day Mexican nationalism. As one of the poorest regions in Mexico, the economic need to migrate has resulted in many Mixe people leaving the Sierra Mixe mountains to find work.
Hundreds of Mixe now live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The initial plan for most Mixe immigrants is to go north and quickly make some money to return home within a few years. For those that have found economic success in the United States, they have bought homes and started businesses, and are planning their children's education and future. While some stay, others return home, facing a changed homeland and a changed self.
The Mixe prosper at home and abroad, drawing strength from communal values and practices. The Mixe sense of self determination has carried them through the changes that come with migration and globalization. This collection of black and white photographs depicts everyday moments in the Mixe community between two places they call home.
A Mixe man poses in his front door. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Two brothers converse over a meal. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
A Mixe man performs pre-hispanic rituals to send spiritual help to his brother who has migrated north. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
A Mixe woman reflects on her time in Milwaukee. She lived and worked there with her children until she had made enough money to build a house back home for her family. Her son stayed in Milwaukee with his wife and children, so she lives alone. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
A grandmother passes on tortilla technique to her granddaughter. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
A Mixe man stops working to pose for a photo during "Tequio", the term for collective work. In this case, members of the community comb their neigborhoods, cleaning up trash and doing general landscaping. Tamazulapam del Espiritu Santo, Oaxaca, Mexico.
A single mom poses in the suburbs where she raises her two children. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Mixe construction workers pose for a portrait in front of their worksite. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
At home, a Mixe family relaxes after a day's work. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Fiestas continue as a way for the immigrant community to reunite as regularly as possible. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Mixe children hanging out in the kitchen with typical Mexican food on the stove. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
This Mixe woman works as an office cleaner, designs her own messenger bags from recycled coffee sacks on the side, while volunteering at her sons school daily. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
A Mixe couple return home. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.
Community and self-determination continue to be the strengths of Mixe people. The symbol of a fist is historically a recognition of their unity and resistance. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.