MEXICO CITY.- The National Institute of Anthropology and History
(INAH) participates in the elaboration of a Kickapoo alphabet that may be used by more than 700 members of the group that dwells Mexico and the United States, in the area of Coahuila and Texas.
There is no Kickapoo alphabet in Mexico; although there is a syllabic writing system it has no element ordination, organization or classification method, declared Jose Luis Moctezuma Zamarron, linguist from the Institute, who is advisor for this work; in an immediate way, birth certificates will be issued for people from this ethnic group.
The only specialist of this language in Mexico is advisor for the National Institute on Indigenous Languages (INALI) participating in the integration of the communication system, and the manual that will transfer it to writing.
The initiative came up from a previous study conducted by Moctezuma about phonologic system of Kickapoo language and the thought of linguist Paul H. Voorhis, who created an alphabet for Kickapoo of Oklahoma, United States. Speakers of the language in Mexico participated, such as Silvia Lopez Anico, as well as Dr. Fernando Nava Lopez, director of INALI.
Parting from this we elaborated an alphabet based on scientific work and discussion with Kickapoo people, mentioned the researcher at Sonora INAH Center, explaining speakers must make decisions about how they want to write their language.
There will be a meeting with the Kickapoo Council, conformed by traditional authorities, among them spiritual guide Chakika Anico, for them to approve the system proposed. We have great interest in continuing this collaboration with Kickapoo people to produce material that helps them to write in their language.
This work is paradigmatic since INAH shows how, parting from scientific studies of its researchers, applied anthropology and linguistic projects can be conducted, remarked Moctezuma.
Kickapoo is part of a linguistic group present in the United States and Canada. They diffused from the Great Lakes region, between Michigan and Erie Lakes, where they lived before Europeans arrived.
During extermination wars and colonization, they were expelled from their homeland. The group fragmented and to present they are settled in different locations in United States and Mexico.
Moctezuma Zamarron mentioned that Kickapoos are considered a tribe because they conserve characteristics of the tribal system of groups from the United States plains, with whom they still keep in touch.
Kickapoo and Seri, Mexican language groups with less than 1,000 speakers, are among most vital languages: All members of Kickapoo tribe, nearly 700, communicate in their original idiom, and they know and use English and/or Spanish as well.
Regarding the lack of birth certificates for members of the tribe, the Sonora INAH Center specialist recalled that when they arrived to Mexico in middle 19th century, their legal status was not clear.
This is why it is important that Coahuila Government can provide these birth certificates, where the Kickapoo name will appear before Spanish or English one, concluded the linguist.