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Native America

Indigenous Self-Representation in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico

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Edited By Jeanette den Toonder, Kim van Dam and Fjære van der Stok

This book focuses on self-representations of several indigenous communities in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. It offers a multifaceted understanding of North American indigenous history, identity, community and forms of culture. Intersecting themes shape the structure of this volume: the first part focuses on the theme of recovery in relation to the literary field, the second part examines the theme of governance through examples of conflict, public government and citizenship, and the final part discusses the theme of increased global movements in relation to the preservation of local traditions. The contributors hope to advance trans-indigenous studies by encouraging productive dialogues across the U.S., Canada and Mexico–U.S. borders.

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The Importance of Tradition? Analyzing the Struggle for Survival of Pelota mixteca, an Indigenous Mexican Game

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This paper explores the different ways in which the Mexican government has attempted to ensure the survival of the Indigenous Mexican handball game pelota mixteca, the reaction of the players of the game to the state’s actions, and the possible impact of all these initiatives on the chances of survival of this Indigenous game in a globalizing world. Through an examination of government communication on the game and the initiatives taken by different Mexican local and state authorities to promote it, it is argued that the Mexican government treated this game as an Indigenous cultural tradition and a means of attracting tourism rather than appreciating its value as an Indigenous Mexican sport. These diverging visions on the (cultural) significance of pelota mixteca imply different future trajectories for the safeguarding of this sport for generations to come. The path that the Mexican state chose to follow made the Secretary of Culture and Tourism responsible for promoting the game, focusing on the cultural-historic value of the game. In contrast, the players of pelota mixteca themselves argued for a professionalization and detraditionalization of the game, taking pelota mixteca out of the sphere of cultural tradition and into the realm of professional sports. This way, more people would start playing the game, thereby enhancing the game’s chances of survival.

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