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Colección: La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998

Conclusions and Prognosis

In 1995, Radio XETAR constitutes a viable avenue of communication for the socioeconomic mainstreaming and political empowerment actions of and on behalf of indigenous groups in the Sierra Tarahumara. The station also effectively promotes the retention and preservation of indigenous cultural heritage and language. In conjunction with state and federal development efforts, Radio XETAR provides critical communication and interaction options to remote areas in this region of Mexico. The success of the station and other federal and state agencies may result in a greater need and demand for services in the indigenous languages of the Sierra Tarahumara. In the case of the Tarahumar language, Radio XETAR is already standardizing it, aided by bilingual education efforts and, perhaps in the future, by literacy and literary development efforts.

Technological advances in communication eventually will generate radio and television options that can better link the Sierra Tarahumara with the outside world. Indigenous populations will be increasingly exposed to the rest of Mexico and the world and, conversely, regional events and issues will be better disseminated outside of the region. The technology of long-distance education programs like the Galaxy Classroom, already operating in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, across the border from El Paso, Texas, can be used to support bilingual education for indigenous groups (Galaxy Institute for Education 1993). Another long-distance education strategy suitable for the Sierra Tarahumara is the project Highways in the Sky (Ritchey 1994), which broadcasts lessons live to the children of migrant workers in various parts of the U.S. These two communication/education strategies use a video format, the same method by which indigenous culture programs already are being developed by Mexico’s Center for Indigenous Video. While that Center’s efforts initially covered only the southern region of the country in 1994, eventually Chihuahua will be included (Programa de Solidaridad 1994b) and thus placed in a position to take advantage of long-distance video programs. Also, Radio XETAR may opt to support bilingual education efforts directly with programs closely linked to the native language and Spanish curricula currently used in the Sierra Tarahumara.

The unabated encroachment forces of economic development in the region that are associated with the timber industry, ranching, tourism, and environmental deterioration (Limón 1991), as well as increased drug growing and trafficking, will likely compound the greater physical, cultural, and economic displacement of the indigenous population of the Sierra Tarahumara. Timber and mining industries may grow at a faster pace as a result of NAFTA. The recent uprising in Chiapas indicates the need for greater protection of, and economic development opportunities for, the indigenous groups in the Sierra Tarahumara. The effectiveness of measures by the Rarámuri, Pima, Northern Tepehuán, and Guarojío to fend off encroachment on their lands and culture may very well rest first on their ability to communicate and organize for political action. In such a scenario, Radio XETAR is likely to be called upon by its audience to continue and, perhaps, expand its responsive and interactive communication role.