Indigenous Immigrant Youth’s Understandings of Power: Race, Labor, and Language

  • David W. Barillas Chón University of Denver
Keywords: Critical Latinx Indigeneities, Indigenous youth, coloniality


One highly significant yet under-investigated source of variation within the Latinx Education scholarship are Indigenous immigrants from Latin America. This study investigates how Maya and other Indigenous recent immigrant youth from Guatemala and Mexico, respectively, understand indigeneity. Using a Critical Latinx Indigeneities analytic, along with literature on the coloniality of power and settler-colonialism, I base my findings on a year-long qualitative study of eight self-identifying indigenous youth from Guatemala and Mexico and highlight two emergent themes: youth’s understanding of (a) asymmetries of power based on division of labor, and (b) language hierarchies. I propose that race is a key component that contributes to the reproduction of divisions of labor and the subaltern positioning of Indigenous languages. Findings from this study provide linguistic, economic, and historical contexts of Maya and other Indigenous immigrants’ lived experiences to educators and other stakeholders in public schools working with immigrant Latinx populations.