Indigenous Activist Shares Personal Experiences in Scripps Talk

Andrea Ixchiu Hernandez, a K’iche activist, journalist, and filmmaker, shared her personal stories about filmmaking, the definition of communitarian communication and her participation in communities in a lecture at Humanities Auditorium at Scripps College last Thursday, Oct. 26.

At the beginning of the lecture, Hernandez defined the term “communitarian communication” – the process of the social and political communication that involves participation, communal interactions, and social movements. One key network that Hernandez has produced involves local movie producers and community media groups that have developed small actions in Guatemala.

Hernandez has been a member of the Tz’ikin Network, a group focused on examining the potential and challenges of film and video in Guatemala.

In Hernandez’s mind, birds are valued as guardians of energy and communicators among supernatural, heaven and the earth. As guardians, birds bring people freedom and consciousness, according to Hernandez.

Red Tz’ikin are the organizers of the 13th international Festival of Cinema and Communication of the Indigenous People, or FicMayab' for the years 2017 and 2018, according to the lecture brochure. This festival happened every two years in Latin America.

The name of Red Tz’ikin was based on the idea that they want to spread “seeds” and share their stories with all the people around the world. Red Tz’ikin has already developed more than 500 projections, six video examples, 40 workshops, and 200 more people have received training. Further, they have gathered community members from both indigenous and non-indigenous communities.

Beyond learning and adapting the tools and skills of the industry, Hernandez and her team are working to develop an independent methodology of storytelling itself.

“The most important thing for us is not just how to use equipment, but how to tell the stories and what stories we want to tell,” Hernandez said in her lecture.

Since 2015, Red Tz’ikin has started promoting itself and created its own TV channel.

“This learning of making television in our own way and developing the methodologies to connect the communities has been a challenge for us to make different and new storytelling,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez and her team are trying to create new narratives by working with indigenous and non-indigenous kids who are living in urban areas in Guatemala and hosting workshops in video production, both to empower them and give them practical skills for the job market.

“Some of them are working now with organizations,” Hernandez commented in the lecture, “they have another option to have a job, when they are not capable to go to public schools, to universities, but now they are filmmakers.”   

“We have a political position. We don’t call ourselves neutral. We are in community, with community, from community.” said Hernandez.

In 2002, the Board of Natural Resources selected Hernandez as the first woman president of the 48 Cantones in Totonicapan.