Originally from Guerrero, Mexico, xa̱bo̱ Me̱’pha̱a̱—Me’phaa people—have had and continue to have immense positive impacts in U.S. communities, including places like Kansas. The Kansas Historical society notes that “The Mexican presence in Kansas is older than the state itself,” and that “Hispanics [sic] are the fastest growing ethnic group in Kansas.” Despite such rich and sustained influence, Kansas stories do not readily feature aspects of Mexican American heritage that shape the historical, cultural, and linguistic landscape of Kansas.
This project highlights the cultural and linguistic diversity that characterizes Kansas’ present, focusing on ajngáa Me̱’pha̱a̱—the Me’phaa language, which has been spoken in Kansas for decades. Our work is shaped by the following goals:
- Celebrate the ongoing legacy of Me’phaa people in Kansas
- Facilitate language reclamation in Me’phaa communities in Kansas by supporting intergenerational transmission and language survivance
- Educate people about the Me’phaa language
This ongoing project is the result of conversations focused on how to build a collaborative, community-owned and inclusive resource that addresses community concerns. Produced as collaboration between Me’phaa speakers and non-Me’phaa researchers, we hope to provide a meaningful starting point for preserving and celebrating Me’phaa peoples’ contribution to Kansas history and culture.