| The ‘Centro de Juventud’ (Youth
Center) is located in the indigenous pueblo of Santa Maria Tlahuitoltepec
(Tlahui), which is in the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, Mexico. The
center lies at 7,875 feet above sea level and sits upon the
highest peak in Oaxaca, the sacred mountain of Cempoaltepetl.
Although the Spaniards have succeeded in bringing Catholicism
to Tlahui, the people are very proud in saying that they were
never conquered by them.
Due to this, various customs and traditions of the Mixe ancestors
have been well preserved and are still widely practiced throughout
their homes which makes Tlahui very distinct from other Oaxacan
pueblos. The indigenous language, Auuyjk, as well as Spanish,
is spoken throughout the community and the traditional music,
dances, ceremonies and food are forever present.
Seven thousand people reside in Tlahui. About 30 per cent of
them live within the center while the rest live amongst ranchos
or farms spreading out over 29 square miles of land. In the
center of the pueblo there are three primary level schools,
one of which serves children with special needs, there is
one secondary level school and two high school level programs.
One of the high schools, CECAM, is nationally recognized for
the big band music of the Mixes while the other, BICAP, has
become a model program for 13 other schools in the region,
combining the education of the students with the needs of
the community. There is also a college level technological
program in the village which has over 200 students per semester.
Due to the large magnitude of the pueblo, the youth center
mainly serves the children, teens and young adults who are
involved in these schools or live within the center of Tlahui.