Abstract

In the 1980s, Indigenous people from southern Mexico migrated in considerable numbers to the United States. Among the most prominent groups were the Mixteco people from Oaxaca, who worked mainly as farmworkers on labor-intensive crops in San Diego and throughout California. Because they were incorporated at the bottom of a racialized labor hierarchy distinct from previous Mexican cohorts and in a period of increased border violence and anti-immigrant sentiments, these new migrants formed the Comité Cívico Popular Mixteco (CCPM). Building from their experiences in Mexico and the migrant circuit, the CCPM's goals were to address their needs as workers and claim their dignity as Indigenous people. Mixtecos organized demonstrations, press conferences, and solidarity, resembling the tactics of Chicano/a, Latino/a, and farmworker struggles. Although their activities appeared similar to historical efforts in California, this article argues that the CCPM drew from their experiences participating in their pueblos’ (community of origin) local form of communal governance. The pueblo provided the basis for their activism as they also produced new forms of social membership. The work of the CCPM at this moment demonstrates how a growing Indigenous political culture from southern Mexico in California was reconsidering ways to enact leadership, community, and activism across borders.

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