Tens of thousands of indigenous peoples from Latin America have migrated to the United States since 1994, the vast majority of those from Mexico and Mesoamerica traveling as family units. As a consequence, according to the 2020 US Census, the Native American population in the US increased by 86% since 2010. Zapotec is now second only to Navajo as the most-spoken indigenous language in the United States, while Mixtec is taught as part of the bilingual education curriculum in New York City.
This is challenging how we define indigeneity in the United States, our official categories of recognition. Latin American indigenous people in US cities and towns not only bring into sharp relief different hemispheric modes of defining indigenous identity, they also challenge the ongoing biopolitical function of mestizaje and indigenismo in Latin America. How does the mass migration that we are witnessing of indigenous peoples require a hemispheric rethinking of indigeneity? Of mestizaje? Of who gets to sing the nation-state now, and in what languages?