Unitierra was created in response to the radical reactions against schools that we observed in many indigenous communities and that were formally expressed in 1997, in the Oaxacan Indigenous Forum, when the communities in the State publicly declared: “The school has been the principal instrument of the State to destroy indigenous communities and cultures”. This was a public recognition of a historical truth: The Mexican system of education, like that of many other countries, was created to “take the Indianness out of the Indian”.
As a result, we created our university, open to receive youth without diplomas, even if they had never been to school, to learn the skills of a trade or field of study through apprenticeship with someone practicing in the field – a midwife, an agrarian lawyer, a geographer, an urban agriculturalist, a builder using adobe… — we called it a university to laugh at the official system and to reclaim an old tradition of the first universities, in which a group of friends learns and studies together, around a table, not to obtain a degree or advance in the educational pyramid, but rather for the mere pleasure of doing so, for the passion that a topic of study inspires in them.
Unitierra was born as a coalition of civil organizations both indigenous and non-indigenous:
Technical Consultancy of Forest Communities; Bibaani; Centeotl; Triqui Cultural Center; Center of Intercultural Encounters and Dialogue; Coalition of Indigenous Teachers and Promoters of Oaxaca; Committee of Volunteers for Reforestation and the Protection of the Environment; State Coordinator of Coffee Producers; Foundation Communality; Institute of Nature and Society of Oaxaca; Opción; and Services of the Mixe Community. Two of these organizations have disappeared and one has left, but the rest as well as other indigenous and non-indigenous organizations continue to be linked to the initiative.