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El Dia de los Muertos American-style: Communicating with the Living
Unformatted Document Text:  16 appealed to unspoken but deeply felt concepts of basic human rights, dignity and dedication to family. Following Latin American Day of the Dead traditions of grave adornment, nearly 100 participants proceeded to decorate the anonymous graves with flowers, candles, colored paper, incense and pan de muerto, converting the lonely burial site into a vibrant commemoration of “those souls who have no one to remember them.” 52 By commemorating the migrants buried in Holtville, local residents made demands on state and federal government regarding an international problem. The drama, music and color of the procession drew media coverage through which community participants - working class Latinos and social justice activists - gained access to public space from which they are usually excluded. Similarly each year, immigrant rights activists around the country observe Day of the Dead with processions and altars critical of US border patrol policies. 53 Another theme found in US Day of the Dead events is that of indigenous rights. On November 1999, Lakota-Sioux Indians from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, 54 together with Mayan Indians from Guatemala living in the US 55 organized a Day of the Dead event in Washington DC. Held in downtown Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House, the event featured Guatemalan Day of the Dead kites, Mayan music, dancers, and a series of moving speeches. 56 Themes addressed included the genocide of native peoples across the 52 Words of Claudia Smith, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, in speech made at cemetery, personal observation, November 2, 1999. 53 According to newspaper articles and websites I have reviewed, such activities have occurred in more than 40 cities across the country, including Phoenix, Austin, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and DC. 54 One of the poorest census tracts in the United States. 55 Members of the International Maya League, a national organization incorporated in 1990 by Guatemalans living in exile in the US, working to raise awareness of the violent affects of US foreign policy in Guatemala. 56 Retrieved November 15, 2001 from the School of the Americas Watch website: www.soaw-ne.org/daydead.html

Authors: Marchi, Regina Miriam.
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16
appealed to unspoken but deeply felt concepts of basic human rights, dignity and dedication to
family.
Following Latin American Day of the Dead traditions of grave adornment, nearly 100
participants proceeded to decorate the anonymous graves with flowers, candles, colored paper,
incense and pan de muerto, converting the lonely burial site into a vibrant commemoration of
“those souls who have no one to remember them.”
52
By commemorating the migrants buried in
Holtville, local residents made demands on state and federal government regarding an
international problem. The drama, music and color of the procession drew media coverage
through which community participants - working class Latinos and social justice activists -
gained access to public space from which they are usually excluded. Similarly each year,
immigrant rights activists around the country observe Day of the Dead with processions and
altars critical of US border patrol policies.
53
Another theme found in US Day of the Dead events is that of indigenous rights. On
November 1999, Lakota-Sioux Indians from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota,
54
together with Mayan Indians from Guatemala living in the US
55
organized a Day of the Dead
event in Washington DC. Held in downtown Lafayette Park, directly across from the White
House, the event featured Guatemalan Day of the Dead kites, Mayan music, dancers, and a series
of moving speeches.
56
Themes addressed included the genocide of native peoples across the
52
Words of Claudia Smith, California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, in speech made at cemetery, personal
observation, November 2, 1999.
53
According to newspaper articles and websites I have reviewed, such activities have occurred in more than 40 cities
across the country, including Phoenix, Austin, Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and DC.
54
One of the poorest census tracts in the United States.
55
Members of the International Maya League, a national organization incorporated in 1990 by Guatemalans living in
exile in the US, working to raise awareness of the violent affects of US foreign policy in Guatemala.
56
Retrieved November 15, 2001 from the School of the Americas Watch website:
www.soaw-ne.org/daydead.html


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