Lesson 509 – Peoples of Oaxaca and the arrival of Holy Week

The state of Oaxaca is home to more than sixty different ethnic groups. We visit several of them. The Coastal Mixtecs, whose
textiles and masks set them apart from other groups, invite us to join them during Holy Week, when they enact ceremonies that set
them off from other peoples.

Learning Objective

Students will learn about the Mixtecs who live in the state of Oaxaca, and their religious ceremonies and artistry.

Social Studies Standards

Civil Ideals & Practices: A, C

Discussion Prompts

  • Why would the Spaniards choose to use the slaves as overseers of the indigenous people? How do the indigenous people portray the slaves in their stories?
  • Discuss the importance of the masks and their designs. Were people hiding behind the masks or is there a symbolism behind it?
  • In what ways do the indigenous people represent the Spaniards in their carnival? What evidence can you find in the video to support your answer?
  • Is the carnival a celebration of independence or a demagogue of the conquest? What role does religion play in this event?

Lesson Activities

  • Write a detailed plan for the overseers to befriend the indigenous people and rebel against the Spaniards. Keep in mind they do not speak the same language.
  • The Mixtec dance is telling the history of their ancestors. What kind of dance would tell your history? What kind of clothing would people wear for that? Create a visual or a performance to share your history with your classmates.
  • Imagine that you were granted permission to be part of the event. Which mask and outfit, based in your culture, would you wear? Share the artifacts with your class, explaining your choices.
  • Pretend David Yetman invited you to co-host part of this episode. Who would you interview? Create a series of at least five questions that you wonder about to include during your interview.


  • artisan
  • carnival
  • enact
  • explosion
  • overseer
  • perpetuate
  • tejorones
  • textiles
  • tradition
  • vibrant


In the Americas Season 5 Lesson Episode 9