Angelena Zapotec and Playing the 'Indian Girl'

There are an estimated 250,000 natives from Oaxaca, Mexico living in Southern California, according to the California Institute for Rural Studies. Many of these communities have indigenous roots, from Zapotec to Mixtec, Trique and Chocho. Julieta's family was one of the first to come over from Santa María Tavehua, a Zapotec village in the Oaxacan highlands. Her teacher was organizing a Thanksgiving play, and her classmates were being assigned roles. Someone was picked as a pilgrim, another was the turkey, and Julieta, "'You'll be an Indian girl,'" she remembers her teacher telling her. "I was happy because I just wanted to be in a play and I had absolutely no idea what that meant," she says. She came home and told her father the exciting news.

"Julie, but you are indigenous!" he told her in Spanish. Julieta was floored. How should she react to playing the "Indian girl"?