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Inderkum students celebrating Dia de Los Muertos in Diaspora 

Collaborative ofrenda with dedications to celebrities and lost family members.
Benjamin Lopez
Collaborative ofrenda with dedications to celebrities and lost family members.

Every year on the first two days of November, Latinos in Mexico, Central America, and the United States honor their ancestors in a celebration and remembrance called Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. 

“To me Dia de Los Muertos is making ofrendas, making food and drinks for the ancestors, and visiting their graves in remembrance,” said Inderkum High School sophomore Alina Jacquez Esqueda.

Describing ofrendas, the altars made to honor past relatives, Jacquez Esqueda said, “They can be simple or complex, but always with a photo of a loved one who passed away.” 

Student made Dia de Los Muertos decorations in an Inderkum High art classroom. (Benjamin Lopez)

As its practitioners have changed locations by migrating to the U.S, the celebration has undergone change. Immigration also has been a factor in decreasing the prevalence of the celebration. 

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Ana Garcia, an Inderkum college counselor, said, “When families migrate there is a desire and a pressure to assimilate, so oftentimes some cultural traditions can be left behind in their country of origin.” 

Physical separation has also played a role in reshaping how Latinos commemorate Día de Los Muertos. 

Melvin Martinez, an Inderkum senior, said, “For most of the Latinos here, we can’t visit our loved ones’ graves because they’re in a different country.” 

Still, while being a country away from past loved ones has complicated aspects of the holiday, it is still preserved and enjoyed by many in the U.S. 

“Being so far away from the place that honors your traditions and carries family history can lessen the strength of the celebration, but the essence of that practice still remains,” Garcia said. 

(Student made Dia de Los Muertos decorations in an Inderkum art classroom) 

Jacquez Esqueda agreed. “Here in the U.S we still make colorful ofrendas, and even if it’s not decorated like it would be in Mexico with homemade food or marigolds, the memory is being preserved,” Jacquez Esqueda said. 

In Spanish and Art classrooms at Inderkum, the celebration is shared among the students with creative activities and informational videos. 

“I think it’s great that students are able to interact with different cultural traditions through fun experiences incorporated into education that goes with their subject,” Garcia said. 

Students expressed pride in preserving the heart of the Dia de Los Muertos celebration while adapting it to life in the United States away from cultural and familial homes.

“We have preserved this aspect of our Latino culture and molded it to the situation of our new homeland, keeping the Mexicano in a tradition that has adapted to become American,” said Martinez. 

Inderkum students produced their own unique versions of Dia del last Muertos artwork. (Benjamin Lopez)

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Lopez, Reporter
I am a freshman at Inderkum High School. I am also a poet for Sacramento Area Youth Speaks representing Sacramento in an international poetry competition hosted by Brave New Voices. I am also a swimmer and love to write and make art for clubs in my school.
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