Santa Ana Yareni Zapotec

(ISO code zae)

Yareni: Blood Mountain


The variety of Zapotec spoken in Santa Ana Yareni has sometimes been referred to as Etla Zapotec and Western Ixtlán Zapotec. The language area is located north of Oaxaca City, in the western part of the district of Ixtlán in the state of Oaxaca, in the southern part of Mexico (see maps.) Nearby towns where people speak closely related variants of Zapotec are: Teococuilco de Marcos Pérez; San Miguel Aloápam; and San Isidro Aloápam. People from these towns are able to communicate well with each other although there are significant speech differences.

Location of Santa Ana Yareni in Mexico
Map of the area

The town of Santa Ana Yareni is located in the Eastern (and northern) Sierra Madre mountain range, at an altitude of 7500 feet.


The town of Santa Ana Yareni
The town of Santa Ana Yareni


As you can see in the photo, Santa Ana Yareni is nestled at the base of a mountain, which is called I’iya Reni "blood mountain" because of the red color of its soil. The ya of Yareni is a shortened form of i’iya, which means ‘mountain’, and reni means ‘blood’.

There is a legend which tells how Santa Ana got its name. Cosamaloapan, the patron saint of the neighbouring town of San Miguel Aloápam, became angry with the inhabitants of the town because of their disrespect for her. She punished them by causing the nearby river to overflow, carrying the people of San Miguel to the base of this mountain behind Santa Ana. Their blood turned the soil of the mountain red.

According to the 2000 INEGI census, the population of the town is 1,004. Many of the inhabitants of Santa Ana Yareni have emigrated to Oaxaca City, to Mexico City, and to various parts of the U.S.A.


—Joan Smith and Grace Thiessen


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