Graduation Date

Spring 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology

Committee Chair Name

Joshua Meisel

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Anthony Silvaggio

Subject Categories



The purpose of this research was to conduct a needs assessment of a remote indigenous community, Santa María Zoogochi, Oaxaca, Mexico. The focus of the needs assessment was on the community’s concerns and suggested solutions to problems they identified. The focus on general community concerns allowed participants to identify immediate needs they found of importance. This research was conducted using the Concerns Report Method (CRM), which is a strategy associated with Participatory Action Research (PAR). This method facilitated community conversations and engaged the community in the research process by incorporating their concerns and potential solutions into a community plan of action. Using the PAR method and the CRM strategy I was able to help the community identify concerns and solutions through interviews, community forums, and observations.

This research project focused on the following set of questions. What are the geographical, cultural, and societal barriers that hinder reaching higher education in rural indigenous communities of the Sierra Juárez region in Oaxaca, Mexico? What role does “usos y costumbres” have in the development of community identity/individual identities and how are these identities affected when people migrate to pursue higher education and work? What is being done to help students/community members set and achieve higher educational goals, community enrichment, and cultural preservation while simultaneously advocating for communal identity through indigenous customary laws?

The assessment process sought information about participant access to education, resources, cultural preservation, and community enrichment opportunities. Results from the general concerns portion of the assessment brought the most significant community concerns; the community unanimously agreed their indigenous community schools are systematically underfunded. Underfunded schools perpetuate inequalities and the education attainment gap for indigenous youth. Another key result includes the numerous reports of negligence in access to quality health care. Responses were so detailed that I have a list of basic equipment and materials needed by the community clinic. The community also denounced the constant lack of medications in the clinic that is reflects the needs of the patients in the community. The needs of indigenous communities are not being met with the current Seguro Popular system. Indigenous patients in remote areas have expressed their inability to access health care that is relevant to their needs.

The findings from this research in the Ixtlán Sierra Juárez Region of Oaxaca, Mexico will be used to inform the development of community projects. The community needs a resource center or library where they can promote cultural preservation and access to education. This research was an attempt to decolonize the research process by uplifting indigenous autonomy. I feel this research project has helped Zoogochi identify what they want and need in their communities. Their stories need to be taken into consideration during policy building, education reform, and the future expansion of Seguro Popular. Indigenous voices should be what drives the future expansion of Seguro Popular and education reform in remote areas of Mexico.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location