Another Voice Lost: Hipólita Espinoza Higuera, One Of The Last Speakers Of Kiliwa

By Arnulfo Estrada Ramírez, Ensenada Chronicler, Hipólita Espinoza Higuera

“News from Arroyo de León, Kiliwa community. A few hours ago, at approximately 9 o’clock on the night of April 30, 2019, Hipólita Espinoza Higuera (Pola) died at the age of 93. Pola was the oldest person in the community. Her sister Rosa, who has lived in Valle de Guadalupe for more than 50 years, as well as her cousin Leonor Farlow and herself, are from a generation in which everyone communicated in kiliwa. He was born in El Tepi, a former Kiliwa territory that was stripped by mestizos in 1969. The daughter of kiliwa Rodolfo Espinoza Cañedo and Victoria Higuera González, both of Pa ipai origin, who had eleven children (seven women and four men). Her maternal grandparents were Juana González and José Higuera, both of Pa ipai origin, and their paternal grandparents José Espinoza Ochurte (kiliwa) and Tomasa Cañedo (pá ipai). She belonged to the Espinoza lineage and was, like Leonor Farldow, the only female users of the Kiliwa language. Hipolita and her son Eusebio Álvarez Espinoza, were the only family that communicated primarily in their mother tongue. Her strong roots in the land of her ancestors, allowed her to preserve their customs and native language. Besides the Kiliwa language, she also spoke Pa ipai and Spanish. For a few months she was under the care of the family of Leonor Farlow, because she was in poor health. She is survived by her only son, who has his home in Arroyo de León. With her passing, a wealth of cultural and linguistic knowledge unique to Kiliwa is also lost. Rest in peace.”