Collaboration with the local communities while conducting research is a significant aspect of UMMAA's core values. Archaeology graduate student Soren Frykholm has partnered with leaders from Santiago Tilantongo and the Equator Initiative organization Natura Consultores to enhance community connection to its pre-Hispanic heritage while also promoting local economic opportunities.

The project, "The Place Where Knowledge Shines: Heritage and Public Engagement in Santiago Tilantongo, Oaxaca, Mexico," improved tourism infrastructure by installing informational signage in multiple languages, training youth tour guides, and establishing a small community museum at the local archaeological site. Additionally, the project has founded a traveling children's puppet theater that performs the historical events that are recorded in the remarkable set of surviving pre-Hispanic Mixtec codices across the region.

Soren's initiative was funded in 2023, although the project is ongoing. The theater group is preparing for a tour of the Mixteca Alta to other towns that are connected by the region's rich pre-Hispanic history.

Photo: Soren Frykholm and María Porras Lescas (the project co-director) after a theater performance in Santiago Tilantongo, Oaxaca.