Category: Indigenous Lives

Revitalizing Mayan Textiles

English + Español
What satisfaction could be greater than the joy of sharing the completion of one’s first weaving? None! This pleasure is even greater when the weaver is a young boy or girl, facing for the first time the challenge of…

Indigenous Rights and the Peace Process

English + EspañolThe Guatemalan government and the guerilla umbrella group URNG (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity) signed the long-awaited Acuerdo de Identidad y Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas (Accord on Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples) in March 1995. Fellow anthropologist Manuela Camus and I were just finishing research on the actions and demands of Maya organizations in the context of the country’s incipient “democracy” and the peace process. As a result, we got to see first-hand the surprise and illusions that the text aroused, and the possibilities it opened for the rights and …

Researching Mayan Languages

I was walking back to my hostel in San Cristóbal Verapaz, Guatemala. Following a morning of classes in the Poqomchi’ Mayan language, I automatically greeted the indigenous hostel owner (dueña) in Poqom— K’aleen, tuut. Suq na ak’ux?—literally, “Hello, ma’am. Is your chest well?”— the Poqomchi’ way of asking “How are you?” Just as she began to reply, her twenty-year-old daughter burst into the room to ask a question …

Maya Weaving Heritage

Guatemala’s brilliantly colored textile tradition is one of the important threads that has united Maya civilization throughout its long history. Weavings for both ceremonial and everyday use continue to be important to Maya culture, society and ethnic identity. Unlike Tikal’s temples and the beautiful painted classic Maya pottery one sees in museums, Maya textiles did not survive the Pre-Columbian era. They were too fragile …

Flight 795

Guatemala today faces a lack of progress in fighting the complex racial oppression occurring daily. The small country has failed to confront the longstanding racism that contributes to the continuing disenfranchisement and poverty of the country’s indigenous population, 75 percent of which lives below the poverty line. This is a worrisome phenomenon for a country in which more than half of its estimated …

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