FRIENDS OF THE MAYA work in Belize

Dear colleagues,

Earlier this year (May 2010) I had the absolute thrill of playing ambassador to Belize for Friends of the Maya and opening up Belizean Maya communities to the possibilities of learning hieroglyphic writing and the ancient calendar.

Open facsimile of Madrid Codex with volunteers from the audience (May 6, 2010).

My first stop was University of Belize in Belmopan where I was hosted by Cesar Ross. Cesar took me around campus introducing me to various directors and heads of departments as we worked together to make final arrangements and get the workbooks printed.

Cesar Ross, president of The Maya Institute of Belize and coordinator of the History and Anthropology Program at UB.

The workshop was a four-hour intensive introduction to Maya writing and the calendar. About 125 enthusiastic students, as well as visitors from outside the university community, attended and participated.

After the workshop ended and the seats began to empty, some students could not tear their attention away from the workbook and the thrill of reading the glyphs.

The excitement continued afterward with television interviews and meetings with Maya leaders.

Cesar Ross, Professor of Anthropology and History at UB and president of The Maya Institute of Belize gives a TV interview on campus after the workshop.
Mr. Angel Tzec (far left), President of Belize National Indigenous Council (BENIC) and Francisco Tzul, Yucatec Maya leader from San Antonio, Cayo District, met with me and Mr. Ross after the workshop.

Misters Tzec and Tzul hosted me to an afternoon lunch in San Ignacio after my UB visit was over, and I began to learn more about the history of their organizations and their efforts to represent the Maya people of Belize in the world community and make their voices heard. There is complete agreement that learning the ancient writing and calendar is a very strong tool for indigenous empowerment.

I then had the great pleasure of driving Mr. Tzul and his father to San Antonio, a community with many Yucatec speakers. (This is the town, I am sad to say, where Dr. Pierre Colas learned Mayan and did his field work prior to his recent passing, and where he has many friends today.)

I met Alfonso Tzul there and we talked about the Maya language and Maya glyphs. We agreed I should return in 2011 to give a workshop in the local high school. It is the young people who need to get excited about their ancestry and history.

Alfonso Tzul showed such great interest in the pocket Maya-Spanish dictionary (compiled by Friends of the Maya colleague Ana Patricia Martínez Huchim) that I could not resist making him a gift of my last copy. (I can get more in Mérida)
The Tzuls of San Antonio, Alfonso and Francisco, discuss the need for language and culture classes in the schools.

I left the Cayo District with firm resolve to return in 2011 to do more, and I headed south to the K’ekchi’ and Mopan-speaking communities of the Toledo district.

In Blue Creek, Toledo District, Tumul K’in is an all-Maya high school, the only one in Belize.

In Blue Creek, Toledo District, Tumul K’in is the only all-Maya high school in all Belize.

Tumul K’in director Esther Xoc Sanchez and her husband Aurelio Sho welcomed me to their home, putting me up for two nights. We talked in their kitchen late into the night about the possibilities of Maya classes and glyph workshops in Southern Belize.

Aurelio Sho, manager of Ak’tun Kutan radio station, a Maya language radio station, and Esther Xoc, director of Tumul K’in, all Maya high school in Blue Creek, Toledo District.
Ak’ Kutan radio station is planning to broadcast soap operas in Mayan.

While in Southern Belize I had the chance to make two very interesting side trips, not directly related to Friends of the Maya, but then, all things Maya do connect in some way.

A nearby K’ekchi’ community staged a deer dance that weekend and I was thrilled to attend.

K’ekchi’ Deer Dance performed near Blue Creek, Toledo District.

On another note, I delivered a set of Research Reports on the Nimli Punit stelae to the site museum at Nimli Punit. George Stuart had generously given me extra copies to deliver should I ever make the trip. And what a pleasure to get those reports into the hands of those who care about them most.

The Nimli Punit site museum sits in a beautiful tropical setting in Southern Belize.
Nimli Punit RRAMW presentation.
Bruce Love makes a presentation to Park Manager Adriano Mas of George Stuart’s research reports nos. 40, 40a, 41 and 45. For visitors to be able to compare the drawings and readings in the reports with the actual monuments from the site is a real plus.

My stay in Belize was all too short, but even in this brief visit I became aware of how fertile the ground was for glyph workshops by the Maya for the Maya. I eagerly anticipate returning in 2011 to make new friends and expand our presence there. From Belize I traveled north to Quintana Roo and on to Yucatán, where, as you will see in my next report, wonderful things are happening in the school system regarding the introduction of Maya hieroglyphic writing in the class rooms.

Until then, if you agree with our mission to support Mayas teaching Mayas the hieroglyphs and ancient calendar, them please go to our web site and make a donation to support our work.

Thank you in advance.

Bruce Love, President

Friends of the Maya, Inc.


1 thought on “FRIENDS OF THE MAYA work in Belize

  1. me dio mucho gusto leer y ver esta pagina y lo que mas me llamo la atencion es sobre la forma de poder conocer la lectura de los geroglificos, y le pregunto como puedo obtener este dicionario de bolsillo.
    son locutor de una emisora de la Diocesis de las Verapaces en Guatemala y son Maya Q’eqchi’. felicitaciones

Comments are closed.