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Jan 12, 2012

Belize one of top 10 Maya Destinations

Where will you be when the world begins anew? That’s the question that’s being tossed around the world since it is the year of the Maya Calendar. There is a lot of discussion on this issue and Belize is already one of the top ten destinations to visit this year. A number of events are being planned to commemorate the different aspects of the Mayan culture. The Maya themed Calendar of events was launched on Wednesday night at the Bliss and today, News Five spoke with Shari Williams, Public Relations Officer for NICH, who says that this year Belize joins other Mundo Maya territories around the globe to pay homage to the great Maya civilization. Williams says Belize will be celebrating in grand style.

Shari Williams, Public Relations, NICH

Shari Williams

“2012 marks the, well actually the actual date is December twentieth 2012 marks the end of five thousand one hundred and twenty one year count of the Mayan Calendar. It is a big event, definitely, because all around the world, all eyes are looking on the Mundo Maya countries to see what it is that we are going to do for 2012. One of the things that we try to do is to have at least one major event each month and majority of the events you are going to find out are events that already ongoing in the country, for example, we have the La Ruta Maya, La Costa Maya, the Cacao Festival; so a lot of the activities are festivals that are already on stream. We introduced last night a passport, and what the passport is, is an invitation to visit the archaeological sites in Belize for an extraordinary price of twenty-five U.S. Visitors will be able to visit ten archaeological site, which is a steal in its own right but it’s more than to say you visited ten sites but its to show that in 2012 I was in Belize. One of the biggest highlights for the year, for the first time ever the Institute of Archaeology will allow people to camp out at Caracol for four times in the year 2012, March, June, September and December 21st, these four occasions are called equinox and solstices; what happens is that the sun is directly mid-point of the earth and so we will be able to see these celestial bodies lined up.”

For more information on the Maya Calendar 2012 you can visit the offices at the House of Culture or call at 223-3050.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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8 Responses for “Belize one of top 10 Maya Destinations”

  1. Che says:

    It’s greate to hear all about this grand event. But it’s sad to say that now a days, the language for our ancestors is being forgotten. Is there anything being done to preserve the language too?

  2. Maya says:

    You have a point Che. Our mayan language needs to be taught in our schools as part of the curriculum or else in a few years it will be obsolete. I am a 100% behind that idea. Let us preserve our origins.

  3. Mestizo says:

    Not only is the language being forgotten. Countries that now comprise the Mundo Maya have their Maya people living as second-class citizens. They are only exploiting them. Guatemala is the most guilty of this abomination.

  4. Maya Too says:

    Listen up people, let me tell you that something good is happening in Toledo. There is this center in Blue Creek called Tumul K’in that integrates culture and language in the school curriculum. They work with youths and promote the strengthening of the Maya identity. They have a really cool program that is worth duplicating. At this school they teach to read and write the Maya languages of southern Belize and they promote the Maya culture to the max. Kudos to Tumul K’in!!!!

  5. History Minded says:

    @ the above: I agree with your points. The key question to ask is this: How will the living Maya of Belize benefit from the millions of dollars being generated by the 2012 activities? –both at the national level (tourism tax, etc.)/private sector (resorts, etc).

    The Maya of Belize, as descendants of one of the world’s greatest civilizations, developed the ideology and scientific advancement of the calendar that is currently generating huge profits in tourism.

    However, what benefits are they receiving? Perhaps, a million dollars to ensure the survival of the Maya languages in Belize would be a start?

    I encourage Maya cultural groups to advocate for the share, (their international cultural rights, cultural copyright is being abused).

  6. Kekchi says:

    I agree with the points raised (1) language being lost, (2) we the decendants are being forogotten, and (3) teaching Mayan history & culture is needed. All eyes are on the ancient sites, but what about us still living a traditional Mayan lifestyle. We are not involved, not because we don’t want to, but because other cultures continue to exploit and profit from our culture. Most, if not all of the festivities are in the central and northern Belize. The south is always forgotten. At a recent maya symposium in Cayo last June, I was shocked to see 95% attendees were white Americas, 4% non-mayan Belizeans (tour guides mostly), and 4 native Mayans (Kekchi, Mopan & Yucatec). We were not acknowledged and when we tried talking to the Americans, they just ignored us. But why are they in Belize in the first place. To study our culture both ancient and contemporary. If we don’t speak up, our language, history & culture will soon be lost while they continue to profit from our ancient ancestors.

  7. patriot says:

    I believe that you all are looking at this issue from the wrong point of view.

    It is the duty of every parent to teach their culture and language to their children. If the language is being lost then each and every parent is to blame. What are you doing as indivduals. Do you simply lament at the situation, or do you ensure that your family members learn their culture.

    As Maya Too said, do some research on the work that Tumul K’in is doing.

    Kekchi, you apparently have some deep set issuse with the Belize Archaeology Symposium, Arcaheologists and Anthropologists. I have this to say. Archaeologists and Anthropologists give up at least 13 years and a few hundred thousand dollars to Universities so that they become certified to study cultures. They do not utilize or expolit anyone. If you take the time out to talk to them you will realize that they dedicate their lives to studying and preserving your culture. You should be grateful to them. Contrary to popular belief, they dont make a lot of money off anyone. They actually give back just about all the money they make. Inform your self before you make false claims based on your feelings.

    The ‘decendants’ loot and sell Maya artifacts regularly. Is that how you show your respect for you cultura patrimony, by selling it and having it end up in some white mans collection? Look and see what your own people are doing before you talk bad about others. How do you think i feel when i (a creole person) have to tell maya men that i am not buying Jade from them because IT IS WRONG TO SELL ARTIFACTS????

  8. History Minded says:

    @ Patriot: I had a nice laugh when you attempted to show that we are all looking at the issue from the wrong point of view. Hearing you defend the archaeologists, I assumed you knew about anthropology, however, it does not seem that way. Anthropologists, amongst many other social scientists, have shown through years of research that “language lost” is a gradual social phenomenon but which is influenced or stimulated by other factors such as – lack of formal training, discrimination, and value.

    The second is particularly widespread. The overt and covert discrimination against the Maya language stems from the legacy of discrimination against indigenous cultures, first initiated by the anthropologists themselves during colonialism. Now, language, as mentioned, is an integral part of cultural identity. Yet Belize which promotes its image as a vibrant multicultural society has yet to develop policies which facilitate the continuation and celebration of cultural traditions. The Tumul K’in Center of Learning is an attempt not by the government but by the Maya and interested members who seek to promote Maya traditional knowledge. Part of the international cultural rights is to allow indigenous people the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions. They also have the right to maintain, control and protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions (2009, UN Declaration).

    I recall talking to a Maya man who shared with me his story. He says that he often finds that while he is in public spaces many of his Maya villagers do not speak Maya. Why? One of the primary reasons is discrimination. They are ashamed. Changing one culture – adapting – is a part of the process of increasing one’s status, a source of upliftment with the cost of cultural loss.

    Parents did not wake up one morning and all decided that they will no longer teach their children their native tongue. It was part of a social experience that inhibits them to do so. They were schooled to talk “proper” English. Maya language is not seen as valuable, especially not during the early years of schooling.

    This is not just the Maya language, it applies to other languages. Consider the Spanish language, they are many people who we would suspect can talk Spanish but are not able to do so. The educational system is doing very little to preserve the cultural languages of its people….
    But back to the topic – The Maya have a right to part take in the profits being generated from the cultural heritage…. And undoubtedly, part of the funds should be dedicated to the teaching of Maya languages in schools/centres.

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