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May 21, 2013

Bulldozing Mayan mounts in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary

Earlier we told you about the thousands of artifacts that were found discarded in plastic bags in Crooked Tree. News Five tried to reach Dr. John Morris, or in his absence any director of the Institute of Archaeology this afternoon, on this deplorable situation but we were told that no one was available. While we found that unexpected and thoroughly disheartening story at Chau Hiix today, our news team was on the site primarily to investigate allegations that private developers were bulldozing and clearing land within the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary on top of Mayan mounds. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Just as disturbing as the carelessly neglected pieces of ancient Mayan history thrown aside like garbage were these images of clearing of what we are told is close to one hundred and fifty acres of land. A new fence strung with high-tension barbed wire encloses the area.

 

Chairman of Crooked Tree George Guest took us on a tour today and showed us the mounds contained within the fenced area. We didn’t need to see the bulldozer to realize that the land had been bulldozed and cleared. Guest told us that what we were looking at could very likely be burial sites of the ancient Maya, and Professor of Anthropology Anne Pyburn, who spent two decades in the area, says he may be right.

 

Anne Pyburn

Via Phone: Anne Pyburn, Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University

“They are probably house mound…but the Mayas buried people in the floors of their houses so he is correct. Those are disturbing; the resting place of people. And there will be possibly artifacts in the mounds, possibly tombs in the mounds, but of course it is the lost of information that is so appalling to archeologists; so depressing. I found a human spine bone cared into a hair pin that was buried with a man in a mound similar to the ones that are being bulldozed that had writing on it. From that hairpin, we learns a new Mayan word that had not been translated before and we learn about the connection between the site of Chau Hiiz and the site of Tamarind Dito in another country in the ninth or tenth century or even earlier. So that sort of thing is being destroyed by the bulldozing.”

 

George Guest

Guest says that although he is the Chairman he knew nothing about the work being done there until two weeks ago, and nothing about the plans for the land. He also insists that no land should be given away inside the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, much less land which lies in the middle of a genuine Mayan site, and calls on government to take note.

 

George Guest, Crooked Tree Chairman

“I’d like really for the Prime Minister to really get a whole of this and Mister Manuel Heredia Junior. It looks like what I’ve seen from Mister Heredia, they are really sickened by what was happening at Noh Mul, but he doesn’t know what was happening here. This was happening before Noh Mul. So Minister you have another problem on your hands. You have Crooked Tree Wildlife Sacntuary and a protected area. So I hope that you listen to what I have to say and minister you have to bring up all these archeological sites; there are thousands of them around the country. And it is up to you to protect them; it is up to you to take it to the House of Representatives and put if forward to the Prime Minister and the minister of cabinet. Please leave these archeological sites alone—they are our heritage and nobody else.”

 

As we walked around the perimeter of the fence, we observed a man armed with two shotguns patrolling inside. We spoke to him as we left the area and he told us off camera that his brother Eustace Dawson owns the land, and they plan to use it as farmland, for fruit trees and for grass for cattle. He insisted that they intend to protect the mounds, and not to destroy them. Mike Rudon for News Five.

 

News Five tried to contact C.E.O. in the Ministry of Natural Resources Beverly Castillo for comment, but she was unavailable. We have learnt, however, that it is very irregular for land within protected areas like the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary to be given to private landowners, and even more irregular considering that it is land which contains a recognized and documented Mayan Archaeological Site.

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5 Responses for “Bulldozing Mayan mounts in Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary”

  1. Belizean says:

    Who knows, maybe there is a Mayan mound in my backyard!!! Where is the “INSTITUTE” thats supposed to protect these sites?? Tell me, who is to blame? If there is no sigh, no demarcation, no notice of anything special or out of the ordinary, how are these people supposed to know? Is the whole country covered in mounds, so no one can develop? There needs to be something official about it if thats the case

  2. Amazed says:

    Dis da Belize. Do what you want! No care bout anybody else!

  3. Sports Fan says:

    Nothin but some americans trying to stop all developments in this country. Poor people have to eat. I’m getting sick and tired of all the blame to hard working people. Don’t blame them. Americans, why don’t you invest a couple million dollars and identify all these “architectural sites”, so they can be saved. Belize doesn’t have that money, sorry, we’ll be working.

  4. Storm says:

    @Sports Fan, I’m disappointed you don’t care at all about the country’s history and heritage. You just want to walk the lazy & greedy man’s path, no matter what the cost to our patrimony.

    As a practical matter, Belize is blessed with LOTS of unused land, and a small population. There is no credible reason in the world to destroy ancient ruins for crappy modern developments. Just build somewhere else! Sometimes doing the easiest thing is just wrong. Let’s raise our sights above those of howler monkeys, and try to elevate the country.

    It’s our heritage, it’s our duty first, before the Americans or any other foreigners, to preserve it.

  5. ShellyLeit says:

    I can’t believe what is happening there. It’s like no one is in charge. Doesn’t Belize have any government at all anymore? They are giving your country away to private developers and eventually this will kill your tourism industry and people will stop coming there.

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