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Mar 21, 2023

Maya Culture Belize, Promoting Ancient Culture through Technology

The ancient Mayan civilization is considered to be among the top six earliest civilizations in the world. The Maya territory in Belize is said to have supported an estimated population of one to two million people and large cities such as Xunantunich, Caracol and Lamanai. A lot has changed over millennia, but many of the cultural practices and traditions from those early days have withstood the test of time. To ensure that the ways of the Maya people thrive in a modern era, one cultural activist is merging the lessons learnt from the ancient practices of his ancestors with modern technology, through the Maya Culture Belize Facebook page. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Researchers believe that the ancient Mayan civilization began around 2600 B.C and lasted for almost two thousand years. During that period, they established numerous cities and states across most of Guatemala and Belize, as well as parts of Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. In Belize, numerous Mayan temples have been discovered and a number of artifacts have been unearthed from within them, each telling its own story of this once thriving ancient civilization. Today, the rich cultural and traditional legacies of the indigenous community are still being celebrated by the Yucatec, Mopan and Q’eqchi Mayans who migrated from Guatemala and Mexico to Belize in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Taking awareness and preservation a step further, Juan Caal, a cultural activist, has taken full advantage of social media as a tool to spread awareness about his culture and people.


Juan Caal

Juan Caal, Cultural Activist

“The page started around 2012, I cannot say exactly right on top of my head, but around 2012, 2013. The idea was about at that time when we ventured into this new era of social media, technology, and we saw the need on how we can take advantage of technology and social media to continue to promote our identity as Maya people.”


Maya Culture Belize currently has thirteen thousand likes and close to eighteen thousand followers on Facebook. The page features everything one may need to know about today’s Mayan culture, from the traditional foods made from recipes passed down through generations, to cultural attire, traditional languages, music and dances.


Juan Caal

“We know that we realize that there is a generational gap when it comes, when it comes to the younger generation for, to be able to identify themselves with our culture. We have many young people who cannot speak our language, who are unable to even understand our traditions. And so we saw the need that, eh, we can take the advantage, we can take advantage of technology to be able educate and reconnect back this younger generation and all generations to our Maya culture.”


Caal and his team recently participated in the 2023 Maya Day celebrations held in Blue Creek, Toledo. Maya Day presents an opportunity for all Belizeans to celebrate Mayan traditions and culture in the twenty-first century.


Christina Coc

Christina Coc, Spokesperson, Maya Leaders Alliance

“This is an affirmation that we are alive, we matter we are not just celebrating the past, the ancient civilization. There are living Mayas today. Our culture of course is not static. It changes. It is dynamic. We keep up with the times. We are even Mayans in the contemporary times.”


Today, the Maya people of Belize no longer dwell in temples.  The young are moving out of their traditional communities to seek employment in urban communities and to further their education. Technological advancements are now playing key roles in education and energy in several of these traditional rural communities. So, a lot has changed. But, Caal sees modernization as an opportunity to advance Maya culture and not a threat to its existence.


Juan Caal

“I think when we come, when we come to our realization that nothing can threaten us if we allow it to, it is how we carry out ourselves. It is how we continue to embrace identity while still living among this modern society. Like I said, I am Maya. I can be able to work in a, the Immigration Department. Doesn’t mean I will forget who I am. That doesn’t mean I will forget my value as a person and where I come from. My grandfather inculcated in me that for you to know where you’re going, you must know where you come from. And it is very important for this younger generation to realize that, that wherever you are going your path, you must know where you came from in order for you to know what part you want to take in this life.”


Christina Coc

“I think it is always important to recognize that in order to establish what new routes you are going to take, you cannot go on those new routes if you are not grounded. In order to be rerouted you have to be rooted.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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