Ch'orti'-Maya Survival in Eastern Guatemala: Indigeneity in by Brent E. Metz

By Brent E. Metz

Scholars and Guatemalans have characterised japanese Guatemala as "Ladino" or non-Indian. The Ch'orti' don't express the most obvious indigenous markers stumbled on one of the Mayas of western Guatemala, Chiapas, and the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. Few nonetheless communicate Ch'orti', so much not put on designated costume, and such a lot neighborhood firms have lengthy been abandoned.

During the colonial interval, the Ch'orti' sector was once adjoining to fairly brilliant financial areas of imperative the United States that integrated significant alternate routes, mines, and dye plantations. within the 20th century Ch'orti's at once skilled U.S.-backed dictatorships, a 36-year civil battle from begin to end, and Christian evangelization campaigns, all whereas their inhabitants has elevated exponentially. those have had large affects on Ch'orti' identities and cultures.

From 1991 to 1993, Brent Metz lived in 3 Ch'orti' Maya-speaking groups, studying the language, undertaking family surveys, and interviewing informants. He came upon Ch'orti's to be embarrassed about their indigeneity, and he was once lucky to be current and concerned while many Ch'orti's joined the Maya flow. He has endured to extend his ethnographic study of the Ch'orti' every year ever when you consider that and has witnessed how Ch'orti's are reformulating their historical past and identity.

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Extra info for Ch'orti'-Maya Survival in Eastern Guatemala: Indigeneity in Transition

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Between 1579 and 1589 most encomiendas were abolished, private ranches called haciendas and estancias became the predominant enterprises, and the repartimiento labor rotation system was introduced, taking an even greater toll on the Indians because they were forced to work at great distances from their home communities and fields (Terga 1980:45, 56, 69–70, 73). As the Spanish colonies fell into an economic depression from 1580 to 1630, more Spaniards left the capital Santiago to establish small hacienda operations in eastern Guatemala and especially the Motagua Valley, creating constant tension with the remaining indigenous peoples, who lost land and crops to invading cattle (Terga 1980:75–76).

My investigation broadened beyond the hypothesized divide between organized Christian religions and moral economies to the reasons behind the Ch’orti’s’ ethnic shame. Were these even “Ch’orti’s” after all? While they themselves recognized the term, few seemed to use it as their principal means of selfidentification. Some still used the term that Wisdom found most prevalent in the early 1930s, “lenguajero,” which is ironically a local Spanish word for speakers of Ch’orti’. ” What had prompted Ch’orti’s, unlike the millions of Mayas in western Guatemala, to slowly abandon their proud, distinctive identity?

The Ch’orti’s count land in terms of manzanas and tareas. 73 acres or 8,373 square yards (cf. López and Metz 2002). 26 Chapter One with the landscape of Quezaltepeque, rugged and overworked like Jocotán but with many trees, including the incense producing copal shrub. It took four hours to reach the summit of Nochán, and of the many seemingly Ch’orti’ campesinos with whom we chatted, no one claimed to speak Ch’orti’, but Carlos was certain that they were just ashamed to admit their Ch’orti’ fluency.

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