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Native Peoples: The Mayas

     The posting about the Day of Native Peoples and the related Corsica meeting of undependence parties elicited the question: What's wrong with that? The answer is nothing so long as they are transparent and do not murder or maim innocent people. It has also been charged that they are being used to threaten the existence of a country; with this argument the United States justifies the Civil War.
     A subplot is the Mayan movement. Some WAISers have dismissed "Mayas" as an a hollow term, the reality being the tribe to which the individual belongs. This is true, but George Collier says that the migration of various Mayan groups to work in places like Florida has made them conscious of their common stock. In addition, the movement led by Rigoberta Menchu seeks to create a pan-Mayan consciousness.
     The various national governments are responding by attempting to co-opt the movement. They helped organize a Mayan exhibition which ran for eight months in Venice. It has now moved to the old College of San Ildefonso in Mexico City. President Zedillo inaugurated it at a ceremony in which President Alvaro Arz˙ of Guatemala and representatives of Belize, Honduras and El Salvador participated. The exhibition includes pieces from all those countries and Costa Rica. Speeches praising Mayan civilization uncritically unwittingly repeated the old romantic views of pro-Indian propagandists, from which anthropologists primarily from Vanderbilt University have liberated the discipline.

Ronald Hilton - 08/10/99