Mayan Priests denied access to Guatemala ceremonial sites


29 Responses to “Mayan Priests denied access to Guatemala ceremonial sites”

  1. Jonbly Herbert says:

    And so, right on time, Mayan culture is finally destroyed…

    • YamaraTheGod says:

      Oh, I don’t know. I imagine having all those actors and racist government officials lined up on the altar for the taking may… inspire certain returning deities.

      Yoo-hoo! Come and change us!

  2. Cowicide says:

    On stage, non-indigenous peoples were wearing indigenous clothes in a folklore show while non-indigenous attendees from the Guatemalan elites


  3. kraut says:

    non-indigenous peoples were wearing indigenous clothes in a folklore show while non-indigenous attendees

    So how genetically “pure” mayan do you have to be to be allowed to wear mayan clothes? 50%? 90%?

    Sorry, tying culture to ancestry is just wrong. 

    I’m sure there are lots of deep-seated problems in Guatemala (beautiful country, by the way, and Tikal is an absolutely amazing place to visit), and they should be addressed.  But decrying the actors on stage for not being “ethnically correct” is just daft.

    I’ll shut up now before I Godwin myself.

    • knappa says:

      Come on, this is way more like a blackface minstrel show than a performance by a group of people who sincerely believe and practice Mayan culture but are not ethnically Mayan.

    • dragonfrog says:

      The ethnicity of the actors is indeed completely irrelevant – they could have been ethnically 100% Mayan.

      What’s relevant is that they were actors.  A major religious festival, at that religion’s high holy site, was led by actors who aren’t members of the religion, for an audience who aren’t members of the religion either, while the priests and adherents of the religion are locked out.

      This is like actors holding Easter mass at the Vatican for an audience of atheists and members of every major religion except Catholicism, while the pope stands on a soap box in the parking lot blessing some cheap barolo and saltine crackers for the actual Catholics. They could be Italian actors, and that wouldn’t make it less of a travesty.

      • Sirkowski says:

        But religion is theater.

      • Ipo says:

        Sounds like it would be like that. 
        The current religion of some Mayans is not related to the religion of those that built those sites but it came up in the vacuum. 

        It isn’t anything like your example. 
        It’s like Hawaiians pretending to be followers of their indigenous religion, without observing any kapus (taboos), demanding to hold Makahiki ceremonies on the heiau that the 5star hotel uses for their daily dance shows of random exotic looking dancers doing what the onlookers think must be hula while eating kalua pig and banana by the pool, thinking they are partaking in a luau. 
        No, it’s not like that either. 
        It’s like the pirates take the strippers to an Italian restaurant for sushi night but the Ninjas are there celebrating dress like a pirate day and won’t let them in. 
        Hmm.  Not exactly.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          It’s like the pirates take the strippers to an Italian restaurant for sushi night but the Ninjas are there celebrating dress like a pirate day and won’t let them in.

          You’re kind of an asshole. Well, not so much ‘kind of’.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Sorry, tying culture to ancestry is just wrong.

      Ah, yes, because we live in a post-racial society and indigenous peoples are treated SO WELL that we shouldn’t even notice that it might be a problem appropriating their culture while preventing them from participating in it.

      • Jörn Fricke says:

         Well, maybe it’s far fetched in your eyes, but what about mestizaje in Latin America? What are they? And if the original Maya religion is a thing of the past, and what they celebrate nowadays (albeit outside the ceremonial sites of their ancenstors) is something different, why wouldn’t a Eurasian Guatemalan be allowed to live their culture, too. What about the Maori in New Zealand of which there are no pure blooded Maori left, does it mean that their culture is dead? No…I’m not saying that the ‘acting’ is any good, but it does mean – in my eyes – that you don’t have be a pure blooded or even a Maya at all, to be able to be raised of ‘become’ a Maya ‘in culture’…


        PS I am not ignoring the fact that Latin American societies are full of racism and discrimination when it comes to their indigenous part of the population, but culture and ancestry are indeed not necessarily related…ancestry can’t be changed, but culture is something you are not born with, but grow into…

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Isn’t culture a matter of nurture? To simply tie culture to ancestry/ethnicity is wrong. Isn’t that what the Jews and Judaism have spent five thousand plus years trying to escape and what the Nazis tried to reimpose?

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Isn’t that what the Jews and Judaism have spent five thousand plus years trying to escape and what the Nazis tried to reimpose?

          Oppressive regimes have been trying to separate culture from ethnicity by denying people the right to practice their religion, speak their language, raise their children, etc. as far back as we have records. European-descended governments throughout the New World, Australia, New Zealand and other places spent decades or centuries trying to prevent indigenous peoples from continuing their culture. And now they’re Disneyfying it and trying to sell it. One group in this story certainly has something in common with the Nazis, but you’ve seriously bollixed up cause and effect and an understanding of which side is which.

  4. Pickleschlitz says:

    That looks like a fun show! It would be even better on ice!

  5. Jason Wood says:

    That sounds pretty crummy, but hey, it’s not the end of the world.

  6. anharmyenone says:

    There seems to be some ambiguity as to what is religion and what is culture and who “owns” traditional practices and places. This comes up with certain practices and places in Britain and Ireland like Morris dancing and Maypoles and Stonehenge and such. Do these belong to absolutely anyone or to people who can trace their ancestry to those places in ancient times or to Wiccans or New Agers or the local civic leaders or to the whole country or to artists or thespians or people whose family folklore says they are descended from Druids or who? Who are the inheritors of these traditions and places? If you say “A” you are marginalizing “B” and if you say “everyone” you are marginalizing lots of “stakeholders.” It’s a catch-22.

    • dragonfrog says:

      It’s not a catch-22, because modern Mayans aren’t new age hippies following an imaginative reconstruction of a dead culture and religion, rolled in with crystal-fancying, aura-seeing, UFO-obsessing, and hopelessly non-specific language.  They are following a religion with a large and uninterupted following since those temples were built.

      It’s not exactly the same religion as when the temples were built, any more than it’s the same Catholicism practiced in St Peter’s basilica as it was in 333 AD when it was built – but you can’t legitimately argue that Rastafarians have the same claim to run ceremonies in St. Peter’s as the pope does.

    • chenille says:

      It’s really not here. True, sometimes you can ask about whether everyone should share in these places, but even that doesn’t explain keeping the indigenous groups out.

  7. chgoliz says:

    I wouldn’t even call those “indigenous clothes”….a strip of *possibly* hand-embroidered cloth surrounded by modern costuming seemingly designed for modesty purposes.

    How galling, that the actual descendants of the specific religion/culture are not being allowed to set foot on their own sacred land during the official holiday, so that the dominant class can use the time & location as an excuse to party.

  8. Mitch_M says:

    That’s terrible, but on a positive note I hear the coffee in Guatemalan jails is excellent.

  9. Ipo says:

     What I see here is that one fake Maya priest show was mad that another fake religious Maya show hogged the venue, in a place where real Mayan priests used to have shows, far more spectacular than those of this (so far) crappy katun of the new baktun are. 

    The 13th baktun has no cultural significance for either group.  Archeologists and Linguists are solely responsible for knowledge of the Mayan calendar. 

    Mayan culture and religion was so almost completely destroyed that nobody was left that could read their own numerals and script.  It took Europeans and Norte-americanos to decypher their writings.  Their culture was so wiped out that the indigenous people play the “traditional” marimba, an instrument developed from the balofon that slaves from west-Africa introduced.  Next to nothing was left of their religion.  Science decyphered some.  All writing was done in an extinct language.  After centuries-long decipherment, we have only recently reached the point where scholars can read more than 90 percent of the glyphs. 

    Unlike the Aztecs and Incas, the Maya didn’t have a centralized government that immediately collapsed from the attack of very few (!) Spanish men, their Eurasian diseases and lots of indigenous allies.  Instead, it took very few Spanish men and their “auxiliary Indians” 170 years to finish off the last of the Mayan states, Itza, when its island capitol Tayasal fell in 1697.  The Maya were still fighting the Mexican army in the 1930s. There are less than 2000 Itza Maya left now. 

    tl;dr:  The Spanish and their auxiliary Indians conquered and enslaved the Maya.  Their descendents still act that way towards the descendants of the Maya and own and rule everything.  It’s like a caste system. The injustice is fucking disgusting. 
    But unless you’re willing to give your beating heart to Kukulkan, or at least offer blood by pulling ropes beset with obsidian flakes through your pierced tongue or penis, keep your stupid song and dance show asses off these archaeological sites.  This is just as silly as the neo-druids in Stonehenge. 

    My tolerance for both social injustice and religious craziness increasingly wanes. 

  10. Chentzilla says:

    “At Global Voices, Renata Avila writes about how indigenous practitioners of traditional Maya spiritual practices were once again marginalized on the day where it seemed everyone in the world was talking about “ancient Mayan beliefs.” What a crock and an outrage.”

    … writes a Native American, I suppose.

  11. euansmith says:

    Come on, people, surely you’ve watched “Cabin in the Woods”? Someone had to carryout that “Mayan” ritual to keep the Eldar Gods safe in their slumber.

    Speak to the big scarey hand, because the Gods ain’t listenin’

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