Memoria Lacandon

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In April of this year, a unique event occurred in Nah, a small community in the tropical rainforest of Southeast Chiapas, Mexico, where the famous Maya culture of the Classic Period prospered. In their community center, men, women and children of the Hach Winik tribe interacted with the CD-ROM Memoria Lacandona, a compilation of their customs and traditions. The Hach Winik ("True People"), also known as the Lacandon Maya, listened to a selection of their religious songs and stories. They watched recent interviews in which community members discussed transformations in their community as well as the future of their culture. They learned of the first contact between explorers and the Hach Winik, and were able to recognize older community members in black and white photographs.

This detailed historical and anthropological document is the result of a collaboration between the Hach Winik and Na Bolom, a Mexican nonprofit organization founded by explorer Frans Blom and photographer/ecologist Gertrude Duby. Building on a legacy of seventy years of exploration and friendship with the people of the rainforest, Na Bolom has established community-based programs with the Hach Winik.

Historical film, photographs, and textual material documenting the religious rituals, history, and daily activities of this small group are combined with more recent photographs and interactive videos of Lacandon Maya in their present context. The Hach Winik took an active role in the interviews and the storytelling. After seeing and commenting on the master copy of the CD -- ROM, they approved its production and worldwide distribution.

Na Bolom aspires to support the cultural values of the Lacandon Maya through the dissemination of information about this small population to a global audience. Revenues generated from the sale of the CD-ROM will also benefit the Lacandon Maya through projects that stimulate a community-based and integrated development.

El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, the academic authority in South Mexico, developed the technological base of the CD-ROM, complementing it with a Geographical Information System (GIS) that describes the ecological situation of the Lacandon area. The master copy of the CD-ROM has been finished without funding. The project needs financial support in order to produce and distribute 1500 copies for sale. We would very much appreciate your support of this unique production as part of a real response to the impersonality and irresponsibility of a destructive century.

Article copyright Cultural Survival, Inc.

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