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History of the Lacandon Maya People

Chan Kin Viejo, my father, told me that our people came from the South. When conflict* came about, someone told him to move everybody and leave at once. So they arrived at Palenque [Kayum wasn't born yet] and then they went on to Chancalá. From Chancalá they went on to the Maroma Lagoon, now called the Guineo Lagoon, where they lived for 6 years. They lived there for a while and then they moved to El Hule, where they lived for around 2 to 3 more years. Then they came to this area which is now known as Ejido Lacandon and they then moved to Pacha', where they stayed for 30 years and then they finally settled in the Naha Lagoon where my father, Chan Kin Viejo, Don Mateo Viejo and Don Antonio Viejo settled permanently. Only the three of them with their families arrived at Naha. I was born in Pac Chena (around a thousand meters away from where are now and where the tourism cabins are located). Leaving Pac Chena behind, we settled on the spot where our current village is located.

When they arrived, there was nothing but pure jungle, there were no other people, there were no Tzeltales. They liked it because they fell in love with the lagoon and they found plenty of ocote, which was very important to them, that's what they had been looking for, because they used it a lot for their ceremonies. Foreigners arrived a few years later, from Yajalon and from Tabasco , and they asked if they [the Maya Lacandon] could share their land with them. The foreigners told them that they wouldn't bother them and that there were only three of them. Mateo, Antonio and Chan Kin said that they would give them the land but as the years went by, more and more people arrived and they were unable to get rid of them afterward. The government said that they couldn't help them because the Maya Lacandones themselves had given those foreigners a place where they could live. My father went to establish a border with San Luis, Villa Las Rosas, Ejido Lacandon and Chan Kin said that they would not provide them with any more land because the field workers were destroying everything. Everything went wrong. They destroyed everything. When my father was 80 or 90 years old he said that he didn't know what to do, but [that] Trudy came to help. She helped him go to the government to draw limits and borders that couldn't be trespassed by the Tzeltales. Before he died he explained that Trudy [had] helped [him] a lot and that's why they still had that piece of land, surrounded by cow fields. "I didn't know what was going to happen," my father said, "So Trudy started to tell them that they shouldn't destroy the jungle," he said, "every tree has fresh air, wind, don't cut the jungle. Don't bring cattle in we won't ever die out. Learn to treat the Earth with care.”

Now we have reforested and we want to bring back what we had before, but trees grow very slowly. Just like my father told me the mahogany trees don't grow very quickly. Mateo and Antonio became sad as well, but they couldn't foresee what would happen and they got very worried. We, their children, have a place to live and we have to continue to take care of it. Without my father we wouldn't have any land and no one would have guided us. It's the only thing we have, [and] the lands of Metzabok, which is made up of people who went there from Naha and [where] Jose Pepe [lives] in Lacanja. All the Maya Lacandon have agreed to take care of these areas.

- Kayum Garcia Paniagua and Carla Molina

Historia del Pueblo Maya Lacandon

Chan Kin Viejo, mi padre, me contó que nuestro pueblo vino del sur. Cuando vino el conflicto* alguien les avisó de irse de allí de inmediato. Entonces llegaron en Palenque [Kayum aún no había nacido] y luego a Chancalá. De Chancalá se fueron a la Laguna Maroma, ahora llamada del Guineo, en donde vivieron por 6 años. Allí vivieron algún tiempo y de allí se trasladaron al Hule en donde vivieron 2 o 3 años más. Después vivieron en el área que ahora es el Ejido Lacandón de donde se trasladaron a Pacha', en donde estuvieron 30 años y después de eso se asentaron en la Laguna Naja, en donde ya se establecieron definitivamente mi padre, Chan Kin Viejo, Don Mateo Viejo y Don Antonio Viejo. Sólo ellos tres y sus familias llegaron a Naja. Yo nací en Pac Chena (a unos mil metros de donde estamos ahora conversando, en las cabañas de turismo). Saliendo de Pac Chena nos asentamos en donde está el pueblo actualmente.

Cuando ellos llegaron había pura selva, no había gente, no había Tzeltales. A ellos les gusto porque les encanto la laguna pero sobre todo encontraron ocote, que era muy importante para ellos, ellos es lo que andaban buscando, porque lo ocupaban mucho para sus ceremonias. A los pocos años llegaron gente de afuera, de Yajalón y de Tabasco, y les preguntaron [a los 3 señores lacandones] para ver si podían compartir sus tierras con ellos. Ellos platicaron que no les iban a molestar y que solo eran 3 personas. Mateo, Antonio y Chan Kin dijeron que les daban la tierra pero pasaron los años y entraron más gente y no los pudieron sacar. El gobierno dijo que no los podía ayudar porque los mismos lacandones les habían dado a esa gente [un lugar] en donde vivir. Mi papá fue a definir la línea con San Luis, Villa Las Rosas, Ejido Lacandón, y dijo Chan Kin que ya no les daba mas tierra porque los campesinos fueron destruyendo todo. Salió todo mal. Lo destruyeron todo. Cuando mi padre tenía 80 o 90 años dijo que no sabía que hacer. Entonces vino Trudy y le ayudó. Ella le ayudó a ir con el gobierno para hacer mojones y límites de donde no puedan pasar más los Tzeltales. Antes que muriera le preguntaron [sobre ésto] y dijo [Chan Kin] que Trudy lo ayudó mucho y [que] por eso les queda este pedazo [de tierra], rodeado de potreros. "No sabía yo lo que iba a pasar", dijo mi padre, "Entonces les empezó a decir que no debían acabar la selva, cada árbol trae aire puro, vientos, no los vayan a tumbar," dijo, "No metan ganado y nosotros no nos vamos a acabar. Aprendan a tratar la Tierra con cuidado".

Ahora hemos reforestado y queremos recuperar [nuestra tierra] como antes, pero los árboles crecen lentos. Tal y como dijo mi padre las caobas no se crecen muy rápidos. Mateo y Antonio se pusieron tristes también, pero no pudieron preveer lo que sucedería y se preocuparon mucho. Sus hijos tenemos dónde vivir y tenemos que seguir cuidando [nuestra tierra]. Sin mi padre no tuviéramos tierra y nadie nos orientó. Es lo único que tenemos, [y] las tierras de Metzabok [que] eran gente de Naja que se trasladó allá y [las] de Lacanja [en donde] José Pepe. Todos los lacandones se pusieron de acuerdo para preservar sus áreas.

- Kayum García Paniagua y Carla Molina


Trudy Blom


Gertrude "Trudy" Duby Blom (1901- 1993) was a famous Swiss social anthropologist, journalist and photographer who spent much of her life and career studying and supporting the Maya Lacandon of Chiapas, Mexico. She met the Danish archaeologist Franz Blom, with whom she explored the jungle and built a life together with him, centered around the study and documentation of the lives of the Lacandon people. They bought a house that had once been a monastery in San Cristobal de las Casas, restored it and organized it as a hotel called Na Bolom, whose main activity was to organize trips to the Lacandon communities. They specialized in groups with academic interests, and operated mainly anthropological tours.

Trudy Blom (1901- 1993) was a benefactress and friend of the Maya Lacandon. / Trudy Blom fue una benefactora y amiga de los lacandones.
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Gertrude “Trudy” Duby Blom (1901- 1993) fue una conocida antropóloga social, periodista y fotógrafa suiza, que dedicó gran parte de su vida y carrera profesional a estudiar y apoyar a los Mayas Lacandones de Chiapas, México. Conoció al arqueólogo danés Frans Blom, con quien exploraron la selva y construyeron una vida juntos, alrededor del estudio y la documentación de la vida del pueblo Lacandon. Compraron una casa que fuera antes un monasterio en San Cristóbal de las Casas, la restauraron y organizaron como un hotel llamado Na Bolom, cuya actividad central era organizar viajes hacia las comunidades lacandonas. Se especializaron en atención a grupos de interés académico / antropológico principalmente.

With the proceeds from this successful business, Trudy and her husband continued traveling into the jungle and building closer ties of friendship with Chan Kin Viejo and the Maya Lacandon community of Naha and eventually became an advocate for these people and insured that justice was made and respect to the legitimate interests of the Maya Lacandon people were considered when they negotiated their land in the Selva Maya with the Mexican Government. She patiently had to observe the cutting down of the mahogany trees on Lacandon land and was a witness to their not being fairly paid by logging companies for their mahogany. She witnessed the beginning of the destruction of the forest. Trudy Blom's lifework and testimonies were put together in the form of a book entitled "Bearing Witness". Her work helped draw attention to the plight of the forest due to deforestation and she supported the Maya Lacandon people in every possible way, even after her death. To this date the Lacandon may request medical attention at Na Bolom in San Cristobal de las Casas. Gertrude Blom died in 1993 at age 92. María Luisa Armendáriz Guerra is now president of the Asociación Cultural Na Bolom who continue Trudy's work to this day.

Con las ganancias de este negocio exitoso, Trudy y su esposo siguieron viajando al interior de la selva y estrechando sus lazos de amistad con Chan Kin Viejo y la comunidad Maya Lacandona de Naja y eventualmente se convirtió en su defensora y veló por que se hiciera justicia y se respetaron los intereses de los lacandones cuando éstos tuvieron que negociar las tierras de la Selva Maya con el Gobierno de México. Tuvo que observar con paciencia el corte de las caobas en tierras lacandonas, y vió que éstas no les fueron pagadas con justicia por las empresas madereras a los Lacandones. Fue testigo del comienzo de la destrucción de la selva. Trudy Blom, que plasmara la obra de su vida y sus testimonios en un libro titulado “Bearing Witness”, contribuyó a llamar la atención sobre los peligros que corría la selva a causa de la deforestación y a apoyar en todo lo que fuese posible al pueblo Lacandon aún después de su muerte , quien hasta la fecha puede solicitar atención medica en Na Bolom en San Cristóbal de las Casas. Gertrude Blom murió en el año de 1993 a los 92 años. María Luisa Armendáriz Guerra es la presidente de la Asociación Cultural Na Bolom que continúa el trabajo de Trudy hasta nuestros días.

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