Tzotzil Maya Essay

This essay has a total of 1087 words and 5 pages.

Tzotzil Maya



This paper introduces the Tzotzil Maya by establishing some of the essential information
about them. The home of the Tzotzil Maya lies in the highland region of central Chiapas
in southeastern Mexico. Their territory has increasingly started to overlap with the
Tzeltal, which are also Mayan indigenous people. This has caused them to influence each
other culturally, linguistically, and politically. The habitat of the Tzotzil is
highland, with mountains, volcanic outcroppings, and valley lowlands. The climate at
high altitudes is cool to cold, and summers are very wet. The native Tzotzil live mainly
in the higher reaches. Chiapas is rich in natural resources, generating 35% of the
nation's electricity from hydropower, producing 35% of Mexico's coffee, and the second
state in livestock production and maize. The south and eastern parts of the state are
rich in forests. The rocky highlands are a region that was never considered by the
Spaniards as being resource rich and was largely left in the hands of the indigenous
groups. The highlands served as a source of cheap labor for commercial agriculture in the
more fertile estate lands of Chiapas. The region is going through complex changes in
response to population increase, which has encouraged people to move to less populated
areas of the territory. Thirty years ago the indigenous population was highly
concentrated in the highlands, dispersed in small communities in the rainforest, or along
the borders with Guatemala and Oaxaca. Today, the Tzotzil have expanded northward and
into northern urban areas.

The particular demography of the highlands is shaped by the movement of the Tzotziles and
the Tzeltales. Since they have developed overlapping territories even within the same
municipalities, and because their languages are closely linked, they have developed ties
among younger adults, even though community boundaries remain separate. After the 1940s,
the highlands experienced rapid demographic growth. Between 1950 and 1990, the population
of the region tripled.

In the Altos, the Tzotziles are organized into communities, each with their own social and
cultural unity. Each community has their own identity with a patron saint as protector
and benefactor of its members, its own particular language characteristics, a body that
governs it, and annual rites including celebration of the festivals for the saints. The
inhabitants of the Altos identify themselves by their community of origin. The
communities are organized in barrios. The barrio can function as a ceremonial unit,
provide justice in minor offenses, decide use of land, maintain demographic statistics,
and assign representatives for the municipal government. The Tzotzil have mediated land
access by maintaining communal land structures through inheritance of land through the
paternal line. Nonetheless, it is possible that inside a community, members can buy or
sell land. Each family owns small parcels in different agro-ecological zones that are
used for different activities such as collection of firewood, plants and animals and some
cultivation of crops. They occupy communal territory in dispersed settlements known as
"parajes" which represent a social as well as territorial system of organization.
Continues for 3 more pages >>




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