“This project has helped me to learn more about my identity as a young person and more as a Tseltal. By this I mean that it helped me to know some elements of my culture that before I did not know, as well as helping my identity to strengthen and thus relate to other young people from different cultures. It helped me to feel confident about my identity as part of an Indigenous culture, and I realize that I can interact with other young people who have an identity different from mine because I have my culture and identity strengthened.”
Young people are considered to be the key link in the survival of Indigenous cultures; receiving, embodying and eventually passing on the wisdom of their elders.
This project empowers youth to become guardians of ancestral wisdom, recovering the customs that give them identity and that will inspire them to take care of their land and natural resources.
One of the major problems facing the Tseltal Mayan people is a loss of identity among their youth. Heavily influenced by Western culture, many young people seek to live the false stereotypes offered by the media, and to abandon their mother tongue and traditions. The increase in migration, family disintegration, addictions, violence and prostitution have also contributed to a sense of desperation and disenfranchisement among young people.
This project seeks to address these problems by giving young people a sense of belonging to their place of origin, their mother tongue and their traditions, helping them to recover a cultural identity, strength and dignity. Through workshops and conversations about caring for Mother Earth, Indigenous self-determination, spirituality, and Tseltal symbology, rites and myths, young people will be given an opportunity to reconnect with and reclaim their cultural identity. They will also create a theatre group that will present works in their communities in their native language.