Cultural Vitality – Mayan Language Revitalization
Excerpt from Karma Kitaj interview with Ava Berinstein, featured on Alivelihood: New Adventures as We Age.
Berinstein’s Q’eqchi’ Mayan legends recorded in 1978 have inspired the vision to revitalize the Mayan oral tradition so that Mayan languages and culture will continue to thrive.
In the above excerpt, we are introduced to a Q’eqchi’ Mayan story about the symbolism behind “The Dance of the Deer,” a dance that is still performed in the highlands of Guatemala, in the region of Alta Verapaz. This is the first of many legends and stories that will depict aspects of ancient as well as contemporary Mayan life.
The goal of Cultural Vitality is to revitalize an ancient oral tradition that is at risk of extinction. I now have 21 digitized Q’eqchi’ narratives (Berinstein 2013). Our immediate task at hand is to broadcast them on Indigenous community radio stations in Q’eqchi’ communities to help restore memories and encourage more storytellers to share legends and experiences that reflect Mayan life and culture.
At this time, the stories are being broadcast in Q’eqchi’ on a Storytelling Program on the community-based Ak’ Kutan Radio in Belize. We hope to one day be able do the same thing in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.by