Q’eqchi’ Mayan Language Revitalization: Preserving Indigenous Legends on the Radio
Excerpt from the Cultural Survival Quarterly
“Francisco Choco’oj Paau, a Q’eqchi’ Maya storyteller from Cobán, Guatemala, then in his late fifties, would take his time to prepare to tell a story. He would say his prayers; he would burn his (copal) incense. That’s because, these weren’t just stories, they were ancient Mayan legends; legends that had been passed down from generation-to-generation; told in a precise way; told in the same way; for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. Each legend holds a custom, tradition, or particular insight into Maya beliefs and culture. Each legend also holds a moral about Maya life…”
To promote Q’eqchi’ Mayan language revitalization through verbal art, Aurelio Sho, of Radio Ak’ Kutan in Belize, broadcasts Q’eqchi’ legends on a weekly storytelling program. The folktales from the Alta Verapaz region of Guatemala, narrated by Francisco Choco’oj Paau in 1978, are now being heard throughout the Toledo district of Belize. These legends about “The Buzzard and the Snake,” “The Snakes of Senahu,” “The Hunter,” “How to Cure a Toothache,” “The Dance of the Deer,” and in particular, “The Hills and the Corn,” are inspiring a young Q’eqchi’ generation to respect Mother Earth and to be grateful for her natural resources, while simultaneously rekindling ancient memories for their parents and grandparents, many of whom immigrated from Guatemala.
To read more about the Q’eqchi’ Mayan language revitalization project and our efforts to broadcast Mayan legends on Indigenous community radio, see the complete article or visit: http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/qeqchi-mayan-language-revitalization-through-verbal-art