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Q'anjob'al – Guatemala

Although plagued with extreme poverty, landlessness, and lack of economic opportunity, the Qánjobal Mayan people continue to be an exciting and unique culture. Most of the 159,030 Q’anjobal Mayan people live in the Cuchumatan Mountains in the Huehuetenango department. While their culture was influenced by the Spanish invaders of 1520s, they still keep their original traditions alive. The Q’anjobal people continue to have strong oral and literary traditions to keep the memories of the lost glory alive. One example of their literary tradition is the story of Popol Vuh, which tells the beginning of Earth, animals, and human beings. This story shows the culture’s concept of social justice. They also share the stories of the Alux, a race of little people who are very benevolent but dangerous when disrespected. The Qánjobal people live in pretty urban communites, however they are known for their farming of corn, beans, and squashes. Weaving is also a main economic activity for women. The clothes the women make are not only an economic good, but a symbol of village identity. Each Qánjobal Mayan village has their own style and patterns to their clothing, so it is easy to tell what village a person is from just by their clothes. However, their beautiful culture is at risk. Starting in 2009, the government planned to build dams in the Qám Bálam River of Santa Cruz Barillas. This river is very sacred to the Q’anjobal culture. They named the river “Yellow Tiger” after the animal who they believed drank from it. Not only is the river sacred but it's also a high priority conservation effort in Guatemala. Many different species of amphibians and insects solely live along the Qam Balam River, yet the government still continue their efforts to build the dams. Building the dams in the Qam Balam River would be destruction of an important part of the Q’anjobal culture as well as hurting the rare animals living among it.