Business-minded, indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya women are important forest keepers and are contributing to community development in the Maya Golden Landscape.
The forests in southern Belize provide forest communities with fertile soils, food, shelter and clean water. In the Maya Golden Landscape, Q’eqchi’ Maya women make delicious corn tortillas and cook nutritious meals for their families over a fire hearth. The children attend school, the men visit their farms, and the women do laundry at the river bank – creating strong bonds with each other. The women collect firewood, herbs, fruits and vegetables for the next family meal.
In their spare time, indigenous Q’eqchi’ Maya women make unique handcrafts, cuxtal handbags, jippi jappa baskets, wood and slate carvings, pottery, jewellery and clothing with materials sustainably sourced from the forests. Realizing the opportunity to not only sell to fellow community members but also to international travellers, the sisters of the Coc family formed the Indian Creek Maya Arts Women’s Group.
The women saw the opportunity to capitalize on a market niche by providing an authentic Maya culture experience through their traditional craft making, cooking and dancing. The women want visitors to celebrate the Maya traditions passed on for generations, such as making chocolate, tortillas and jippi jappa baskets, and experiencing a spiritual healing ceremony, cultural dancing and nature trails.
Most of the resources that the group’s business depends on – crafts, tours and traditional practices – come from the forest. However, climate change and deforestation are threatening the way of life for women and their families. To help protect forests, the Indian Creek Maya Arts Women’s Group joined Ya’axché’s training workshops on conservation, sustainable resource use practices, leadership, conflict resolution, product development, and business plan development.
The Indian Creek Maya Arts Women’s Group strongly advocate for cultural preservation and forest protection while being a leading service provider in the tourism industry. The Maya Culture Visit is a must-do tour when visiting Belize, book a tour today. The collaboration between the Indian Creek Maya Arts Women’s Group, EcoTourism Belize and Ya’axché has been successful in supporting the livelihoods of communities and forest conservation in the 770,000 acre Maya Golden Landscape.