SATIIM Wins Support for Origin Stories of Q’eqchi Sacred Sites

The Sacred Fire Foundation granted SATIIM support for a collection of origin stories of sacred sites illustrated by Q’eqchi children. The collection will be used to revive Maya traditional values of the land as sacred.

Sacred Fire Foundation Supports Traditional Knowledge of Sacred Sites in Belize and Guatemala
SATIIM has received support from the Sacred Fire Foundation, a charitable organization that supports initiatives to preserve and promote Ancient Wisdom traditions—and their perspectives—to ensure their continuance for future generations. SATIIM will coordinate a community participatory process in Belize and Guatemala to research, produce and distribute sacred site origin stories of the Q’eqchi Maya.
Through a series of workshops, Q’eqchi communities in lowland Guatemata and Belize will create a collection of sacred site origin stories illustrated by children. The stories will revive the Maya’s traditional value of the land as sacred and inform community discussions on the first cross-border models of Maya conservation. The community discussions will be based in research by renowned cultural anthropologist Liza Grandia with Q’eqchi elders about sacred sites in Belize.

Unlike other Maya peoples who often constructed sacred sites (such as temples) Q’eqchi sacred sites are found within the environment, including hills, caves, natural springs, reflective pools, cairns, and groves.

Following community workshops, Q’eqchi children will illustrate the story collection to be published in three languages: Q’eqchi, Spanish, and English. Q’eqchi villages in both Guatemala and Belize will then share the stories in schools, meetings, and radio shows how sacred sites ground Q’eqchi culture in the past and the future.

Q’eqchi sacred sites are rooted in unique origin stories that form a rich part of their culture. Many are no longer told, with only a few now passed to the next generation. These stories form a cultural heritage that combines history, beliefs and the present reality of these communities.

Preserving and reviving these traditional stories is vital the cultural survival of these communities who are under siege for their ancestral lands by both public and private interests, as well as from the incursion of the dominant consumer culture.


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The Environmental Protection Program fosters community management of the environment. SATIIM is coordinating a network of community forest rangers in both Belize and Guatemala who are creating a regional system of environmental data. The organization is also developing a model of community-led natural resource management planning. Given the primal importance of the environment to Maya and traditional cultures, it is the thread running all SATIIM’s programmes.

On April 16th 2016, Ms. Froyla Tzalam became the newly elected chair lady of the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations (APAMO) Ms. Tzalam will be serving for a period of 2 years (2016-2018)

Froyla Tzalam

APAMO, the Association of Protected Areas Management Organizations, is Belize’s leading network of non-governmental conservation organizations that seeks to influence and encourage the Belizean society to safeguard the integrity and diversity of Belize’s protected areas system and to ensure that any use of Belize’s natural resources is sustainable.

APAMO is comprised of 13 protected areas management organizations that collectively co-manage 18 terrestrial protected areas and 9 marine protected areas. Altogether the protected areas managed by APAMO’s members represent 51% of Belize’s land and sea currently under protection, exclusive of forest reserves, and 65% of all co-managed protected areas.

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Satiim’s work is more than just a normal job but working outside the ordinary. There are times when meetings and discussions are held outside. This picture is depicting a discussion in Crique Sarco Village, Toledo District, with a Q’eqchi elder and SATIIM’s Director.Discussion with Q'eqchi leader

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Planning session with SATIIM’s Board of Directors


Meeting with community forestry Groups RAX MU Q’ICHE of Conejo Creek village and  Q’ICHE HA of Santa Teresa village.