We Were Taught To Plant Corn Not To Kill: Secrets Behind the Silence of the Mayan People Book

My name is Tax'a Leon and this book is about my family and my people, the K'iche' Maya. My father was murdered three years ago. I still have my mother and 12 brothers and sisters. Nothing was done to solve the murder of my father or the people that turn up every day in the cornfields machetied to death. After all the things that have happened to our family there are times when I feel fear and sadness and despair in humanity. I wrote this book to tell people about the armed conflict that is still taking place in my country, Guatemala. The interviews were conducted in my native language K'iche'. People have trusted me and told me their stories. They told me with fear and anxiety in their eyes. Painting was also a way they could express how they feel without having to come up with words that consciously commit them to forming an opinion. The violence continues because no one wants to remember the past and our lips are sealed. We are afraid.. Not long ago, 200,000 people were murdered only 750 miles from Miami. There are people today in our governments who may not want you know about the worst violence that the Americas have seen in this century. This is a portrait of the Mayan people, written by a young Maya K'iche' artist, Tax'a, and her American husband Harvard Medical School researcher Douglas London. Eighty-one paintings by Mayan artists, including K'iche' children's art and photos, accompany graphic testimonies by Maya witnesses. "We Were Taught to Plant Corn not to Kill" is a stunning art book, an uncovering of the secrets behind the silence of the Mayan people and a look at the daily life and culture of the K'iche'. The Maya need your help because history is still happening to them. From Harvard Law School "One of the remarkable aspects of this book is that a Mayan woman has interviewed the Maya in the Mayan language about their experiences of oppression and violence, and the people have opened up and spoken. This book offers first-person narratives about the extensive, organized violence against the Maya that is destroying the fabric of their culture." "My advice to you is to let this book unfold. It is a profound poem, a historical document, and a personal biography. Nestled within stories of horror are breaths of hope. Pictures of violence are illustrated in startling, vibrant colors that contrast the shadow of death with the light of life. But this book is not just about Guatemalan society. It is about the courage to take action. Both the authors and those they interviewed have taken a risk by telling their personal stories of love and loss, trauma and truth. Through their courage, the authors and those interviewed teach us an important lesson: In the end, nothing can silence the power of humanity." Daniel L. Shapiro, Ph.D. Director, Harvard International Negotiation Initiative Harvard Law School REVIEWS Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, March 2008 "This unusual volume was assembled by Tax'a Leon London, a Quiche Maya artist and human rights activist, and her American husband, Harvard international mental health researcher Douglas London. The book is intended to reveal to a general audience the sufferings of countless Guatemalan Mayas during the brutal counterinsurgency campaigns of the 1970s-80s. The authors have adopted an eclectic method to that end. They include 15 brief, moving testimonials by Guatemalan Indians describing personal encounters with terror and violence. The book is lavishly illustrated with 50-odd paintings and drawings by Tax'a Leon and her Guatemalan art students. Douglas London includes various reminiscences of his experiences in Guatemala, going back to his early days there as a Peace Corps volunteer. The work includes a quick overview of several thousand years of Maya cultural history as well as observations and speculations concerning the effect of agricultural change upon public health, Mayan customs of courtship and marriage, the role of the dead in Maya religion and more. Finally, the authors conclude with proposals for education programs in Guatemala that they hope will discourage conflict and violence and promote peaceful means for conflict resolution. Summing Up: Recommended. General, Public and undergraduate libraries." (Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries) Kliatt Book Reviews, July 2007 "Through artwork and personal stories, the authors have compiled a most compassionate account of the ongoing conflict between the military and the people of Guatemala. A native Mayan woman and her husband worked together to create a full portrait of the violence and destruction that faces the Mayan people. The book incorporates touching personal stories and interviews, with original art to complete this grand task. The text is thorough, covering topics from Mayan history and culture to the importance of memories and the horror of genocide. The interviews are also thorough, spanning all generations and all types of reactions to the tragedy. The serves the important purpose of shedding light on a current issue often overlooked. The trauma is still very much alive in the hearts of those involved, and that pain is evident in the art and stories. Because of its incredibly personal and detailed nature, this could be an excellent resource for those interested in the Mayan genocide or general Mayan history." (Kliatt Book Reviews)Read More

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  • 0977810402
  • 9780977810406
  • Douglas Stuart London, Tax'a Leon London
  • 1 April 2007
  • Back Up Books Human Rights Press
  • Paperback (Book)
  • 144

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