Believing Birds: Human-Avian Interaction in the Lacandon Maya Forest

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 09:45
, Kerry - Brigham Young University
, Rob - Independent Researcher

The Lacandon Maya of Chiapas, Mexico are acutely attuned to messages brought by various birds. For prognostications relating to climate, time, health and healing, sorcery, danger, and hunting the Lacandon look principally to birds, to a remarkable extant. In this presentation we draw upon our fieldwork data with the Lacandon to decipher the intimate knowledge-sharing relationship that exists between birds and the Lacandon people. With many of these relationships we show a mythological precedent that informs current beliefs. We also examine the idiosyncratic Lacandon taxonomy through naming practices and contrast these taxa with neighboring Maya groups and sister languages.