While many of us are gearing up for celebrations on September 10 and 21, the Maya of the north are today celebrating in their own way. It was on this day in 1872 that the Maya fought against the British in what is called the Battle of Orange Walk. The battle came about after the British detained Jose Maria Manzanero, a Maya captain of Marcus Canul, and his wife. That detention was seen a violation of the agreement between the Maya and the British because Manzanero was detained without a formal trial. One the 149th anniversary of this pivotal point in Yucatec Maya history, the Northern Maya Association of Belize held a brief ceremony at the monument in the town. President of the association, Yahaira Vega spoke at the ceremony.
Yahira Vega, Northern Maya Association of Belize: “One such ongoing battle is preserving and teaching our children about Maya heroes, artists, writers, and musicians. And most importantly to make them understand the importance of connections to the land they live on. In our role within the Northern Maya Association it is imperative to have honest and brave conversations to honor and recognize the strides accomplished by our Yucatec Maya people. Today therefore we celebrate Maya Heroes Day with our now traditional but most importantly meaningful wreath laying ceremony.”
Also on this occasion of Maya Heroes Day, Vega added that the association will do its part to educate Belizeans on the importance of this piece of history.
Yahira Vega, Northern Maya Association of Belize: “It was an is a step forward. The inaccurate and white washed history that is taught in most schools contributes to the erasure of our Yucatec Maya heritage. We can do better by centering Yucatec Mayan voices and stories all year even with our youngest learners. This Maya Heroes Day the Northern Maya Association of Belize commits to creating informative video series that will help teach our children to make deep connections to the land along with amplifying and learning about Maya heroes, artists, writers and musicians. These short films will be made accessible to everyone including educators all year long to promote healthy identity development that is critical to foster resilience, self love and emotional growth.”
Every year since 2018, the association has held a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the occasion.