CMN faculty travel to Belize

Feb 25th, 2013 | By | Category: 24-3: The Science of Place, Tribal College News
By Dr. William Van Lopik

During the summer of 2012, three faculty and staff members of the College of Menominee Nation (CMN, Keshena, WI) spent two weeks in Belize to participate in a very unique summer course. Entitled “Indigenous Knowledge,” the course was taught by Dr. Filiberto Penados, a Mayan and former director of the Tumul K’in Center for Learning in southern Belize.

The course was offered through the Institute for Sustainable International Studies in Belize and provided rich experiential learning opportunities to help us understand Mayan society, culture, and knowledge. We met with archaeologists, stone carvers, potters, farmers, teachers, traditional healers, entrepreneurs, and land rights activists. We helped build a traditional Mayan house, prepared tamales and pozole, visited archaeological sites, studied the Mayan calendar, prepared cacao drinks, and hiked through corn and chocolate farms. The experience was transformative for each of us as we became more aware of the breadth of Indigenous knowledge, its contribution to the study of sustainability, and the need to make space for it in our curriculum. The message that was repeated time and again to us is that Mayan civilization is not merely a historical event. The Mayan people are not a phenomena of the past—they are a living and vibrant culture. Additionally, Indigenous knowledge is not a thing of the past, but is constantly evolving and adapting to contemporary times. It is current knowledge that continues to be developed based upon historical experiences.

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