Sacred Commons, Cultural Reforestation, and Climate Resilience: The Autonomous Indigenous Communities of Petén, Guatemala

Liza Grandia

Title Conditional: Sacred Commons, Cultural Reforestation, and Climate Resilience: The Autonomous Indigenous Communities of Petén, Guatemala
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Time: 4:00 pm | CLAS Conference Room, 2334 Bowditch Street

Liza Grandia talks about Indigenous communities and environmental protection in Guatemala, September 2019. (Photo by Greg Louden,)
Liza Grandia talks about Indigenous communities and environmental protection in Guatemala, September 2019. (Photo by Greg Louden,)

There is an abundant literature on the tropical “d’s”—deforestation, degradation, and destruction—with very little attention to the “r’s”— recovery, regeneration, and reforestation. With state-governed parks ravaged by wildfires, poachers, and narco-traffickers, and their own communities splintered by land grabs and other political challenges, an indigenous peasant movement in northern Guatemala is building a more inclusive vision of conservation, from the grassroots. On land that Q’eqchi’ communities call xeel (“leftovers”), village elders and leaders have reconstituted communal governance through the declaration of “autonomous indigenous communities.” In this talk, Grandia will describe the Q’eqchi’ vision to reclaim sacred lands and reforest them with spiritually-important species for climate resiliency.

Liza Grandia is a cultural anthropologist and Associate Professor of Native American Studies at UC Davis.  She is director of the Indigenous Research Center of the Americas at UC Davis.

Liza Grandia shows a map of protected areas in Petén, Guatemala,, September 2019. (Photo by Greg Louden,)
Liza Grandia shows a map of protected areas in Petén, Guatemala,, September 2019. (Photo by Greg Louden,)

Liza Grandia chats with Garrett Brown, an expert in workplace health and safety, before her talk. (Photo by Daniel Mennerich.)
Liza Grandia chats with Garrett Brown, an expert in workplace health and safety, before her talk. (Photo by Daniel Mennerich.)

A Q’eqchi’ village along the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. (Photo by Daniel Mennerich.)
A Q’eqchi’ village along the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. (Photo by Daniel Mennerich.)