Lacandones. Indigenous community belonging to the Mayan people, who fled the Guatemalan Petén and the Yucatan peninsula in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They constitute two groups named according to their current geographical location. The northern Lacandons are located northwest of the Usumacinta River, near the Mayan ruins of Palenque, in Chiapas, Mexico. Their language is the Mayan language.
Tribe considered native to the Yucatan peninsula and the Guatemalan Petén; they migrated for various periods to the Chiapas jungle, fleeing attempts to congregate them in towns established by the colonial authorities, after the towns originally settled in the region had been transferred and relocated to “towns of peace”, mostly speakers of the Chol, Chortí and Tzeltal languages.
They abandoned their lake city; Lacam-Tun at the end of the 16th century, when it was destroyed by a military expedition from San Cristóbal de las Casas.
It has been argued that these new inhabitants of the jungle were members of various tribes that until the 19th century were distributed within a much larger area that encompassed not only the Chiapas jungle but also Petén, Belize and part of the Yucatan peninsula, and that they were differentiated and identified through an extensive lineage system.
References to the presence of the present-day Lacandons in the jungle date back to the last decades of the 18th century in documents that report various attempts at reduction and catechization directed at indigenous people. The first of these, between 1788 – 1797 , refers to the concentration of the Lacandones in the town of San José de Gracia Real. The attempt failed and they gradually returned to the jungle. From this time the natives established commercial relations with the mestizos of Palenque.
When the Spanish first appeared, the Lacandón disappeared into the jungle and only reconnected with the outside world only in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now the jungle is disappearing, only 10 percent remain virgin, but local groups here in the city of Lacanjá are trying to curb deforestation. Tourism helps.
However, although the religious took some natives with them, the hardships of the road, the disagreement of customs and the weather forced them to allow the withdrawal of the indigenous people to their places of origin.
One of the first researchers to live with the Lacandons was the French ethnologist Jacques Soustelle, who in his writings stated that the Lacandons lived from hunting with bows and arrows and from agriculture like our ancestors, in addition to their number barely exceeding 200 members. .
More forest is being lost every year – mainly for farming – despite conservation efforts.
The future is not looking good for the last remaining tropical rainforest in southern Mexico.
More than 90 percent of the Lacandon Jungle has been cut down to make way for farming.
As Al Jazeera’s Manuel Rapalo reports from Chiapas state, more forest is being lost every year, despite conservation efforts.