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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Last Thursday, we showed you a few highlights from the most recent episode of Uncut. Host Jules Vasquez engaged in an extended conversation with the preeminent Dr. Jaime Awe, a veteran archaeologist and a former Director of Archaeology at NICH.

We showed you what he had to say about how widespread the destruction of Maya cultural heritage sites has been in different parts of the country. That was only one of the challenging discussions that Jules and Dr. Awe engaged in.

Probably the most controversial view from Last Wednesday's episode is Dr. Awe's view that according to historical and archival records, the present-day Maya communities of the Toledo District are not direct descendants of the Ancient Maya civilization that occupied Central America, including Belize.

He says that they are the descendants of refugee Maya peoples who returned back to Belize after many years of oppression by European colonizers. If his research is accurate, then the Maya of Southern Belize cannot claim the uninterrupted occupation of Toledo, which pre-dated colonial laws that have progressed to become Belize's present laws, such as the land system at the Ministry of Natural Resources.

We note that Dr. Awe's views were documented in an affidavit that the Government of Belize submitted as expert witness testimony in the original Maya Land Rights case in the Supreme Court. That was back before it become the CCJ Consent Order of 2015. So, the presiding judge at the time reviewed Dr. Awe's research and still ruled in favor of the Maya. With that context, we pick up that part of the conversation between Jules and Dr. Awe on the historical records of the Maya occupation of Belize:



We turn now to Dr. Awe's explanation of the research on the Toledo District itself. Here are those comments:



Before we broadcasted these comments for tonight's newscast, we sent a copy to one of the major spokespersons of the Maya community. He tells us that he will be able to make a response in the near future.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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The Mayas Versus Dr Awe

Last night we showed you the controversial perspective of Archaeologist Dr. Jaime Awe. During last Wednesday's episode of Uncut, he told Jules Vasquez that according to historical and archival records, the present-day Maya communities of the Toledo District are not direct descendants of the Ancient Maya civilization that occupied Central America, including Belize.

He says that they are the descendants of refugee Maya peoples who returned back to Belize after many years of oppression by European colonizers. The implication of those views is that the present-day Maya cannot claim uninterrupted occupation of the Toledo District, which started long before the formation of the colony, British Honduras, and which eventually became the country we know as Belize today.

Well, representatives of the Maya have since pointed us to a report from Nature Communications. Nature is an open-access, scientific journal that publishes high-quality research from all areas of the natural sciences. The publications are peer-reviewed, and the journal entry of importance is called "South-to-north migration preceded the advent of intensive farming in the Maya region."

We note that this particular research was attributed to 23 professionals including Belize's Dr. John Morris and Dr. Jaime Awe himself. The research detailed extensive scientific studies using techniques such as radiocarbon analyses and DNA sequencing. Those techniques were used to compare ancient bone and tooth samples from human remains that were excavated from the Blades Nature Reserve under the Bladen Paleoindian and Archaic Archaeological Project. That scientific data was compared to genotype data of present-day populations, including communities from Southern Belize.

From the report's discussion, the research team said, quote, "These ancient DNA findings are also relevant to the ancestry of present-day Maya populations living throughout the tropical lowlands, including the Mopan and Q'eqchi communities in southern Belize, with whom we worked in the course of this project. Around 75% of Indigenous ancestry of the Maya can be traced to ancient groups living in the region between 5,600-3,700 calendar years before present..." End quote.

So, from the perspective of Dr. Awe's critics, these findings are in direct contradiction to his views from Uncut.

We do note also, however, that the scientific journal entry also says, quote, "...We can model ~25% of the ancestry of present-day Mayan speakers as most closely related to highland Mexican populations. However, future research will be required to explore the full complexity of these more recent interactions in detail, including determining when such ancestry arrived in the southeastern Yucatan and how it may have related to further cultural and linguistic changes over the past several millennia." End quote.

Channel 7



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