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July 1996 Issue
The Geographical Review
July 1996, 86(3), pp. 398-407.
"A Dark Obverse": Maya Survival in Guatemala,15201994
W. George Lovell and Christopher H. Lutz
Between 5 and 6 million Maya Indians today constitute roughly half of Guatemala's total population. From the eve of conquest to the present, the collapse, recovery, and growth of the Maya population reveals a trajectory of survival few Native American groups have been able to sustain. A review of archival and published sources indicates an enduring Maya presence from the sixteenth century to the twentieth, a demographic fact that official state institutions like the national census have tended to downplay or have documented inadequately. Accurate, reliable assessment of indigenous numbers thwarts present-day investigations as much as those rooted in the past, for Maya Indians fled far beyond Guatemala's borders during civil strife in the early 1980s and now form sizable, often transmigrant communities in Mexico, the United States, and even Canada.
Keywords: Guatemala, Maya Indians, population history, Carl Sauer.
Dr. Lovell is a professor of geography at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6. Dr. Lutz is managing director of Plumsock Mesoamerican Studies, South Woodstock, Vermont 05071.
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