Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

School Visits Expose Students to Maya Culture and Language

November 13th, 2013

Ixnal Cuma Chávez, a scholar and teacher of the Kaqchikel Maya language from Guatemala, visits Tulane as the native speaker for Kaqchikel language classes. Her visits not only help Tulane students learn Kaqchikel and about the highland Guatemalan Maya Culture, but also exposes local school children to these traditions. While she is here in New Orleans, Ixnal visits local schools to teach students about the modern Maya.

So far during this year‘€™s visit, Ixnal visited two schools, a Kindergarten class at Lusher Charter School, and first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade classes at the Southeastern Louisiana Lab School in Hammond, LA, where she spoke with more than 80 students! Ixnal exposes these students to Mayan languages, culture, dress, traditions, and beliefs. She tells students about these traditions and takes part in crafts and other activities. At Lusher, the students colored glyphs from the Maya calendar before learning how the calendar works by embodying the glyphs themselves in the 20 day calendar. In Hammond, students had already been learning about the Maya from their art teacher, Denise Tullier Holly, who was one of the authors of LARC‘€™s new curriculum about the modern Maya. Ixnal‘€™s visit helped students understand what they had been learning in class and exposed them to the language and dress of highland Guatemala. During last year’s visit Ixnal and her sister, a Maya Day Keeper, performed a Maya ceremony at Metairie Park Country Day School for a Spanish class taught by Ellen Cohen, another author of LARC’s new curriculum.

LARC has several resources for teaching students about the Maya, including a new curriculum on the modern Maya in Guatemala, and several other resources about the ancient Maya. The annual Maya Teacher Workshop is also approaching, held in conjunction with the Tulane Maya Symposium so for teachers interested in learning more about the Maya or how to integrate information on the Maya into the classroom, these are all great resources. Local schools are also invited to Tulane’s uptown campus to visit the Middle American Research Institute where the exhibit, Faces of the Maya is currently on display. Please contact MARI directly to arrange for an educational tour of the exhibit for your classrooms. Call (504) 865-5110 or email

Ixnal at the Southeast Louisiana Lab School

The 2012 visit to Metairie Park Country Day

Mesoamerica + People
E. Wyllys Andrews, V
Professor Emeritus - Anthropology