As a child, I always dreamed of living in the forest, with the Lacandons Indians, Hach Winik, i.e. “real men”. I can’t remember how I got to know them, but it doesn’t really matter, because for almost ten years now, I have never stopped coming back, and the happiness of sharing their daily life remains the same. Nevertheless, during my first trip, I was confused by this world, which I had so much dreamed about, and that I discovered in an afternoon of January, 1999.
In front of this changing world, I needed time to forget about all the clichés that my mind had built and to realize that a people’s essence is not in what it shows, but, on the contrary, in what it keeps for itself, in what it hides and keeps secret, as the precious stone in the heart of a rock. I had to question all my beliefs and prejudices to see at last beyond the image of picturesque Indians with white tunics and long hair.
Lacandons were the last free and independent people of the Chiapas. But, in 1695, the Spanish subjected the last Indian resistance fighters, announcing the start of a long death. Today’s Lacandons are probably the descendants of the Mayas from the Yucatan peninsula, in Mexico, and from Pétén, in Guatemala, who escaped the Spanish colonization in the 18th century, and took refuge under the great protector trees of Chiapas, the territory of their ancestors.
Currently, only two old men of the Naha’ village practice the traditional rites, list the thousand of characters, mythical beings and divinities, who are part of their world view, and know the songs about the world in which Lacandons used to live as “real men”, as sovereigns of the woods.
However, the roar of evangelic preachers has replaced the beautiful voices from the past. Unlike Lacanhal, converted to sects “Made in USA”, since the arrival of northern-American missionaries, at the end of 1950, (…) Naha’ preserved its own spiritual independence until 1996. But the death of Chan K’in Viejo, the charismatic leader of the community and keeper of the traditions, plunged this small world of two hundred souls into a deep identity crisis, making easier the return of a multitude of pastors and their apocalyptical sermons.