NICH contributes to revitalizing and safeguarding Kekchi Maya Flute and Drum Music

On Sunday 20 November 2022, the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) joined leaders and members of the Mopan and Kekchi Maya communities of southern Belize at Lubaantun Archeological Reserve to launch a collection of Traditional Kekchi Maya Flute and Drum Music.

Cortez Dance, Lubaantun.

Mr. Ernesto Saqui, president of the Juuntulicoon organization from the community of Maya Centre, was instrumental in leading this initiative. In collaboration with musicians Alberto Choco of Silver Creek and Basilio Shol of Golden Stream, they worked on digitally recording traditional flute and drumming music.

Ernesto Saqui, president of the Juuntulicoon.

NICH was represented at the event by the Acting Director of the Institute for Social and Cultural Research (ISCR-NICH), Mr. Rolando Cocom, and the Director of the Institute of Archaeology, Dr. Melissa Badillo.

At the event, the traditional Cortez Dance was also highlighted and reintroduced after many years of non-practice. While at the event the dance only featured four dancers, coordinators are hoping for a full return in Easter of 2023 as the dance calls for the participation of a total of 28 dancers.

The National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) and the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) are proud sponsors of this initiative. The recording was done by Bredda David Obi of Dobi Studios in Dangriga Town and will be available on streaming platforms soon.

NICH remains dedicated to creating an enabling environment for the development, safeguarding, promotion, expression, and accessibility of cult

We wish to reiterate the leadership and collaboration of the following persons:

  • Mr. Valeriano Shol – for directing the ceremony
  • Mr. Pedro Choco – for leading the incensing Ernesto Saqui, President of Juuntulicoon organization (one Maya people) – for organizing and remarks
  • Mr. Pedro Kuk member of KCB (Kek’Chi Council of Belize) – for the history of music, dance, and introduction of musicians
  • Mr. Alberto Choco from Silver Creek and Mr. Basilio Shol from Golden Stream – Traditional musicians and cultural custodians
  • Bredda David Obi – Recording of the music
  • Mr. Rolando Cocom of ISCR NICH – Remarks
  • Mr. Jose Teul, President of the Toledo Maya Cultural Council – for Livestreaming and supporting
  • Mrs. Amira Teul, Coordinator of The Toledo Maya Women Council – for Closing Remarks
  • Dr. Melissa Badillo, Director of Archeology (IA NICH)- for active support.
  • Mrs. Aurora Saqui – for her leadership and support and for handing over recordings to NICH
  • Hon. Francis Fonseca, Minister of Education, Culture, Science and Technology – for leadership and support
  • Ms. Merilyn Young, President of NICH – for leadership and support
  • Ms. Vanessa Jacobs of BTB – for support
  • Attendees of children, men, women, and elders – for attendance and active participation and support

Author: Kevin Chen

Editors: Rolando Cocom and Ernesto Saqui

Last Updated: Nov 24, 2022.

Photographs Copyright: Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology/NICH 2022. Photographer Kevin Chen.

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