K'iche' (or Quiché in Spanish spelling), are a Native American people, one of the Maya ethnic groups. Their indigenous language, the K'iche' language, is a Mesoamerican language of the Mayan language family. The highland K'iche' states in the pre-Columbian era are associated with the ancient Maya civilization.
El Quiché is also the name of a department of modern Guatemala.
The meaning of the word "k'iche'" is "many trees." The word is broken into two parts, "k'i," meaning "many" and "che'," meaning "tree." The Nahuatl translation is Cuauhtemallan which gave the name to the modern Nation of Guatemala.
Rigoberta Menchú, an activist for indigenous rights who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, is perhaps the best-known K'iche'.
"We are not myths of the past, ruins in the jungle or zoos. We are people and we want to be respected, not to be victims of intolerance and racism." — Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú Tum (b. January 9, 1959, Chimel, Quiché, Guatemala) is an indigenous Guatemalan, of the Quiché-Maya ethnic group. Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country. She was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998. Menchú is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She is the subject of the testimonial biography I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983) and the author of the autobiographical work, Crossing Borders.HI
On February 12, 2007, Menchú announced that she would form an indigenous political party called Encuentro por Guatemala and that she would stand in the 2007 presidential election. Had she been elected, she would have become Latin America's fourth indigenous president after Mexico's Benito Juárez, Peru's Alejandro Toledo and Bolivia's Evo Morales, and the second Nobel laureate after Costa Rica's Óscar Arias to become president. She would also have become Guatemala's first female president. On September 9, 2007, Menchu received 3% of the vote.----------------------------In Guatemala, the largest and most traditional Maya populations are in the western highlands.
In Guatemala the Spanish colonial pattern of keeping the native population legally separate and subservient continued well into the 20th century. This resulted in many traditional customs being retained, as the only other option than traditional Maya life open to most Maya was entering the Hispanic culture at the very bottom rung.
Considerable identification with local and linguistic affinities, often corresponding to pre-Columbian nation states, continues, and many people wear traditional clothing that displays their specific local identity. Clothing of women tends to be more traditional than that of the men, as the men have more interaction with the Hispanic commerce and culture.
Maya peoples of the Guatemala highlands include the K'iche', Mam, poqomam, Kaqchikel, Ixil, Q'eqchi', Tz'utujil, and Jakaltek.
The southeastern region of Guatemala (bordering with Honduras) includes groups such as the Ch'orti'.-------------------------
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