We are creating a unique environment grounded in indigenous culture for youth of the “immigrant community” — many who are in fact indigenous — to help them explore indigenous traditions and culture. Currently there are no spaces in the Washington, D.C. region like this. To meet this gap, we have created the youth project, Restoring our Ancestral Knowledge To live Our Indigenous Identities Across Borders.

(Photo Credit: Juan Esteban Calderon, 2017)

From September 5-14, 2017 the International Mayan League- an all volunteer, indigenous led and created organization- will partner with Grupo Sotz’il, a world renowned Maya Kaqchikel Contemporary Dance company from Guatemala. In collaboration with our local community partners, the Centreville Immigration Forum and the Dance Institute of Washington, Grupo Sotz’il will provide free dance and cultural workshops for 50 youth in the region. Workshops are open to all but with a special focus on youth with roots in Mexico, Central and South America. This partnership will culminate in a free community performance featuring the U.S. premiere of Uk’u’x Ulew / Heart of Earth, an original dance performance by Grupo Sotz'il, opened by an original choreography developed by the youth during the workshop.  

We have succeeded in raising 70% of the total amount needed! The presentation of Grupo Sotz’il's Uk’u’x Ulew / Heart of Earth is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  Partial support for the workshops was provided by the Sacred Fire Foundation. Thank you! 

We are so close! Help us raise $9000 to create this unique and vibrant space rooted in indigenous culture, history, dance, and music from Central America!

We will celebrate the heritage and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and help create an environment to foster holistic development for the youth participants. This is part of a process to support our youth as they become leaders in our communities - confident in themselves and proud of their diverse backgrounds. Join us as we support and celebrate the rich diversity and resilience of our youth! 


  • Travel stipends for 50 youth to attend the Restoring Our Ancestral Knowledge To Live Our Indigenous Identities Across Borders workshops in Centreville, VA or Washington, D.C.;
  • Food, art materials and other supplies for the youth during the workshops;
  • Development and implementation of culturally appropriate curriculum;
  • English/Spanish simultaneous interpretation and American Sign Language for an inclusive participatory environment for all youth.


For decades, youth from Mexico, Central and South America have been forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands due to war and genocide- many who are in fact, indigenous. They are now a large population in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region. In addition to the historical trauma faced by the youth, migration itself causes its own spiritual and emotional impacts. As a Maya organization whose original Maya founders were all forcibly displaced from their ancestral lands, we understand the importance of preserving and transmitting our cosmovision and worldview, to ground us in the present and guarantee the vitality of our future generations.

The current climate of terror, hatred, and racism toward immigrants and refugees has created increased challenges for the youth in our communities. Attacked because of their identity, many live in fear, and often resort to hiding their indigenous identity as a form of survival. We consider art to be medicine, and that it is an integral part of our lives; not only a reflection of our world, but a way to reimagine and create it. Jointly we are creating a space with youth in order to Restore Our Ancestral Knowledge to Live Our Indigenous Identity, using Maya art, culture, spirituality and our identity as the source of the cosmic energy necessary for the regeneration of the very life essence found in our identity.

To Understand Our Past is to Live For Our Future

Our elders say, if we do not know where we came from, then we do not know our present and cannot understand our future. Today, Maya and many diverse native youth live outside of their communities, often not by choice. In this moment it is vital to develop ways to cultivate our ancestral and energetic bond to the place where our umbilical cords are buried. Without our heritage and our lands, we as indigenous peoples die. Restoring Our Ancestral Knowledge to Live Our Indigenous Identity Across Borders is the path we believe is missing - art is the medicine that allows us to return to our ancestral knowledge and traditions while connecting us to our contemporary world, to find the good way and live within this space and time.

Our resolve to bring this knowledge to our youth is stronger than ever because we know its power to heal and to open new ways of being and living in the world. Join us! 

Grupo Sotz’il is a world renowned Maya Kaqchikel Contemporary Dance company from Guatemala. They are dedicated to the creation, research, formation, recovery and promotion of Maya art. The group learned Maya culture, music, dance, weaving, theater, as well as Maya mathematics, astronomy and spirituality principally from elders in the community, but they also consult sacred texts, temples and museums. They offer a clearly articulated Maya worldview and have produced four major theatrical works to date: Kaji’ Imox, Ajchowen, Oxlajuj B’ak’tun, and Uk’u’x Ulew. 

The International Mayan League
is a Maya organization whose purpose is to promote, preserve, and transmit the cosmovision and worldview, culture, history, and contributions of our ancestors and the values of our traditional knowledge and stewardship of the earth into solutions and actions against current threats and violations affecting our peoples, the earth, and humanity.

The Dance Institute of Washington is dedicated to: building self-esteem, discipline and the drive for excellence among at-risk children and youth through dance training and arts education; providing professional performance opportunities for dancers; enhancing Washington’s rich cultural diversity.

The Centreville Immigration Forum (CIF) is a community volunteer group in Centreville, Virginia. The Forum discusses immigration and diversity in the Centreville area, and works to build strong community through bringing neighbors together.