The Mopan Maya originally inhabited parts of central Belize and the Peten in Guatemala. In the 1600’s some were converted to Catholicism by the Spanish while others resisted. Many were struck by white man diseases such as small pox and all were driven out of Belize by the British in the 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1886, the modern Mopan began migrating back to Southern Belize from the village of San Luis in the southern Peten, Guatemala escaping forced labor and taxation and searching for a place with fertile soils and clean rivers. These Mopan first settled near present day Pueblo Viejo, and eventually founded the modern village of San Antonio in the Toledo District, which continues to be the largest Mopan settlement in Southern Belize.
The Kekchi Maya are originally from the Verapaz region of Guatemala. They migrated to Belize in the late 1800’s after losing their land and freedom to German coffee growers.
The Kekchi settled in the lowland areas along rivers and streams, forming small isolated villages throughout Toledo. Because of their isolation, the Kekchi have become the most self reliant ethnic group in Belize. They are also peaceful people known for their cooperative practices in farming and cultural development.
While over 30 distinctly Kekchi communities exist in Toledo, over the years the Kekchi Maya have mixed with the Mopan communities. The largest village of Kekchi Maya is San Pedro Columbia.
Via Singanga Buzz