Indigenous communities have the need to respond rapidly as development processes continue to change global environments. This paper argues that the health of communities, broadly defined, is linked to traditional ecological practices and that this linkage should be considered toward the goal of promoting social justice through education. Using data gathered using multiple methods in and around Mopan and Q’eqchi’ Maya villages in southern Belize, the paper outlines how ecological practices related to land use are valued and valuable in several, interlinked ways: through their contribution to what makes a “healthy life,” through their part in defining what it means to be “Maya” and have Maya heritage, and through their distinct role in the learning of skills as part of the informal education process. Informed by this research and the data collected through the implementation of the lessons themselves, this paper identifies how formalizing these ecological practices as part of an environmental and cultural heritage curriculum for primary schools, while not without challenges, has potential to positively impact well-being in indigenous communities, thereby promoting social justice through the maintenance of the ability to live healthy, valued lives.
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 4, 2016
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