Couple From TenejapaThe Tzeltal people are located in the highlands or Los Altos region of the Mexican state of Chiapas. They are one of many Mayan ethnic groups and they speak a language which belongs to the Tzeltalan subgroup of Mayan languages. Most Tzeltals live in communities in about twenty municipalities, under a Mexican system called “usos y costumbres” (usage and customs) which seeks to respect traditional indigenous authority and politics. Women are often seen wearing traditional huipils and black skirts, but men generally do not wear traditional attire. Tzeltal religion syncretically integrates traits from Catholic and native belief systems. Shamanism and traditional medicine is still practiced. Many make a living through agriculture and/or handcrafts, mostly textiles; and many also work for wages to meet family needs.

The Tzeltal call themselves Winik atel, which means “Working Men” in their language, or as the “batzil’op” or “those of the original word” referring to the Mayan oral tradition. They are largest indigenous ethnicity with 278,577 people aged five years of age or more in the state of Chiapas who speak the language according to the 2000 census and an estimated 500,000 total, representing 34.41% of the total indigenous population of Chiapas.

Adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Tzeltal peoples

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