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The Ch'orti' people (alternatively, Ch'orti' Maya or Chorti) are one of the indigenous Maya peoples, who primarily reside in communities and towns of southeastern Guatemala, northwestern Honduras, and northern El Salvador. Their indigenous language, also known as Ch'orti', is a survival of Classic Choltian, the language of the inscriptions in Copan. It is the first language of approximately 15,000 people, although the majority of present-day Ch'orti' speakers are bilingual in Spanish as well.
The Ch'orti' area, having Copán as the cultural center, were the headquarters of the ancient Mayan civilization. The Ch'orti' people, led by their Mayan Chief Galel, strongly but unsuccessfully resisted the Spanish conquerors.
The Ch'orti' belong to the Meridional Mayans, and are closely related to the Mayans in Yucatán, Belize and Northern Guatemala. They are also somewhat related to the Choles, Mayans that currently live in Chiapas.
Historically, the Ch'orti Mayans were located in the Ocotepeque and Copan departments, as well as in the northern strip of the Cortes and Santa Barbara departments. This geographical area possibly also extended to El Salvador on the south, to Chiquimula on the west, and to the Golfo Dulce to the north. Currently, the majority of the Ch'orti are located in Guatemala (in Chiquimula, Jocotan, Esquipulas, Quezaltenango and La Union).
The current Guatemalan Ch'orti' population estimate is 46,833.
The Ch'orti' population in Honduras live in areas of difficult access in the Copan and Ocotepeque departments, like Chonco, Colon Jubuco, San Rafael, Tapescos, Carrizalon, La Laguna, Santa Rita, Antigua Ocotepeque, Nueva Ocotepeque, and Sensenti.
The current Honduran Ch'orti' population estimate is 4,200. They are mostly farmers, and they lived in areas mixed with mestizos.
Organization and Culture
The Ch'ortis in Copan speak Spanish; most Ch'orti speakers are in Guatemala. This is because the political division between Honduras and Guatemala, and the inherent movement restriction between the two countries.
However, the traditional dressing customs have been kept, as well as their musical traditions. Their musical culture is expressed by using instruments like teponangas, drums, whistles, chinchins, sonajas and horns. The most traditional dance is called the "dance of the giants".
Their food is based mainly on corn and beans. Corn is prepared in different ways: as a drink, like chilate, pozol, sweet atole, and sour atole (chuco), tortillas, tamales, totoposte and also alcoholic drinks like chicha.
Ch'ortis religion is based on admiring and adoring nature, through rituals dedicated to the gods of the Earth and the Wind.
- "XI Censo Nacional de Población y VI de Habitación (Censo 2002) - Pertenencia de grupo étnico". Instituto Nacional de Estadística. 2002. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Languages of Honduras". Ethnologue. 1997. Retrieved 2008-06-01.