By Sabina (Incas), Bella (Mayans), Angela (Aztecs)
The Mayans are one of the groups of people living in the new world. They live in the East of Mesoamerica, in the Yucatan Peninsula. They are very advanced so may have had some European contact before.
The Mayans believe in many different gods and that their rulers descend from the gods. They let blood to mark important occasions. Human sacrifice is forbidden except at Chichen Itz, where hundreds of people are voluntarily sacrificed.
The Mayans do not have many ways to get around. They either walk, carrying their belongings on their backs, or use canoes on the river. The river seems to be their main way through the thick forest. As there are roads but no carts, they mostly carry everything on their back.
Mayan people have bright and colourful dress. The women wear bright, woven tunics tucked into a skirt which is held up with a belt. The men wear woven jumpers over bright trousers, with a broad sash around their waist. They have dark skin and long straight black hair. The Mayans think it is attractive to have long foreheads, high cheekbones and crossed eyes.
The Mayans mainly eat corn, squash and beans but they also grow many types of fruit and vegetables including cocoa beans. They are farmers and use “slash and burn”, where they burn a field every few years to make the soil more fertile. They then use a planting stick to make holes in the ground into which they drop a few seeds. They also raise dogs, turkeys and ducks for food and clothing.
The Mayans live in families. In a typical household the females do the cooking, weaving and bring up the children until they are about 5-6 years old. The males do the farm work. Once the children are about 15 they are eligible for marriage and are then expected to be independent. They also have a strong class system, with slaves(who work for others), peasants (the farmers), nobles (the craftsman), warriors(the soldiers) and priests(who are supported by slaves). This is slightly unfair as your class is determined by your family, it is the same in Spain however.
The Mayans live in the Yucatan Peninsula, which can be divided into two main areas, the highlands in the south and the lowlands in the north. The lowlands are covered in forest, being considerably drier in the north. The dry season is between February and May, when it is extremely hot and dusty. This is also when they burn the fields making it extra smoky. In this season they shelter in their stone houses and temples which stay fairly cool. In the highlands the rainfall is higher and the soil is deeper and richer, due to obsidian in the soil.
Slaves - Slaves work for their masters who are mainly priests and nobles. Peasants - Each morning the peasant women get up before 4 to make their husbands breakfast, once they have had breakfast their husbands go out to work in the fields. They return by midafternoon, sometimes going hunting on the way back. When they get back they have a hot bath. In the evenings peasants make crafts and the women weave. Priests - The priests are very important they decide when to plant crops, when someone can marry and who to sacrifice. Nobles - Nobles are not royal but they descend from royal blood. They believe themselves so important that when they go out in public, they have an attendant hold a cloth over their face, so no one can talk to them directly. Leaders – A different royal family rules each city, a ruler has to be directly descended from the “Hero twins” one of the Mayan gods. In general the Mayans’ lot is not that different to the Spaniards.
The Mayans have been both friendly and unfriendly to the Spanish in the past 20 years. It seems to vary from village to village. In some villages we are shot at with bows and arrows while in others we are greeted by friendly locals offering to trade gold, or textiles. Both Diego de Velasquez and Francisco Hernandez de Cordoba experienced this.
If we were to attack the Mayans it would be a difficult fight. Their civilisation seems to be declining a little, with a gradual drop in population but they are still very strong. Their strongholds are massive and to infiltrate them we would need a lot of men. They are also very spread out, with thick jungle in-between many small villages. They would have an advantage of knowing where they are going. Their warriors are also very skilled but are only armed with hand weapons, they do not have guns. They would be no match for the Spanish muskets and cannons.
In my opinion the Spanish should take the land that the Mayans wish to share. We should not unfairly take their land from them because they were living there first and have built such great things. However, although we should not hurt them we should send in missionaries to convert them to Christianity. The religion they practice now is wrong, and if they are not converted we may have to burn them at the stake for being against the church. This would be unfair as they don’t know any better. This is why we have to convert them to Christianity. We should also trade with them weapons for gold, they do not have weapons but they have wonderful gold and textiles. I feel that it would be more profitable for Spain to trade and settle peacefully with the Mayans than it would be to fight them.