A Brief History of the Project
Paul Worley first met Mariano Bonilla Caamal during the summer of 2004 when Worley, enrolled in UNC-Chapel Hill’s Yukatek Maya Summer Institute, was assigned to practice speaking Maya in Bonilla Caamal’s household. Worley returned the following summer and approached Bonilla Caamal about the possibility of collaborating on a long-term project dealing with Yukatek Maya literature, the dual outcomes of which would be a corpus of recordings of oral literature to be used as source material for Worley’s research and a multilingual DVD (Yukatek Maya subtitled in English and Spanish) that would subsequently be distributed in Yukatek communities in Mexico. They gave the project the trilingual name “U tsikbalil yucatáan/Cuentos de Yucatán/Stories from Yucatán.” In 2006 Worley received a Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Grant to spend the 2006-7 academic year studying Yukatek Maya language and culture at the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (UADY), and the two men began recording in March 2007. During this initial phase, fourteen oral storytellers and five Yukatek Maya authors enrolled in the study.
From 2007 to the present Worley and Bonilla Caamal have recorded over 10 hours of stories and interviews. To support this research, for summer 2010 the University of North Dakota (UND) awarded Worley an Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Grant and a Faculty Seed Money Grant to travel to Yucatán and continue his collaboration with Bonilla Caamal. In addition, these funds enabled Worley to enlist the help of the Yukatek Maya writer Felipe de Jesús Castillo Tzec to proofread transcriptions and translations from Maya into Spanish and English.
During fall 2010 Worley approached Professor Joel Jonientz of UND’s Department of Art and Design about the possibility of collaborating to expand the scope of “U tsikbalil yucatáan.” Knowing of Professor Jonientz’s work in digital animation, Worley proposed to include animated versions of selected Maya stories as well as to build this website to house both the videos and the animated stories on the Internet. Jonientz agreed and together they wrote and won a Collaborative Faculty Seed Money Award from UND. This award was made to support three interrelated aims: first, to fund Dr. Worley’s ongoing collaborations with Bonilla Caamal and Castillo Tzec in Mexico; second, to begin construction of a web-portal to house these videos online; and third, to support Jonientz’s digital animation of selected stories. In keeping with the collaborative nature of the project, in July 2011 Worley and Jonientz travelled to Yucatán and, working with Bonilla Caamal and Castillo Tzec, ran basic animation workshops with schoolchildren Santa Elena and Dzan. Jonientz’s next animations will be based upon character sketches and storyboards created by the children who attended these workshops.
In spring 2012 the project grew to include the collaboration of Dr. Genner Llanes Ortiz, a UK-based Yucatec Maya Anthropologist currently doing post-doctoral research at Royal Holloway University of London. Together we are moving towards the development of an interactive, online Maya/Spanish/English dictionary.
We hope you enjoy our work! Contact us at tsikbalichmaya (at) gmail.com.