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Rigoberta Menchu

Learn more about Rigoberto Menchú Tum and the struggles of Guatemala's indigenous peoples:

Rigoberta Menchú Tum
Foundation
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Homage to Rigoberta Menchú
Tum
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Overview
Focus
Focus:
Rigoberta Menchú

Project:
Making the News


Focus
Focus:
Rigoberta Menchú

Activist
"I was a survivor, alone in the world, who had to convince the world to look at the atrocities committed in my homeland."

Rigoberta Menchú Tum has devoted her life to the struggle for the rights and well-being of indigenous peoples.

In 1992 she won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of her work in bringing these struggles to the conscience of the international community.

That year, she also served as Good Will Ambassador for the International Year of the World's Indigenous People and helped to establish of a United Nations Working Group to address injustices against indigenous people throughout the world.


Indigenous

Tikal
Among the many architectural monuments of the Maya are the great pyramids and temples at Tikal.
UNESCO photo: Fernando Ainsa

Born in Guatemala in 1959, Rigoberta experienced extreme hardship as a result of her Mayan background. She and her family were very poor and worked as seasonal laborers on plantations. They had no rights of citizenship. The Guatemalan government was controlled by people of Spanish descent who had colonized the land.

Beginning in the 1960's the "Indians" of Guatemala engaged in a prolonged civil war to gain economic and social justice. Rigoberta's family was actively involved in this struggle and they were leaders in their community.

Novelist
In 1980, at the height of the Guatemalan civil war, Rigoberta's father and brother died in a fire at the Spanish embassy where they had been protesting abuses to their people. Rigoberta was no longer safe in Guatemala, and she managed to escape to Mexico. While living there she dictated the story of her life to a trusted translator who later helped her publish the book I, Rigoberta Menchu.

Rigoberta's story helped the plight of the indigenous people in Guatemala become global news. She gained the world's attention and has been working for the dignity of all indigenous peoples ever since.



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Project:
Making the News




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