Biography and History

According to the State Department in 2005, an estimated 3,000,000 residents in the United States claim Greek descent. Greek Americans have a heavy concentration in Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Houston, and New York City. Two factors in the early 20th century changed attitudes and facilitated permanent immigration: 1) Loss of homeland: In 1913 at the conclusion of the Balkan Wars, the home towns of 60,000 Greeks in America were converted to Bulgarian territory, and, in 1923, the homes of approximately 250,000 Greeks in America were converted from Ottoman to Turkish territory and, in both cases, these Greeks were de jure denaturalized from those homelands and lost the right to return and their families were made refugees. 2) The first widely implemented U.S. immigration limits against Europeans were made in 1923, creating an impetus for immigrants to apply for citizenship, bring their families and permanently settle in the U.S. Less than 30,000 arrived between 1925 and 1945, many of whom were "picture brides" for single Greek men. The events of the early 1920s also provided the stimulus for the first permanent national Greek American religious and civic organizations. [from Wikipedia]

Source: From the finding aid for C0949

Biography and History

Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico, bordering Guatemala, with a tropical climate and relatively mountainous topography. It is an area of historic interest with a number of significant pre-Columbian sites, including the famous Maya ruins at Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak. The state of Chiapas is also the location of the Lacantun Biosphere Reserve, established in the 20th century to protect the fragile rainforest of the Chiapas region and the landholdings of the Lacandón, a tribe of Native Americans often referred to as unconquered Maya.

The Lacandón are a much-storied people known primarily for being "unconquered" by the Spanish, having retreated ever farther into the jungle to avoid contact with the Colonial world. Often painted with a romantic brush, the Lacandón were portrayed as primitive people, living by ages-old methods within their jungle wilderness and never letting themselves be exposed to modern civilization. However, the Lacandón were described by explorers, traders, and anthropologists as early as the 1790's. Many 18th and 19th century accounts survive, demonstrating that they appeared to be not so much untouched by modernization as simply existing independently of it. Modern scholarship indicates that the Lacandón, while descendants of the Classic Maya, are not the result of a perfect cultural continuity. Infrequent contact with outsiders did influence their cultural legacy, although it is widely accepted that they are religiously, linguistically and genetically tied with the builders of the stone temples and complexes that populate their landscape. True cultural exposure and significant contact with the modern world began in the 1940s and 1950s, and continued through the 1960s and 1970s with the arrival of roads, airstrips, and satellite communication.

During the 19th and into the 20th century the Chiapas region surrounding the Lacandón rainforest became a haven for members of other indigenous populations fleeing conflict and economic hardship. Farming communities were established as the Ch'ol, Tzeltal, Yucatec, Itzaj and Q'eqchi' Maya began to surround and interact with the Lacandón. These other native groups had been exposed and assimilated into Colonial and later Mexican society for hundreds of years, and so despite shared heritages were culturally distinct from the Lacandón. Interactions between the tribes, very often sharing land and inter-marrying, would also impact the Lacandón into the 21st century.

A graduate of Yale University, Giles G. Healey (1901-1980) was a photographer commissioned in the 1940s by the United Fruit Company to produce a documentary on the indigenous peoples of Mexico called Maya Through the Ages, released in 1949. While filming in the Chiapas rainforests Healey developed a relationship with the Lacandón that eventually led to the mutual discovery of the murals at Bonampak, the most significant find of pre-Columbian painting ever recorded.

Ralph Hilt was an amateur photographer.

Source: From the finding aid for WC058