The Tz'utujil (Tzutujil, Tzutuhil, Sutujil) are a Native American people, one of the 21 Maya ethnic groups that dwell in Guatemala. Together with the Xinca, Garífunas (Black Caribs) and the Ladinos, they make up the 24 ethnic groups in this relatively small country. Approximately 100,000 Tz'utujil live in the area around Lake Atitlán. Their pre-Columbian capital, near Santiago Atitlán, was Chuitinamit. In pre-Columbian times, the Tz'utujil nation was a part of the ancient Maya civilization.
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The Tz'utujil are noted for their continuing adherence to traditional cultural and religious practices. Evangelical Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are also practiced among them. They speak the Tz'utujil language, a member of the Mayan language family.
History and demographicsEdit
Today they dwell in the towns of San Juan La Laguna, San Pablo La Laguna, San Marcos La Laguna, San Pedro La Laguna, Santiago Atitlán, Panabaj, Tzanchaj (believed to have been the inspiration, because of its similar sound, for the name "Santiago"), and a very few in San Lucas Tolimán, although they used to inhabit a much wider region. In 1523 the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Alvarado, with the help of the Kaqchikel Maya, defeated them in a battle close to the town of Panajachel in which they lost a portion of their lands, and the control of the lake.
In 2005, several hundred Tz'utujil died in the mudslides caused by Hurricane Stan. From Panabaj and Tzanchaj, rescuers recovered 160 bodies, while 250 remained missing from both towns.
Although tourism is now an increasing source of income, many still practice traditional methods of farming of the two main crops in the region, coffee and maize (corn). Tourism is benefiting most significantly from the work of talented artists and weavers who are anxious to gain recognition for the creativity and uniqueness they offer. San Juan is one of three Tz'utujil communities where artists have adapted the international genre of Arte Naif to express the cultural traditions, beliefs, ceremonies and daily activities of their indigenous culture. This form of art and its most accomplished of the Tz'utjil practitioners have been recognized in the definitive UNESCO-sponsored book on the subject, Arte Naif: Contemporary Guatemalan Mayan Painting, 1998. The weavers of San Juan are among the very few indigenous artisans who make their own dyes for the thread they use; they produce the dyes largely from plants grown locally.
- According to the official 2002 census: "XI Censo Nacional de Población y VI de Habitación (Censo 2002) - Pertenencia de grupo étnico". Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas. 2002. Retrieved 2008-05-27. Note that the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) mentions a higher number 
- Ethnologue report for Guatemala
- Website of Santiago Atitlán
- Chuitinamit History and description
- Guatemala indigenous people Photo Gallery
- Anthropologist's Blog about learning Tz'utujil in San Pedro La Laguna
- Vocabulary and Basic Phrases between Tz'utujil, Spanish, and English
- Video featuring Tz'utujil woman telling stories about local history