Deborah Van Fleet
Public News Service
An Omaha Maya organization has received one of five $15,000 grants from the nonprofit GreenLatinos.
Some 85 organizations applied for the grant from the Justicia y Equidad Fund for “under-resourced Latino environmental justice organizations.” Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim (CMPI) is an Omaha-based nonprofit supporting Maya and other Indigenous communities in Nebraska.
Lola Marina Juan Tomas, CMPI interim executive director, said about half of the estimated 10,000 Maya in Nebraska are in the Omaha area. She said the grant will support their Maya Regeneration Project.
According to Juan Tomas, this involves connecting the “profound wisdom” of the Maya with regenerative agriculture. She said CMPI also helps Maya entrepreneurs.
“CMPI is honored to represent the Maya community in Nebraska and throughout the heartland as a lead organization for the Heartland Regional Food Business Center,” Juan Tomas explained.
The Heartland Regional Food Business Center is one of 12 such centers the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded in 2023. Their mission is to help small and mid-sized businesses involved in food production and distribution. CMPI helps Maya and other Indigenous entrepreneurs in the region access resources and opportunities in the food industry.
Juan Tomas said as one of their youth training programs, CMPI collaborates with the environmental nonprofit Omaha Permaculture to grow community gardens on formerly vacant Omaha lots.
“In this project, we will involve the youth for restoration of the culture, the language, and knowledge about the land’s importance in our life,” she continued.
CMPI also has a Maya Community Center Garden at its South Omaha headquarters. It has received tentative approval for a USDA Land Access Capital Grant to buy land in Nebraska, where the organization will develop a Maya Regenerative Farm.
Juan Tomas stressed the central role community plays in CMPI’s mission, saying, “Every project supports the community. Everyone, every community, is welcome in our community center in South Omaha.”
Most of Nebraska’s Maya are from Guatemala, of Q’anjob’al heritage. Other states boasting sizeable Maya communities include Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts and South Carolina.