The Mayans Among Us

The Mayans Among Us

Migrant Women and Meatpacking on the Great Plains

Ann L. Sittig and Martha Florinda González

216 pages
31 photographs, 2 maps


March 2016


$24.95 Add to Cart

November 2018


$17.95 Pre-order

About the Book

When Ann L. Sittig made a quick stop at a secondhand shop in a small meatpacking town in Nebraska, she overheard a couple speaking Spanish with the unmistakable inflection of Mayan. When she inquired further, the couple confirmed that they were Mayans from Guatemala and indicated there were lots of Mayans living in the area. Soon afterward, Sittig met Martha Florinda González, a Mayan community leader living in Nebraska, and together they began gathering the oral histories of contemporary Mayan women living in the state and working in meatpacking plants.

In The Mayans Among Us, Sittig and González focus on the unique experiences of the Central American indigenous immigrants who are often overlooked in media coverage of Latino and Latina migration to the Great Plains. Many of the Mayan immigrants are political refugees from repressive, war-torn countries and as such are distinct from Latin America’s economic immigrants. Sittig and González initiated group dialogues with Mayan women about the psychological, sociological, and economic wounds left by war, poverty, immigration, and residence in a new country. The Mayans share their concerns and hopes as they negotiate their new home, culture, language, and life in Nebraska in order to survive and send economic support back home for their children. Longtime Nebraskans share their perspectives on the immigrants as well.

The Mayans Among Us poignantly explores how Mayan women in rural Nebraska meatpacking plants weave together their three distinct identities: Mayan, Central American, and American.

Author Bio

Ann L. Sittig is a tenured Spanish instructor at Shasta College in Redding, California. Her articles have appeared in Letras Femeninas and Feministas Unidas Newsletter. Martha Florinda González emigrated from Guatemala to Nebraska and is a community leader in Nebraska. She has served as a member of the Coordinating Commission for Indigenous Women and the Technical Commission for Negotiations, and on the Commission for Women in Guatemala.


"[The Mayans Among Us] is an essential read to understand modern Mayan women and issues they face. All students and experts of Latin America and Mayan civilization must read it."—Washington Book Review

“This book makes for a fascinating read. Sittig and González help us understand the points of view of an almost invisible population. The stories of the Mayans, huge and heartbreaking stories, increase our moral imaginations. I wish this were required reading for all our politicians and policy makers. I recommend it to all who yearn to understand the America we live in today.”—Mary Pipher, author of The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community 

“Ann L. Sittig and Martha Florinda González offer an instructive and significant depiction of the changes of work, religion, place, and life in small-town Nebraska.”—Elaine Carey, associate professor of history at St. John’s University and author of Women Drug Traffickers: Mules, Bosses, and Organized Crime

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations
1. Guatemala: Life before Emigration
2. Guatemalan Civil War and Postwar Rebuilding
3. The Journey to El Norte
4. Religious Practice and Community Life in Nebraska
5. Mayans and Meatpacking in Nebraska

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