The Mam Indians from the high plateaux in Guatemala have been under cultural pressure from the Ladino population for over 500 years since the Spanish invasion. They have managed to live with foreign religions by adapting them to their traditional environment and were able to protect their Maya beliefs through secrecy and a very strong sense of community.
The unfair distribution of land, the guerrilla war of the 1980s and the military repression that went along with it continue to challenge their cultural integrity. Many are forced to flee towards lower lands, to fill the ranks of slum dwellers in the capital city, to seek refuge in Mexico or to emigrate to the US. Today the majority of the Mam community struggle to make a living on the steep slopes of the mountains, while they try to maintain the customs of their ancestors.