Making Space for Heritage: Collaboration, Sustainability, and Education in a Creole Community Archaeology Museum in Northern Belize

Academic Article


  • Working with local partners, we developed an archaeology museum in the Creole community of Crooked Tree in the Maya lowlands of northern Belize. This community museum presents the deep history of human–environment interaction in the lower Belize River Watershed, which includes a wealth of ancient Maya sites and, as the birthplace of Creole culture, a rich repository of historical archaeology and oral history. The Creole are descendants of Europeans and enslaved Africans brought to Belize—a former British colony—for logging in the colonial period. Belizean history in schools focuses heavily on the ancient Maya, which is well documented archaeologically, but Creole history and culture remain largely undocumented and make up only a small component of the social studies curriculum. The development of a community archaeology museum in Crooked Tree aims to address this blind spot. We discuss how cultural sustainability, collaborative partnerships, and the role of education have shaped this heritage-oriented project. Working with local teachers, we produced exhibit content that augments the national social studies curriculum. Archaeology and museum education offer object-based learning geared for school-age children and provide a powerful means of promoting cultural vitality, and a more inclusive consideration of Belizean history and cultural heritage practices and perspectives.
  • Authors

  • Harrison-Buck, Eleanor
  • Clarke-Vivier, Sara
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • June 2020
  • Published In

  • HERITAGE  Journal
  • Keywords

  • Afro-Caribbean history
  • Belize
  • Creole
  • archaeology
  • community museums
  • descendant communities
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 412
  • End Page

  • 435
  • Volume

  • 3
  • Issue

  • 2