The Indian Church Village Artisans Initiative

The ICVAI is an arts-based community development and enhancement program in Belize, Central America.  The primary goal of the program is to help secure sustainable livelihoods and economic well being to residents of Indian Church village in the Orange Walk District of northern Belize.  The program is carried out by fostering the production of metal jewelry and other specialized craft skills.  Craft pieces are made by artisans in Indian Church, many of whom are inspired by the ancient designs of the precolumbian Maya residents of the nearby archaeological site of Lamanai.

Specific Goals of the ICVAI are to:

1)   Promote metalworking, ceramic production, and other craft specialization skills developed by conducting the following training programs:  9 workshops in metalworking, 5 in ceramic production, and 1 in casting; scheduled weekly training and practice sessions in Indian Church Village; at varying times this will be available to some 1,400 residents of Indian Church, San Carlos and San Felipe;  and participation in an exchange program for viable workshop and development projects within other communities and throughout Belize.

2)     Develop small business training programs to teach necessary skills of computer use for purchasing and ordering supplies, marketing of artwork, pricing, and overall management of their work.

3)     Foster development and long-term collaboration with various agencies of the Government of Belize (GOB) and other non-government organizations including but not limited to Lamanai Field Research Center, Ministry of Tourism, Department of Archaeology, Department of Forestry, Ministry of Human Development, British High Commissioner, Magana’s Art Center, Inter-American Foundation, and Peace Corp.

4)     Develop education and ecotourism opportunities directly linked to the success of the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve, community enhancement, academic research, and to encourage complementary enterprise and management cooperation without damage to the natural and cultural environment.

5)     Provide information and develop manuals regarding ancient Maya and Mesoamerican
techniques of craft manufacturing and decoration in order to facilitate transfer of design information from archaeological contexts to crafts production contexts.

6)     Help preserve and protect the ancient Maya cultural resources at Lamanai for the use and development of the designs utilized by ICVA.

7)     Preparation and submission of documentation for establishment of a Non-Government Organization (NGO) for the ICVA.

For more information on the Indian Church Village Artisan's Initiative please contact Ms. Karen Pierce at


Brenda Arevalo, Darby Simmons, Camden Simmons and Maricruz at work in the Craft Center, Indian Church, Belize.  July 2004


Ms. Laura Howard and Ms. Meredith Martinez putting finishing touches on new Indian Church Village Artisan's Shop at Lamanai Site Centre.
June 9, 2004