I learned about the Mayans in the 6th grade. My social studies teacher taught us traditional Mayan games, that Maize was the focus of their diet, and how this resourceful population was threatened by nasty European conquistadors.
Hundreds of years after Europeans stomped into central America, the Mayan culture was still able to thrive until the mid-1900's. The Guatemalan Civil War lasted from 1960 to 1996. This terrible war persecuted indigenous people, like the Mayans, torturing and killing them.
In 1979, Rigoberta joined the Committee of the Peasant Union (CUC) with her family. Within the next 3 years, the Guatemalan army would kill her brother, father, and mother. Rigoberta herself went into hiding and then fled to Mexico. In 1982 she help found the United Representation of the Guatemalan Opposition (RUOG). She has spent her life advocating for the Mayan people in her book I, Rigoberta Menchu, the film When the Mountains Tremble, and even by returning back to Guatemala.
While she still lives in exile, her work has lead the movement for Indian and ethno-cultural reconciliation in both Guatemala and the Western World.