Palkas book discusses the current and historical conditions of the various groups of people collectively called the Lacandon; or the Hach Winik, as they refer to themselves. The book focuses primarily on the changes to the society in the last 150 years or so, although it is clear that the Lacandon also resisted both the Spanish colonialists and the Maya overlords. The book incorporates ethnohistoric reports and images from nineteenth century travelers such as Desiré Charnay and A.P. Maudsley and twentieth century ethnographers such as Marvin Vann, Jacques Soustelle, and Gertrude Duby Blom and Frans Blom.
As an archaeologist, Palka is interested in material culture. Five chapters on various aspects of the ethnographic, historic, and demographic data are followed by a description of the archaeological investigations of a handful of historic villages. The results of the pedestrian survey, metal detecting, and excavation of test pits are provided, along with a detailed description of the artifacts recovered from these excavations. The final chapters place the artifacts and architecture within the social and environmental context, using such anthropological notions as gender roles and kinship lines to compare the traditional concept of the Lacandon with the divergent one revealed by Palkas investigations.
Although the book is a little rough going for the casual reader, the intricacies of the adaptive strategies of the Lacandon are fascinating. A remarkable number of illustrations and photographs are in this text. Proceeds from the book are promised to benefit Na-Bolom, the research institute in Chiapas built by the Bloms to study and defend the Lacandon.