Toucans decide to shake wings, be friends -Battle Creek Enquirer 11.15.11

Toucans decide to shake wings, be friends

Written by
John C. Sherwood
The Battle Creek Enquirer

The tussle of the toucans has ended with a decision to shake wings and work together.

Battle Creek-based Kellogg Co. is satisfied that its trademarked Toucan Sam character isn’t in danger, and the San Ramon, Calif.-based Maya Archaeology Initiative can keep using its own toucan logo.

What’s more, Kellogg is making a $100,000 contribution to cover a major part of the cost of building the MAI’s long-planned Maya cultural center in Petén, a district in Guatemala, said MAI spokesperson Sam Haswell.


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Battle of the birds ended – Fox news 17

Kellogg and the Maya Archeology Initiative have resolved a battle of the birds that could have turned into an ugly legal fight.

FOX 17 first reported on the controversy in August, after the Battle Creek business raised concerns about the MAI using a similar toucan logo that could possibly confuse consumers.

In their initial letter, an attorney for Kellogg’s expressed concerns that consumers may confuse the Toucan in the MAI logo with the famous ‘Froot Loops’ character Toucan Sam.  The attorney then suggested some limits to how MAI should be able to use their logo, or how they should change their logo to avoid legal action.

A spokesman for the MAI told FOX 17 News they were surprised by the legal challenge, and felt the group had every right to use the toucan as a symbol of Mayan culture.

After weeks of discussions with Kelloggs executives, both sides announced Tuesday the dispute was over and all suits had been dropped.



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Kellogg/MAI comunicacion de prensa

Kellogg/MAI comunicación conjunta


 La Kellogg Company y la organización sin lucro Maya Archaeology Initiative (MAI) anunciaron hoy que Kellogg con una donación de $100,000 financiará una parte significativa de un proyecto de prioridad de MAI con el propósito de mejorar el nivel de vida de los habitantes de una región de Guatemala muy rica en historia y cultura pero carente en acceso a educación y oportunidades económicas.


“La generosa contribución de Kellogg hacia la Maya Archaeology Initiative nos ayudará a alcanzar nuestra meta de construir un Centro de la Cultura Maya en Peten, corazón de la civilización Maya, para que niños y familias de aquí así como los que nos visiten del extranjero puedan conocer más sobre la rica herencia Maya, “ dijo el Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, Presidente de MAI. “Le damos las gracias a Kellogg Company por unirse a nosotros en esta labor.”


“Estamos felices de apoyar a MAI en su misión de proteger y promulgar la rica historia y cultura de los pueblos Maya” dijo Tim Knowlton, Vicepresidente, de Responsabilidad Corporativa de Kellogg Company. “ El Centro de la Cultura Maya va a ser una fuente de inspiración, orgullo y educación para toda la región”.


Kris Charles
Kellogg Company
Sam Haswell
Maya Archaeology Initiative
Francisco Estrada-Belli, PhD
Maya Archaeology Initiative,


Kellogg and MAI to build Maya center in Guatemala


News release:

November 15, 2011 – In a joint statement Kellogg Company and the Maya Archaeology Initiative (MAI) announced today that Kellogg is making a $100,000 contribution to help launch one of the MAI’s priority projects to improve the lives of the Maya people in a region rich in cultural heritage but lacking in access to education and economic opportunities.

“Kellogg’s important contribution to the Maya Archaeology Initiative will help us achieve our goal of building a Maya Cultural Center in Peten, the cradle of Maya history, so children, families and visitors can learn about the Maya and their rich heritage,” said MAI President Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli. “We are grateful to Kellogg for joining us in these efforts.”  


“We are pleased to support the MAI in its mission to protect and extend the rich history and culture of Mayan people,” said Tim Knowlton, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, Kellogg Company.  “The Cultural Center promises to be a source of inspiration, pride and learning throughout the region.”

Kellogg will also be featuring major Mayan accomplishments and a link to MAI’s website on Kellogg’s Froot Loops cereal boxes next year.

Version en español



Kris Charles
Kellogg Company


Sam Haswell
Maya Archaeology Initiative


Francisco Estrada-Belli, PhD
Maya Archaeology Initiative,


A word from the President:

We at Mai praise Kellogg for reaching out to us and help us build something that will positively improve the lives of many people of Guatemala by providing better education and a better future. We invite others to join us in this effort and help fund this project. Our goal is to raise $300,000 to build the Maya Cultural Center in Melchor de Mencos Peten.  In addition to exhibitiing artifacts to illustrate Maya civilization from the surrounding sites, the center will illustrate the local  willderness, sustainability and efforts to protect this resource for all of humanity. This facility will be energy efficient and will serve as example for sustainable building practices. It will also include a conference room, library and a gift shop with books on the Maya and arts and crafts inspired by ancient artifacts and the rainforest. This center will be the cornerstone of our three-fold mission to provide better education, protect the Maya heritage and foster sustainable development in the region.

All donations are tax exempt. 100% of your donations will be devoted to MAI’s Guatemalan project.

Thank you!

Francisco Estrada-Belli


Please make a donation of any amount using a credit card or Pay Pal at this link:



or sending a check to:

Maya Archaeology Initiative
3118 Hambletonian Lane
Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Kellogg’s Threatens Nonprofit On Use of Toucan Image in Logo

SAN FRANCISCO—Kellogg’s, the maker of Froot Loops and other sugary breakfast products, is taking legal action against the Maya Archaeology Initiative (MAI), a nonprofit that defends indigenous Maya culture, claiming that the use of a toucan in its logo infringes on Kellogg’s Toucan Sam character and games. The MAI logo can be viewed at

“This is a bit like the Washington Redskins claiming trademark infringement against the National Congress of American Indians,” said Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, president of the Maya Archaeology Initiative and a globally recognized expert on Maya archaeology and culture.

In a detailed response to the cereal giant, Maya Initiative legal counsel Sarah Mott explained that the toucan in MAI’s logo looks nothing like Kellogg’s cartoon character and said the two entities are not in competition. MAI’s logo is based upon a realistic toucan native to Mesoamerica, while Kellogg’s Toucan Sam is a cartoon character with colors that represent Froot Loops’ food coloring.


Mott also challenged Kellogg’s claim that it uses “Mayan” imagery, another reason Kellogg challenged MAI’s logo, and accused the company of sending racist messages to children.

CONTACT: Sam Haswell (415) 699-2802

“There is nothing Mayan in [the Froot Loops] Adventure,” Mott wrote to Kellogg’s corporate counsel David Herdman.  “Disturbingly, the villain in this Kellogg’s Adventure—and the only character of color—is a ‘witch doctor’ who cackles malevolently when stealing from children. At best, this is culturally insensitive. I would characterize it as a demeaning caricature of an advanced and ancient civilization.”


“Kellogg’s products are a staple of many Guatemalan households,” said Estrada-Belli, a Guatemalan national whose organization promotes education opportunities for Maya children, archaeological work and defense of the rainforest. “We expect a brand that is so familiar to children to play a role in supporting cultural and racial understanding around the world, rather than undercutting it by promoting demeaning racial stereotypes.”

The company has a history of unsuccessful challenges to others’ use of toucans, claiming to hold a trademark on all images of the Central American bird.

The Maya Archaeology Initiative is a project of the California-based World Free Press Institute, a non-profit with a history of defending free expression and challenging repression of cultural heritage issues. The organization has conducted programs for the United Nations, the Ford Foundation and others.


National Geographic awards research grant to MAI

In June 2011, the National Geographic Society in partnership with the Waitt Foundation program awarded a research grant to the Maya Archaeological Initiative and Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli  to support the exploration of an ancient Maya city in the largely forested region of Peten, Guatemala. The study is the first stage in an in-depth archaeological study of human-environmental dynamics in the Maya lowlands during prehispanic times. The target site, locally known as Dos Aguadas, is one of several yet to be documented ancient cities built by the Maya in the rainforest. It has the peculiarity of being situated next to two small lakes. In addition to mapping the settlement, the researchers hope to recover unprecedented data from lake sediments to document the level of deforestation and erosion that accompanied the growth and contraction of Classic-period Maya cities up until their mysterious abandonment in AD 900. According to Dr. Estrada-Belli this study has the potential to clarify several pressing issues in Maya history, including the overall level of deforestation required by the Maya to support densely settled populations and monumental architecture, and ultimately what role environmental degradation may have played in the collapse of Classic-period Maya cities.

The National Geographic Society is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that has been awarding research grants since 1890 for research and exploration in archaeology, biology and conservation.

The San Diego, California-based Waitt Foundation supports a variety of scientific and environmental programs with a core focus on ocean conservation.





Estrada-Belli tours Maya monuments with local school children

Melchor de Mencos, Peten, Guatemala.  August 8, 2011. In occasion to a trip to Holmul, Dr. Estrada-Belli gave a tour of the ancient stela monuments house temporarily under the porch of the old municipal office of Melchor de Mencos to a group of children from a local school. The monuments are part of a collection of stela confiscated from looters attempting to smuggle them outside of Guatemala some two decades ago. Among them are some of the best preserved relief sculpture from the great nearby city of Naranjo.  “These images tell a story of great maya kings and queen working to made their kingdoms great by conquering their neighbors”, said Estrada-Belli. In explaining 2012, Dr. Estrada-Belli encouraged the children not to be afraid as a new maya cycle would certainly begin wihout any catastrophe. As to the question: “What happened to the Maya?” “They are among us, today”- Dr. Estrada-Belli said.



MAI team rescues Tikal ceramics

Tikal, Peten, Guatemala. July 15, 2011. A Maya Archaeology Initiative-funded team headed by MAI board member Nina Neivens with well-known Guatemalan archaeologists Bernard Hermes and Diana Mendez Lee completed a month-long project to catalogue and store in archival containers thousands of diagnostic ceramics from the landmark excavations of the Proyecto Nacional Tikal in the area of the site known and Mundo Perdido in the 1980s.  The project was made possible thanks to two $2,000 donations by MAI sponsors. Since the 1980s excavations the ceramics had been moved and re-bagged in non-archival plastic bags and all accompanying information had since been lost. Worst even, many of the bags were rotting away strewing ceramics all around the warehouse to the point that the caretakers were considering finally disponsing of them as garbage. Instead, this has turned into a typological collection with thousands of unique ceramics stored in tyvek bags within plastic boxes clearly labeled for ease of access. “From now on, this will be a great resource for young local archaeologists to learn ceramic analysis with the best material ever excavated. It was a priviledge for me to handle them and to work next to Bernard Hermes who was the original excavator and ceramicist of this awesome collection” said Nina Neivens.  The MAI team wishes to thank the Direccion of Patrimonio Cultural and Tikal Park administrators for allowing and facilitating this work.