The Tzotzil Maya of the central highlands of Chiapas, Mexico are a Native American group, the direct descendants of the Classic Maya. Tzotzil, along with and Ch'ol is descended from the proto-Ch'ol spoken in the late classic period at sites such as Palenque and Yaxchilan. Today, the largest Tzotzil municipalities are Chamula and Zinacantan .
The Tzotzil were for centuries exploited by Europeans as laborers on coffee and sugar plantations.
With the collapse of coffee prices in the 1980's, sustainable employment has been hard for many people in the highlands to find. Recently, and increasingly, many Maya from the highlands of Chiapas have found migration to other parts of Mexico, and illegal immigration to the United States a way to break away from subsistance farming and abysmal wages.