Indigenous Caribbean Network

Indigenous can be read in many different ways. Some link the idea of indigenous to notions of race, to being "Amerindian", to ideas of ancient ancestry that predates that of all other groups resident in a given territory. Others see indigenous as being local, as belonging here, as being native in a broad sense.

Sometimes the differences in these ideas of indigenous can occasion real struggles, for example, the way the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous People wants the Guyanese Government to stop using the term Amerindian (as in Minister of Amerindian Affairs) and to use the term indigenous when speaking only of those who have been called Amerindian. The government refuses, thus far, saying that all Guyanese are indigenous, as in native, as in born in Guyana and belonging in Guyana.

There doesn't appear to be a "correct" answer here that everyone will agree with, let alone a simple solution. I think the best we can do is to fully air all possible sides on this issue. Can "indigenous" in the Caribbean today really be a matter of "race"? Is indigenous rooted in DNA percentages? What do you think?

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Indigenous, in my humble opinion, has always been combination of factors including a genetic link to a native group, predating the arrival of the conqueror and, at the same time, having a cultural, linguistic or spiritual tie to those roots that would cause a person to self identify as indigenous. A genetic link, absent of cultural understanding may cause a person to seek out their roots, so to speak, but until that cultural or spiritual understanding is achieved, the person would simply ''be of'' indigenous ancestry, rather than using the term indigenous in itself. The same way in which a person may say, ''My great, great grandfather was half Chinese.'' If that person held no link to the language, customs or peoples, and knew only of their Scandinavian roots. How do we identify them as Chinese?~c
if race is for some --me included-- a social construct having no bearing in nature, the word indigenous has little to do with it. frankly, when i linked to this site, i was surprised by the "light" faces i saw on the members page. my initial picture of a caribbean person is always someone as dark as me. i'm not naive enough to think our corner of the globe doesn't possess the phenotypical variety as anywhere else... so what is indigenous? it's how much you know yourself. it's striving to live authentically no matter where you are or what you look like. people come and people go from place to place and time to time. the first die out, they wither away. nature takes it's course and time's passive transgression meters us on. what was indigenous becomes absorbed and is transformed... it's rooted in whatever the self holds dear whenever the self wants to hold on for dear life.
You're right, the name of the network can be open to all sorts of impressions, and unlike the original site that led to this, the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink, I thought "ambiguity" would be good for a change, especially as some friends of the CAC reacted against the use of the word "Amerindian" for sounding "too racial". I wanted to make sure this site was as wide open as possible, that it felt like home to more Caribbean persons, and for those who have a passionate interest in learning more about the Caribbean. "Indigenous" can be read in different ways too, as we can see in this discussion, and I very much like your own personal take on what it means for you.
Why are you so suprised of "light" faces from the Caribbean. The greater antillean Islands are in the Caribbean.

No one island or islands has a copywright on the term Caribbean.
In Trinidad, we generally use the term aborigine to refer to any of the first known inhabitants or Caribs and Arawaks.

I think "indigenous" is a contentous by definition and "Amerindian" I associate with American native indians.
That's interesting, because in Australia and Canada where Aboriginal was widely used there is a movement to move away from that word. In Australia Koori is gaining momentum while in Canada they use the term "First Nations".
Umm, I guess I tend to be a bit practical when it comes to things like this. To me being Indigenous in the Caribbean means you have an Indigenous Caribbean ancestor. That is, if you had an ancestor that was either Carib, Taino, Karifuna, Garifuna, Arawak or any of the other so called "Amerindian" tribes that inhabited the area before Columbus came.

I don't really care how light or dark someone is, if you have a Carib, Taino, Karifuna, Garifuna, Arawak etc, ancestor and you identify yourself as being of any of those tribes then you are Indigenous to me. If you have no ancestors from any of these tribes then you are not.
Another way of looking at it is why be collectively named/branded by others? What's wrong with Carib,Taino, Karifuna, Garifuna, Arawak etc. aren't they unique in their own right?
Indigenous in my opinion means being related to the inhabitants of the land before the arrival of the europeans.

Thought evolves so we may all answer to another term in the future.
Taino Ti

I may add that now that I acknowledge that I am Indigenous I take on a lifelong committment to foster awareness of our Ancient ones to the 4 directions without an agenda to self fullfilling agrandizement.
I agree. I have the identical thought. I feel it is my obligation as a descendant of a people who are viewed as extinct to awaken and open eyes to our existence. Additionally, equally of important is educating myself as well about the people I descend from (though this is a challenge having not been raised with the Spanish language). Only through education can history ever have a chance to be righted and the artifacts and remains of our ancient ancestors protected.
Aside from having an indigenous ancestral past, to be indigenous is to be a active participate in a culture. People who originate from a specific environment or place are not just mere onlookers they have to be immersed in at least some aspects of the culture. It's a way of life, a lifestyle. I think as indigenous people it is important to be well balanced in our dynamic of identity and realize that it is a combination of who we were then and who we are now.

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