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Dominica Carib Chief Wants to Outlaw Intermarriage: What do you think?

From the Associated Press,
Fri May 9, 11:12 PM ET

(a very rare news item on the Caribs in the international press, and it's a pretty controversial one at that):

ROSEAU, Dominica - The leader of the last remaining pre-Columbian tribe in the eastern Caribbean says outlawing marriage to outsiders can save Dominica's dwindling indigenous population, but legislators are balking at deciding who can marry whom.

Chief Charles Williams has proposed a law requiring ethnic Kalinagos to marry only each other for self-preservation. He also requested that foreigners be barred from living on the tribe's 3,800-acre reserve.

"We would like as many Kalinago people to respond and pair off so that we can multiply and protect the race," Williams said during a recent news conference.

An estimated 1,000 Kalinagos of the roughly 4,000 who live on the reserve are considered full-blooded Indians. Carib women who marry non-Indians traditionally leave the reserve, while men who do the same are allowed to stay.

Several legislators said Friday that they refuse to entertain the marriage proposal.

Such a measure would be "legislating who a person can marry, and this cannot be so," Sen. Claduous Stanford told The Associated Press.

Kent Auguiste, a member of the Carib Indian council that oversees the reserve, said the culture should be preserved but not at the expense of personal freedom.

The impoverished Kalinago tribe relies mostly on banana and citrus farming.

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Comment by Guy Marco on July 28, 2008 at 4:49am
I am both ALEKUNA (father's side) and MACUSHI of Guyana by blood but I am more Macushi mainly because I grew up in Macushi community and speak my mother tongue. This doesn't mean that as an Indiginous person I do not represent my father's root. Further I represent NOT ONLY my parents' roots but all of the Indiginous Peoples.
At an Art Institute I was taught ceramic by a mixture of a WARRAU (one of nine Amerindian groups in Guyana) and AFRICIAN Guyanese. His appearance is more African than his Warrau.
One day a group of us - Amerindian artists - came together to have an Art show. My former Ceramic teacher was amongst us. During the week of our show we were invited by the National Radio Station for a live interview. When we arrived there the ceramic teacher told the security that " we , Amerindian artsits, were there for an interview". The security asked him where was his Amerindianness. His answer was " I am both but today I am with my Amerindian side".
My wife (an East Indian Guyanese) and I never intertain whose side our son ( 7) must be. He would have to decide for himself late in life. One thing that I can share here is that he is well balanced with the food of his parents - curry and roti/pepper-pot and cassava bread.
He also knows several words of his grandmother language - Macushi. As matter of fact he know all the words of my Macushi songs. We both would like him to learn Hindi as well, at least basics, so that when our dream of going to the land of their ( my wife and son) ancestors ( India) should come through he would not be at a lost.
I cannot imagine being thrown out of the land of my ancestors because I married a non - Amerindian - by my Chief. Even if he did it would not stop me from being who I am because of my Macushi blood.
The Cheif should balance his decision by keeping both men and women who married non - Caribs.
What is very important to retain and pass on to our children whether they are mixed or not is our Language/culture. Without those we are "dead".
The world is going to boil like 'One- Pot" (a mixture of food boiled in one pot in St. Lucia ) in the future.
One of the leading countries' Persidental candidate 2008 is a mixture of AFRICAN and CAUCASIAN.
Comment by Pernilla Hultberg on June 10, 2008 at 8:32am
Chief Williams doesn't seem to have to much support in his marriage law proposal, at least not from out side the Carib Territory. The whole idea seems very strange and peculiar.
Is he trying to start a debate about ethnicity? Is he trying to make the conditions for male and female Caribs more equal by this new law? Or is simply deserate enough in his aim to preserve "the real Caribs", that he think this is a good suggestion? Interesting...
Has either of you seen any more coments on the issue - from chief Williams or others?
Comment by Jorge Baracutei Estevez on May 22, 2008 at 9:51pm
I wholeheardtly agree with David's statemets above as well as those from Keisha and Max. One of the fundemental rights of humans is to love and be loved by whomever we choose. In some dark fantasy I can envision a shangrila of Tainos living and procreating with no one but our own. But in this reality we are an ever evoloving people Taino people that do not and cannot discriminate againts other peoples race ,color or creed.
I would rather have a 1/16 Taino or Carib woman maintaining our traditions and culture and passing these to her mixed blood children, than a full blood that knows nothing and contributes nothing but gene flow to our society. Our women are the keepers of tradition and custom. They can marry Indian, African, White or Asian, but as long as her children know of our ways, there will always be Carib and Taino. My humble opinion as a mixed blood Indian man.
Comment by Maximilian Forte on May 12, 2008 at 3:14pm
There are some serious problems with what Chief Williams has done in making the request for this legislation, that keep returning to me over these days. One was his protest of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, which many of us (myself proudly included) challenged for its reinforcement of racist stereotypes of Caribs--and we all backed Chief Williams on that, while I quietly hoped that he had put his earlier racial views to rest. Secondly, there has been much work done over very many years to get passage of the UN's Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and for a Carib leader to seek rights on one hand, while seeking to discriminate and deny rights on the other, is too much of a big contradiction. Third, he might appeal by saying, "and what about the future of the Carib tribe since it's shrinking?" The problem here is that if you define Carib according to (impossible) standards of purity, then it will shrink--he could have taken the opposite view, that marriages with people outside the tribe expands the tribe, and more importantly helps to broaden and project Carib culture. He is making a lot of people with Carib mothers feel unwanted, and they must feel like they can only ever be defined as black and have no choice in the matter. Lastly, a very basic problem: his solution is a recipe for inbreeding.
Comment by adem medina cardona on May 11, 2008 at 5:29pm
wow, I can not imagine being told with whom I could marry! I am not real big on marriage itself, for many reasons, but this would definitely be an excellent reason NOT to marry at all. Perhaps if the incentive was to prohibit marriages all together and chase away those who believe in the institution, then this would be an excellent law! My children are of many different 'races', and their mothers come from many places around the world, most having indigenous roots. They are being raised between the Caribbean and the Pacific Northwest USA. Imagine!! Who they would be required to marry? Perhaps I should ask my Jamaican-Chinese-Puerto Rican son what he thinks about this. ~c
Comment by Maximilian Forte on May 10, 2008 at 3:23pm
I have added what some might see as an incendiary editorial, but I simply had to. The idea that I could be cast, by association, as a defender of racism is just something I cannot afford. The editorial I am talking about can be found here, and I am sure that not everybody will agree with either the tone and/or the contents. I do welcome disagreement however, I think this is very important and we need to be vocal about our views on this topic.
Comment by Arenahi on May 10, 2008 at 3:07pm
I strongly disagree with this, and not just because I am mixed race.
First off, women are the transmitters of culture, so having them leave the reserve is taking the culture away instead of keeping it in the community.

Secondly banning marriage to other races will surely backfire and you can't control who people fall in love with. Instead the tribe should promote pride in being Carib as well as offer incentives or reward to those who do marry within.

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