Indigenous Caribbean Network

What does it mean to be Indigenous today in the Caribbean? New Forum Discussion

A new forum discussion has been started on what the meanings of "indigenous" are in the Caribbean. Here is the description of the intent of the discussion:

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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Comment by David Modeste on May 10, 2008 at 10:22am
Even as many of the current inhabitants of the carribean have suffered the pain of racial and cultural discrimination, there is evidence that the indigenous peoples of the carribean have been suffering the same from the current groups that dominate these societies.
More education, positive interaction, and cultural understanding must be developed to help to address the problem, and the leaders should be pressed to take responsibility to ensure that all peoples in their societies are able to co-exist.
This will require some change in the culture, (no easy task) but something that is much needed.
Comment by Jorge Baracutei Estevez on April 4, 2008 at 10:40am
You are very correct Max in that this particular question has more than one answer and not everyone will agree on a single description. But perhaps by presenting different perspectives we can understand where we are all coming from. I recall an old Seneca saying “one of the aspects of true friendship is to understand and be understood”, I think we can all agree with this eh?

For me Indigenous/Native means simply anyone that has a genetic, cultural or linguistic connection to the islands of the Caribbean that predates contact with the Europeans. Some may have aspects of all three of the examples above, others perhaps to just one or two, etc. Certainly this can be viewed as a rather broad description, but it is my belief that many people have a connection to the original peoples of the islands that is beyond DNA.

What I think is important to many peoples of the Caribbean is to have a sense of “I am from here”- and not an immigrant in their homeland. As a Dominican teacher said in class one day “we are Dominican by coincidence since we are not really from this island anyway” implying the sentiment stated above. Indigenous is a connection to a land from which we come from. Whether people have a genetic connection or not might determine if they feel connected to our indigenous ancestors. For me just knowing that so much has survived, that so much has continued be it genetic, cultural, linguistic or spiritual is a testament to the greatness of our ancestors and their resistance.

Notes

La Bruja

Created by Miguel Sague Jr Apr 4, 2016 at 12:07am. Last updated by Miguel Sague Jr Apr 4, 2016.

Angel Rodriguez Caguana archeoastronomy

Created by Miguel Sague Jr Mar 29, 2016 at 3:10pm. Last updated by Miguel Sague Jr Mar 29, 2016.

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