Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Haitian Arawak Movement

I was very excited to receive the following message today:

"I am very happy that this side of the history of the Dominican Republic [in a special issue in the journal KACIKE] had been brought to light and I hope that the same thing could be done for Haiti. I am a mixed-blooded Arawak from Haiti and I'd like to take this opportunity to let the world know that we, the Indians of Haiti, were never extinct and we are very proud of our indigenous heritage. I hope that our brothers and sisters in DR understand that our language may be different but we are the same people. Anyone who wishes to learn more about the Haitian Arawak people or speak to us can visit us at: www.haitianarawak.com
Long live the Arawak/Taino people!
Guanahata Ben Emmanuel"

Indeed, I had a chance to visit the website of the Haitian Arawak Movement, and I think a great many people will find it to be appealing, not just visually, but also in terms of some content that helps to fill in a very large gap in public consciousness. It never made sense to me that Taino cultural survival would somehow stop at the border with Haiti, as if that relatively novel and arbitrary post-conquest creation corresponded with indigenous realities. Incidentally, I am not suggesting that anyone has made this argument, but the focus on Taino survival in Hispaniola has, to date, tended to focus on the Dominican side, and not because of any sinister conspiracy. I would like to see more dicussion perhaps as to why there has been this Haitian absence from discussions of indigenous cultural survival, aside from some of the very engaging work produced by Maya Deren (Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti). I look forward to hearing more from Ben Emmanuel.

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