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Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba

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Author Topic: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba  (Read 21534 times)
Bianca
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« on: February 26, 2008, 07:00:28 pm »








Historical References





The existence of an Indian population and identity in Cuba was vehemently denied for
most of the twentieth century, primarily by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz.

A liberal professor of Hispanic ancestry, Ortiz saw the question of Indian identity as a
ploy by the right wing to obfuscate black issues.

Deeply conversant in all the social sciences, Ortiz was limited by a Havana base and by
a purist, "bell jar" anthropological perspective of Indian-ness. This perspective maintains
that American Indians cease to be "real" Indians as they adapt Western tools and methods.
Indian "cultures" are assumed frozen at the moment of contact with "the West."

Although he framed the theme of "transculturation" in Cuban letters. Ortiz provided the tree
of Cuban multiethnicity with a strictly Ibero-African trunk. The assertion became that all
Cuban Indians, purportedly a weak and timid people, were exterminated by 1550.

Nevertheless, the historic and ethnographic record supports the Indian presence in eastern
Cuba - the existence of its actual population of descendants and its cultural extensions. Both
Rivero and Antonio Nunez Jimenez, a prominent Cuban naturalist - and other historical referen-
ces - confirm the existence of dozens of Indian family nuclei (caserios) in the extended region
of Oriente, from Baracoa to Punta Maisi, to the Sierra Maestra and the Pico Turquino. In the
absence of a proper census, it is hard to hazard a guess as to the total population of Indian
descendants in the general Oriente area, but it probably comes to several thousand people.

Miguel Rodriguez Ferrer, a Spanish scientist who visited the area in 1847, wrote in the 1870s
about finding Indian communities at El Caney, in Jiguani, and on the banks of the Yumuri River
(Baracoa).

He wrote that the people lived in bohios, and "gifted me with a dance" - possibly an Areito, the
round dance of the Tainos - during which they recited cosmologies.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 07:01:51 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.


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