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Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba

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Author Topic: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba  (Read 21625 times)
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« on: February 26, 2008, 07:19:34 pm »

Hernandez, curator of a small museum at Los Arados, is in his thirties and is a militant of
the Cuban Communist Party. He greatly admires Fidel Castro and particularly the late re-
volutionary commander, Camilo Cienfuegos. However, his professed passion is learning
about his Indian past.

Hernandez worked with Rivero's team during their study at Yateras. "There are a lot of In-
dian families there," he said. "But for a long time, we have been isolated from each other.
It has been good for us that other people pay attention now."

I took a ride with Hernandez to the lighthouse at Punta Maisi, easternmost point in Cuba,
50 miles across the Windward Channel from Haiti. Along the way we stopped several times
to visit with other Indians walking along the road. Two young women, from another Indian
family, were walking to town to get milk. They agreed to be photographed and told us that
their father had been a guide to Cuban explorer Nunez Jimenez during his expeditions in the
area in the 1950s. Their grandfather, they said, guided the North American archaeologist
Mark Harrington at the turn of the century.

The women's features had been measured for a study in 1964, and they joked about having
high cheekbones when I went to photograph them. One mimicked how the investigators had
marveled at their straight, black hair.

As we drove away, Hernandez apologized for their grandfather guide, whom he "respected",
but whose knowledgeable eye had led Harrington to valuable Indian pieces hidden and carv-
ed in caves. That Harrington took many Indian pieces from here to New York. He even saw-
ed off a stalagmite statue and carted it away," he said.
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