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Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba

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Author Topic: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba  (Read 21628 times)
Bianca
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« on: February 26, 2008, 07:26:58 pm »









All the agriculturalists confirmed, with great certainty, the practice of planting root crops
by the waning moon (luna menquante). The assertion is that both yucca and boniato (a
native sweet potato) will "rot early" (se pica temprano) if not planted by the waning moon.

In cutting wood, too, local guajiros argue that it will rot faster if cut in the full or ascending
moons. One old man near the banks of the Rio Toa spoke of fishing by the moon for a fish
called the teti, which is scarce at other times.

At Los Arados, I also visited an elementary school; the principal asked the Indian children
to gather, and about 25 students quickly surrounded us. Some were more reticent than
others, but all affirmed their Indian background. Many of their names corresponded to the
family names identified with Indian-ness.

My questions concentrated on a person's basis or rationale for claiming an Indian identity.
All pointed to family history: "We are an Indian family. It has been always that way." "We
do Indian things, like my mother, she drinks from a jicara, nothing else, she won't use a
glass or a cup." "We know the wilderness [manigua]."

Going toward the Punta Maisi lighthouse, I asked Hartmann about the reluctance of some
Cuban academics to accept the Indian identity in this area of Cuba. He responded, "Well,
even Rivero, he refuses to say the people here are Indians - he defines them as

                                               'descendants'

of Indians. It is common to say that there are no Indians left in Cuba."

"But I am here," Pedro Hernandez said from the back seat. "Indians or descendants, it's the
same thing. They, the old Tainos, were here. Now, we, my generation, we are here. We
don't live exactly like they did, but we are still here."
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