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Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba

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Author Topic: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba  (Read 22109 times)
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Posts: 41646

« on: February 26, 2008, 06:01:33 pm »

In March and April 1989, I traveled to Santiago de Cuba to attend a conference, "Seeds of
Commerce, mutually sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and a Cuban research center,
the Casa del Caribe.

I took the opportunity to extend my visit for two weeks, first in the Baracoa-Punta Maisi
region and then west to the plains country of Camaguey. I wanted to ascertain the vera-
city of testimonies that I had heard as a child and that have been recently published in
Cuban academic journals, to the effect that Taino-Arawak descendants inhabit the east-
ern region of Cuba. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the people of guajiro background
still prevalent in the Camaguey countryside.

I heard about the Indian families of Baracoa while I was growing up in the Camaguey re-
gion, some 300 km to the northeast of Baracoa, during the 1950s, before I migrated to
the United States at age 12.

Among my elder relatives, don Joseito Veloz (born 1891) migrated to Camaguey from the
vicinity of the oriental mountain city of Bayamo. Don Joseito told stories about the old
communities in and near Baracoa.

He was himself what is called in Camaguey a "guajiro," and one who pointed out the Indian
origins of many of his customs and lifeways: the thatch-roof bohio made out of the royal
palm so abundant in Cuba; and his yucca field and his custom of eating the yucca bread,
casabe, and the traditional Taino soup, called the ajiaco. Guajiro identity, customs, and
lifestyle still prevail throughout the Camaguey region.1

More recently, after writing for some years on diverse Indian cultures, indigenous develop-
ment, agriculture, and human rights issues, I noticed several articles in the Cuban press de-
tailing studies carried out among the Indian descendants in the Baracoa region. The studies
were carried out by investigators from the University of Havana, in cooperation with scientists
from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2008, 06:06:21 pm by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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

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