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AfriGeneas Caribbean Research Forum

[GUYANA] Caribs & Arawaks

From: (Richard Bond)

The people of the Caribbean are today mostly of mixed race. There are
however many people whose geneaology or family tradition gives them
Native American Indian origin. With the recent innovations in DNA
studies ot only has much of this been proved but people who did not
realize they were part NAI have been finding that they have those lines in their origins.

There are villages in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico where most long term
residents claim NAI origin. In the hills of Southwestern Puerto Rico
there is an area called the Barrio Indio where colonial records speak of the last holdouts of Taino hunter gatherers. The people are of mixed race but by appearance still show signs of phenotypic difference. In the BIA sense of continuous communal organization the tribe as such ceased to exist.

In the early part of the last century a group of families in that area
who felt that they were being mistreated by the San Juan officials and
the major landlords formed a new movement called Tainismo. While the
original communal organization was gone the pride in their history and
their distinctive appearance led them to form a new organization. Recent DNA studies by University of Puerto Rico have shown about half of their tests show NAI matrilineal origins but three quarters in the Barrio Indio.

In the Windwards there are villages and areas where the historical
origins of the residents are Carib. A large contiguous area of Dominica is incorporated as a reservation and administered as a tribe. They construct traditional canoes and conduct rituals. There are also Carib Indian villages in St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada.
I believe there is an area in Martinique where there are family
traditions of being part Carib. In Trinidad there are both Araak and
Carib areas. One thing which amuses me is that a recent chief of the
Trinidad Caribs was a man amed Richard Bharath, in Trinidad a land of
much miscegenation he is both Indian as in Carib and Indian as in New

Both the Caribs and Arawaks were from the Guianas and Northern South
America and there you can still find fairly pure communities of both

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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