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Special Issue edited by Lynne Guitar

Not  Everyone Who Speaks Spanish is from Spain: 
Taíno Survival in the 21st Century Dominican Republic

Dr. P. J. Ferbel

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The national identity of the Dominican Republic is based on an idealized story of three cultural roots--Spanish, African, and Taíno--with a selective amnesia of the tragedies and struggles inherent to the processes of colonial domination and resistance.  Further, African, Taíno and mixed Afro-Mestizo culture have been marginalized in favor of nationalist ideologies of progress and civilization found in the embrace of Hispanidad and Catholicism. In such a way, Dominicans have been disconnected from their African, their indigenous, and their mixed Afro-Mestizo Criollo (Creole) ancestry and cultural heritage, even though it is these ancestries and heritages which mark Dominicans with the significant emblems of their contemporary identity. [1]

In this paper, I assess the survival of Taíno culture by building on the work of two important studies addressing Taíno heritage in the Dominican Republic—Bernardo Vega's (1981) “La herencia indígena en la cultura dominicana de hoy” and Garcia Arévalo's (1988) “Indigenismo, arqueología, e identidad nacional.” My conclusion is that there is significant cultural heritage of Taíno origin that has persisted to this day. That heritage, together with the historical evidence for Taíno survival presented by my colleagues Lynne Guitar and Jorge Estevez, points me to the understanding that the Taíno people were never extinct but, rather, survived on the margins of colonial society to the present. [2]

The story of Taíno extinction was created as a colonial strategy to disempower the Native people and as a way to legitimate the importation of slaves from Africa. Ironically, the Taíno culture that survives may be considered the strongest and most deeply planted “roots” of the contemporary Afro-Mestizo Criollo Dominican identity. Anthropology teaches us today that there is no such thing as a “pure” race or a “pure” culture— with every generation, the composition of a population changes. Therefore, even though the physical appearance of Dominicans may be mixed-- multi-biological-- they all share a common uni-cultural heritage simply by practicing traditional Dominican cultural forms. Just because Dominicans look “African” or “European” or “Mixed” does not mean they cannot legitimately celebrate their Taíno heritage. And just because Dominicans speak Spanish it does not mean their strongest cultural root comes from Spain. Finally, just because Dominicans want to celebrate their Taíno roots does not necessarily mean they want to negate their African or European or other heritages. [3]

Today, as professors, researchers, and students we must accept the responsibility to critically re-examine the stories of Taíno extinction from a position free from racial politics and nationalist agendas. In such a way, we open the door for all Dominicans to understand their true history, identify with all their ancestors, celebrate their traditional culture, and use this knowledge to help them find their path beyond Columbus's wake. [4]

Taíno Cultural Heritage
My knowledge of Taíno cultural heritage comes from five years living and working in the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic, the land the Taíno called Quisqueya. I first went to the Dominican Republic in 1992 to conduct research on the commemoration of the Columbian Quincentennial. At that time, I assumed what I read in textbooks and journals about the extinction of the Taíno was true. I found many romanticized representations of Taínos used as decoration on buildings, hawking products like mascots, and generally presented in ways that suggested they were frozen in a time before Columbus (see Figure 1). There was little public discussion about history or cultural identity, and the official channels that promoted heritage and identity were focused on celebrating the Hispanic past and a myth about a tripartite identity that led principally to the creation of merengue music. The Taíno were extinct. Period. [5]

Figure 1

Representing Taínos: 
Hatuey Soda Crackers

I was therefore surprised to find many strong cultural forms of Taíno origin practiced in daily Dominican life, especially in the campo (see Figure 2). I was also struck by the ironic and contradictory expression of Taíno cultural knowledge, whereby many Dominicans practiced strong indigenous cultural forms but did not identify with them. In fact, seen as socio-economically unprogressive, they were often ashamed by these cultural displays. At the same time, the Taíno archaeological heritage was plundered and vandalized (see Figure 3), history and culture were topics of interest only for the upper class, and there were little resources available for communities to encourage traditional cultural activities. I soon began to realize how the traditional culture of Quisqueya existed in opposition to the economic realities of "modernization." In other words, development towards a Western economy meant movement away from traditional Dominican culture and Taíno heritage. [6]

Figure 2

Traditional casabe making on a buren griddle at Guagui, La Vega
Figure 3
Vandalism of petroglyphs, Rio Chacuey, Dajabon. Photo credit: Jason McIntire

"Heritage" may be defined as the cultural and biological legacy that contemporary people have carried on from their ancestral past to become a part of their communal identity in the present. Taíno heritage can be found in the Dominican Republic in many forms, including language, agriculture, food ways, medicinal knowledge, craft technologies, architecture, spiritual beliefs, family life, festivals, popular culture, and genetic bloodlines (Ferbel 1995; Garcia Arévalo 1988, 1990; Vega 1980; Weeks and Ferbel 1994). This Taíno heritage has been passed on for generations, originating with the Arawakan speaking people who migrated into the Caribbean from the Orinoco River Valley some 1500 years before Spanish exploration. Archaeologists believe a distinct Taíno culture had developed in the Caribbean by the year 600 A.D. and thus flourished for 900 years before Columbus (Rouse 1992; Weeks and Ferbel 1994). Given this time frame, it should come as no surprise that the Taíno rooted their culture with a profound understanding of the Caribbean landscape. [7]

The impact of 15th century European colonization on the Taíno was nothing short of devastating, and completely re-structured the trajectory of their native life ways. Confronted with deadly foreign diseases, unable to schedule their agricultural planting, forced into systems of social, economic, and political domination, losing rights to land, free expression, and, in many cases, to life itself, the Taíno had to find radical ways to survive. Resistance took many forms. Many Taíno fought against the intruders, who had the distinct advantage of coming from a place with a history of guns, swords, horses, dogs, and trickery. Many Taíno hid in isolated Maroon communities, along with runaway African slaves, far from the Spaniard towns and plantations. Others were forced into slave and serf positions and lived alongside Africans and Spaniards. [8]

Dominican historian Frank Moya Pons (1992) shows that during the period of early Spanish colonization a process of transculturation began whereby Taínos mixed within the Spanish population, together with African slaves, giving rise to a new Creole culture. This is substantiated historically by census records of 1514, which show forty per cent of Spanish men on the island had Indian wives or concubines (Moya Pons 1992:135). Interaction between Africans and Indians is documented in plantation records and in descriptions of runaway slave communities (Garcia Arévalo 1990:275). Further, ethnohistorian Lynne Guitar (1998) demonstrates the historical marginalization of the Taíno beginning in the 16th century. While being declared extinct in official documents—for the purpose of legitimating colonial control and rationalizing the importation of African slaves—references to Indians continued to appear in wills and legal proceedings, demonstrating their survival on the margins of colonial society. [9]

Over the years, a poor, but landed, peasantry developed from the original group of Indians, Africans and Europeans, who continued to share bloodlines and culture, developing their own communities in the countryside. As these communities were engaged in a struggle to live on the land, they used their repertoire of cultural knowledge to best survive. Naturally, they relied on their Taíno heritage, which represented many generations of knowledge, tradition, and oral history about the land. This is still true for present-day Dominicans, especially in the agrarian countryside. [10]

Taíno Heritage

Linguistic Features
The Dominican Republic often uses its indigenous name Quisqueya as a common referent. Dominicans like to call themselves "Quisqueyanos"; the name even appears in the first words of the Dominican national anthem: "Quisqueyanos valientes..." [11]

The Spanish language has several hundred words that come from the indigenous Arawakan language of the Caribbean. These words go beyond names of objects, place names, flora, and fauna that did not have a name in the Spanish language, like canoa, hurican, hamaca, caiman, barbacoa, tobaco, maraca, marimba, iguana, and manatee. There are also many words and expressions that are indigenous in origin that are used instead of their Spanish names. Examples include: mabi, a natural juice; macana, a policeman's club; and macuto, a hand sack. The Taíno phrase "un chin" or "chin-chin" means a small amount in Dominican Spanish, and is as common as the Spanish phrase "un poquito." The use of these words suggest not simply the effect of one culture borrowing or appropriating names for things they did not know, but a more complex interplay between two cultures. [12]

Many, if not a majority of Dominican cities, campos, rivers, and mountains have indigenous names, including: Amina, Bani, Bao, Bonao, Cotui, Cutupu, Dajabon, Damajagua, Guajaca, Guayubin, Inoa, Jacagua, Janico, Licey, Magua, Maguana, Mao, Nagua, and Samana. The majority of rivers have Taíno names, including Haina, Maimon, Ozama, Sosua, Tireo, and Yaque. Most native trees and fruits have Taíno names, including Anacajuita, Caimito, Cajuil, Caña, Caoba, Ceiba, Cuaba, Guacima, Guano, Guao, Guayaba, Guanabana and Guayacan. Beyond flora, indigenous insects, birds, fish, and other animals with names of Taíno origin may list into the hundreds. They include the Bibijagua (ant), Comejen (termite), Carey (sea turtle), Hicotea (river turtle), manatee, and Guaraguao (Dominican hawk). [13]

Due to the process of mestizaje, whereby the Spaniard male colonists took Indian wives, it is not surprising that no Taíno surnames have survived to the present. Still, Dominicans use historical Taíno names in the contemporary naming of children. Examples include the prominent politicians Caonabo Polanco and Hatuey Deschamps, and jazz great Guarionex Aquino. [14]

Many Dominicans can distinguish a Taíno name by its sound, though not reliably. It may be that the Cibao rural dialect's transformation of words ending in the Spanish suffix "-ado" into the Arawakan sounding "ao" is a vestige of Taíno pronunciation (e.g., colorado becomes colorao). Regardless of its true historicity, it is certain that there exists a romanticized Indian association with these campo pronunciations. Another example is the use of the "I" with words ending with an "R" (Qué calor! becomes Qué calo-i!). [15]

It is interesting that several Taíno words that are used in other parts of the Antilles, are not used in the Dominican Republic. Examples include using the Spanish word lechosa instead of the indigenous papaya, the Spanish word pina (pineapple) instead of the indigenous yayama, and the Spanish cotorra (parrot) instead of the indigenous higuaca. However, for all these words, many people are aware of their indigenous names as well. There are several instances where both indigenous and Spanish words are interchangeable, for example, the Spanish word tarantula and the Taíno word cacata are used equally (see Figure 4). [16]

Figure 4

Tarantula, also known by the Taíno word cacata

Some indigenous words have changed their meanings over the years. For example, a batey, which originally described a Taíno ceremonial ball court, today refers to the residence location of Haitians on sugar plantations. Guacara, originally referring to a cave or cavern, now describes a place or thing of antiquity. [17]

Many Dominican agricultural terms have Taíno origins. The word conuco, while its meaning is lost as a mixed-crop method of agriculture similar to the mainland indigenous milpa, has retained the concept as a plot of land used for farming. Unfortunately, Dominicans have not retained the Taíno use of montones, or raised mound agriculture, and suffer from one of the worst records of topsoil depletion in the Caribbean (Ferguson 1992). So too, unfortunately, Dominicans have overused the Taíno technique of slash and burn (swidden) agriculture. [18]

Many Dominican farmers use what they call the mysterios, or the spiritual secrets of agriculture, including planting with the lunar cycle. This practice is documented for the Taíno as well. Agricultural knowledge is reported to be passed on from generation to generation. It is interesting to note that in some regions, particular days of the week are considered bad times to plant. This practice may be a creolized Catholic/Taíno manner of understanding the spiritual division of the human world. One final agricultural item from pre-Columbian times is the use of the coa, the indigenous word for a digging stick, which is still employed for planting, though today with a metal point. [19]

Yucca and Casabe
The starchy vegetable tuber yucca is a central part of contemporary Dominican diet. Sweet yucca is a staple, boiled and served for breakfast and dinner, often with eggs or a small meat accompaniment. Yucca is well matched to Dominican soil and life ways, whereby it can grow in semi-arid climates and on hillsides, and can conserve for several months in the earth without rotting. It was the key to Taíno survival and it is no surprise that Yucahu was one of the principal deities. So too is it identified as the most Dominican of the staples. [20]

The baking of casabe bread from bitter yucca flour is a Dominican tradition that has strong ties to the Taíno past. While common at the household level only generations ago, casabe production is today available principally from family bakeries and small factories, who truck the casabe to local stores throughout the country. The technology of casabe production has not changed much over the years, and most of the terminology is the same. The yucca is grated with guayos (today sharpened spoons peel the yucca and mechanical metal graters are used for grating), leeched of the poisonous starch (anaiboa or almidón) in canoe shaped receptacles (canoa), strained, and dried into flour (catibia). Then the flour is spread with the help of a circular iron mold, and baked on the top of an oven (buren) for about twenty minutes until solid (Figure 5). Casabe can conserve in its cooked form for several months without spoilage, making it an important food product in the tropical environment. Casabe is always served during Christmas and Easter times, and its presence on the Dominican table is expected. It is important to note that in recent years the availability of bread made from wheat flour have led to a diminished use of casabe in Dominican diets. [21]

Figure 5

Making casabe at a bakery at Cacique, Moncion

Alternative uses of yucca flour have declined in their importance over the years, however several food products are still made. Panesico are baked logs of yucca flour and pork fat, and are considered a specialty of the Cibao region. Dominican empanadas, deep-fried dough pockets stuffed with meat, are only made with yucca flour. Bolas de yuca are deep-fried balls of yucca flour. Jojadra are powdery ginger cookies made of yucca starch. [22]

Foodways and Tobacco Use
Besides yucca, many fruits and vegetables of indigenous origin have remained staples in the Dominican diet. They include the guayaba, guanabana, pina, lechosa, yautia, mani, and batata. Other indigenous fruits and vegetables that are eaten but are becoming less common include the anon, mamon, caimito, jagua, jobo, and mamey. Ajies (peppers) are an essential part of daily bean preparation. The popular Dominican salcocho (stew) may be derived from the indigenous pepper pot or ajiejaco, and arepas (corn-fritters) may also be of indigenous origin. Certainly both these dishes have native connotations surrounding them. So too is seasoning with bixa (annatto seed), although this spice's use has dwindled with the availability of packaged seasoning and canned tomato sauce. [23]

Cooking in earthenware pots, similar in style to Taíno ceramic ware, while becoming more and more rare, is known as a way of making beans more flavourful. Vega (1987:100-101) documents the use of another indigenous root, guayiga in the making of a bread-mush called cholo, popular in the south. Another root, guayaro, appears wild throughout the Cibao. The terms mabi and cacheo describe non-alcoholic drinks with indigenous origins that are still locally produced from fermented palm. Finally, the Taíno word bucán describes the technique of spit-roasting, an important element of a barbecue (Taíno word barbacoa). [24]

Tobacco (tabaco) has a long history of use in the Dominican Republic, especially in the campo. Tobacco is an integral part of santería ceremonies, where cigar smoking is used in spirit offerings and possession rituals. Besides being big business for export, tobacco is ubiquitous as a smoking product throughout the Dominican Republic. People smoke locally made cigarettes, as well as cigars and pipes. Many traditions of tobacco use include rolling cigars (tubanos), or smoking a compacted tobacco leaf plug called andullo in a pipe (cachimba) or rolled in cigarette paper (pachuche). [25]

Medicinal Knowledge
Dominican natural medicinal knowledge makes use of many indigenous plant species and healing techniques. Many remedies have a Taíno association to them, and it is probable that this association is not coincidental but was handed down over the generations as seen in Cuba (Barreiro 1989). Examples of natural medicine using indigenous products are numerous and include the use of calabaza leaves for toothaches and swelling, ingesting maguey juice for the flu, and eating guayaba for nausea. There are herbalists and curanderos in every campo, and it is often common to see greater reliance on natural medicines further away from industrialized city centers (Weeks et al. 1994). However, due to the increased use of pharmaceuticals, natural medicine has also declined in recent years. [26]

Fishing Techniques
Fishing techniques of indigenous origin have been well documented by Vega (1987:105-106). These include the use of fishing corrals, the temporary poisoning of small rivers or pools (sometimes with the almidón leeched from bitter yucca), the use of fiber fishing nets (nasas), and techniques for localizing fish and shellfish in shallow waters. The following fish and marine animals all have Taíno names: carite, menjua, cojinua, jurel, dajao, guabina, macabi, tiburon, guatapana, lambi, burgao, carey, juey, hicotea, and jaiva. Fishing has become a less important food procurement strategy in recent years, as dams, soil erosion, and pollution have dramatically lessened the quantity of fish in rivers. [27]

Crafts and Technologies
Locally made ceramics use basic forms with transculturative origins. Most popular in contemporary campo use today are tinajas, large amphoras used for water storage, and rounded cooking vessels called oyas. With the availability of imported plastic and metal containers and cooking pots, however, the use of ceramics in Dominican culture is waning. [28]

While the Taíno had a strong tradition of woodworking, Dominicans seem to have been progressively losing their woodworking skills. This may be, in part, due to deforestation and the unavailability of many of the fine woods like caoba (mahogany). There is, however, in the contemporary Dominican Republic, industrial production of fine furniture. Rocking chairs are well known as Dominican cultural items and chairs are available for guests in even the poorest of households. [29]

Bateas are flat wooden containers that are used to carry fruits. Their origin is Taíno, and often associated with their use for washing gold in rivers. Indeed, bateas are still used for this purpose today, for example in the Rio Chacuey. Bateas, like ceramics, are becoming less and less used, with the importation of cheap alternative plastic containers and receptacles. Many traditional makers of bateas have had to use less durable trees in recent years, making their products of cheaper quality. Some have expanded their product line into the tourist market by making decorative wooden spoons and forks. It is interesting to see that the word batea has been extended to the ponchera, the Spanish word for a large plastic bowl. [30]

Dominican boat craft are still made along the coast, but have lost much of the technological features used in making Taíno canoas and cayucos. The method of making a canoa from a hollowed-out royal palm as a feeding and watering trough for cows is still found in some campos (Figure 6). This technology is becoming increasingly rare due to the limitations put on the cutting of larger trees, on the number of craftsmen who still know how to make a canoa, and on the increasing availability of used tractor tires as watering troughs. [31]

Figure 6

Canoa feed and water troughs in Los Pinos, Moncion

Calabashes, called higuero, made of various sizes and shapes, are still used by rural Dominicans as water receptacles, bowls, and food containers (Figure 7). Macutos, handbags of guano or cana fiber are also still made, but are less prevalent due to the availability of plastic and paper bags. Baskets (canasta) made of bejuco (vines), palm, caña, guano, and other native fibers are used for clothes hampers and food containers, but are of relatively poor quality. Cabuya fibers are still used as cordage for ropes and whips, but synthetic fibers have become more popular in recent years. The use of native cotton (algodón) has all but disappeared with the importation of woven fabrics. Hamaca (hammocks) are today made with nylon cord mostly for sale to tourists. Beds have wholly replaced the hammock for sleeping. Finally, the use of large lambi (Strombus gigas) shells, called fotutos, by butchers to advise people what meat is being slaughtered by the number of blasts on the trumpet has indigenous origins, but is also disappearing as a cultural form. [32]

Figure 7

Higueras at the Fiesta Campesinal, Moca

The word bohío describes a country house, often with a caña roof and yagua palm siding, and is identified for its Taíno origins. It also describes the prevalent ranchos, patio or field structures with cana roofs used to shade the sun. Bohíos are built like the circular indigenous caney, or in a rectangular manner. Caña is used for its availability, its ability to withstand water, its durability (lasting up to twenty years in a tropical climate), and its breathabilty. Caña is also appreciated for its decorative beauty, and is often chosen for discotheques, restaurants, and cock fighting rings (galleras). The only negative element of using caña is it is not good for rainwater collection. Bejucos (vines) are sometimes still used to bind together ranchos, although nails are much more common. Another style of house building that also reflects Taíno heritage are those that use the royal palm yagua fronds for walls and roofing (see Figure 8). [33]

Figure 8

Yagua house in Jamao, Moca

Folklore and Religion
Folklore and religion have many associations with indigenous heritage. Taíno Indian spirits are commonly reported to dwell in rivers and caves throughout the country. Many sites of natural beauty or geological rarity have become associated as Indian places or sacred sites. Pools in rivers are often named "charco de los Indios" as are caves "cueva de los Indios", even if there is little artifactual evidence of indigenous use or occupation. Folklore often surrounds these places as spiritually dangerous or as sites where healing may occur, and are used accordingly. [34]

Folk syncretic belief systems combine Indian imagery and spirit blessings into their ritual and belief structures. Herbal shops, or botanicas, often sell Indian statues and candles which are thought to bring good luck and fortune to a person using them. Indigenous herbs and flowers like copey are burned in spiritual contexts. Small bracelets are worn by new-borns for protection. Indigenous axe-heads or "piedras de rayo" are sometimes put into tinajas to protect a house from lightning. [35]

Many stories about supernatural beings have indigenous origins, including the Ciguapa, a woman-beast with long hair and inverted feet. [36]

Art, Poetry, and Literature
In the field of the arts, poetry, and literature, Dominicans have made great use of indigenous themes. Work by Cibao artists such as Luis Munoz, Bottin Castellanos, and Gina Rodriguez use Taíno imagery and technology in their artistic expression. Indigenous themes also appear in works of poetry and literature, theater and modern dance. Merenguero Juan Luis Guerra uses many indigenous themes in his music; a recent album of his was titled areito. Many Dominican folksongs, as well, make reference to Indians of Quisqueya, including the caciques Enriquillo and Anacaona. [37]

Popular Identity
Perhaps the greatest association with the indigenous past comes with the biological feature known as the "Indio" skin color. While some official identity cards use the term "trigueño" to describe the majority of Dominicans, "Indio" is the commonly held concept for the color of Dominican skin, and the "race" of the Dominican people. The term, popularized by Trujillo to distance Dominicans from darker skinned Haitians, skirts the issue of Native American inheritance, which is referred to by the word indígena, and simply defines the physical manifestation of being of mixed race. [38]

Dobal (1989:25) writes about indigenous physical qualities, temperaments, and sexuality of Taíno origin, and suggests that the long, straight-hair, large brown eyes, and soft skin of campesinas is Taíno in origin. While such observational criteria appear straight forward, subjective traits have proven to be unreliable in making larger cultural generalizations. So too, is it problematic to use early Spanish descriptions of physical beauty to generalize what the Taíno looked like in the 15th century. However, it is acknowledged that biological "racial" features are recognized by members of a cultural community and often form the basis of assessing cultural difference. Dominicans, certainly, would agree with Dobal's description of Indios. [39]

Dobal further suggests that the Dominican has inherited the indigenous love for liberty, the appreciation for the esthetics as opposed to the functionality of objects, the lack of ambition or greediness, and the love for their homeland and place of birth (Dobal 1989:26). Indian strength and bravery is often a quality assumed by many Dominicans, and many campos which are known for the courage of their people are cited as places where there is a lot of Indian blood. Matrifocality is a cultural trait described in ethnohistoric documents about the Taíno, and can be tied to some degree to the present. Perhaps, it is a matrifocal love for homeland, that Dobal comments on, a love to be in the place where you were born and raised. [40]

In the Dominican Republic, it is difficult to attach a clean ethnic category to the whole population. The amount of historical and contemporary miscegenation between individuals of different African, Indian, and European blood has been very high, and has produced a multitude of biological mixes. There is a tremendous range of so-called "racial" features, for example, in hair texture, skin color, and facial shape. Basically, the way Dominicans recognize and talk about biology, some Dominicans look more "Black", some more "White", and some more "Indian". In this sense, Dominicans appear as a multi-biological people. On top of this, however, many Dominicans have combinations of "racial" features that make it difficult to pinpoint their exact biological ancestry. Dominicans have invented names for over 20 different physical mixes including trigueño, indio, indio claro, trigueñooscuro, canelo, pinto, etcetera. Thus, the Dominican Republic appears a "melting-pot" as well as a place of many separate biologies. [41]

Ultimately, though, when simple biology—the way people look—is put aside in favor of discussions about culture—what people do—the Dominican Republic displays a common denominator, uni-cultural identity that has little correlation with the physical appearance of its people. Indeed, there is no such thing as a distinct Black Dominican culture, White Dominican culture, or Indian Dominican culture. Regional difference do exist but for the most part, cultural differences appear between rich Dominicans and poor Dominicans, and between "city" Dominicans and "campo" Dominicans, and even these differences dissolve in discussions of a unifying national identity. [42]

While it is true that Dominicans with more European ancestry and culture represent the group which historically have had more access to money and power, they represent a small fraction of the demographic whole. While their influence in controlling the production of national identity has been strong, I will be focusing on the cultural realities for the majority of Dominicans, who are poor and without access to power. [43] 

Popular Culture
Finally, Taíno imagery is often found in a romanticized form in various elements of Dominican capitalist and nationalist culture. Strong Taíno caciques, who appear portrayed as national heroes, appear on stamps and coins. Indians are found as sculpture and bas-relief on buildings, often in positions of subservience or in chains. Indians are often denigrated to the level of mascots hawking the following products: Enriquillo soda water, Guarina saltines and cookies, Siboney rum, and Hatuey soda crackers. The name "Taíno" adorns businesses from pizza parlors to delivery services. A popular beer is called Quisqueya. For many Dominicans these product names are their most familiar association with the Taíno past. [44]

While nationalist Hispanic imagery has had a constraining effect on how Dominicans view the Taíno past, there are also unofficial alternate expressions that resist the dominant discourses. For example, many Dominicans claim that it is bad luck (fuku) to say the name Christopher Columbus aloud and that La Isabella, one of the first Spanish settlements on the north coast of the island, is haunted by Spanish ghosts. These may be considered signs of struggle against dominant history and rejections of official ways of speaking about the legitimated glory of the Spanish past. During the Columbian quincentennial a large multi-million dollar lighthouse monument was built in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo. Surrounding it is a tall stone wall that blocks poor barrio residents from crossing the Faro's grounds. This wall, built to hide the realities of Dominican poverty from the visiting dignitary or tourist, is known by everyone as the Muro de la Verguenza, or the Wall of Shame. It is an apt metaphor for the official national vision of Dominican identity represented by the Faro: available only to those who have the power and wealth to access it (see Figure 9). [45]

Figure 9

The Columbus Lighthouse from the other side of the Wall of Shame, Santo Domingo

With the murder of human rights lawyer Rafael Ortiz during a quincentennial protest march, attention was called to the repressive, manipulative way the government was controlling the celebration of its national history. Ortiz's assassination proved to be a successful governmental tactic to quell further resistance to official quincentennial activities. Posters and simple graffiti reading "No al Quinto Centenario!" became the only visible form of organized resistance. Several critical articles in national newspapers did appear but had very little influence on the national quincentennial programs. [46]

The quincentennial inspired Pilgrimage for Human Dignity was held on 5 December 1992 as a protest against the official Columbian celebrations. Literature distributed at the march read "... vamos a conmemorar la resistencia indígena, negra y popular en el día de la llegada de Colón..." On this pilgrimage from Santiago to Santo Cerro (La Vega), various banners were unfurled with anti-governmental imagery. One banner satirized the typical San Miguel image, dramatizing an Indian as San Miguel, slaying Columbus as the devil, his wings the flags of Spain and the United States (see Figure 10). It is no coincidence that San Miguel is also the “Captain of the 21st Indigenous Division” in syncretic religious belief. That is, Saint Michael has been transformed in folk belief systems to represent the Indian spirit who struggles against oppression (of all negative forms represented by the devil). [47]

Figure 10

San Miguel protest banner

The active work of individuals like the organizers of the Columbian quincentennial protests opened many eyes to the realities of the Dominican past and present, which were exposed as intricately connected. So too did many educators, teachers and parents engage in their students and children a critical response to the national celebrations. A librarian from a private Santiago school encouraged students to work on projects concerning the indigenous past. The work they produced was well researched, informative, and edifying. [48]

In a sense, the stories of Spanish colonization were successful: the Taíno were declared extinct and nationalist Hispanic ideology has dominated the country's discussions of cultural identity. However, a closer examination of the persistence of Taíno-derived cultural forms reveals their underlying strength. The roots of traditional Dominican culture are truly Taíno. [49]

It is no accident that from the excluded nature of Taíno heritage some of the most creative cultural, artistic, and political expression is born. Most Dominicans who reflect on the “extinct” Taíno past they were taught in school and popular culture, realize it is only a partial story of their identity. Dominican educator Antonio de Moya (1993) writes that "the [Indian] genocide is the big lie of our history... the Dominican Taínos continue to live, 500 years after European contact" (1993:10). [50]

The direction that Taíno identity will take in the Dominican Republic seems to depend on both the survival of indigenous cultural elements in the face of advancing Western culture of development and globalization, and on the work of motivated individuals to critically examine the composition of their identity. From my personal understanding, identifying with traditional heritage arises from the active vision of elders, the true teaching of parents to their children, the selfless commitment of individuals to their community, and the heartfelt love and respect for the spirit of the land people live on and call their home. This may not be the easiest task for colonized Dominicans living in an underdeveloped nation under a global order. As we say in the Cibao, “No es fácil, compai!” But for Quisqueyanos “valientes” with great spirits and centuries of resistance, it seems as natural to say “No hay ma’ na’! Hay que echar p’alante!” [51]


Antonio de Moya, E. (l993). Animación sociocultural y polisíntesis en la transformación del sistema educativo Dominicano. La Revista de Educación 1(2): 6-10.

Barreiro, Jose (1989). Indians in Cuba. Cultural Survival Quarterly 13(3):56-60.

Dobal, Carlos (1989). El retrato de Espaillat y otros estudios históricos. Publicaciones ONAP, Santo Domingo.

Ferbel, Peter J. (1995). “The Politics of Taíno Indian Heritage in the Post-Quincentennial Dominican Republic: When a Canoe Means More than a Water Trough.” Ph.D. Diss., University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

Ferguson, James (1992). The Dominican Republic Beyond the Lighthouse. Latin American Bureau, Washington D.C.

García Arévalo, Manuel (1988). Indigenismo, arqueología, e identidad nacional. Museo del Hombre Dominicaño y Fundación García-Arévalo, Santo Domingo.

Guitar, Lynne (1998). “Mything in Action”. Native Peoples. Vol. 12(1): 75-76.

Moya Pons, Frank (1992). The Politics of Forced Indian Labour in La Espanola 1493-1520. Antiquity 66:130-139.

Rouse, Irving (1992). The Taínos: Rise and Decline of the People who Greeted Columbus. Yale University Press, New Haven.

Thomas, D.H., Ed. (1990). "Transculturation in Contact Period and Contemporary Hispaniola". In Columbian Consequences, Volume 2: Archaeological and Historical Perspectives on the Spanish Borderlands' Past, pp 269-280. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington D.C.

Vega, Bernardo (1981). La Herencia Indígena en la Cultura Dominicana de Hoy. In Ensayos Sobre Cultura Dominicana, pp. 9-53. Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Santo Domingo.

(1987). Santos, shamanes y zemíes. Fundación Cultural Dominicana, Santo Domingo.

Weeks, John M., P. J. Ferbel, K. Liss, F. Rosario, V. Ramirez (1994). Chacuey Archaeological Project: Report of the 1993 Investigations. Manuscript on file at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano, Santo Domingo.


Dr. Pedro J. Ferbel Azcarate, from the U.S., is an anthropologist and archaeologist, with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, in the United States.  From 1993 until 1999 he worked in the Dominican Republic as the principal researcher, instructor, and curator of the Historical Archives of Santiago, and as director of many archaeological and ecological projects, such as the Archaeological Project of Chacüey, Caballo Loco Tours, and the Route of Columbus.  At present, he is a professor at the University of Portland, co-editor of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink website, and co-editor of their electronic journal Kacike.  He is a lecturer and writer about the Taíno heritage and is very active in his community on Latino culture and social affairs.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Black Studies
Portland State University
P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751
United States of America
Telephone: (503) 234-9525  (503) 725-4003
Archivo Histórico de Santiago
Encargado, Dpto. Antropología y Arqueología
#124 C, Restauración, Santiago, República Dominicana
E-Mail: pferbel@yahoo.com


Please cite this article as follows (and include paragraph numbers if necessary):
Ferbel, P. J. (2002). Not  Everyone Who Speaks Spanish is from Spain: Taíno Survival in the 21st Century Dominican Republic. [51 paragraphs]. KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology [On-line Journal], Special Issue, Lynne Guitar, Ed. Available at: http://www.kacike.org/FerbelEnglish.html [Date of access: Day, Month, Year].
© 2002. P. J. Ferbel, KACIKE.




It pleases me very much to think the Taíno decimation was exaggerated by colonists, and anyone who thinks otherwise need only read your article. I wonder if I may point out a few things without seeming a nitpicker, but rather avidly interested in the topic? By my understanding, the word "yucca" in English refers to the flowering plant, not the beloved tuber of the DR, whose proper English name is "manioc". The reference to "salcocho" in the article should also read "sancocho". Other words which appear incorrectly are "manatee" (manatí), "mysterios" (misterios), and "oya" (olla). The importance of the tilde and accents should also be noted. "Piña" without its tilde is another word altogether and it's not a fruit. Other words such as "maní", "mabí", "mamón" and "anón" are striking when lacking their accents. Thank you for a great read - is there a mailing list for further articles of interest?
JW, Montreal, Quebec, Friday 18 July 2003.


Es loable que esta publicación cuente con traducción al español de textos escritos originalmente en inglés. Sin embargo pienso que se debe cuidar un poco la traslación de textos de un idioma a otro, específicamente el texto del Dr. Ferbel que versa sobre la identidad dominicana desde el punto de vista de las herencias culturales que se entrelazaron a lo largo de la historia dominicana. Otro aspecto, quizás más relevante que lo expresado anteriormente es lo concerniente a la utilización de la categoría "postcolonial" como elemento un tanto emancipador para reevaluar la historia de herencias culturales en RD o en cualquier otro contexto histórico-cultural. Lo postcolonial debe ser tomado con mucha precaución precisamente por las atribuciones que se le otorga a esta categoría, creada y moldeada por excelentes teóricos de la India y otros países africanos. No se puede perder de perspectiva que esta categoría, aplicada en los estudios culturales, históricos y antropológicos, fue creada y utilizada a partir de procesos muy particulares. Lo que es postcolonial en la India puede seguir siendo colonial en otras partes, intercolonial o hasta supracolonial (considerando a la globalización como herramienta de homogenización planetaria). Si lo "postcolonial" es visto en términos cronológicos (i.e., como lo posterior al colonialismo) entonces hay que analizar de qué forma se vive y se puede retomar eso que llamamos poscolonial en diversos contextos culturales contemporáneos. Pienso que esta categoría no puede ser sólo discursiva, sino también práctica pero considerando como punto central el modo en que lo postcolonial puede ser adoptado y resignificado por diversas sociedades, incluyendo claro está, a los investigadores sociales que utilizamos tales categorías provenientes de los centros de producción teórica. 
JPJ, Mexico City, Friday, 13 June 2003.


Agradezco el hecho de poder contar con sus esfuerzos y servirme de estos datos tan completos y precisos sobre nuestros abor�genes. Gracias por tener esta ventana de informaci�n al mundo sobre nuestros primeros pobladores, nuestros or�genes y nuestra cultura. MM, Rep�blica Dominicana. (February 20, 2004)


Estoy de acuerdo con JPJ en que una publicacion de esta categoria de investigacion, debe cuidar mas la calidad de la traduccion. No basta con traducir palabras, se deben traducir ideas y expresiones. Es clarisimo que la persona que traduce este trabajo continua pensando en ingles y no logra expresar claramente las ideas en espanol. Para conservar y respetar la calidad de la investigacion, debemos hacer una traslacion de un idioma a otro, de la misma calidad del original. DN Chicago. (March 5, 2004)

Editor's Note: We are hoping to update our files to make the suggested changes. In the meantime, we hope that readers will appreciate having something immediately available, warts and all.


This is a valuable insight and original contribution to our Dominican identity. For centuries, our Ta�no root has been marginalizeed by the colonial power, religious and economic interests. When he mentions that the majority of cities or towns who have Ta�no names...(Paragraph #13), I have no clue why he excludes the town of Jarabacoa and its rivers Baiguate and Jimenoa. Also so many artifacts have been found along the Yaque River valley. I remember when I was a child learning how to plow I found many Ta�no artifacts which I still keep in my collection. A very strange petroglyph up in the mountain reminds us of our ancestral Ta�no root. I would like to correct Dr. Ferbel when he writes: "Dominicans have not retained the Ta�no use of Montones or raised mound agriculture" (Paragraph #18). I know many farmers or campesinos who use that expression in my hometown of Jarabacoa and other campos near by. This is an excellent report and I wish I could read more articles like this one. PO, New York (March 9, 2004).


I just want to tell you that E. Mangones (Haiti, but you know, of course) wrote a Ta�no/French glossary in the forties. I don't know if the original manuscript still exists, but I made a copy 25 years ago! It is a big one, bigger that the one from Carlos Nouel. Are you interested? GL, Odense University, Denmark. (April 2, 2004)


Siempre me a parecido muy interesante la histor�a de mi pa�s y me encanta aprender de ella. Los felicito por este art�culo, es muy interesante. LP, Santiago, Dominican Republic (April 20, 2004)


I was struck by the fact that nearly everything in the article applies equally to Puerto Rico. I recommend to Dr. Ferbel and to interested readers La isla imaginada: Historia, identidad y utop�a en La Espa�ola by Puerto Rican history professor Pedro L. San Miguel (soon to be published in English by UNC Press). The connection to Dr. Ferbel's thesis is oblique, but the book should be of interest to any who enjoyed this article--especially the 2nd essay, "Racial Discourse and National Identity: Haiti in the Dominican Imaginary." JBR, San Germ�n, Puerto Rico (May 2, 2004)


Thanks for publishing this beautiful article, confirming finally my feelings and statements that Dominicans have much indigenous blood. I did some fieldwork in 1992 in a campo near Azua, and I met and married my wife and later step children there. Living in Holland but having frequent contact with family and friends there, I became convinced that in their look and character, Dominicans have many Indian properties. Lately "accusing" them of this, many Dominicans confirm the same feeling about themselves. It is really nice to read that many words also in my Spanish which are typically Dominican, like "a chin", "guanamana" and so on, appear to be of Ta�no origin. JB (October 1, 2004)


Eso estuvo muy bien gracias por la informaci�n. Soy dominicana y no sab�a nada sobre eso .Y a�nque no me lo s� de memoria todo lo que le�, por lo menos estoy enterada. Y es gracias a ustedes. GRACIAS, otra vez. Anonymous (October 1, 2004)


Hello: I am from Puerto Rico. I was searching for Dominican carnival masks and I found your article. It was interesting to read and compare your findings with what is left of the Ta�no culture here in Puerto Rico, which is not much, just place names, words in our vocabulary, and the use of maracas and g�iros in our traditional music which is declining. A branch of my family has lived in the Dominican Republic (El Seibo) since the beginning of the 20th century, I also travel a lot to the Dominican Republic and own an apartment in Santo Domingo. I feel qualified to say the following: The only reason why Dominicanas call a papaya, lechosa is because papaya is taken to refer to the female genitalia. In Cuba, one can say neither papaya nor lechosa, for the same reason. One must say fruta bomba. About gu�cara, the expression used is "en el a�o de las gu�caras" which means a long time ago, when people lived in caves. The meaning of gu�cara as cave has not been lost. In fact, there is still a popular nightclub located inside a cave called La Gu�cara Ta�na. In Puerto Rico there is only one town where casabe is still made: Lo�za, located on the North coast. It is made in the same way, but the bread is shaped into rectangles, not rounds. However, it is the African Puerto Ricans of Lo�za who kept this tradition alive. It is dying away though. But one can buy casabe imported from the Dominican Republic at the plaza del mercado here, or in any of the colmados owned by Dominicans in Puerto Rico. Maybe you'd like to read this book: Prehistoria de Puerto Rico, 1493: Dr. Cayetano Coll y Toste. And please review this version of the Our Father, found therein: Guakia Baba (Our Father), turey toca (is in sky), Guami-ke-ni (Lord of land and water), Guami-caraya-guey (Lord of moon and sun) guarico (come to), guakia (us), tayno-ti (good,tall), bo-matun; (big,generous), busica (give to), guakia (us), aje-cazabi; (tubercles,bread), Juracan-ua (bad spirit no), Maboya-ua (ghost no), Jukiyu-jan; (good spirit yes), Diosa (of God), nabori daca (servant am I), Jan-jan catu (So be it). DV (November 4, 2004)


I never realized how much of my own lifestyle has survived from my Ta�no heritage. For a minute the American textbooks had me in fooled in thinking that we Dominicans were just symbolizing a culture that was "extinct". I grew up in el campo and much of what was in this article applied to my vocabulary, cooking style, and cuisine. This is an excellent article and I will do my best to pass it on to my friends and family. Thank you. VP, University of San Francisco (November 27, 2004)


Despues de leer su publicacion es impresionante darse cuenta, que ciertamente, nosotros la mayoria de los dominicanos hemos estado errados con respecto a factores tan importantes e interesantes  sobre nuestros antepasados y la herencia tan grande que recibimos de ellos. "ojala!", que muchos a igual que yo, despues de leerlo reconozcan el gran trabajo que usted ha hecho y podamos de ahora en adelante empezar a vernos como un pueblo con raices puras de una raza que aun sigue entre nosotros y de la cual deberiamos sentir mucho mas orgullo. Cordialmente, RE (January 8, 2005)


What a fabulous article! I majored in Puerto Rican and Hispanic Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University and was greatly misinformed about the Ta�no presence and culture in the Caribbean. Your article should be shared with all people, Boricuas and Dominicanos especially, so they know that Ta�no heritage strongly survives today. Thank you for educating me! NJ (September 5, 2005)


Me ha sido muy interesante leer este articulo, pues me ha hecho darme cuenta lo parecido que son todas esas facetas de la cultura Dominicana a las tradiciones cubanas sobre todo del campo o guajiras, y todavia mas a las que son propias a la region Oriental de la isla. Desde las expresiones populares como el uso del "compay" hasta todos los nombres de las frutas, de las tradiciones populares etc, es increible!! tan solo en algunos casos la ortografia cambia un poco, como "jaiba" en vez de haiba o "jicotea" en vez de hicotea. Por supuesto que hay algunas palabras que no se reconocen pero son solo pocas. Es una pena que no se sepa o divulgue mas sobre esto, pues es una cultura que en el fondo es la misma en Cuba, Quisqueya y Borinquen (por usar los nombres Tainos de las islas) Pienso que tambien seria interesante saber si en Jamaica, tambien se pueden encontrar rasgos de la herencia cultural de las Tainos o Siboneyes. IJC, Miami USA (September 10, 2005)


Thank you for this interesting and informative article. I have been volunteering in the Domincan Repulbis whenever my schedule permits for the past year and a half with the Foundation for Peace. I try to learn whatever I can about this beautiful, fascinating island, to strengthen my relationships to the people I have met there. You have provided a perspective and understanding I have not found elsewhere. I am glad I found your article and the journal. WB (October 25, 2005)


It is not true that the voice ending in Cibao Dominican spanish people, like calo-i instead of calor, is derived from Ta�no. This particular ending is derived from the speech or the form to speak used for galician and asturian men from Spain who passed to live the region of Cibao. In the language from Galicia and Asturias (Bable) pronounce comei instead of comer, mirai instead of mirar. Many words from the ancient spanish remains alive in Cibao like agora instead ahora and so on. DMZ (August 25, 3006)

Response from Pedro Ferbel-Azcarate: Thanks for your thoughts. Please tell me if my following analysis needs more clarification. I may add that I am an archaeologist and anthropologist, not a linguist, and I am open to alternate interpretations of available evidence. While it may be that there is a linguistic similarity between the Galician and Asturian Spanish and the Cibao Spanish, it does not seem to me as logical to assume that its similarity is based on a stronger historical connection between past and present than to that of the Arahuacan speaking Ta�no similarity. This is because the number of people of Ta�no descent were/are much greater than those of Spanish in the Cibao; I would not think the Ta�no simply swapped one language for a new one. It may be that some Galician and Asturian speakers reinforced this phenomenon, but the  historic, archaeological, and ethnographic record makes me consider the greater source to be Ta�no. Not all the Spanish were from Galicia and Asturia; in fact, not all the Spanish were even "Spanish." ultimately, the taino had to learn a new language to survive; the Spanish were conquistadors, not language teachers. I also would I wonder just how many Galician and Asturians ended up living full time in the Cibao. Historic sources seem to suggest that the Spaniards kept to the main roads, cities and haciendas. The Cibao is quite large with many remote areas. You suggest a good question, though-- when exactly did the Ta�nos learn to speak Cibae�o? (August 25, 2006)

I would like to add my thoughts to this if I may, being that I am Cibae�o and understand Cibao Spanish. In the Cibao we have a tendency to add the long i in the middle of certain words which does not appear (to my knowledge) to be a part of the Galician and Asturian Spanish and at the end of others that do not appear in this form of Spanish you (DMZ above) mention either. For example we say "veide" instead of verde, "ei" instead of "el," "el mai" instead of "el mar," etc. It should be noted that a great deal of Ta�no words end with la "i" larga as well, for example Turei (sky), Yarei (a palm tree), maguei (a plant) , sarobei (cotton), adamanei (an island) macanei (a town). It could be that perhaps the Spanish from the regions you noted did settle in the Cibao and only reinforced the peculiar way my ancestors spoke creating a very distinct Dominican Spanish. This reminds me of something my mother always says when remembering her grandfather: "cuando mi taita llegaba aciguatao dei conuco, avia que traeile un jicara de agua timbita y poneile el curi a cocinai". I can't imagine a Galician or Asturian speaker understanding this. JE (August 26, 2006)


You have written this article such a seemingly long time ago and yet it still has a great impact on anyone who reads it. AC (October 19, 2006)


I was very surprised to read your paper regarding Ta�no Culture in the Dominican Republic. I was born in the small town of Bonao (1963) in the Dominican Republic. My Dominican Passport notes that I am 'Indio'.  In conversation with my children, I would glorify the Ta�nos and their bravery. According to what I knew, the Ta�nos did not want to be subservient to the Europeans and chose not to have children in order to stop the cycle of enslavement. Your paper is enlightening and empowering, my internet search of the fruit guanabana led me to your article. I will share your document with my friends and family. Thanks you very much for helping learn who I am. AP (November 2, 2006)


A qui�n pueda interesar estoy muy agradecido de toda fuente de informaci�n como lo es este medio, que es algo maravilloso para aquellas personas como yo, que siempre he querido hacer algo por nuestros antepasados Ta�nos y que reconosco que no fueron diseminados por completo, gracias a Dios, porque todos los d�as veo como esa raza que dieron por muerta ya no lo es y  que sigue viva en nuestro ADN, y tambien a los artista plastico Dominicanos, que siempre han plazmado la vida y la cultura Ta�na, esas grandes huellas que dejaron en la historia de la humanidad, la raza Ta�na, demostrando destreza, en agricultura, guerrilla, areytos, a�n m�s eran grandes navegantes, en canoa con mas de 100 ind�genas, podian viajar a otras islas, como Cuba donde muri� Hatuey,, este �ltimo nunca ha sido acreditado por su osadia, y no figura casi en la historia Dominicana sino que Cuba se acredita y rinden  homenaje en toda las escuelas, inclusive comercializan con su nombre, tienen una bebida, que se llama (Marta Hatuey, hasta con una efinge de nuestro kacike, tambien tiene poemas y bien rimados, lo cual no lo veo mal. Ya que nosotros no le hemos dado el m�rito a esos heroes olvidados, porque son muchos m�s. LDJ (November 8, 2006)


Soy dominicano de pura cepa y jam�s he creido el cuento del exterminio, soy descendiente de portugueses, espanoles, franceses, por supuesto de Ta�nos, y como se dice popularmente en la Republica Dominicana todos tenemos el negro tr�s la oreja para referirnos tambi�n a nuestro origen africano....No podenos pasar por alto los atropellos y las miles de muertes a causa de las enfermadades llegadas del viejo mundo, pero tambi�n entendemos que no es m�s que las consecuencias del encuentro de dos mundos muy distintos. M�s all� de todo lo que se opina al respecto lo ocurrido no fue mas que la fuci�n de multiples razas y culturas; en esa epoca era muy comun ver Espa�oles con esposas Ta�nas o Ta�nos con esposas negras. Una gran muestra de que ese exterminio no ocurri� se ve reflejada en la manera de hablar del dominicano especialmente en las zonas rurales. De la lengua de los esclavos africanos es muy poco lo que ha quedado en este pais, pero de los Ta�nos es algo diferente; puedo decir sin temor a equivocarme que si me encuentro de repente en medio de una trib� de Ta�nos de seguro podre comunicarme ya que se cientos y cientos de palabras y eso muestra una vez mas que si gran parte de su lexico y costumbres se conserva es porque la raza se fundio principalmente con la europea. Cuando existe un exterminio de raza tambi�n se pierde su cultura y los quisqueyanos continuamos en nuestros bohios comiendo casave y bebiendo mabi de guayaba o una champola de guanabana recostados en nuestras hamacas bajo la sombra de una guacima. HL (November 27, 2006)


My interest in pre-Colombian island culture began as a result of my wife, a Dominicana, asking me questions I couldn't answer. We read your article together and not only found it interestingly enjoyable but, emotionally moving as well. We thank you for sharing the results of your research with us. Anonymous (January 2, 2007)


My name is JU, I was born in the Dominican Republic (1981) and have been raised in the United States since I was approximately 2 years old. I am proud to say that your article is shocking to me. It gives me great pleasure that anther Dominican is also on the same page as I am as far as digging deep into our traditional culture. Unfortunately Europeans, from what I have read, have conquered many lands throughout history and have either destroyed or try to destroy the cultures of the Natives in that area. It seems as they have degraded the original people and praised their own people by instilling their cultures on the Natives while inducing amnesia to the future generations. It saddens me because up until this day there are some Dominicans that discriminate against each other which is one of the reasons why the darker complexion of the Dominican population lives in poverty while the richer Dominicans are mostly light colored. Articles like these enlighten people on their origins and on the struggles that our Indians and Africans endured during the exploration and “discovery” of the West Indies, New World, or Western land. JU (January 9, 2007)