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Indiginas en Cuba - Native Cuba

Today in Cuba there are few native Cubans, perhaps several hundred families in Oriente.   But they give the lie to the common assertions of extinction.  In any part of Cuba, people will point out to you "see this person, he/she has indian blood." And it is said that Guajiro culture, Cuban peasant culture, has a strong Indian component, even though many guajiros themselves are Canary Islanders. The name Guajiro comes from a large group of Wajiro indigenous people brought to Cuba as slaves by the spaniards from the Colombia/Venezuela frontier where they still live.

Over the past 20 years, Cuban historians have discovered that Native Cubans survived in far greater numbers than thought previously, well into the 18th century.

For some, in modern republicano terms, there are no Indocubano, only Cubans. This logic is held by others to be genocidal.


Why is Canada Refusing Cuban Doctors?  4/14/2020 Counterpunch: "In a setting of mutual aid, overlapping families and constant interaction in a Canadian Reserve setting, having ANY Covid-19 cases is a clear recipe for disaster. Seeing this in motion, multiple Chiefs working in the Southern Chiefs Organization of Manitoba First Nations had a remarkable and very workable step to try and mitigate such a disaster. They opted to call upon the solidarity work of Cuban doctors, doctors who have worked in pandemics like Ebola, SARS and have worked in disaster relief from hurricanes in the rest of the Caribbean to relief from earthquakes, treating HIV patients, helping children from Chernobyl recover and far, far more."

Areitos: Ancient Caribbean Taíno Dancing and Singing Ceremonies  7/22/2019 Thought Co: "Areito also spelled areyto (plural areitos) is what the Spanish conquistadors called an important ceremony composed and performed by and for the Taíno people of the Caribbean. An areito was a "bailar candanto" or "sung dance", an intoxicating blend of dance, music and poetry, and it played a significant role in Taíno social, political, and religious life."

Cuba's Taíno people: A flourishing culture believed extinct  2/6/2019 BBC: "As recently as the 1940s, Cuba’s preeminent geographer and anthropologist Antonio Nuñez Jiménez – who would later hold top positions in the Castro government – had documented dozens of caseríos scattered throughout the Sierra del Cristal and Macizo Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountains. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, however, the communist government vehemently promoted the notion of the Taíno’s extinction. It dissuaded distinct racial identification and instilled a singular mind set of ‘Cubanness’, intended to equalise everyone. “The government was drastic about it for years and didn’t want it to come up,” says José Barreiro, Cuban-American former director of the Office for Latin America at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in a 2016 article for Smithsonian Magazine."

Panchito, el último cacique  1/12/2017 Granma: "Dice Panchito que su abuelo, un indio más indio que él, luchó en las tropas de Antonio Maceo cuando el mulato de Oriente tuvo su campamento entre La caridad y Vega Grande; que en aquel entonces todos esos montes estaban cundidos de los hijos y los nietos y los bisnietos de los aborígenes. «Puros indios es lo que había aquí», recuerda, no con su propia memoria, porque cuando aquello él no pensaba ni nacer; sino con la que les toma prestada a sus mayores, albaceas de una estirpe condenada a desaparecer, inevitablemente, por más que Panchito y su esposa Reina y las familias emparentadas entre sí que aún viven en La ranchería opongan resistencia. «Puede que un día se acaben los indios –dice con resolución Panchito, el último cacique–, pero eso ya será cuando yo me muera»."

Searching for Cuba’s Pre-Columbian Roots  11/1/2016 Smithsonian Magazine: "After the 1959 Cuban Revolution, the new leadership tried to foster a stronger sense of “Cubanness,” and frowned upon talk of separate racial identities. “The government was drastic about it for years and didn’t want it to come up,” says Barreiro. But the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union caused an identity crisis among Cubans, who suddenly found themselves short on food and basic supplies—and more likely to turn to traditional knowledge for making goods and medicines they needed. Only in recent years have the nuances of Cuban identity, including Taíno roots, become an acceptable topic for discussion in the eyes of the government."

CUBA Y LA LARGA DURACIÓN HISTÓRICA DE SU POBLAMIENTO Y CULTURA INDÍGENA  8/15/2014 UNEAC: "¡Estamos vivos, bien planta´os y sembra´os! Fue esta exclamación, afirmativa y jubilosa, el mensaje que nos entregó Idalis Ramírez Rojas, una de las descendientes de los indocubanos originarios, que actualmente reside junto a su familia y comunidad campesina en La Ranchería de Caridad de los Indios, esta última perteneciente al municipio Manuel Tames, en la provincia de Guantánamo, Cuba."

And the Camagüeyan Indo-Cubans, how was their language?  5/29/2014 Adelante 

A Cuban Guajira  12/14/2013 ANGRY LATINXS UNITED!: "Actually…" Poster proceeds to demolish white view of guajiros.

En Camaguey, "cacique" de descendientes de aborígenes  12/18/2009 Adelante: "Francisco Ramírez Rojas, considerado como el "cacique" de una comunidad guantanamera de descendientes de aborígenes, expresó satisfacción por su visita a Camagüey, invitado a participar en un foro cultural. Residente en La Ranchería, de Caridad de los Indios, Ramírez asistirá hoy por la noche a la apertura de una muestra de obras de la plástica que insertan elementos de arte primitivo, como pictografías e ideografías. Los autores son el canadiense James K-M y los camagüeyanos Joel Jover y Osmany Soler. En su primera estancia en Camagüey, el campesino guantanamero, de 74 años de edad, añadió en el diálogo el orgullo por provenir de primitivos habitantes de la Isla. El interlocutor destacó también su adhesión a las ideas de Martí, de la Revolución, y reiteró el agradecimiento a todas las personas e instituciones que han divulgado la existencia de descendientes de indocubanos y los han apoyado."

The Puerto Rican Experience - The Puzzle of Race and Politics  6/4/2008 CounterPunch: [closely parallels Cuba] - "Governor Rossello himself made the decision to use the entire U.S. census survey instrument without any modification in tune with the social, economic and political reality of Puerto Rico. The outcome, in an island with a strong African and Taino cultural and phenotypical influence, resulted in 80.5% of the population self-identifying as white. Therefore, Puerto Rico is “whiter” than the United States. The bureaucratic decision of former Governor Rossello basically enabled a “whitening” process that was accelerated by Puerto Rico’s colonial status. Since the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico, while it has not experienced a dramatically large black emigration (or received white immigrants to the island in large numbers) Puerto Rico’s “white” population has grown from 48.5% (1802) to 80.5% in 2000."

Fragments of Bone: Neo-African Religions in a New World: Reviewed  7/18/2006 Journal of the American Academy of Religion: "Roberto Nodal and Miguel "Willie" Ramos (167-186) employ phenomenological approaches to the study of sacrifice (ebÛ) in LukumÌ Orisha worship (a.k.a. SanterÌa). They explain the concept of ritual sacrifice and ashÈ (energy or power) insofar as both are integral to achieving healing. Nodal and Ramos also discuss the view that spirits both protect and punish devotees based on behavior and veneration.Nodal and Ramos also note that LukumÌ worship has experienced vigorous growth since the 1960s to have numerous adherents not only in the Caribbean and the United States but also globally. They are right to identify it as a "universal faith" (171) that functions independently of ethnicity or nationalism. These authors consciously avoid equating LukumÌ with the African religion of Yoruba (thus their use of the term LukumÌ). LukumÌ is far more widely known as "Yoruba," however, throughout the United States and abroad. The taxonomic preference of Nodal and Ramos sharpens the conundrum that is raised in Bellegarde-Smith's introduction. One might ask, for instance, whether these authors would classify putative Catholicism in Cuba as veritably Catholic, given the influences of African and indigenous forces over the centuries on Cuban Christianity."

The eagle’s feather  8/29/2003 Granma: "THE North American Indigenous Movement had already been founded in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota when Daniel Yang was born. He’s currently in Cuba as an ambassador for U.S. native peoples and is the godson of Leonard Peltier, that indefatigable warrior unjustly imprisoned for defending the ancestral hopes and rights of his people."

Smithsonian returns Taino Indian remains to descendants in Cuba  1/13/2003 Sun Sentinel, South Florida: "Members of Native American tribes from the Mohawk, Navajo and Kaw nations who came to Cuba for the bones' repatriation stood in a circle around Ramírez Rojas and his relatives as they sang to the benevolent spirit they call Chiriwa, asking him to protect the remains."

La cultura aborigen y sus credos religiosos  1/22/2002 La Jiribilla, Cuba: profoundly flawed but interesting article - far too many deprecatory comments on the "primitive" Taino religion, etc

Indians in Cuba  9/1/1989 Cultural Survival: "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)"

Past Conferences

Indigenous Knowledge of the Caribbean: Music, Plants and Healing
12/13/99 - 12/20/99

Interdisciplinary Conference and Intensive Field Study
November 16 to 23, 1997 in Baracoa, Cuba



We are not extinct: Indians in Cuba
by Dr. José Barreiro, American Indian Program
Cornell University, Ithaca


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