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Message-Id: <v03110747b423d9e5c5d5@[]>
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 1999 12:27:37 -0500
To: brownh@ccsua.ctstateu.edu
From: Mar Perez <mep33@cornell.edu>
Subject: Indigenous Knowledge of the Caribbean

Cuba: Indigenous Knowledge of the Caribbean

Tour-Conference announcement, 13-20 December 1999

Theme: Cuba: Music, Plants and Healing Sponsors: The Foundation for Nature and Humanity and Plenty, Canada

Santiago, Guantanamo, Baracoa, Cuba

An encounter with the origins of Cuban music, its uses in healing and its foundation in the natural use of the land, this early December tour is an excellent opportunity to understand the basis of Cuban culture, while enjoying the charm and hospitality of eastern Cuba, its forests and its coast, its people. From the Taino areito to the mountain chang=FC=ED, this seven-day tour/conference traverses through the mountains and coasts of eastern Cuba, the fabled Oriente, to study with herbalists and other medical practitioners in Cuba's health care system and to hear and dance to the most autochthonous instrumental musicians and vocalists on the island.

The featured theme of the encounter this year is, Cuba: Music, Plants and Healing. Hosted by the prestigious Foundation for Nature and Humanity, in Cuba, and organized internationally by Plenty-Canada, a Canadian First Nations NGO, the tour's conference sessions regularly feature important scholars and arts personalities. Music, medicinal plants and healing as a theme among other indigenous peoples of the Caribbean and Circum-Caribbean, and of the Americas generally will frame the topics discussed by presentors. Caribbean indigenous people, Canadian Native people, as well as scholars, researchers, students and writers will attend the conference, to be hosted in Baracoa, Cuba, December 13-20, 1999. This will be the fourth annual cultural encounter under the theme of Indigenous legacies of the Caribbean.

Cuba's small but active Native population, along with the broader peasantry, sustain many natural ways, particularly knowledge of medicinal plants and of planting systems. As mountain folk, they are also repositories of the oldest of Cuba's musical traditions. They are among the featured hosts, speakers and musicians at the December gathering. The ethnogenesis of Cuban culture in its natural and musical adaptations, and particularly the music of healing will be discussed, as subjects connected to natural elements in the eastern ranges. The mountain folk culture of Cuba is refreshingly accessible and involving. Its music reflects this engaging quality.

This gathering, programmed for December 13-20, 1999 in Baracoa, Cuba, respects Cuban national policies supporting ecological, scientific and cultural tourism as a way to protect its bio-diversity and cultural uniqueness. Traditional dances, outings to the Toa River Valley and local beaches and comprehensive cultural/historical information and context are the hallmark of this annual event, which is relaxed but regularly attended by a cross-section of scholars and afficionados from a dozen countries.

This conference is contextualized in the United Nations International Decade of Indigenous Peoples, 1994-2003. This is a global process within which Cuban international policy has been supportive of the cultures of indigenous peoples. The thematic of the event focuses as well on the correlation of indigenous cultures with the protection of nature and sustainable development, international language that emerges from the Summit Conference of Rio de Janeiro, 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), and particularly in the elaboration of the Agenda 21, a central planning document for the next century. Cuba is exemplary in this context as the first country to implement a state policy of sustainable agriculture, which its rooted, in good measure, in the indigenous legacy of the conuco (raised beds agriculture), the widespread use of medicinal plants and the protection of nature.

Cuba: Music, Plants and Healing, features blends of evenings with Cuban musicians and herbalists in Santiago, Guantanamo and Baracoa, in conjunction with roundtables and papers presented by Cuban and international scholars. The mountain sones of Cuba are still alive in the sierra communities surrounding the beautiful coastal town of Baracoa, ancient Taino village and site of the earliest Spanish settlement in Cuba. Grassroots musicians, mountain guajiros and townfolk will join the conference group and put up bembés, guaguancó, changüí, nengón-quiribá and other popular and ceremonial dances to involve participants in a comprehensive experience of the spiritual, historical and social heart of Cuba.

Baracoa, First City of Cuba, offers a rich field of scientific, historical and cultural study. It possesses one of the most fecund areas of bio-diversity in the country, including a rich forest, and the watershed of the Toa River, the most voluminous in Cuba, with its invaluable reserve of endemic fauna and flora.

All of the above characteristics give this event a peculiar importance for the development of a scientific, ecological and cultural tourism in Cuba and the Caribbean.


In Cuba: Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Man
In Canada: Nature and Humanity Tours/Plenty Canada

Curriculum Coordinator: Dr. José Barreiro (jeb23@cornell.edu)

Tour Package includes: