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Comment on the Awawak/Taino

By jeffrey altepeter <jaltepet@world.std.com>


In reference to the Arawak/Taino Indians, you seem to accept pretty readily that their cultural heritage disappeared without a trace.

You do point out that some anthropologists have noted possible influences on Haitian voodoo. I would agree that this is speculative, however, it seems far more logical than the complete disappearance of cultural traces. As you note, this is a very unusual phenomenon.

I remember reading a fairly (though not entirely) convincing analysis of Indian cultural influences in Maya Deren's Divine Horsemen. Deren points out a tendency among ethnologists to focus on African sources (possibly because this was their area of study). She also suggests that Haitian intellectuals and French historians tend to ignore the 185 year Spanish Period, during which the Indian culture must have made its mark before being completely exterminated. (p. 272)

I simply mean to suggest that we shouldn't brush over the cultural contributions of a people who have otherwise already been relegated to a footnote in history. I hope we have the opportunity to consider further the potential cultural traces, perhaps when we cover the topic of voodoo? I do realize that you are trying to cover a lot in a short time!

One last thing... could you list some of the sources you used for this? Are any of them available? I don't have *any* sources on pre-Colombian Haitian history.