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Contact between the Africans and Indians

A dialog on Bob Corbett's Haiti list, February 1999

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 16:24:44 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: Contact between the Africans and Indians : Vedrine comments
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9902051648.A25586-0100000@netcom17>

From: Emmanuel W. Vedrine <evedrine@hotmail.com>

Some Blacks came to Europe long before the discovery of the Americas but they were indenture servants (nothing to do with the Black Trade). The Europeans in the Mediterranean areas did have contacts with North Africa and according to some stories, it was a prestige for some well-to-do white men (in the area) to have a black woman from Africa (as mistress).

For the Moors, it's a longer story of their invasion and conquest many parts of Spain, including the southern part, Granada (where I also visited when I was student in Spain in the 80's), the wars, and the famous inquisition period). Their 'vestiges' such as the ruins of Alhambra (a palace) still exist in Granada today. I have not yet read about Black (Negro) Conquistadores and I'm not saying either that Mr. Perrault statement is wrong but I think further investigation is needed. Usually the description of conquistadores portrayed in history books give us the picture of Spaniards (such as Hernan Cortez) and I can go back to my historical statement: who writes history for who?

- Vedrine

Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 16:23:16 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: African-Taino Contact: Davis comments
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9902051608.A25586-0100000@netcom17>

From: Karen Davis <kdavis@marygrove.edu>

First: Richard Price notes that the first Maroon, (i.e. escaped African slave in the Americas) was an African slave who came with the Spaniards in, I believe, 1502 or 1503. The enslavement of Africans by Europeans and Arabs pre-dates the crossing to the Americas by hundreds if not thousands of years. This is not obscure information. It is not on nightly TV, but any scholar seeking out the sources in historical books and journals regarding early exploration and trade in Africa (both east & west) will find it.

Second, I really get peeved at attributions of African Caribbean religious practices to native Americans on the basis of ignorance of West African or Kongolese practice. The serpent (python) is a univerally powerful symbol of regeneration, fertility, the continuing of life through the generations, prosperity, and kingship throughout West Africa. Serpent images are almost universally encountered in, on, or about the palaces and copurtyards of kings, chiefs, and shrines. No one could visit an art museum with West African arts, study the serpent-spirit Dan, visit the temple of serpents in Ouidah, or see the tail-biting serpent images at Dahomean palaces, or Mami Wata holding a serpent in Nigeria, and need to look to Tainos for a source of Vodun serpents.


Date: Fri, 5 Feb 1999 16:20:08 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Contact between the Africans and Indians : Fonda comments
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9902051657.A25586-0100000@netcom17>

From: Dave Fonda <fonphoto@snip.net>

>Does anyone know if there is evidence that the CARIBS were cannibals?


I found the following info in my files. I've had it a while and don't reca= ll specifically where I got it from, but it would seem that I down-loaded f= rom the Multi-Cultural Home Page! Hope it helps.

>------------------ The Multi-Cultural Home Page---------------------------
>-------------- This page is maintained by Hubert Montas ------------------

>The TEXT below is not Copyrighted. It is an original essay focusing on
>early Haitian history: the period up to the independence. Three sources
>were used:
> Haiti by B. Hermann and M. Montas, (c) 1975, Editions du Pacifique
> Haiti: The Black Republic by S. Rodman, 4th ed., 1978, Devin-Adair, Co.
> Haiti in Pictures by K. Weddle, (c) 1989, Lerner Pub. Co.
>Illustrations come from the book of Hermann and Montas and should not be
> The island on which Haiti is located (Hispaniola) had been inhabited by
>various cultures before the arrival of Columbus. The first known settlers
>of the island were the Ciboneys who migrated from what is currently the
>North American continent in 450 A.D. These people were followed in 900 A.D
>by the Tainos (good people) who were members of the Arawak nation and had
>origins in the Amazon valley. The Tainos were a peaceful agricultural
>people who lived in large villages (Caciques) and cultivated corn, weaved
>cotton, worked in pottery, carved furniture, weaved baskets and invented
>(?) the hammock. These villages were also peopled by a small number of
>friendly Caribs who had emigrated from what is today South America. The
>Tainos called the island Ayiti which meant `land of mountains'.
>Most of the Carib nation was however viewed by Arawaks as ruthless
>warriors. Indeed, in the language of the Tainos, Caribs meant cannibal
>(whether these people were anthropophagic or not is still debatable)! In
>the late 15th century Caribs from neighboring islands had started to
>encroach on the eastern tip of `Hispaniola', killing the men and enslaving
>the women.
>Christopher Columbus and his crew arrived to the island on December 5,
>1492. They landed at the point currently called Mole Saint Nicolas at the
>western tip of the Northern Peninsula of Haiti. Although disappointed that
>he didn't reach India or China, Columbus loved the island. He praised the
>quality of the weather, the soil and the water. He and his crew thoroughly
>enjoyed the hospitability of the Tainos who initially thought that the
>Europeans were coming from heaven and would help them against the Caribs.
>Indeed, when the Santa-Maria wrecked near the coast of what is today
>Cap-Haitien, the Arawaks were happy to help Columbus salvage the ship,
>carrying timber ashore. The timber was used to build the first European
>settlement in the `New World': La Navidad (Nativity).
>Columbus returned to Spain and organized a bigger westerly expedition: 17
>vessels and 1200 persons. Upon arrival at La Navidad, they found that the
>Caribs had taken over, the fort was burnt to the ground and the Arawak and
>European population had been slaughtered. Columbus' fleet abandoned that
>site, sailed East and established a colony on the North shore of the
>island in what is presently the Dominican Republic. Gold was found in a
>nearby river, and Columbus decided to explore other islands while
>Spaniards would establish a foothold on Hispaniola, and amass the yellow
>While Columbus was away, Spaniards started looting, raping, killing,
>whipping and enslaving the natives, making them turn in gold as well as
>food. This regime of terror continued despite Las Casas' complaints and
>the return of Admiral Columbus, and led to the decimation of the local
>population (Caribs). Estimates suggest that somewhere between 300,000 and
>one million natives died of exhaustion, disease, violence or suicide
>between 1492 and 1550. The exhaustion of the riverbeds and mines further
>led the Spaniards to move West towards newer eldorados in what are today
>Mexico and Peru.
-> R E S P E C T <-
- Dave

Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:25:45 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Contact between the Africans and Indians :Grey replies to Perrault
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9902061758.A14425-0100000@netcom10>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII


ange perrault <Ange.Perrault@mail.tju.edu>writes:

< If I recall well, the use of the SNAKE in Voodoo is from indian influence,

Not so.

The snake was revered in Benin. This is reflected in Vodou in the Rada (Arada, Allada) lwa Damballay Wedo (Whydah) and Ayida Wedo. In Haiti Ayida is female, but in Dahomey of those days I am told Ayida was male, and a competitor of sorts to Damballah.

This is not to say that the first people of Ayiti did not revere snakes also. Perhaps they did, I don't know.

Kathy S. Grey

Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:40:38 -0800 (PST)
From: Robert Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Contact between the Africans and Indians : Anris comments
To: Bob Corbett <bcorbett@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <Pine.3.89.9902061712.A2823-0100000@netcom12>

From: Caroline Anris <zuliezuliezulie@hotmail.com>

>If I recall well, the use of the SNAKE in Voodoo is from indian >influence,

Cedano and I recently did a presentation for a class in African Traditional Religion and Though at the University of Kansas. This course is taught by a professor from Benin. When Cedano mentioned the name Damballa (the SNAKE in Voodoo) the Beninois professor got so excited he interrupted us and ran to the board, spelling out the word Danbada from his culture. He said the word translates Great Serpent (Dan-serpent, bada-big, great, huge...). After which Cedano played and I danced Yanvalou, the traditional rhythm and dance for Damballa, and it turned out that it was very similar to that of the Beninois people.

I thought the use of the serpent in Vodou was West AFrican.