THE GARIFUNA:BLACK CARIBS WHO PRACTICE POLYGAMY!

from mayaparadise.com

THE GARIFUNA:BLACK CARIBS WHO PRACTICE POLYGAMY!

from mayaparadise.com

THE GARIFUNA

The history of the Garifuna (or Garifune) begins before the year 1635 on the island of St. Vincent in the eastern Caribbean. St. Vincent was inhabited by a tribe of Indians who called themselves Arawaks. The Kalipuna tribe from mainland South America invaded St. Vincent and conquered the Arawaks. The Arawak men were all killed and the Kalipuna warriors took the Arawak women as wives. The inhabitants of the island were then the union of these two tribes. The word “Garifuna”, which means “cassava eating people”, is probably descended from “Kalipuna”. The Spanish called these people “Caribes” (Caribs) which means cannibals and that is the word from which “Caribbean” is descended.

In the year 1635 two Spanish ships carrying Nigerian slaves shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent. At first, the Spanish, Nigerians and Kalipuna fought one another but eventually learned to get along and intermarried, thus creating the Black Caribs.

At that time, St. Vincent was a British colony and the Caribs tried to establish independent control of the island. The French supported the Caribs and there were many battles between the Caribs and the British. The greatest battle took place in 1795 and both sides suffered great losses. In 1796 the Caribs and the French surrendered to the British.

The British now had a problem. The Caribs were free men with black skin and St. Vincent was populated by slave-owning Europeans. The idea of a group of free black men living among them on the island was unacceptable so the British decided to deport the Caribs. The British hunted down and rounded up the Caribs, killing hundreds in the process and destroying their homes and culture. The remaining 4,300 Caribs were shipped to Balliceaux where half of them died of yellow fever.

In 1797 the surviving Caribs were shipped to Roatan Island off the coast of Honduras. Along the way, the Spanish captured one of the British ships which was taken to Trujillo where the captured Caribs did well. Later, the Spanish captured Roatan Island from the British. The Spanish rounded up 1,700 Caribs on the island and brought them to Trujillo where laborers were much needed. The Spanish were not good farmers and Trujillo suffered accordingly. On the other hand, the Caribs were very skillful at farming so they went to work and did very well in Trujillo. Some of the Caribs were conscripted into the Spanish army where they served with distinction.

The first Caribs to arrive on the coast of Belize were brought there as woodcutters by the Spanish in 1802. They were put ashore in the area near Stann Creek and what is now Punta Gorda. At the time, Belize was held by the British and was called British Honduras. The Caribs continued to serve the Spanish army with distinction, earning medals of valor. At one point, the fortress at San Felipe (El Castillo de San Felipe) was commanded by a Carib. Gradually more Caribs moved to the Stann Creek area in British Honduras.

Because of their alignment with the Spanish, the Caribs found themselves on the wrong side of the political fence when Central America achieved independence from Spain. Those Caribs in Trujillo found themselves in the new country of Honduras where sentiments against Spain were strong. Large numbers of Caribs fled to the coast of Belize where other Caribs already lived in numbers. It is this migration that is celebrated annually as Garifuna Settlement Day. This is a major holiday in Garifuna communities celebrated on November 19th.

Gradually, the Caribs spread up and down the coast of Belize. During this century, some Caribs served on US and British merchant vessels during World War II and travelled the world. As a result, there are now small communities of Garifuna in Los Angeles, New Orleans and New York City.

The Garifuna culture is very strong with great emphasis on music, dance and story-telling and with its own brand of religion consisting of a mix of Catholicism, African and Indian beliefs. Because of their difference and independence, over the years the Garifuna have been feared and discriminated against by Guatemalans and variously accused of devil-worship, polygamy, voodoo and speaking a secret language.

In 1996, Garifuna Settlement Day was especially important. The government of Guatemala officially recognized the importance of the Garifuna community and President Arzu paid an official visit to the town of Livingston. The Garifuna culture is a unique treasure.

Bibliography
Rio Dulce Geography
RIO DULCE BIBLIOGRAPHY / READING LIST

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MAYAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
Michael Coe, Breaking The Maya Code, (Thames and Hudson, US). The fascinating story of the long and difficult road to deciphering the Mayan spoken language. Some Mayan glyphs are hieroglyphic where single symbols have an inherent meaning, like a trademark or logo. But the Maya also had a phonetic alphabet composed of glyphs which was only decoded recently. This book is a page-turner despite the dryness of the subject matter.

Michael Coe, The Maya, (Thames and Hudson, US). A thorough look at what we have learned about the Maya thus far from one of the field’s leading archaeologists.

Anne LaBastille, Bird of the Maya, Folk Tales and Bird Identification, (West of the Wind Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 0-9632846-0-7). Along with detailed information on some of the common birds LaBastille includes a thorough species list with names in English, Spanish and Mayan. Half of the book is devoted to fascinating Mayan stories and legends about birds.

Albertina Saravia E., Popol Wuh, (Editorial Piedra Santa, Guatemala, Central America, 1980, ISBN 84-8377-095-4). Saravia learned to love the Popol Wuh as a child and her translation is very readable, suitable for adults or children.

Juan Luis Velásquez Muñoz, Nuevas Evidencias de la Ocupacion de la Cuencas del Lago de Izabal – Rio Dulce y Este del Rio Polichic, (Doctoral Thesis, Escuela de Historia, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, 1995).

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NATURE
Abram S. Benenson, ed., Control of Communicable Diseases in Man. (American Public Health Assn., 1990).

Anne LaBastille, Birds of the Maya, Folk Tales and Bird Identification, (West of the Wind Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 0-9632846-0-7). Along with detailed information on some of the common birds LaBastille includes a thorough species list with names in English, Spanish and Mayan. Half of the book is devoted to fascinating Mayan stories and legends about birds.

Frank B. Smithe, The Birds of Tikal, (Natural History Press, US, 1966, Library of Congress 66-17459, available in bookstores in Antigua, Guatemala). Smithe spent several seasons in Tikal identifying birds. This book is quite thorough given the magnitude of the task. Good illustrations of some birds but more are needed.

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GUATEMALAN POLITICS AND HISTORY
Tom Barry and Deb Preusch, The Central American Fact Book, (Grove Press, New York, 1986, ISBN 0-8021-3038-0 pbk). Although a bit dated today, crammed with interesting facts and background to the economies and politics of Central America.

Walter La Feber, Inevitable Revolutions – The United States in Central America, (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, US, 1993, ISBN 0-393-03434-8 (cl) ISBN 0-393-30964-9 (pa). Excellent historical analysis of the involvement of the United States in the byzantine politics of Central America.

Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala, The Foreign Policy of Intervention, (University of Texas Press, US, 1995, ISBN 0-292-71083-6 pbk). Immerman started out to write an expose of the US backed coup in Guatemala in 1954. During his 10 years of research he discovered that the subject was much more complex than simply the US covertly supporting the United Fruit Company via the CIA.

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TRAVEL ACCOUNTS
Aldous Huxley, Beyond the Mexique Bay, (Harper Collins/Greenwood). Description of Huxley’s travels through Central America as seen through Huxley’s penetrating and opinionated eyes. A good read.

John Lloyd Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, (Century, US). Accounts of a 19th century American traveler which include some vivid descriptions of the most beautiful places in Central America.

Ronald Wright, Time Among the Maya, (Bodley Head / H. Holt and Company). An excellent book which will give you much insight into the ancient Maya as well as their plight in recent years in Guatemala.

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TRAVEL GUIDES
Tom Brosnahan, Guatemala, Belize and Yucatan – La Ruta Maya, (Lonely Planet Publications, Australia, 1994, ISBN 0-86442-220-2). A good travel book that lives up to its title. Does not cover all of Guatemala.

Richard Mahler, Guatemala – A Natural Destination, (John Muir Publications, US, 1993, ISBN 1-56261-075-9). A good supplemental book. Lacks the detailed information needed by a traveler such as city maps, bus routes and other services.

Mark Whatmore, Peter Eltringham, Guatemala and Belize – The Rough Guide, (Rough Guides, Ltd., UK, 1993, ISBN 1-85828-045-1). The best guidebook for travelers to Guatemala – accurate and thorough.

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UNITED FRUIT COMPANY
Miguel Angel Asturias, El Papa Verde, (Verso / Routledge, Chapman and Hall). A well written illustrative look at United Fruit presented as a novel by the Nobel Prize winning Asturias.

Carlos Luis Fallas, Gentes y Gentecillas, A novel depicting life on a banana plantation.

Carlos Luis Fallas, Mamita Yunai: El Infierno de las Bananeras, A fast paced novel set in the Banana plantations of the United Fruit Company in Costa Rica illustrating the severe hardships and unfair treatment of the workers. Fallas was a labor organizer in Costa Rica during the 1930s and 40s.

Richard H. Immerman, The CIA in Guatemala, The Foreign Policy of Intervention, (University of Texas Press, US, 1995, ISBN 0-292-71083-6 pbk). Immerman started out to write an expose of the US backed coup in Guatemala in 1954. During his 10 years of research he discovered the subject was much more complex than simply the US supporting the United Fruit Company via the CIA.

Walter La Feber, Inevitable Revolutions – The United States in Central America, (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York, US, 1993, ISBN 0-393-03434-8 (cl) ISBN 0-393-30964-9 (pa). Excellent historical analysis of the involvement of the United States in the byzantine politics of Central America.

Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude, A novel depicting life on a banana plantation.

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GENERAL TOPICS
Daniel Armas, DICCIONARIO de la expresión popular guatemalteca, (Editorial Piedra Santa, Guatemala, 1991). Fascinating dictionary of popular Guatemalan expressions and their usages. One or more examples are given for each. Very thorough and frank.

Teresa Catarella, Ph.D., Universal Spanish-English Dictionary, (Langenscheidt, Berlin, 1992).

Robert Hendrickson, The Ocean Almanac, (Doubleday, US, 1984, ISBN 0-385-14077-0). A reference book jammed with interesting facts, history and lore of the sea covering every topic from pirates to plankton.

Ramón Sopena, Diccionario ilustrado de la lengua española, (Editorial Ramón Sopena, Barcelona, 1974, 1987).

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MAPS
Instituto Geográfico Nacional de Guatemala, 1:250,000 Map, ND 16-1, Puerto Barrios, 1961, 1963, 1964

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map E754 2462 IV, Castillo San Felipe, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2463 III, Livingston, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2362 I, Rio Tunico, 1990

Instituto Geográfico Militar de Guatemala, 1:50,000 Map 2363 II, San Antonio Seja, 1990

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