The Dominican Parliament on 25th of February, 2015 has approved name changes for the island’s indigenous people and their home. The request was submitted by former Kalinago Chiefs Irvince Auguiste and Garnett Joseph in 2013. The previously called Caribs are now to be referred to as Kalinago people and their home, the Kalinago Territory.
With Globalization’s unceasing impact on our culture and identity, it is important that from a young age, generations are made aware of the true history; the “pre- history” of the Caribbean. This would mean having our history on the nature of the indigenous peoples rewritten and taught to reflect more accurate accounts as opposed to the Eurocentric accounts used to justify European indiscretions. Some Caribbean schools have not entirely moved away from the titles of “Carib” and “Arawak” but are beginning to rely lesser on the Eurocentric views of the first peoples. Also more accurate literature would little by little, eventually lead to the reduction of stereotypes and prejudices against our indigenous people on the global stage.
The name change implemented by the Dominican Government to some may seem small but in fairness it should be seen an educated and much needed stance taken in the interest of rightfully recognizing the indigenous peoples. However, if in fact this will be the only step taken with intentions to recognize the indigenous people, it would definitely be insufficient.
Nevertheless, “It will foster greater respect for the Kalinago people at a global level and create a greater sense of communal pride and interest in our history and cultural heritage… a name change will re-present the image of the Kalinago people in a more affirmative way to reflect the better indigenous identity to dispel the historic negative connotation linked with the name Carib.” (Hon. Casius Darroux, 2015)
It was initially outlined that “This is a vital issue for Dominica’s indigenous people, who say the term “Carib” dates back to Christopher Columbus and is a derogatory term with connotations of cannibalism. For years, several chiefs have said the term has resulted in the diminishing of indigenous pride among people of Kalinago decent.” (Kentish Alison,2015)This, however, should be a priority of all Caribbean people with ties to indigenous peoples. It would be beneficial to discover and identify with their island’s history as it ultimately impacts upon their own identity and sense of self as a Caribbean person.
Press release of the Government of Dominica:
“Parliament Approves Indigenous People Name Change.” Parliament Approves Indigenous People Name Change. February 25, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015. http://news.gov.dm/index.php/news/2258-parliament-approves-indigenous-people-name-change.
Alison, Kentish. “Dominican Indigenous Tribe Shrugs off Colonial Name.” Dominican Indigenous Tribe Shrugs off Colonial Name. February 9, 2015. Accessed March 10, 2015. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Dominican-Indigenous-Tribe-Shrugs-off-Colonial-Name-20150209-0024.html.