Learning Dance And History At Kalinago Cultural Village - November 2014

During the month I stayed in Dominica I experienced many of Dominica’s heritage dances but none that had indigenous origins until my last full day on the island. I extended my trip and moved to the other side of the country so that I could visit the "Carib territory". The Carib territory is a 3,700-acre district in Dominica. It was created for the indigenous Kalinago who inhabited Dominica prior to European colonization and settlement and are often referred to as Caribs.

I spent the afternoon interviewing cultural officer Prosper Paris about how the Kalinago people came from the Orinoco Valley in South America and migrated throughout the Caribbean into Dominica and the surrounding areas. He explained that because of Colonial domination the Kalinago people lost most of their language but were struggling to maintain and rebuild their culture. The Kalinago Cultural Center is one of the main places that attempts to preserve and continue aspects of traditional Kalinago life such as: drumming, dance, foods (cassava bread), housing and crafts (basket weaving and carving).

I learned two Kalinago dances from Mr. Paris who is a historian, member of the Kalinago Council and the Karifunia Cultural group. I am excited to show the dances to my students so that they know that Kalinago culture is not something that died out in the past but is thriving today.

I am grateful to have these dances as a base to compare and connect to the Garifunia (African and Kalinago) dances of Belize which I will visit in December.


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