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Rooted in the land: Taíno identity, oral history and stories of reclamation in contemporary contexts

Erica Neeganagwedgin


This paper presents my critical refl ections on what it means to be a Taíno Indigenous person. It is part of an ongoing research project that started in 2013 and is based on oral histories, ancestral knowledges, collective memories of family, community narratives, and other historical accounts, including the voices of 10 people from two rural communities in Southern Jamaica. This research uses an Indigenous research methodology to honour ancestral knowledge systems. Historically, stories about Taíno people have been from the perspectives of the dominant culture and have used a language of the Taíno people’s nonexistence. This article demonstrates that Taíno Indigenous people are a central part of identity in the Caribbean world, that the Taíno culture currently exists and that the silencing of Indigenous identity and history is being disrupted. The Taíno people are rejecting the foreign notions of what it means to be Taíno. Today, we Taíno people are taking a decolonization approach as we reclaim and reconstruct Taíno nationhood and identity as expressions of spiritual wellness and self- determination.

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Print ISSN 1177-1801 Online ISSN 1174-1740