pre columbian era

anonymous asked:

Hey, why didn't Haiti claim back its African name when it became independent?

Hello. Why would Haiti reclaim its African name? It didn’t possess one lol. The slaves who were brought to Saint-Domingue (Haiti’s colonial name) were from various regions of Africa (although a great number were from the Congo), as a result, there was not a single “African culture” but several. Furthermore, up until the very last episodes of the Revolution, most people still had an attachement to France, of course this changed with the Leclerc expedition (1802).

That being said, “Haiti” was the original Taino name of the island, (the Taino people were the indigenous population that lived on the island before Columbus.) Many historians have speculated that one of the reasons Haiti’s head of state decided to call the new country this way was to show that it was breaking its ties with the racist, slave-holding, colonial world and wanted to pay a sort of tribute to the indigenous population that had been massacred precisely because of colonialism. In a lot of ways, Haiti was sending a very provocative message to the rest of the world with this name. :3 (Therefore, I think people ought to be careful not to automatically link everything to Africa, being a colonized people means having a plurality of identities.)

Well, hope this helps :)

To all the people that asked why Mexicans couldn’t use La Catrina’s makeup (english version):

Any mistakes are my own and I blame them all on the crappy educational system that didn’t allow me to learn english all that well. Here you go:


This is a complicated matter, and has a lot of points that have to be addressed. I’m going to try to be very concise and make it short. The day of the dead is a Mexican tradition (although it’s celebrated in different parts of Latin America, with different focus and shades) that dates back to the pre-Columbian era. 

There are records of various cultures/ethnic groups that celebrated this holiday, mainly the Mexica, Purépecha, Mayans, Totonacas, among others. With the arrival of the Spaniards, and subsequently, the colonization and the continuous evangelization, this tradition was attempted to be removed from the natives, but it so was deeply rooted, that it had to be modified, thus coming to the mix between pre-hispanic culture and Spanish Catholicism. It became a mestizx tradition, with native roots.

This holiday heavily influenced both the Novohispanic culture and the native one, and when it came the time to stop referring to people that lived in the New Spain (now México) as such, and the term ‘Mexican’ became popular, the tradition had become base of the Mexican identity. 

To certain extent, the evolution of the holiday remarks this Mexican practice of mixing things, categorizing us as one, without putting limits to our differences, not to make it into something of negative connotation, but to celebrate that these distinctions exist. This is a very common action within our society, this need to blur the lines and appropriate details here and there, to sort of blend-in. That exposes the internalized racism and colorism, that we haven’t been able to fully deconstruct. But that’s another broad subject. 

The holiday itself, and the ideas that the natives had, preceding the arrival of the conquistadors, dealt with death in a very different way to the occidental thinking. Death was not a punishment, but a journey. It referred to travelling to another plane, but being allowed to keep reuniting with your loved ones, through offerings, chants and numerous symbols that lightened up your path. It was a very postmodernist way (the way it could be classified nowadays) of processing the loss of a person, which at the end, wasn’t a loss at all. And these ideas remain in place in our culture, what with the simple fact that the celebration of the Day of the dead is in a graveyard, with mariachi, food, party, etcetera; it’s a very uncommon way of addressing loss. 

We also have to be very conscious that La Catrina is created not only as a pre-Columbian concept, but that it’s intertwined with a social-political context; because the cartoon of the Calavera Garbancera was published around the time of the beginning of the Mexican revolution. This cartoon was created as a mockery to people with indigenous blood, that pretended and/or wanted to be Europeans. We’re talking about a publication in 1912, when people rose up in arms, after the so called Porfiriato, the 30 years dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, after a exhaustive exploitation of the working class in the country. 

So, this matter of the calavera Catrina comes hand-in-hand with social unrest, an unbearable systemic situation, tackled with that humorous identity that characterizes the Mexican. It was a total spoof to that internalized racism/colorism that the Mexican of the time had, which comes to reinforce what I mentioned before, about the celebration’s evolution and that constant pursuit of the creation of a Mexican race, without taking into account the differences that make our culture so rich a varied. 

That was the foundation of the Catrina, but anyhow, little by little it started becoming another symbol of the national identity, and it infiltrated the places where the Day of the dead tradition was set, until it remained as an inherent emblem of the day. 

Now, If I’m being honest, my post was originally directed to Xicanxs that follow this blog, that love to reclaim their Mexican heritage on these holidays, but decide to ignore the problems that México faces the rest of the year. And to the white people that follow this blog, and there are a few of them. But also, it was directed to those Mexicans that tend to appropriate cultural details that do not belong to us. One clear example of this would be this past FIFA World Cup, where you turned on the TV to the Mexican matches and you could see a lot Mexicans dressed up as Mayans, Aztecs, etcetera. 

We need to be consistent and be aware that we cannot partake into a tradition that dates back to the pre-Hispanic era, and it’s STILL being celebrated among the indigenous ethnicities of the country, specially where one is completely disconnected from the historical, political, social and cultural context of it. Above all, because it’s an ongoing, current tradition on these native groups, and it’s a show of disrespect to not be part of them, but wanting to participate in the holiday just for the idea of this homogeneous society (and because of the pretty colours), when the concept has been super watered down for other people’s consumption. 

To wear the Catrina’s garments, it’s absolutely necessary, ESSENTIAL even, to be informed about the subject at hand. To not use it only for the aesthetic, but to recognize the weight that the holiday has socially and culturally; and how this shapes our identity as an individual and as part of this national cluster. Second, it has to be utilized within the respectful guidelines of the holiday, like on the Day of the dead, while you’re presenting your altar and placing the last offerings of the night. While you take the mariachi to you deceased, to your family, while you dine around their grave. While you celebrate the idea that they are with you because you lit up their way with candles, and you brought them home with the smell of their favorite food. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, with education, knowing exactly what it represents and entails. 

There’s a huge difference between celebrating the Day of the dead and wearing the makeup on Halloween, as if it was a mere costume. It’s reducing a beautiful tradition to a pretty makeup for the consumption of other people.

If it’s only used because it’s pretty, then I think it’s downplaying one of the few traditions on a national scale, that was rescued from that pre-colonial era, and that is able to reflect a little the vast, diverse and advanced culture the natives had. And that huge influence, can be summarized in this: 

The Mexican grieves differently, they cry and feel in their guts, and their mourning goes hand in hand with their identification to the soil they were born into.

oberyn7156-deactivated20160910  asked:

Do you know the history og the Arawak/Taino people of Haiti ?? I can't find much information about them (but I know they existed especially in Haiti !?)

Hello, thank you for your question.

Yes, finding information on pre-Columbian societies in Haiti can be difficult.

There were indeed Taínos/Arawak people in Haiti. Estimates vary, but most believe that about 86% of population died within few decades of contact with the Europeans. By the 1560s, the Taínos would have largely disappeared from the island (especially in the Western shore, which is today Haiti). *Given that Hispaniola was among the first islands to be ‘discovered’ by the Europeans, the native populations were very deeply affected by the early encounters.

Studying the pre-Columbian history of Haiti is interesting in part because we get a sense of the ‘shared’ history of Hispaniola’s two countries. (You may be aware that Anacaona, a Cacique (chief) who was executed in 1502 (or 1504) by the Spaniards, is a very important historical/mythological figure both in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.)

Now, in terms of readings, most sources on colonial Saint-Domingue will give you an idea of what life looked like before and during the early years of Spanish colonisation. You can see our reading suggestions for this period here.

For more specific monographs, I suggest you look at Hispaniola: Caribbean Chiefdoms in the Age of Columbus (1990) by Samuel M. Wilson and also, Caciques and Cemi Idols: The Web Spun by Taino Rulers Between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico (2009) by Jose R Oliver.

And finally, I strongly recommend you browse the pages of Island Luminous, a fantastic online resource for Haitian history. You can start reading about the Taínos/Arawaks here.

I hope this was helpful! Good day.

History professor: okay now please open your books to the chapter on the Pre-Columbian era. Im sure you’ll notice-

Me: aRE YOU KIDDING ME??? why the HECK are we studying that piece of ACTUAL TRASH?? why is there an ENTIRE CHAPTER devoted to him he did NOTHING except be incredibly rUDE, tell people his last name literally every THREE seconds, and copy DERRICKS gameplay. I canNOT stay here as long as that scum is in the curriculum I’ve gotta go

Everyone else:

Originally posted by thecrownedstags

anonymous asked:

is it true that their are still some Tainos left in Haiti and DR?

Hi! Well, interesting that you should ask, I saw an article on this regard going around tumblr just recently, but I strongly believe that no, there are no longer any Tainos left in the island of Hispaniola. 

More than any groups, the Tainos were directly affected by European “contact.” By 1482, some estimate that they were around 1 M, the number declined to about 14,000 already in 1514, about 3,500 in 1538, and finally (from the last figure I have) about 500 in 1548. Therefore, by the onset of the 1600s, they had pretty much disappeared from the island. The cause of death has been said to be “epidemics.”

That their culture may have survived and been mixed with different European and African traditions however, is plausible. 

Hope this helps!