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Love Thy Neighbor: Caribbean Tribe to Keep It in the Family

Think your family meddles in your love life? What if President Bush was the one telling you who to marry? (Ow, my ears! I can hear your howls from here.) That's kind of the case for an ancient Caribbean tribe, the Kalinago. To prevent the disappearance of their culture, Chief Charles Williams of the Dominica-based tribe said members should not marry non-Kalinago people.

He said of the proposition, "The impact of colonization has been so strong on us that if we do not take steps to protect the race, it will be soon extinct." If they follow his plan, in an island of 70,000 people, the dating pool is limited to 3,000 tribal members. Want to know who seems to be the blame? According to the Kalinago cultural queen, "Well, for some people this is a ticklish issue. She thinks the Kalinago women are the cause of the shrinking population. She says, "You go out there, you see a nice white guy and you fall in love," cautioning, "you have to stick to your people, you have to stick to your traditions and that's the only way."

To see what the Kalinago young women think about the plan,


On the tribes 3,700-acre territory, poverty is a huge problem. For young girls with ambition, it's a tough sell to marry and stay. "They want us to stay here to marry our own tribe but I don't think that will happen. It's already happening that we are marrying outsiders. They cannot tell us what to do. If we want to be pilots or nurses, we have to leave the island."

Cultural pride aside, the heart comes into play, too. According to several locals, "You can't tell someone who they should or shouldn't love." Are the elders right? Should the Kalinago be fighting with their hearts to preserve their culture?


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