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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?


Join The Conversation
subtleheights subtleheights 8 years
I dont think they can do anything about it. these kids go to school with everyone else and it is inevitable that the heart leads you wherever. my brother dated a girl from the reservation. typical; example. my grandfather was half carib. another example. it is never going to happen. besides none of the indians there are pure anyway, i would say its too late for trying to preserve anything. nothing wrong with teaching their kids about their culture but its too late. they would have to be completely seperated from the rest of the island citizens. their own schools, hospitals,.not happening. we are not economically able.
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
The simple truth is this - "sticking to your own people and traditions" is increasingly difficult. Whether it is bad, or good, to attempt to encourage people to save their own genealogy/race is a matter of context or perspective. On the one hand, it is sad to think about entire lifestyles and traditions being destroyed. On the other hand, people striving to change their lives in ways which feel meaningful to them is a human inevitability, with (among others) genealogical changes as a potential result. The story sounds like one thing, when its a tiny tribe in the middle of bugger-all-land trying to survive. If you turned it on its ear and said "all Anglo-Saxon blondes can only marry other blondes because we are losing all the blonde people in the USA", it starts to sound pretty divisive and silly. I can't offer an opinion either way on this issue - I see both sides of it, and mostly feel that it is, to some extent, the inevitable consequence of globalisation and "global" evolution. The only difference is this time its happening becuase people choose for it to, instead of warring Huns or Ghengis Khan rolling into town.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that in today's society - you won't be successful to tell someone who to marry and expect it to be carried through. it was a VERY different time when arranged marriages were the norm and they were 'successful' - but seeing as how travel is soo much easier and people come into cultures and communities with more ease - you see what's on the outside more often and you want a taste of that. especially if you're in an area that is impoverished and you don't have the things that you hear about. you'll take whatever chance you can to get out - and if that means marrying someone outside of your culture or even country -then you'll do that. i think that if you do choose to do that though - you have to take your culture with you and not forget where you came from since that's how we lose a sense of diversity in the world. if you leave your home and you don't take anything from it - then you become what everyone else is and then it's a loss of language, art, religion etc that's never able to be found again.
hithatsmybike hithatsmybike 8 years
oh look, a group of humans being unfathomably stupid and irrational in the name of the collective good. What else is new?
katrina1020 katrina1020 8 years
I think the majority reason for the Arawaks dying off was b/c of Christopher Columbus, both from smallpox and attacks.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I wonder what the native Arawaks, who were on these islands before the Kalinagos took it over think about an entire race being wiped out? Funny tidbit, in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead mans chest, the island where the cannibals were is said to be Kalinagos, or home of the carib people.. but they weren't even cannibals.
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