This video introduction is the start of a long overdue series of video documentaries to come, this one focusing on photography and providing a condensed overview of the key themes in the history, politics, and culture of the Caribs of Arima, Trinidad. It also presents much of the material of what used to be available on the website of the Santa Rosa Carib Community, which has since expired and which has not yet been replaced by Indigenous members of the community (I am the former webmaster)--although it remains archived here. (In addition, see this tremendous effort to put material about the Carib Community online, by primary school students in Trinidad, hosted by the Ministry of Education.) With time, I will be posting the best of the materials from the former Carib Community website, so that they are still "active" online.
The video above is based on both ethnographic and historical research. The contents of the video are organized according to the following sections:
1. The Mission
The loss of lands under colonial rule; racism; displacement.
2. The So-called "Extinction"
How the Caribs were abolished by the stroke of a pen; historiography; stereotypes; censuses; "the only real Carib is a pure a Carib, and the only pure Carib is a dead Carib".
3. The Traditions
Loss of land, but perseverance of the essence of indigenous affectivity: belonging, Home. The mutation and multiplication of traditions: glimpsing what the Caribs mean by retained, maintained, and reclaimed traditions.
3-A. The Santa Rosa Festival
Processions. Gathering together.
3-B. Work duties for the Santa Rosa Festival
Carib labour; maintenance of a Carib hold on Trinidad's oldest public festival.
3-C. The Smoke Ceremony
Indigenous resurgence, reclamation, shamanism. Indigenous language reacquisition. Prayers.
4. The Resurgence
A focus on key actors in the Carib Community, and the role played by Indigenous Peoples outside of Trinidad who visit the Arima Caribs.
4-A. Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez
How he started the resurgence. Formation of the Santa Rosa Carib Community as a new organization. Being landless.
4-B. Shaman Cristo Adonis
The shaman is the one who sings--a short overview of Cristo Adonis' work in the community.
4-C. Carib Queen Justa Werges
Extensive quotations on the role and power of the Queen, the vision of Just Werges.
--Brief notes on other Carib Queens (in this video, a total of four appear: Maria Werges, Edith Martinez, Justa Werges, and Valentina Medina)
4-D. International Indigenous Connections
Selective, based on the photographs available: Assembly of First Nations of Canada, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Tainos, Australian Aboriginals, Dominica's Gli-Gli Carib Canoe, Guyanese weavers, Surinamese singers.
5. The Question of Recognition
The paradox of recognition as another act of dismissal. How the Caribs have been monumentalized, enshrined, museumized, and continue to be stereotyped and appropriated. The national mainstream media. State support and government recognition.
Yet, the state will only recognize one single organization, and only then after having pushed it to formally incorporate itself as a limited liability company, which is the legal status of the Santa Rosa Carib Community.
Funds provided to the Community are for the purposes of mounting shows and displays, not for the Community's own sustenance, to achieve self-reliance, for its own long-term benefit.
Recognizing only one organization, in one single place, as Carib means that all of the descendants of Trinidad's Indigenous Peoples, spread throughout the country, go unrecognized.
The Caribs have been boxed up. The state mounts an implausible explanation to the United Nations: that all Caribs died off, except for in Arima, only one of over a dozen mission towns to have existed.
If before the only real Carib was a pure Carib, and the only pure Carib was a dead Carib...today that has become:
"The only recognized Carib is an Arima Carib."
Otherwise, the state dares not to even speak the name Carib, Warao, Indigenous, Amerindian, or First Peoples on the national Census.
And so the struggle continues...
Closing with a collage of members of the Carib Community throughout history.