IMPORTANT NOTE: I never did post the essay on Haitian poverty. This is a sore point for me. I've been thinking about this issue for 16 years. I've written extensively about it, lectured a zillion times on it, but I just haven't been able to get this essay out. I can't fully explain it. It will come -- eventually. But obviously not for this week which is actually over already as I write this note of apology.

So we push on to the third week's work and leave that particular essay hang. It will come, but I'll need more time.

Sorry about that.


In this third week we will look at three areas of early Haitian history:

  1. The Pre-Columbian situation, the lives of the Taino/Arawak natives.
  2. The Spanish colonial period (1492 - 1687).
  3. The Pirates on the Isle of La Tortue (Turtle Island).

Recall the central focus of the entire course -- it is to see the past in terms of how it contributed to and set up the present, or helps make the present more understandable.

My general argument is that the topics of this week are in a strong sense deviations from that main path. I believe the Taino/Arawak and the Spanish made virtually no contributions at all. So the interest in them is for its own sake, just to have a better understanding of what was going on in those 175 years.

I will argue that there was some lasting contributions from the pirates, but it was not so much shaping the particulars of the present as it was in making the development even possible.

I would ask you to read the following:

  1. From Corbett's web page:
    1. On the Taino/Arawaks: I will expect you to read two essays. The main one is my own overview paper on the lives of the Taino/Arawak. Since that essay has provoked a rather heated response from the Taino/Arawak Council, I ask that you read the denial of genocide which was written by a chief in the Taino/Arawak Council, attacking my position. A little more about that below.
      Thus you should read:
      Corbett's overview paper on the Taino/Arawak natives.
      Also read: The response of Taino Chief to the charge of genocide.
    2. In the Spanish period: I ask that you read four of the five essays. You need not read my notes on Brion's book, though you are certainly invited to. Please read all the other essays in that section.
      See section on Spanish in history section at: History home page.
    3. Finally in the pirate section I ask you to read the first essay as part of your mandatory reading. The second is optional and you are certain encouraged to read it, but not required.
      Thus be sure to read: Corbett's essay on the pirates.
  2. From Liberte. There are really only two short things to read in Liberte and one of them duplicates what I assigned from my own web page.
    1. Read item # 2, the letter to the Taino/Arawaks from King Ferdinand.
    2. Read item # 4 on the Buccaneers.

An important note about the genocide issue with the Taino/Arawaks: When I originally wrote the paper on the life of the Taino/Arawaks, which goes back about ten years or more, I had made a very strong claim about the genocide, asserting it as an accomplished fact of history. In 1985 when I offered my first on-line history course, the chief of the Taino/Arawak Council wrote a strongly critical position about my stance. I was in agreement with parts of his criticism and not others. I made amendments to the paper and the issue took on a life of its own. I'm amended the paper again and added material as last as last month.

The greatest irony is that the issue has little relevance to this course AS SUCH. I think it is a fascinating and important historical issue. But, no matter how that question of genocide is decided, we are still faced with the fact that the Taino/Arawaks have not had any recognizable role in shaping the history of Haiti. Thus I deviate from my primary purpose, that is seeing in the past the shaping of the present.

This is equally true of the Spanish period, which did little to contribute to the present of Haiti, and significantly true of the period of the pirates, though their French roots can be seem to be connected as the root of the coming period of French colonialism.

This unit then, is a bit of an historical deviation from my main plan and a look at these three hopefully interesting historical periods just for their own sake and not because of their contribution to contemporary Haiti. This not true of any remaining issues in the course.


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