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#1122: Taino People in LaGonave (fwd)

From: Diane Aiena <BUTTERFLYCC@webtv.net>

Awhile back the "List" mentioned the Taino People in LaGonave.  Several
folks were curious about what they were doing on the Island of LaGonave.
My husband was curious about the Tainos also as he was born and raised
on the Island.  On a recent visit to the Island he went to visit the
Tainos and reports as follows (observation and verbal communication with
the Tainos):

Simon LaPointe, Mayor of LaGonave, while visiting in Canada met the
Tainos and invited them to come to LaGonave.  When they first came to
the island, Mayor LaPointe provided them with housing in Nan Cafe but
the Tainos were uncomfortable in that particular housing arrangement.
LaPointe then provided land for the folks to build their own particular
type of housing -- housing similar to African/Indican type villages.
Each house has 12 poles, 18 feet high and is covered with zebable.
Seems to resemble an Indian teepee.  

List members had heard rumors about snakes.  To set this straight,
according to what my husband was told, the Tainos like to be in touch
with nature.  They don't eat meat and feel that all live things have a
right to life.  They do not worship snakes -- the snakes don't bother
them so they don't bother the snakes.  They do not know anything about
voodoo.  They are not into drugs and marijuana.  They grow all their own
food -- what they don't have they buy at the Haitian marketplace.  They
prefer to eat grain foods that reproduce.   

4 women, 2 men and 1 seven year old girl are believed to be at the

Their project involves natural farming and planting trees to help the
environment to prevent erosion and provide other ecological benefits to
the community.  They are well known to the Haitian Government and are
often invited to make presentations in Port-au-Prince. 
My husband's impression is that they are not hippies.  They appear to be
very close to nature.   They also are very well educated.  
He thought they were very nice.  

When they first arrived they received a very warn welcome.  The locals
thought that the Tainos were going to hand out food, money, etc.  When
the locals realized there was no hand-out, the locals backed off and
left the Tainos alone.  Sometimes when the locals are sick they will
come by the compound to get tea and herbal remedies.  The two cultures
exist side by side with no problems.  

The Tainos work together with an African  doctor/dentist from French
Guinea.  The doctor/dentist does not live in the compound but lives

Funding for their projects comes mostly from Canada and
environmentalists who believe in what they are doing.  

They settled in Nan Cafe because of the water.  They really liked Plain
Ma Pou but there is not enough water.

We hope this clears up some of the misconceptions about the Tainos.   We
plan to visit them again on our next trip to LaGonave.  We feel they are
beneficial to the community as they are teaching the locals about
agriculture and protecting the environment.


Diane and Chris Occeas