Five years after embarking on a campaign to change the name of the 3,700-acre Carib Territory to the Kalinago Territory, Dominica’s indigenous people are to get their wish.
The Government of Dominica announced that the name change is an urgent matter and will be down for consideration at the first sitting of parliament since the December 2014 general election.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit says as well as renaming the territory, the government intends to ensure the Carib Chief will be known as the Kalinago Chief.
This is a vital issue for Dominica’s indigenous people, who say the term “Carib” dates back to Christopher Columbus and is a derogatory term with connotations of cannibalism. For years, several chiefs have said the term has resulted in the diminishing of indigenous pride among people of Kalinago decent.
The “Carib” Council’s original letter to government requesting the name change was written to the Ministry of Legal Affairs in 2010.
The letter indicated that council members would not wait for government’s official name change but would begin using the term “Kalinago” immediately. This change took effect within the community, where the term has been used for the past five years.
According to Dominican Historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, the 1642 writings of French priest Raymond Breton prove the Carib Indians have always referred to themselves as “Callinago.” Historians say the phonetic writing is equivalent to “Kalinago.”
The operations of the “Carib” Territory in Dominica are enshrined in the 1978 Carib Act, which provides for communal land holding, an elected chief and a “Carib” Council.
The official renaming of the territory is one of several items down for consideration when Dominica’s parliament convenes on Feb. 20.
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