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THE NEW YORK TIMES
"The New Old World: Antilles Living Beyond The Myth"
By LAWRENCE VAN GELDER
November 6, 2002
With the coming of Europeans, life for the Taino and Carib natives of the Caribbean was destroyed. But some survived in the Cordillera Central area of Puerto Rico, in the Cibao region of the Dominican Republic, in the Cuban Sierras and on the islands of Dominica and Trinidad. Beginning on Friday, life today for these people will be documented in a new exhibition at the National Museum of the American Indian at 1 Bowling Green in Lower Manhattan. "The New Old World: Antilles Living Beyond the Myth," which includes photographs by Marisol Villanueva depicting these people and traditions like canoe making, knitting and weaving as well as oral histories continues through the spring.
"The New Old World: AntillesLiving Beyond the Myth"
Through Spring 2003
George Gustav Heye Center, New York City
Although the indigenous cultures of the Antilles were nearly destroyed after European contact, Native communities survived in the Cordillera Central area of Puerto Rico, the Cibao region in the Dominican Republic, the Cuban Sierras, and in the islands of Dominica and Trinidad. Photographer Marisol Villanueva has traveled extensively through these regions since 1999, documenting Native peoples, traditions, and landscapes. These photographs, on view in The New Old World, alongside local oral histories and Villanueva's diary entries, present the region's indigenous people and their traditions, including the preparation of cassava bread, canoe making, knitting and traditional weaving, and local ceremonies. The exhibition also illustrates the revitalization of Taino cultural identity among descendants in the islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba.
National Museum of the American Indian
Office of Public Affairs
September 30, 2002
"The New Old World: AntillesLiving Beyond the Myth" Opens at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 8, 2002
"The New Old World: AntillesLiving Beyond the Myth," a documentation of the contemporary lives of Taino and Carib indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, will open at the National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 8. The exhibition, which will include photographs by Marisol Villanueva and statements from the Native people of the region, will continue at the museum through spring 2003.
Although the indigenous cultures of the Antilles were nearly destroyed after European contact, Native communities survived in the Cordillera Central area of Puerto Rico, the Cibao region in the Dominican Republic, the Cuban Sierras, and in the islands of Dominica and Trinidad. Villanueva has traveled extensively through these regions since 1999, documenting the Native peoples, traditions and landscapes. Her photographs, which will be shown alongside her diary entries and local oral histories, present images of these indigenous people and their traditions including the preparation of cassava bread, canoe making, knitting and traditional weaving, and local ceremonies. "The New Old World: AntillesLiving Beyond the Myth" also illustrates the revitalization of the Taino cultural identity that has occurred among descendants in the islands of Puerto Rico and Cuba.
"Because the National Museum of the American Indian is committed to strengthening the voices of Native people throughout the hemisphere, we are very pleased to present this exhibition as it vividly illustrates the survival of indigenous people and traditions of the Antilles," said museum Director W. Richard West (Southern Cheyenne).
Villanueva has exhibited her work extensively in Puerto Rico and has shown in group shows in Puerto Rico, Spain and the United States. This exhibition at the Museum of the American Indian is the first phase of her long-term curatorial project "The New Old World." The other three phases of the project, which will appear at other venues, focus on the Southwestern United States, Mexico and Central America, and South America.
The National Museum of the American Indian in Lower Manhattan is located at One Bowling Green in New York City, across from Battery Park. The museum is free and open everyday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Thursdays until 8 p.m. Call (212) 514-3700 for general information and (212) 514-3888 for a recording about the museums public programs. The museum may be reached by taking the subway to 4 or 5 to Bowling Green, the 1 or the 9 to South Ferry or the N or R to Whitehall Street.
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION PO Box 23473 Washington DC 20026-3473
202.357.3164 Telephone 202.357.3369 Fax
"The New Old World: Antilles Living Beyond The Myth"
The[se] photographs of the Native people and communities of the Antilles, by Marisol Villanueva, represent a significant contribution to the study of Caribbean society and challenge the myth of indigenous extinction that often characterizes its history. For centuries before 1492, the islands of the Caribbean were populated by several indigenous cultures, among which the most extended was the Taino. Yucayeques (villages) of Tainos occupied all the Greater Antilles: Cuba, Puerto Rico, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Jamaica. At the same time, groups known as Caribs or Caribes populated the islands of the Lesser Antilles. Within decades after Columbus landed at Guanahaní (San Salvador), the indigenous population of the Antilles nearly vanished. Many Native people died of violence and diseases. Others escaped to remote places. Others were captured by Spanish authorities and transported to the Iberian Peninsula or to colonies on the Greater Antilles, where they labored on sugar plantations, in mines, and in the extraction of pearls.
Yet despite this bitter history, some of the indigenous people of the Lesser Antilles managed to survive on their ancestral islands, evident today in the more than three thousand Caribs who inhabit the Carib Territory of Salybia, Dominica. At the same time, the shared life of indigenous and African slaves led to the creation of the ethnic and cultural "mestizaje" known today as Afro-Caribbean. A similar mestizaje took place between indigenous women and the Spanish colonizers. As a result, family groups and small communities of Taino and Carib descendants still live throughout the Antilles, and in a diaspora that extends far beyond the territory their ancestors inhabited.?
A great interest in the origins of the indigenous Antillean populations and communities and their revitalization is now emerging. Marisol Villanuevas camera and the testimonies she and, in the Cuba communities, Dr. José Barreiro have gathered capture many traces of these living indigenous cultures, coexisting with African and European cultures or persisting in remote villages, conserving much that people believed had been lost.
Quotations by Panchito Ramirez are from the book Panchito: Cacique de Montaña, (Catedral Ediciones, Santiago de Cuba, 2001), by Dr. Jose Barreiro.