Dominica’s Kalinago People to Celebrate Indigenous Culture

The rich culture and heritage of the Kalinagos will be on display from July 3rd to 5th, 2015. The indigenous people of Dominica are proud of their history and are preparing to portray the culture, color and traditions that make them unique. They will host the first ever Kalinago Indigenous Festival, which will include an art and craft exhibition, an agriculture exposition, a traditional sports day and canoe race and a grand ceremony to honor Kalinago elders.

It is a historic activity for the people who recently celebrated an official name change from “Carib” Indians to Kalinago. Numerous Kalinago chiefs had argued that the term “Carib” was derogatory as it referred to the indigenous people as cannibals. The inaugural indigenous festival will signal the first major event by the people since Dominica’s parliament officially enacted the name. The festival is endorsed by the country’s Ministry of Tourism and the Kalinago people are hoping that visitors to the island during that period will visit their 3,700 Kalinago Territory and partake in this landmark event. According to the Ministry, “the event is expected to complement present efforts by both the public and private sector, the Ministry of Tourism and the Kalinago Council to enhance the Kalinago Brand as a unique component in the nation’s tourism product, to contribute towards the sustainability of microenterprises in the Kalinago Territory and assist in the preservation of the Kalinago heritage.” The Kalinago Chief is hoping the July 3rd to 5th event can become an annual one and a major event on the island’s official calendar of cultural activities. Dominica’s Kalinagos live on the island’s east coast, occupy communal land granted to them as part of the 1978 Carib Act. The Kalinagos have a Chief, but are also represented in central government by a Minister of Kalinago Affairs.

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