In the Caribbean, a thirty-year resurgence of Indigenous identity has challenged the thesis of extinction. Undeniable and growing interest in Indigenous roots has coalesced disparate families and individuals and its reflected in numerous self-determined groups with designations such as Taino, Taino Nation, Taino people, Siboney, and Caribe. The movement’s depth is amply documented by scholar Maximillian Forte and others. But one opposing viewpoint deserves attention: a current of elite academic thinking that puts forth a claim of anti-African motivation as part of the Taino resurgence.
The assertion of cultural or generational legacy as the basis of a contemporary Indigenous identity challenges the historical narrative accepted by most of the Caribbean’s intellectual elite—however, it has persisted in “rooted” community bases. Dominated by metropolitan erudites, the identity-from-above discourse is built upon the interpretation of historical text; very little fieldwork on Indigenous survival either in remote or urban areas has taken place.
With wider-spread recognition of inidigeneity as a viable quotient in the Spanish-speaking countries of the Greater Antilles—Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico—and their diasporas in the United States and elsewhere, the Taino communities are increasingly empowered. This growing universe of contemporary institutions is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of mutually recognized insular Indigenous heritage. It is important to note that in remote places, particularly mountain ranges in Cuba, Dominica, Trinidad, and perhaps the Dominican Republic, actual sui generis communities tie are identifiable. Marginalized from international outreach and reflective of mestizaje (interracial or interethnic marriage), these mostly rural communities sustain numerous spiritual and material traditions of Indigenous origin.