12 August 2009

Dominica Caribs/Kalinago Elect New Chief

On July 9, 2009, the Miami Herald published the following report on the elections for a new chief of the Dominica Carib Territory:

ROSEAU, Dominica -- The newly elected chief of Dominica's Caribs, the last remaining pre-Columbian tribe in the eastern Caribbean, said Thursday he has high hopes for the island's dwindling indigenous population.

Chief Garnett Joseph dominated Wednesday's tribal elections to defeat incumbent Charles Williams and become the new leader of the tribe's rural communities in Dominica's northeast.

Dominica is home to about 3,000 Caribs, or ethnic Kalinagos.

''I feel very elated, and I'm confident that the Kalinago people can achieve anything once they put their minds to it,'' said Joseph, who previously served as the Carib's leader from 1999 to 2004.

Caribs elect a chief every four years. They also elect one representative for Parliament.

Joseph said his first order of business will be to establish a credit union on the 3,800-acre (1,538-hectare) Carib territory, where the tribe has collective property rights.

He has also pledged to bring more development to the communities, where Caribs live in greater poverty than the rest of the country, relying mostly on banana and citrus farming for income.

A former colony of Britain and France, Dominica was the last Caribbean island to be colonized by Europeans mainly due to resistance by the Caribs.

One error that needs to be corrected is that the "last" Caribs are not to be found on Dominica alone, but rather there are Carib communities and individuals throughout the Island Caribbean, most prominently in Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Trinidad.

We wish Garnett Joseph the very best for his tenure as chief, a position in which he has served previously.

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