Published In

Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology

Document Type


Publication Date



Dominicans (Dominican Republic) -- Ethnic identity, Dominican national characteristics, Taino Indians -- Dominican Republic -- 21st century -- Cultural property


The national identity of the Dominican Republic is based on an idealized story of three cultural roots-- Spanish, African, and Taíno--with a selective amnesia of the tragedies and struggles inherent to the processes of colonial domination and resistance. Further, African, Taíno and mixed AfroMestizo culture have been marginalized in favor of nationalist ideologies of progress and civilization found in the embrace of Hispanidad and Catholicism. In such a way, Dominicans have been disconnected from their African, their indigenous, and their mixed Afro-Mestizo Criollo (Creole) ancestry and cultural heritage, even though it is these ancestries and heritages which mark Dominicans with the significant emblems of their contemporary identity.

In this paper, I assess the survival of Taíno culture by building on the work of two important studies addressing Taíno heritage in the Dominican Republic— Bernardo Vega's (1981) “La herencia indígena en la cultura dominicana de hoy” and Garcia Arévalo's (1988) “Indigenismo, arqueología, e identidad nacional.” My conclusion is that there is significant cultural heritage of Taíno origin that has persisted to this day. That heritage, together with the historical evidence for Taíno survival presented by my colleagues Lynne Guitar and Jorge Estevez, points me to the understanding that the Taíno people were never extinct but, rather, survived on the margins of colonial society to the present.


© 2002, P. J. Ferbel

Persistent Identifier