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Caribs and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

Caribs and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’

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Editor: The Council of the Carib Territory in Dominica has taken the correct decision not to participate in the filming of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

According to Chief Charles Williams of the Carib Territory, Disney movie executives were insistent on including scenes where Caribs would be portrayed as cannibals, and to appear naked or semi-naked in the movie. {{more}}Williams feels that Dominican Caribs are “stigmatized up to this day as cannibals. Today Disney wants to popularize that stigma one more time, this time through film.”

Perpetuating the myth of Caribs as cannibals is totally unacceptable to all Caribbean peoples. There is a tremendous amount of research that debunks this myth.

Caribbean scholars and school teachers have been waging a ferocious battle for a long time to give the indigenous peoples of the region a fairer and a more honest share of its history, and it is most unacceptable for a movie company, especially a foreign one, to attempt to rewrite regional history by performing an ungracious act on the host community that would have potentially negative consequences in reviving feelings of inferiority in a people who have made tremendous strides socially, economically, culturally and politically, and to have them mentally re-enslaved for the sake of movie profits. We do not accept the notion that the script is fictional, for this script it is based on historical incidents and people – the descendants whom they want to demonize. They should stick to the facts!

North American Indians have laid down some very strict guidelines to movie producers as to what are acceptable and unacceptable portrayals of their people. Why does Disney think it has the right to ask Dominican Caribs or, heaven help us, local Caribs, to once more present themselves as victims of capitalist exploitation? We can enjoy the movies without depictions of acts of cannibalism or having individuals parade naked on the wide screen or on the television.

The Historical and Archaeological Society of St.Vincent and the Grenadines congratulates Chief Charles Williams of Dominica on the correct and courageous decision taken by his Council in not contributing to the perpetuation of an historical wrong. SVG authorities must learn from the Dominican experience and not agree to conditions that would do psychological harm to our Vincentian Caribs. We also call on Vincentians of Carib descent to support fellow Caribs in Dominica.

Paul Lewis, Secretary

Historical and Archaeological Society of SVG

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