Kalinago chief, Garnet Joseph, is expressing disappointment that almost two years after a proposal was made to government to change the name of the Carib Territory to Kalinago Territory, the matter has not been getting the attention of the authorities.
Joseph expressed his opinion in the light of an announcement that cabinet has accepted the recommendation to change the names of two of Dominica’s prominent peaks.
Joseph said while he supports changing the names of the mountains, the authorities should also look into the the Kalinago Council’s proposal. “This is about two years now since we made the proposal for changing the name from Carib Territory to Kalinago Territory,” he said. “I am hoping that in the not too distant future our request for the name change is met.”
The Kalinago Chief said the request for the name change is justified. “The reasons we gave for changing the name of the Territory is even more justified than the names recommended by the committee to change the name of the mountains in this country,” he stressed. “We are dealing with people and I think that is more important.”
He noted that changing the mountain’s names could be a step in the right direction. “I am happy to note that at least something is happening and changes are taking place,” Joseph said. “Eventually our communities, our streets and important places in this country will have the appropriate names.”
The 1978 Carib Act designated the lands of the Territory as the “Carib Reserve,” and provided for the governance of these lands by an elected “Carib Chief” and “Carib Council.”
However, in recent times, leaders of the island’s indigenious people have argued that the word “Carib” has its roots in colonial times, first utilized to refer to them as cannibals and they say it is laden with derogatory connotations.
They say the continued use of the word does not foster a sense of ethnic pride among the people, and hinders attempts to increase the awareness and appreciation of the people and their contributions to Dominica.
They argue that the word ‘Kalinago’ should be used because Father Breton, who lived among the people in Dominica on and off between 1642 and 1653 wrote in his dictionary, “This is the real name of the Caribs of the islands.”
Breton wrote the word as “Callinago”, but the usual phonetic writing today is “Kalinago,” according to historian, Dr. Lennox Honychurch.