Culture Of The Dominican Republic Essay

937 words - 4 pages

Culture of the Dominican Republic

The People

Dominicans’ ethnicity consists of Taino, Spanish and African. The native people on the island were the Taino. The Taino were hunter and gatherers who lived off the land. Led by Christopher Columbus, the Spanish conquered the island in 1492. The Spanish overtook the Taino forcing them to be their slaves while killing many in the process. The Africans were then later brought to the island as slaves. Certain traits of these ethnic groups are still present in the Dominican culture, such as the food, language, religion and personality of the people (Goodwin, 116).

A true Taino is hard to come by in the Dominican Republic, yet most Dominicans consider themselves part Taino. During the conquest the Spanish killed massive amounts of this indigenous group and their population almost vanished. However, Taino culture is still seen in some of the foods that are eaten in the Dominican Republic. Dominicans also use some of the Taino’s words in their language, such as tobacco, hammock and canoe (Lonely Planet website). One of the most significant aspects of Taino culture that is still present today is the importance of land. The Taino lived off the land and respected Mother Nature. This is still seen in Dominican agriculture which grows a rich produce of bananas, coffee, sugarcane, tobacco and cacao. Importing these products is one of their major sources of income (Goodwin, 116).

The Dominicans have intermarried with Tainos, Spanish and African people but their African physical features are still present. Dominicans come in all different colors, ranging from very dark to very light and everything in between. Dominicans see skin color differently than it is seen in the United States. No matter how dark skinned a Dominican is they rarely would define themselves as “black” or “African” but rather “mixed”. Therefore, the ethnic makeup of the Dominican Republic is 73% mixed, 16% white and only 11% black (Goodwin, 116; Foner, 44-46).

Haitian Relations

Throughout the Dominican history, the country has always had problems with Haiti. The turbulent history of Hispaniola and the constant change of control on the island are two of the main reasons for this bad relationship between the countries. From 1822 to 1844 Haiti had complete control of the entire island. Trujillo used this twenty year period as a point of reference to blame Dominican problems on the Haitians. He often said that before the Haitian control of the Dominican Republic, the Dominicans were blond hair and blue eyed. Although Trujillo is no longer in office the feeling of “black as bad” is still present in the Dominican culture. This feeling is emphasized anytime Haiti is having problems. When Haiti is going through political and economical issues, the Dominican economy...

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