Rename the Island: Quisqueya, not Hispaniola

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Rename the Island: Quisqueya, not Hispaniola

Post by admin » Tue Aug 29, 2006 11:56 am

Rename the Island: Quisqueya, not Hispaniola
Source: la_voz_taino

"Quisqueya" honors Taino culture whereas "Hispaniola" recalls the Amerindian genocide
By Odette Roy Fombrun

The Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a Caribbean island, one of the four islands of the Greater Antilles that the Tainos, before Columbus's arrival, called Haiti, Bohio or Quisqueya – meaning "Mountainous Land" or "Great Land." The island was baptized La Isla Española (Hispaniola) by the Spanish colonizers.

French colonizers subsequently called it Saint-Domingue. When proclaiming its independence on January 1, 1804, the Western part of the island of Saint Domingue took back the Amerindian name of Haiti (Ayiti). From that date on, the entire island was known throughout the world as the island of Haiti.

In 1930, to avoid confusion between the name of the Republic of Haiti and that of the entire island, the U.S.G.B. (United States Geographic Board) decided, unilaterally, to name the island Hispaniola in homage to the Spanish colonizer, thereby erasing all traces of the Amerindians who occupied the island before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Unfortunately, Haitian and Dominican authorities of the time did not protest this decision with enough force or perseverance, nor did they mobilize any interested parties against this assassination of the island's Amerindian past. It is important to rectify this serious error as soon as possible: the Taino martyrs deserve immortality.

Such was the opinion of the historian Edmond Mangonès in 1934. At a conference held in Montevideo, he vehemently protested the arbitrary decision of the USGB that completely ignored the historical truths of the island (see the Bulletin de la Société d'Histoire et de Géographie d'Haiti, Vol 5, No. 15, Juillet 1934; see also Odette Roy Fombrun, L'Ayiti des Indiens (1992: 138,139)).

At a time when the Caribbean moves toward unification, when Europe speaks of sponsoring only those projects that take into account both parts of the island, and at a time when bilateral activities are planned in the tourism industry to take advantage of the Amerindian cultural heritage, it is important to adopt for our island a name recalls not the genocide of its aboriginal people, but rather a name that recalls the past of resistance to oppression, a past shared by the Dominican Republic and the Republic of Haiti. These two Republics cannot renounce their valiant Amerindian ancestors such as Caonabo, Hatuey and Cotubanama, nor can they forget the abominable massacres of Vega Real and of Xaragua, the murder of Queen Anacaona, nor the triumph of Cacique Henri, as Marie-Hélène Laraque has shown in her life's work devoted to the study of the cultural heritage of the American Indians. Laraque's research has shown that the first Agreement signed between the Americas and Europe was The Treaty of Cacique Henri (Le Traité du Cacique Henri) in the 16th Century. Spain had to send an ambassador to meet with the Cacique. The emperor Charles the Fifth sent Barrio Nuevo as his delegate to sign the Agreement with Henri. Thus, the first Treaty ever signed in the Americas was signed on this island in the 16th Century. It was The Treaty of the Cacique Henri (Traité du Cacique Henri). It recognizes the right of freedom to the Cacique Henri and to his fellow companions.

In memory of this important history we share, I call upon:

- Dominican and Haitian leaders and historians
- all those who believe in the importance of the Taino cultural heritage
- other Caribbean countries
- organizations of Native-Americans and of other native populations throughout the world
- the United Nations

It is time to fight against this name that constitutes a serious injustice against these people, recognized as martyred, and a violation of the right of Haitian and Dominican people to their common Taino heritage. The goal of this mobilisation is for the U.S.G.B. to give back to this West Indian island a name that evokes its rich Amerindian heritage. We propose the adoption of:

"Quisqueya" recalls Taino culture whereas "Hispaniola" recalls the Amerindian genocide. "Rename the Island: Quisqueya, not Hispaniola" is a translation by Thomas C. Spear of Odette Roy Fombrun's original essay, "Renommons l'île: Quisqueya, non pas Hispaniola" (December 2000).

Ezili Danto
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Kiskeya, Quisqueya, Bohio, (Boyo), Ayiti, Hayti, Haiti?

Post by Ezili Danto » Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:18 am

Onè e Respè,

If, in fact the island was called the "Island of Haiti" up until 1930 while we were under occupation; if the DR and Ayiti didn't change it, by treaty, after 1843 when the DR got its independence from Haiti and the Island was acknowledged by them as still the "Island of Haiti" by treaty or custom, then what right does US geographic board have to make a unilateral change.

The name then, for the entire island is still "Haiti." Just as we, at HLLN, hold that Latortue cannot unilaterally tell France the Independence Debt is null and void. Then, if it was the US that changed the island's name, then said US actions done while we were under occupation, do not bind Ayisyen ki lib.

Also wasn't the Western part of the Island known as "Bohio?" [quote]Haití.-Véase Haytí.

Haytí.-El nombre primitivó de La Española, que en actualidad lo conserva la mitad de la isla, llamándose la otra mitad Santo Domingo. Significa, tierra alta. En la parte oriental llamaban los indigenas a la isla Quisqueya; y en la septentrional Bojio.[/quote]

Don't DR nationalists hold an event, every year, celebrating their part of the Island as "Quisqueya" and not the DR?

This is a discussion worthy to be had. Let' s find out more..

Ezili Dantò

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Post by admin » Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:30 am

From an earlier correspondence

[quote]Sent: Friday, May 11, 2001 11:16 AM

Quisqueya, etc. A reply from David Geggus
David Geggus <dgeggus>

Some modern scholars think Quisqueya is bogus on both linguistic and historical grounds. Certainly, there is only one piece of evidence in its favor. That is the writings of Peter Martyr, the cleric at the Spanish court who interviewed returnees from the Americas through the 1490s. He recorded the Taino had used three terms to designate Hispaniola: Quizquella, Haiti, and Cipango. No other contemporary mentioned it.

Usage of Ayti, on the other hand, is well attested. Ramon Pané (probably the first European to learn Arawak), Las Casas, and the chronicler Oviedo all gave it as the name for the island. Columbus's physician, Dr. Chanca, wrote in 1494 that it was the name of the island's easternmost province. The cartographer Andres Morales, who mapped the island in 1508 applied the term to a region approximating the Montes Haitises in the modern DR.

Pané said Bouhi was an old name for any of the islands, and Columbus also recorded the term. Las Casas thought this an error. As bohio meant hut (as it still does in local Spanish), there may have been some confusion with the concept of home.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, writers tended to give equal status to Quisqueya and Haiti, but by the late 18th century Haiti seems to have been the preferred term. In 1788, a French writer suggested renaming Saint Domingue, Aiti. When the DR briefly became independent in 1821, it took the name Hayti Espanol. Thereafter, hostility toward the name set in among Spanish-speakers, and Dominican writers revived Quisqueya and fabricated justifications of its authenticity that some Haitian writers later copied.

There's more on this in my "The naming of Haiti," New West Indian Guide 71 (1997): 43-68; revised version forthcoming in Haitian Revolutionary Studies (Indiana U.P.).
David Geggus
POB 117320
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611

tel (W): 352 392 6543
fax (W): 352 392 6927


Ezili Danto
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The Island of Haiti

Post by Ezili Danto » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:56 pm

Hello Guy,

Thanks for this posting. Just saw it.

I find that Haitian textbooks still use Island of Haiti and those educated in Haiti say "Island of Haiti." But, of course, the mass media and the electronic media are using "little Spain" for the Island. This renouncing of parts of Haiti's revolutionary gains is fairly galling.

I suppose it is up to Haitians in the US and elsewhere to teach, to write to CNN and the media, every time they use the appellation "Little Spain" to refer to the Island of Haiti and correct them. No point in thinking this will be done by some Haitian governmental agency. As an HLLN confidant keeps telling me "when the people speak" the authorities will follow. And, quite frankly, usage is an important precedence and if not countered will be cited as a consensus. Haitians must take this seriously once given the facts of the matter and remember how Dessalines taught us to say NO to all despots and tyrants. The name of the island cannot arbitrarily just be renounced by the US!!!! Se pa kado blan yo te fè nou. Se san zansèt nou yo ki te koule.

Many "objective" and "practical" Negroes will argue, "but we have no leverage - political, military, diplomatic", to reclaim the island back to the "Island of Haiti", et al. Since when has Western laws and standards of democracy, equity ever been equally and justly applied to Black folks, Haitians, in particular??? Thus, my answer to these centrists, can't-confront-the-system-Negroes is and always will be: "di djab bonjou l'ap manje w. Pa di-l bonjou l'ap manje w." So don't sell your dignity, DO THE RIGHT THING. Look the tyrants and despots in the eye and pa di l bonjou, di l NON! That's what Dessalines did. A way will then be made out of no way, or...not. Live free or die means live free or die. The alternative is to refuse to pay the independence debt Haitians are always called to pay, bend your back and get ridden like Latortue, Apaid, Boulos, and those other shades of black, who kill their brothers and sisters in Haiti, sell their souls for officialdom's validation, a dollar, creature comforts and power, et al.

Ezili Danto
Born on the Island of Haiti

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