Now that it has become fashionable to seek reparations from the perpetrators of oppression and dastardly crimes it may now be the opportune time for the Kalinagos of Dominica to reiterate their position on that subject.

It has been over a decade now that while observing the United Nations Decade of Indigenous peoples that a Kalinago councillor penned and had published a newspaper article making the case for reparations for the Kalinagos - it did not include and should not include the dominant society who is mainly of African extraction.

Sadly, not a drum was heard nor a funeral note - that plea fell on deaf ears, it was like blowing in the wind, it died a natural death without a whimper.

Some of us are of the view that the Kalinago case for reparations is unique and should not be contaminated with a case based on slavery since the Kalinagos were never enslaved and never suffered the indignities of the Atlantic passage.

The Kalinagos claim is based on the fact that they were the first to occupy Dominica and after they were raped, pillaged and plundered by the Europeans they can only lay claim to 3700 acres. Thankfully the last UWP government granted them another 82 acres. The Europeans then ceded the Kalinago land to the dominant society in 1978 and the pigmentation of the masters skin changed but with little or no appreciable change in the economic or social status of the Kalinago people. Their community remains the poorest in the region and are becoming progressively more indigent - reduced to dependence on hand-outs with no hope in the horizon.

So a once proud people lost their land, their religion and their culture -although the very last tiny vestige of their culture is exploited by the tourist industry with hardly any benefits accruing to the Kalinago Territory.

When they use their initiative and apply and receive funding for various projects in the Kalinago Territory the funds are hijacked and never accounted for and meted out at the whim and fancy of the dominant society. It is unfortunate that the myth that the Kalinagos do not possess the intellectual capacity to manage their own money for the benefit and welfare of their people continues to be perpetuated.

It is so ironical that the Kalinagos are now being asked to join with the dominant society in their effort to seek reparations from the Europeans.

The litmus test for the Kalinagos would be to seek their own reparations from Europe, receive their funds and utilize the proceeds effectively for and on behalf of the Kalinago people.

Thomas John
Kalinago Territory