In the Caribbean, oral traditions are one of the most important ways of transmitting knowledge and histories. Their recovery and study are essential in order to recognize their value and to understand the human interconnections among distinct local groups sharing different ancestries. Oral traditions reveal resilient connections and strong cultural links running through the shared cultures with their deep-rooted ancestral origins. Through interviews, text research and ethnographic work, we uncover oral myths and legends woven through healing landscapes, the sacredness of caves and water sources, the selection of places and materials to build houses, as well as a variety of rituals, crafts, and economic interactions. The study of oral traditions is also essential in engaging with communities and understanding past Indigenous lifeways in combination with archaeology.
Collection of information in a rural community in eastern Cuba (photo: Roberto Valcárcel Rojas).
Text by Jorge Ulloa Hung, Jana Pesoutova, and Roberto Valcárcel Rojas.
Photo top: Dominican filmmaker Pablo Lozano documenting oral legacies with José Sadi Cabrera Jiménez in the northern Dominican Republic in 2018 (photo courtesy of Tibisay Sankatsing Nava).