An untold history of the indigenous Caribs on St. Vincent: their near extermination and exile by the British 200 years ago; and return of some in the Diaspora to reconnect with those left behind. A postcolonial story of re-identification.

Andrea Leland has produced a documentary film that is emotionally perceptive, culturally sensitive, and visually rich. I recommend it highly.

 

Virginia Kerns, Ph.D., Professor Emerita of Anthropology, College of William and Mary
Synopsis: 

The Black Caribs, on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, is a little known indigenous group of people.  Yurumein (Homeland) is a 50-minute documentary that recounts the painful past of these Carib people – their near extermination at the hands of the British, the decimation of their culture on the island, and the exile of survivors to Central America over 200 years ago.

The film also captures the powerful moment of homecoming when Caribs from the Diaspora (also known as “Garifuna” in their indigenous language) visit the island for the first time.  They come hoping to reconnect with the spirit of their ancestors and with the descendants of those who had remained.  They find a legacy of genocide and slavery that has stripped St. Vincent of its native language, culture and heritage. 

What happens when a dislocated people begin to reckon with a past laden with trauma and repression?  Yurumein follows this journey as members of the Garifuna Diaspora (including dancers from the Garifuna Ballet Folklorico from Honduras) attempt to rekindle a disappeared culture and revitalize its language, dance and music. The film reveals signs of resilience as local Vincentians (some with Carib ancestry, some without) come together to honor their ancestors and celebrate their Garifuna past, and in doing so, begin the journey of healing, rebuilding, and preserving the homeland.  Yurumein is a post-colonial story of re-identification and cultural retrieval among the indigenous Caribs in the Caribbean.  

In 2001, UNESCO proclaimed the Garifuna language and culture a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Reviews

VIDEO LIBRARIAN: July/August 2014 (Volume 29, Issue 4)

Filmmaker Andrea E. Leland’s compelling documentary examines a historical chapter that is largely unknown in the United States: the history of the Carib people on St. Vincent...... Offering an important look at a long-forgotten history, this powerful film is also a marvelous tribute to the indefatigable spirit of a people who refused to disappear. Highly recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)

 

Video Librarian

A tautly edited, succinctly recounted tale of a proud people seeking to rediscover themselves that’s well worth viewing for those interested in the history and anthro- pology of a rich, distinctive legacy. 

Library Journal, June 1, 2014 / Brent Marchant

The film is most appropriate for a people struggling to throw away a shameful past as they rediscover their true history. This applies to indigenous peoples, afro-descendants, and any other people to whom cultural revitalization is a painful process.

Joseph Palacio, PhD Anthropology, Belize

This film will be a great resource for any student of Caribbean history or culture as will her extensive production materials which are proudly housed at the Center for Black Music Research. 

Monica Hairston O'Connell, Ph.D., Center for Black Music Research