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Recognizing the Tainos and Caribs During Native American Heritage Month

Floor Speech

Date: Nov. 20, 2019
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. PLASKETT. Madam Speaker, November is Native American Heritage Month, and I would like to share with you a story, one unknown to most Americans, but one that Virgin Islanders learn at a young age. It is the Caribbean story of Europe's drive for conquest and the resistance of the Native Americans of the Virgin Islands, the Tainos and the Caribs.

In 1493, Columbus and his men landed on Ayay, known now as Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. There they met a group of Taino people who had been taken captive by the Caribs. While en route back to their ship with these captives, Columbus' men encountered the fierce Carib villagers, and the first recorded violent conflict between Europeans and Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere ensued, killing one of Columbus' men.

Men and women fought with bows and canoes against gunpowder on ships. It is our story of Native pride of resistance, of remembering what is yours.

However, the Taino and Carib peoples have left us with so much more. When you use such words as barbecue, guava, canoe, hurricane, potato, maze, savannah, you are connecting with indigenous people who centuries ago journeyed from South America to settle in the archipelago that has given, and continues to give, much to this country and the world.

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