Making Peace with Atabeira in a Time of Climate Crises

“In the days preceding the arrival to Caribbean shores by Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Caribbean Sea was referred to as Atabeira (Ah-tah-bay-rah) by the Indigenous Taíno Peoples. The term is used to describe a powerful and generous Earth Mother, who, for the Indigenous islanders, is manifested in more than just the lands; she is the life-giving waters of the bountiful sea. This was, and for some, continues to be, a harmonious, spiritual relationship linking appreciative peoples to life above and below the waters.

Following the voyage of Columbus, however, this sacred relationship was brutally disrupted and subsequently replaced over centuries by a mainstream acceptance of patriarchal dominion over the natural world. In the Caribbean, the commodification of the environment, as well as peoples of color via the institutions of slavery and semi-slavery, begins with Columbus. The intergenerational promotion of his unsustainable, exploitative worldview continues to adversely affect all life above and below the waters even today. In fact, this harsh reality may also affect future generations in the Caribbean, as the very possible collapse of ocean ecosystems will have long lasting, dire consequences.

The Caribbean islands are the ancient homelands of the Taíno and other Indigenous Peoples such as the Kalinago, Garifuna, and Lokono, as well as other Arawakan peoples. These islands comprise a massive, crescent-shaped archipelago southeast of the interconnected watershed of Gulf of Mexico and the North American mainland. The Caribbean island chain is east of Central America, north of South America, and west of the Atlantic Ocean. The archipelago is divided into two main regions, including the Greater and Lesser Antilles. The latter is subdivided into the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, and the ABC Islands.”…(read more)

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