Cultural Survival and the Indigenous Movement

  • Tony Castanha


The first sections of this final chapter expand on and go into detail about certain customary and spiritual areas of cultural survival in Borikén. The testimonies are powerful and help us to see clearer the extent of the Jíbaro presence. The shamanistic practice that came to be known as “espiritismo” (spiritualism), essentially predicting the future, spiritual healing, or assisting one on a spiritual level, has deep roots on the island. Over time, some important aspects of the Christian and African traditions were adopted and syncretized into the indigenous belief structure. I will comment on the meaning of this syncretism and how it pertains to certain spiritual traditions, such as the Rosario Can-tar. I’ll further draw on analogies of how these practices relate back to ancient times and a general indigenous philosophy. Espiritismo was widely used in the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, and is still practiced today. Medicinal healing and linguistic survival are other significant areas that are looked at. These forms of survival are testament to degrees of resistance that were set into place over time. It should also be noted that espiritistas and cuanderos were prevalent and widely used among the early Boricua who went to Hawai’i. This is documented by Arroyo, who tells numerous stories of different forms of healing performed and of telepathy.


Indigenous People Native People Indian Language Cultural Survival Spiritual Tradition 
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© Tony Castanha 2011

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  • Tony Castanha

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