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Reviving Ancient Climate Solutions: Afro Indigenous Hondurans Leading the Way


The Garifuna, also known as Garinagu, are descendants of Arawak Indians and the African Explorers who found themselves shipwrecked on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent in the pre-European 1600s. These diverse groups intermingled over the years, giving rise to a distinctive culture, language, and way of life. The arrivals of Europeans in the early 16th century did not lead to long term settlement, only in 1717 did the French occupy the island in Barrouallie, though the English laid claim on St. Vincent in 1627 Garifuna arrival predates this. The Taino the brown skinned natives met by Columbus were wiped out by 1650! According to Christopher Columbus, their skin color was ‘olive, smooth and brown.


Centuries-old practices meet environmental stewardship in the heart of Honduras as Afro Indigenous communities revive ancient climate solutions. Imagine a world where traditional wisdom intertwines with modern challenges to pave the way for sustainable living. Let's delve into the inspiring journey of the Garifuna the Afro Indigenous Hondurans as they reclaim their heritage and guide us towards a greener future.


The Garifuna people are a people of mixed free African and Amerindian ancestry that originated in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and speak Garifuna, an Arawakan language, and Vincentian Creole. The Garinagu are the descendants of indigenous Arawak, Kalinago (Island Carib), and Afro-Caribbean people. They have been there prior to the European arrival and embedded in the lush landscapes of Honduras lies a community deeply connected to the land they walk upon. The Afro Indigenous Garinagu which refers to the people as a whole rather than individual, are descendants of resilient ancestors, and are the guardians of age-old knowledge that holds the key to harmonizing with nature. Their roots run deep, intertwined with practices that have sustained ecosystems for generations.


In an era overshadowed by climate change and environmental degradation, these communities emerge as beacons of hope, demonstrating how ancient wisdom can be a powerful tool in combating modern-day challenges. The revival of these forgotten practices not only preserves cultural heritage but also offers innovative solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change.


Tragic news stories regularly circulate of increasingly numerous migrant caravans marching north from Central America (Torres Citation2020; Burrell and Moodie Citation2019). Although exact numbers are unclear, it has been noted that many of these migrants are Honduran Garifuna, who are fleeing government repression and resource impoverishment caused by land grabs. An alternative strategy to fleeing has also been developed by Garifuna – many choose to stay, try and protect their land, and fight continual encroachments and repression. Food sovereignty has become a central element of this fight. While many communities are increasingly unable to feed themselves the Garifuna maintain themselves utilizing the skills of their ancestors.


Through a lens of respect and reciprocity, Afro Indigenous Hondurans embrace a way of life in their communities that honors the interconnectedness of all living beings. Drawing inspiration from their ancestors, these communities practice sustainable agriculture, forest management, and water conservation techniques that are rooted in the delicate balance of ecosystems.


By weaving traditional methods with innovative approaches, Afro Indigenous Hondurans not only adapt to a changing climate but also lead by example, showcasing the transformative power of ancient wisdom in building resilience. Their practices serve as a testament to the symbiotic relationship between humans and the environment, urging us to reconsider our role as stewards of the Earth.


As Afro Indigenous communities reclaim their cultural identity, they also make significant strides in environmental preservation. The foolishness of governments relying on foreign powers to sustain them has caused the woes of these nations as their natural resources are plundered and squandered leaving everyone poorer in the long run while vilifying their potential saviors. By reintegrating ancestral practices into their daily lives, these communities could ensure food security and resource sustainability and also contribute to the conservation of biodiversity and natural habitats but greed and short sightedness and a thirst for the almighty dollar have left heads of state nothing more than beggars in the face of climate migration.


The revival of ancient climate solutions among Afro Indigenous Hondurans echoes a global call to action towards building a more sustainable future. Their journey serves as a reminder that indigenous wisdom, when coupled with modern innovations, has the potential to address the pressing environmental issues we face today.


Several Institutes of higher learning specifically from American HBCU's Like Morehouse and Spelman have begun studying indigenous sustainable development as it is emerging amongst Afro-indigenous Garifuna in Honduras. Although Garifuna activists, thinkers, leaders, and practitioners share a close geographical relation to Maya groups, their challenges, cultures, and histories are substantially different. As a result, Garifuna sustainable development has its own distinct form, focused increasingly on territorial autonomy and food sovereignty. Michael Russell Thierry co-founder of Black Coral Inc.org a nonprofit working with the Garifuna community of Roatan Honduras and others to save the Mangroves and coral reefs of the island commented "...we look towards the horizon of environmental sustainability, Afro Indigenous Hondurans stand as pioneers, bridging the gap between tradition and innovation. Their resilience, dedication, and commitment to preserving the Earth's natural beauty inspire us to rethink our relationship with the environment and strive towards a more sustainable tomorrow."


In the tapestry of environmental stewardship, Afro Indigenous Hondurans weave a narrative of hope, resilience, and reverence for the Earth. Let us learn from their journey, honor their wisdom, and walk hand in hand towards a greener, more harmonious future.


Through the revival of ancient climate solutions, Afro Indigenous Hondurans offer a glimpse into a world where tradition and innovation coexist, propelling us towards a more sustainable future.


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