The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (today the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and the northern Lesser Antilles.

The Taíno were the first New World peoples encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. They spoke the Taíno language, a division of the Arawakan language group. Many Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans have Taíno mtDNA, showing they are descendants through the direct female lines.

1919 Native woman and child in Baracoa, Cuba
Author Mark Raymond Harrington
This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published (or registered with the U.S. Copyright Office) before January 1, 1926. In Cuba Life + 50 years.
Mark Raymond Harrington Died: Jun. 30, 1971, 1971+50=2021

The 2017 CIA Factbook reported that around 54.7% of Haitians profess to being Catholics while Protestants made up about 28.5% of the population (Baptist 15.4%, Pentecostal 7.9%, Seventh-day Adventist 3%, Methodist 1.5%, other 0.7%). Other sources put the Protestant population higher than this, suggesting that it might have formed one-third of the population in 2001. Like other countries in Latin America, Haiti has witnessed a general Protestant expansion, which is largely Evangelical and Pentecostal in nature.

Vodou, a religion with West African roots similar to those of Cuba and Brazil, originated during colonial times in which slaves were obliged to disguise their loa (lwa), or spirits, as Roman Catholic saints, an element of a process called syncretism and is still practiced by some Haitians today. Due to the religious syncretism between Catholicism and Vodou, it is difficult to estimate the number of Vodouists in Haiti. The religion has historically been persecuted and misrepresented in popular media, however in 2003 the Government recognized the faith as an official religion of the nation.

Many Protestant and Catholics in Haiti denounce Vodou as devil worship, but do not deny the power of such spirits. Instead, they regard them as adversaries who are “evil” and “satanic”, which are often encouraged to pray against. Likewise, Protestants view Catholic veneration of Saints as idol worship, as zealots would often destroy statues and other Catholic paraphernalia.

Minority religions in Haiti include Islam, Bahá’í Faith, Judaism, and Buddhism.

Hispaniolan Trogon
Author Ron Knigh
Creative Commons Attribution

Les peuples de culture arawak, kalinago et taïno occupent l’île avant l’arrivée des Espagnols. D’ailleurs la présence des Taïnos est attestée par les fouilles archéologiques entreprises dans la Grotte Marie Jeanne, dans la commune de Port-à-Piment, située au sud du pays. Puis, débarquant le 5 décembre 1492, Christophe Colomb la nomme l’île Hispaniola, alors que les indigènes la nommaient de trois façons : Ayiti, Quisqueya et Bohio. On estime qu’environ 100 000 indigènes peuplaient l’île d’Hispaniola à la fin du xve siècle.

Les Espagnols exploitent l’île pour son or. Les Amérindiens refusant de travailler dans les mines sont massacrés et réduits en esclavage ; les rares personnes qui réussissent à s’échapper trouvent refuge dans les montagnes et sont marginalisées et fortement paupérisées. Les maladies infectieuses arrivées avec les Européens font des ravages. Les mauvais traitements, la dénutrition et la baisse de natalité font le reste : la population indigène est exterminée en quelques décennies. Esclaves originaires du golfe de Guinée travaillant dans une mine d’or et d’argent. Hispaniola, 1595.

Les Espagnols font alors venir d’Afrique des esclaves noirs déportés. En 1517, Charles Quint autorise la traite des esclaves, qu’il interdira dès la décennie suivante, mais sans succès, pas plus qu’ensuite le pape Paul III

Cap Haitien Marche
Author User: Doron
GNU Free Documentation License,

The Serpent and the Rainbow

In 1978, a Haitian man named Christophe mysteriously dies in a French missionary clinic, while outside a voodoo parade marches past his window. The next morning, Christophe is buried in a traditional Catholic funeral. A mysterious man dressed in a suit who was outside Christophe’s hospital window on the night he died is in attendance. As the coffin is lowered into the ground, Christophe’s eyes open and tears roll down his cheeks.

Seven years later, Harvard anthropologist Dennis Alan is in the Amazon rainforest studying rare herbs and medicines with a local shaman. He drinks a potion and experiences a hallucination of the same black man from Christophe’s funeral, surrounded by corpses in a bottomless pit.

Back in Boston, Alan is approached by a pharmaceutical company looking to investigate a drug used in Haitian Vodou to create zombies. The company wants Alan to acquire the drug for use as a “super anesthetic”. The corporation provides Alan with funding and sends him to Haiti, which is in the middle of a revolution. Alan’s exploration in Haiti, assisted by Doctor Marielle Duchamp, locates Christophe who is alive after having been buried seven years earlier. Alan is taken into custody, and the commander of the Tonton Macoute, Captain Dargent Peytraud–the same man from Christophe’s funeral and Alan’s vision in the Amazon–warns Alan to leave Haiti.

Continuing his investigation, Alan finds a local man, Mozart, who is reported to have knowledge of the procedure for creating the zombie drug. Alan pays Mozart for a sample, but Mozart sells him rat poison instead. After embarrassing Mozart in public, Alan convinces Mozart to show Alan how to produce the drug for a fee of $1,000. Alan is arrested again by the Tonton Macoutes, and tortured by having a nail driven through his scrotum, and then dumped on a street with the message that he must leave Haiti or be killed. Alan again refuses to leave and meets with Mozart to create the drug.

Alan has a nightmare of Peytraud, revealed to be a bokor who turns enemies into zombies and steals their souls. When Alan wakes up, he is lying next to Christophe’s sister who has been decapitated. The Tonton Macoutes enter, take photos, and frame Alan for murder. Peytraud tells Alan to leave the country and never return, lest he be convicted of the murder, executed, and then his soul stolen by Peytraud. Peytraud puts Alan on a US bound plane, but Mozart sneaks on board and gives Alan the zombie drug. Mozart asks Alan to tell people about him, so that Mozart can achieve international fame. Alan agrees and returns to Boston with his mission apparently completed.

At a celebration dinner, the wife of Alan’s employer is possessed by Peytraud, who warns Alan of his own imminent death. Alan returns to Haiti, where his only ally, a houngan named Lucien Celine, is killed by Peytraud and Mozart is beheaded as a sacrifice for Peytraud’s power. Alan is then sprayed with the zombie powder and dies; later, Peytraud steals Alan’s body from the hospital before the death can be reported to the US Embassy. Peytraud takes Alan to a graveyard where, helpless in his coffin, Alan sees that Peytraud has captured Marielle and will sacrifice her. Peytraud shows Alan Celine’s soul in a canari. Alan is then buried alive with a tarantula to “keep him company”. Waking up in his coffin a few hours later, Alan is rescued by Christophe who was also turned into a zombie by Peytraud.

Having escaped Peytraud’s trap, Alan returns to the Tonton Macoute headquarters looking for Marielle. There, Alan defeats Peytraud through a battles of wills, using Celine’s white magic to drive a nail into Peytraud’s groin, and sends his soul to hell. As the Haitian people celebrate the downfall of Jean-Claude Duvalier, Marielle proclaims “The nightmare is over”.

African diaspora religions, a list of related religions sometimes called or mistaken for Vodou/Voodoo

  • Candomblé Jejé, also known as Brazilian Vodum, one of the major branches (nations) of Candomblé
    Tambor de Mina, a syncretic religion that developed in northern Brazil
  • Cuban Vodú, a syncretic religion that developed in the Spanish Empire
  • Dominican Vudú, a syncretic religion that developed in the Spanish Empire
  • Haitian Vodou, a syncretic religion practiced chiefly in Haiti
  • Hoodoo (spirituality) or Rootwork, sometimes called Low-Country Voodoo
  • Louisiana Voodoo or New Orleans Voodoo, a set of African-based spiritual folkways
  • West African Vodun, practiced by Gbe-speaking ethnic groups of Africa

Veve for the Voodoo Loa named (Papa) Legba

This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. 

Haitian Vodou is an African diasporic religion that gradually developed in Haiti between the 16th and 19th centuries. It arose through a process of syncretism between the traditional religions of West Africa and the Roman Catholic form of Christianity. Adherents are known as Vodouists (French: vodouisants or “servants of the spirits” (Haitian Creole: sèvitè). There is no central authority in control of Vodou, which is organised through autonomous groups.

Vodou is polytheistic and revolves around deities known as lwa. Deriving their names and attributes from traditional West African divinities, they are equated with Roman Catholic saints and divided up into different nanchon (“nations”) such as the rada and the petwo. Various myths and stories are told about these lwa, which are regarded as subservient to a transcendent creator deity, Bondyé. An initiatory tradition, Vodouists usually meet to venerate the loa in ounfòs, temples run by oungans (priests) or manbos (priestesses). A central ritual involves practitioners drumming, singing, and dancing to encourage a lwa to possess one of their members and thus communicate with them. Offerings to the lwa include fruit and sacrificed animals. Offerings are also given to the spirits of the dead. Several forms of divination are utilized to decipher messages from the lwa. Healing rituals and the preparation of herbal remedies, amulets, and charms, also play a prominent role.

Vodou developed among Afro-Haitian communities amid the Atlantic slave trade of the 16th to 19th centuries. It arose through the blending of the traditional religions brought to the island of Hispaniola by enslaved West Africans, many of them Yoruba or Fon, and the Roman Catholic teachings of the French colonialists who controlled the island. Many Vodouists were involved in the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to 1804 which overthrew the French colonial government, abolished slavery, and established modern Haiti. The Roman Catholic Church left for several decades following the Revolution, allowing Vodou to become Haiti’s dominant religion. In the 20th century, growing emigration spread Vodou abroad. The late 20th century saw growing links between Vodou and related traditions in West Africa and the Americas, such as Cuban Santería and Brazilian Candomblé.

Many Haitians practice Vodou to some extent, although typically also practice Roman Catholicism, seeing no issue in pursuing the two different systems simultaneously. Smaller Vodouist communities exist elsewhere, especially among the Haitian diaspora in the United States. Both in Haiti and abroad Vodou has spread beyond its Afro-Haitian origins and is practiced by individuals of various ethnicities. Vodou has faced much criticism through its history, having repeatedly been described as one of the world’s most misunderstood religions.

Voodoo exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Author shankar s. from Dubai, united arab emirates

Creative Commons Attribution

Teaching the existence of single supreme God, Vodou has been described as a monotheistic religion. This entity, which is believed to have created the universe, is known as the Grand Mèt, Bondyé, or Bonié. The latter names derive from the French Bon Dieu (“Good God”). For Vodouists, Bondyé is regarded as being remote and transcendent, not involving itself in human affairs; there is thus little point in approaching it directly. Haitians will frequently use the phrase si Bondye vie (“if Bondye is willing”), suggesting a broader belief that all things occur in accordance with this deity’s will. While Vodouists often equate Bondyé with the Christian God, Vodou does not incorporate belief in a powerful antagonist that opposes the supreme being akin to the Christian notion of Satan.

All texts are from wikipedia.org

About the Voodoo exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from Author shankar s.

Another interesting temporary exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was this Haitian Voodoo exhibit. There were signs at the entrance warning weak hearted people to keep away as they could find some of the artefacts frightening or grisly as there were also bodies and body parts there. Photography was prohibited, but I did manage to sneak a couple of shots with my SLR. This room is filled with voodoo related doodads used by those practicing voodoo. (Ottawa, Canada, Dec. 2012)

The Museum itself is in Gatineau Quebec sector of Hull. REM born and raise six blocks from there.

The Museum change name since its beginning

  • Geological Survey of Canada Montreal Quebec
  • Museum of man who moved from Metcalfe St Ottawa Ontario to Laurier St Hull Quebec
  • Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Now The Museum of History

The museum was founded in 1856 as the display hall for the Geological Survey of Canada, which was accumulating not only minerals, but biological specimens, and historical and ethnological artifacts. It was founded in Montreal, and was moved to Ottawa in 1881. In 1910, upon recommendation from Franz Boas, the anthropologist-linguist Edward Sapir was appointed as the first anthropologist in the newly formed anthropology division of the museum. Soon after, the anthropologists Diamond Jenness and Marius Barbeau were hired. In 1910, now named the National Museum of Canada, it moved into the brand-new Victoria Memorial Museum Building on Metcalfe Street in downtown Ottawa. The National Gallery of Canada also occupied half a floor in the building. In 1968, the museum was split into the Museum of Nature and the Museum of Man, but both remained in the same building. In 1982, the Government of Canada announced that the Museum of Man would be moved to its own separate facility in Hull, Quebec (now Gatineau).

In response to criticisms that “Museum of Man” could be interpreted as gender-biased in light of modern sensibilities, a competition was launched in 1986 to find a new name. The National Museum of Man became the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 1989, the museum moved into the new facility. At the time of its opening, the cost of the museum had ballooned from an initial estimate of approximately $80 million to approximately $340 million. Despite initial criticisms of the perceived Disneyfication of the museum, its enormous costs, unique architecture, and unfinished exhibits from many quarters (including the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney), the museum soon became a major tourist attraction and was embraced by different political factions as a national symbol of “a pluralistic, multicultural society.” In 2005, the museum attracted 1,396,000 visitors but attendance had fallen to 1.2 million in 2010.

The name of the museum was changed in 2013 to the Canadian Museum of History. Opposition parties protested the $500,000 rebranding costs during a period of austerity. The new name was accompanied by a change in purpose for the institution, namely an increased focus on Canadian history. Prior to December 12, 2013, the Museums Act had established the purpose of the prior Canadian Museum of Civilization as:

The purpose of the Canadian Museum of Civilization is to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge and critical understanding of and appreciation and respect for human cultural achievements and human behavior by establishing, maintaining and developing for research and posterity a collection of objects of historical or cultural interest, with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, and by demonstrating those achievements and behaviour, the knowledge derived from them and the understanding they represent.

Canadian Museum of History (historymuseum.ca)

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