Dominican Republic Americans
Most historians believe that Christopher Columbus discovered this island about the same time that he discovered Haiti, which occupies the same territory. The Dominican Republic is a Hispanic country forming a part of Latin America, despite its location in the Caribbean. It is, in fact, the modern version of Spain's first colony in the New World; its culture represents more than a 500-year continuum since the conquest in 1492. At the same time, the Dominican Republic is an African American country. Due to the early demise of the large Native American (Taino) population by disease and warfare, as early as 1502 African slaves were imported into the island as a labor force, largely for cultivation of sugarcane. Africans were later taken to other areas of the Caribbean, likewise for sugarcane cultivation. So, despite the European colonial rule and official language, African heritage is the cultural common denominator that unites the Caribbean as a culture area. In the Dominican Republic, African culture merged with Spanish culture to form the rich hybrid illustrated by the oral musical traditions of today.
The island of Hispaniola was a single colony, Santo Domingo, for over 200 years. But after Spain discovered greater riches in Mexico and Peru, Santo Domingo was left as a backwater. This neglect allowed France to get a foothold on the island. In 1697 Spain ceded to France the western third of Hispaniola, called St. Domingue (the French translation of "Santo Domingo"). Unlike Spain, France developed St. Domingue as the jewel in its crown. Development at that time was based on tropical agriculture using an African slave labor force. So, tens of thousands of Africans of various ethnic origins were brought in from West and Central Africa. In this way, the racial
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Publication information: Book title: Nurturing Success:Successful Women of Color and Their Daughters. Contributors: Essie E. Lee - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 169.
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