Culture continues to play an large role in the life of Dominicans. From the indigenous Kalinago to the Europeans who colonized it, and the Africans they brought to work there, the influences of the different people who have lived there remained and shaped the culture of the island. This culture is experienced through cultural festivities that use the art, music and folklore of the islands ancestors to promote unity within the nation.
The islands culture has change over the years, as have the attitudes of its people. Carnival, previously called Masquerade is one festival where Dominican culture is celebrated, but in 1953 the masquerade was consider vulgar and tasteless. Critics from that time felt that some of the festivities practices were against the moral values that were encouraged among the general public, however its importance as a cultural celebration was recognized allowing it to endure these criticisms and become a force of unity among Dominicans. In the 1960’s Premier Edward Oliver Le Blanc also promoted National Day as an annual cultural festival. This created the opportunity for different village groups to compete in competitions for folk dancing, music and art. This established a feeling of national identity and pride among Dominicans, and in 1978 a Cultural Department was created to encourage Dominicans to take full advantage of these cultural activities.
It was in this way that culture was used to bring the people together, and to help form the nation that Dominica would become. Dominica’s rich history from its settlement by indigenous people and then its encounter by Christopher Columbus is an integral aspect of the story from colonialism to independence. The exhibit explores the ways that folk cultures and other ways of life were employed to move the people to seek Independence.
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