The vibrant cultures of Central America are far too often overshadowed by their larger neighbors to the north and south, but what does that mean for a local ethnic group that’s even neglected within its own borders? For the Afro-Indigenous Garífunapeople of coastal Honduras, the struggle for recognition is also the struggle to preserve their unique culture into future generations.
The short documentary On Our Land: Being Garífuna in Honduras gives us an on-the-ground look at how this plays out in communities like Trujillo and Limón, where some of the country’s nearly 150,000 Garífuna speakers are concentrated. Through a series of interviews with community members, local politicians, and members of the Garífuna diaspora in the United States, the documentary explores urgent challenges of linguistic survival, institutional representation, and that are affecting the Garífuna.
As the documentary explains, the mixed Garífuna culture formed after a shipwreck left captured Africans stranded on islands of the lesser Antilles, where they intermarried with indigenous Arawak and Caribs. When the British took the islands of St. Vincent and Dominica in the 18th century, the expelled the so-called “Black Caribs” to the island of Roatan off the northern coast of Honduras.
Directed by Neil Dixon, Erica Renee Harding, and James P. Frazier, On Our Land shows how the Garífuna have survived and thrived in the face of continued obstacles, all without losing the passion and joy that characterizes them as a people.