Volume 2, Number 2 (2011)
An Investigation of the Impact of Amerindian Mythology on Trinidad and Tobago's Forest Folklores
In Amerindian societies – as in East Indian and African - mythological creatures had spiritual significance and were therefore revered by natives. Being brought together through the system of colonization, caused these cultural groups to learn from each other. The local story tellers consequently became bricoleurs, providing a cocktail of mythological raw material upon which they created a highly cross fertilised creole legendary tradition (Elder 1972: 7). They salvaged and pieced together various features of their individual folklores to form a "heterogeneous repertoire" of myths through the act of bricolage (Strass 1969:11). Bricolage refers to the arrangement and juxtaposition of previously unconnected signifying objects to produce new meanings in a fresh context (Baker 2004:17). The result of this mythological bricolage is present in the forest myths of these islands. This paper is a comparative analysis of the forest folklores of Trinidad and Tobago in relation to the myths of the South American Amerindian groups. Of particular interest are the characters Papa Bois, manicou (Didelphis marsupialis), quenk (Pecari tajacu), and Mama D'Leau from Trinidad and Tobago's folklores.