Sweet Water Clans 3

Photo by Jorge Estevez
21st DivisionPunto de Indio Altar
Photo by Jorge Estevez
Altagracias mother from the village of Jarcaragua
Photo by Jorge Estevez
Dona Soledad

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

We reached Santiago on the night of the 23rd.  First thing in the morning we head out to meet Margarita Antonia Acevedo. Margarita has a large congregation of believers in her circle.

 NMAI: What is your name and where are you from?

 Margarita:  My name is Margarita Antonia Acevedo, I am from Santiago.

 NMAI: Originally from Santiago?

 Margarita: Yes

 NMAI: Ok. We are here investigating Indigenous spirituality that is still present in the Dominican Republic. Eddy Luciano told us that you would be a great source. We are interested in your Indigenous complex here. Can you explain to us what it is you do?

Margarita:  We are beings selected by god. Some people think what we do is bad but it is not. It is good because it helps people. The 21 Division is divided into 5 main divisions, further 7, 13, 17 ,21 and 33 Divisions are observed There is the white  and Black Division, the red and white, the Indian water division, the water division belonging to the Queen of the waters,  The petwose Gedese The Marasa and also the white division which belongs to god and the blue skies. There is another division which is the black division, but I do not work with those. but I basically only work with the light and not the dark. Yes we have Petwo , and Gedese but they rise normally (referring to being “mounted/possessed”). They do not rise the way they do in the Haitian POINT. There is a White Candelo and a Black Candelo (CANDELO IS A SPIRIT). NOTE: There is a wide held belief among some Dominicans that African beliefs use dark forces in their ceremonies. The closer one gets to Haiti, the more pronounced the African or black forces are within the 21 Division.

 The Indian division to me is the best. It is a good and clean division, they give you whatever you ask for. They have given me protection and my children protection; The Division I have is separate from all the other divisions. I feel very good serving them. It makes me very happy!

 I received my Indian division from my mother. In fact my mother looks like the Indian known as CAIMITO or ANASE, I will show you a picture of my mother later.

Note: Margarita is differentiating between her mother’s version of the Indian Division and the one commonly found in 21 Division. It is entirely different. This is the first clue regarding Agua Dulce.

 I like all things Indian. Precisely on Thursdays is the day I dedicate to them, this is the day I change their water. In this housed I have not been able to make their tina (house) the way is supposed to be, but where there is space I make them a straw hut and gather stones from the river. NOTE: AGUA DULCE ALTARS REQUIRE RIVER STONES

I take them (Indian water spirits) food and one time I brought a group of Paleros (Drummers) to play for them.

I can only say good things about them.

 NMAI: As you were speaking, we heard many words and things we were not familiar with. However we have heard other names in relation to  the Indian division , such as AGUA DULCE….

Margarita: Yes, that is its name for sure. I know it is Agua Dulce.

When I was 10 years old, my mother and I were visiting her sister who lived in the campo (country). My mom went to wash clothes at the river.  She returned very scared. I asked her “where are the clothes”? She said she had left them behind because as she was washing man rose up out of the water. He was on the other side of the river. He had long hair and a golden comb (Note the golden comb is in regard to a Spanish Story about Xana’s (water maiden). He beckoned her to cross the river to where he was, that she would be safe. But she did not. Instead she ran off, leaving the clothes behind!

 My mother worked with them. She warned me not to bathe in Aque Dulce (sweetwater) because they (Indians) would take me with them. I am afraid of the water. Before the division baptized me, an Indian came to me in a dream and took me to his chosa (type of dwelling). It was a beautiful place with farm animals, and corps.  They told me that I was one of them, I was a part of their tribe. But they warned me “we are jealous beings and our punishments are severe”. And it is true, when they punish me, it is harsh. For example they were angered once and made me throw-up 110 times. Afterward, they came to me in a dream and gave me the remedy. Note: Dreams, stone and water are intrinsically connected. We also found that  Hicotea (Turtles) are also used in dreams. One subject claimed to be a Turtle dreamer.

 NMAI: Please explain what is the significance of the water?

Margarita: Water is Strength, purity cleanliness and clarity. When I feel heavy I just have to go to Agua Dulce and all clarity returns, water has the strongest power.  In fact she is so strong, she even puts out Fire. Note: Margarita considers water to be female.

NMAI: Have you ever heard of a deity known as Taiguabo?

Margarita: I have heard his name, but I do not know him.

NMAI: How about Guamao?

Margarita: I have heard of him but do not know him either. Sometimes the names get switched.

NMAI: Okay, how about the stones, what do they mean?

Margarita: Stones are power, strength and healing. Stones are medicine.  With a stone they can cure anyone.

NMAI: A man in Maguana told us that different types of stones produce different types of dreams or visions….

Margarita: Yes that is correct, that is true. There is one ceremony where we paint our faces red with the powder we get from a stone found only at the Yuna river in Bonao. We make lines on our faces the way they used to. There are some rivers do not have Indian spirits connected to them. NOTE: “THEY” refers to Indian ancestors or spirits.

NMAI: We notice that the Indians (Statues) are on the ground and away from the Catholic or

African Statues. Why is that?

 Margarita: Because if the Indians are elevated, they feel like they are burning and they tell me so! If for some reason I have to elevate one, I need to pour water over him quickly!

 NMAI: In Maguana, we have heard that altars have a special name. For example the names Taimani or Tamani are used, sometimes, only Mani. What do you call your altar?

Margarita: I suppose some people have different names. An altar is a  sacred place. We call our altar BAXIO (Ba-ji-o) Note: The name Bajio means thatched lean-to in Kalinago and Garifuna

NMAI: What kinds of fruits  and foods go on the Altar?

Margarita: All kinds of fresh fruits and Vegetables. Basically all the foods they ate. Also meats like chicken, ahhh !! but with NO SALT! Indians cannot eat salt! : Note, yet another reference of Indians not eating Salt

NMAI: Any breads?

Margaritra: Yes Casabe. What I know of them comes to me in Dreams. NOTE: Dreams are indeed Central to Agua Dulce traditions:

NMAI: It is an honor and pleasure to have visited with you and thank you for sharing your time and knowledge with us.

Margarita: Thank you for coming to our home. It is an honor for me to meet an Indian in the flesh. I had a strong feeling yesterday that I would meet a real Indian and here you are.  Thank you for taking an interest in what we do, you are always welcome in our home.

I would love to try on your headdress. Would that be okay?

NMAI: Of course! We will make sure you get one also.

Maragarita: Yes! It will go great in my Bajio!




Bajio Tamani- Agua Dulce Altar

Some Agua Dulce beliefs and facts!

1) The Indian altars must be kept on the ground and away from Catholic or African altars.

2)  Stones and water must be present.

3) 21 Division and Liboristas sometimes places statues of Indians in its altars. Agua Dulce does not.

4)  Archaeological shards, thunder stones, cemi, etc that are commonly found in these isolated areas are placed in the altars as well

5)  No salt can be present on altar as it is a wide spread belief that Indians do not eat with salt (at least the spirits do not)

6) Tobacco, beans, casabe bread and flowers also form part of the Altars

7)  Altars for the Indians are known as Tamani or Mani. However, this appears to be a description of the type of altar.  The name Bahio or Bajio, is the name of the Altar itself

8)  River stones are placed around the perimeter

9)  Stones produce dreams or visions

10)  Stones are medicinal

11)  Water extinguishes the fire, thus is the strongest force

12)  Dreams are intrinsically connected to water and stones.

13)  All the subjects interviewed were dreamers.

14)  One subject was a turtle dreamer