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Terraba Indians of Southern Costa Rica tribal dance.

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Uploaded on May 27, 2010

Terraba Indians of Southern Costa Rica tribal dance.
The Térraba is another small tribe, living in the environs of the Río Teribe in Costa Rica. In the twentieth century, the tribe suffered major population swings. It was decimated by recurrent tuberculosis epidemics between 1910 and 1930, but population expanded rapidly with the availability of better medical care after the 1950s. Contact with outsiders also increased. By the late 1980s, the Térraba had abandoned most of their native crafts production, and their knowledge of the region's natural history was declining. They even looted their ancestral burial mounds for gold to sell. They refused employment on nearby banana plantations until the early 1970s, when a flood swept away most of the alluvial soil they had farmed. The Guaymí attempted to include the Térraba in Guaymí territory, but the Térraba stoutly resisted these efforts.
The Reserva Boruca-Terraba was among the first indigenous reserves established in Costa Rica in 1956. The lands currently on the reservations were named baldíos (common lands) by the General Law of Common Lands, passed by the national government in 1939, making them the inalienable and exclusive property of the indigenous people. The subsequent law of the Institute of Lands and Colonization (ITCO), passed in 1961, transferred the baldíos to state ownership. Law No. 7316, the Indigenous Law of Costa Rica, passed in 1977, laid out the fundamental rights of the indigenous peoples. This law defined "indigenous", established that the reserves would be self-governing, and set limitations on land use within the reserves.
The Boruca and the Térraba are located in contiguous territories in the south. There are approximately 5000 Boruca and 1200 Térraba. Their languages are fast becoming extinct. The Boruca practise two important annual festivities involving music: the fiesta de los diablitos and the fiesta de los negritos. Little survives of other musical activities. Only six Boruca songs (mostly cradle songs) and 12 Térraba songs (composed on personal anecdotes and other subjects) are known. Texts of several of these songs, as well as other indigenous song texts, are compiled and analysed in A. Constenla Umaña (1996).
The fiesta de los diablitos is usually from 28 December to 2 January but can last longer. As a dramatic representation, ritual game or festival, it recalls the battles between Indians (the devils) and Spaniards (symbolized by a bull) in which the Indians win. Although the whole community participate, only men play as diablitos. The diablitos run through the town for several days, 'stealing' ready-prepared food and corn beer from the houses. They constantly play reed whistles or plastic recorders and small double-head drums in a random manner. A bull horn or a conch-shell is played only by the diablo mayor (major devil). The festivity ends with the symbolic killing of the bull, a person inside a wooden frame covered with cloth and wearing a bull mask.
The fiesta de los negritos is performed from 6 to 8 December, coinciding with the Catholic feast of La Virgen de la Purísma Concepción. Some men dress in the skins of animals and dance around a man holding a wooden mule head, painting their faces with soot or black shoe polish. Plastic recorders (which have replaced traditional reed whistles in both festivals) are played at random. In both feasts there are performances with non-indigenous instruments such as accordions, guitars and violins accompanying popular dances. The Térraba also had a festivity involving music called the fiesta de la vaquita (Cow Feast) performed on 4 October for their patron saint, St Francis, which disappeared during the 1960s.
Costa Rica, §II: Traditional music

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