A Garifuna Organization for Northern California

On September 10th, 2000, a group of Belizean Garifunas living in San Jose and a few Honduran Garifunas from San Francisco met to form a Garifuna organization in Northern California. The meeting took place in San Jose, California. The Garifuna participants met with the goal in mind of trying to establish more cultural activities for the Garifuna community in northern California.


The group planned to sponsor a cultural event on November 18th, 2000. This date corresponds with activities of Garifunas in Belize who celebrate and re-enact Garifuna settlement in Belize. The Garifuna Settlement Day is traditionally celebrated every year on November 19th. Settlement day commemorates the arrival of the first Garinagu settlers to Belize.

The group also discussed possibilities of maintaining linkages with Garifuna organizations in Belize in order to improve the environment and economic life of Garifunas back home.

Other issues discussed focused on the preservation of the language. Several members discussed how they could preserve the language. They discussed the possibility of starting Garifuna language classes.

Mr. Marin an organizer and leader of a Honduran based Garifuna group in San Francisco, also expressed the importance of involving Honduran participants in the organization. In San Francisco there are very few cultural activities for Garinagu people other than the Punta rock bands that occasionally fly into San Francisco from New York and Honduras to perform. Mr. Marin, who is originally from Limon, Honduras, hopes to encourage more Honduran Garifuna to get actively involved in improving the economic situation back home. High rates of underemployment and illiteracy are common in Honduran communities. Issues of communal land rights and lack of access to natural resources are also issues of concern for Garifuna communities living in Honduras. Since the hurricane Mitch, devastation, the economic situation has gotten worst.

Currently, Mr. Marin is planning to write a proposal in order to get foundations to fund libraries in the villages of Limon and the Mesquita Coast in Honduras. Mr. Marin believes that placing a Library in these areas would help to decrease the high illiteracy rate.

The group decided to name the organization Garifuna Council of Northern California so that it would be representative of all Garifuna people in the entire Bay Area.

Currently Garifuna families can be found in San Francisco, Hayward, Oakland, San Jose, Sacramento and other Bay Area communities.

The group is in its infancy stages. The mission of the organization is to promote Garifuna culture.


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