notes
Preface
1. In 2010, the people known to outsiders as “Saramaka” requested to be rec-
ognized as “Saamaka,” their own pronunciation of their name.
Chapter 1. Testing the Waters
1. Later, we learned that long ago two girls from a nearby village had drowned
when their canoe sank at Mamadan. Eventually (some people say it was seventeen
days, others three months, others a year) one of them appeared on a river rock
in the rapids. When she had been ritually “cured” and could speak once again,
she told of having been taken to the beautiful underwater palace of the Wenti-
gods, where she was waited on by a bevy of young girls. She eventually returned,
she said, because she missed salt (which Wentis do not eat) and begged them
to bring her up to the surface. Older men have told us how, throughout the first
half of the twentieth century when on their way to the coast to work, they would
stop at the Wenti shrine at Mamadan and pour an ofering of white kaolin water,
and then, on their way back with their canoes laden with whitefolks’ goods, they
would pour oferings of sugarcane syrup. For more on Wentis, see chapter 14,
“Agbago’s Seagod.”
Chapter 2. On Trial
1. Sally had sewn a pocket onto the inside of Rich’s shoulder cape; her own
note pads were harder to conceal, and she often had to rely on memory until
she could get back to our house, since she felt uncomfortable writing in other
peoples’ presence. Clandestine note taking was standard ethnographic procedure
at the time and was unquestioned from the perspective of professional ethics.
Indeed, one rather complexly worked out technique for secretly taking fieldnotes
in a pants pocket (using a two- inch piece of pencil and 2 × 3- inch pieces of paper
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