Traditionally, the Kalinago were led by a Chief, known as Ouboutou and who was charged with the general welfare of the people. Similar to the tribes on the Southern continent, there were also other leaders who possessed special spiritual and healing abilities were given special responsibilities.
Figure 6 Kalinago Council Office
At present, the traditional system has been replaced with a more contemporary form of government, and as a result the Kalinago Council is part of the Local Authority. Nonetheless, it functions as the official representative of the Kalinago people, and was established with the objective of governing, managing and controlling the affairs of the Kalinago Territory on behalf of its residents.
The Kalinago Council consists of seven members; the person elected as Ouboutou and six other elected members. In the event that an insufficient number of members are elected, or if no one is elected, or offers himself for election, the Prime Minister is capable of nominating as many additional members as may be required to constitute the Council.
One of the Council’s main functions is to provide financial resources authorized by law, to be allocated towards various developmental projects. These are expected to help to enhance the quality and lifestyle of the people.
Councilors are assigned responsibilities which range from Tourism, Arts & Craft, Cultural Development and Special Events, Health, Social and Gender Affairs, Community Development, Education, Public Relations and Research, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Sports and Youth Affairs.
Part of the Council’s duty involves the construction and maintenance of village roads, water supplies, health centers, playing fields, public conveniences and community centres.
The Kalinago Council also has to ensure that the Kalinago community is kept in proper sanitary conditions, while serving as Central Government’s agent for the distribution of public assistance to indigent community members.
The council is also expected to be a channel via which information on Central Government policies and programs are conveyed to the local community.
The council has the authority to settle disputes amongst the residents of the Territory may be settled, but judicial cases cannot be held and fines cannot be charged.
The Kalinago Council has an office in the Territory and an official seal. Vested powers, authorities, interests, rights, immunities and privileges as constituted will be given to the present Kalinago Council.
Meetings are held at least once every month, as established according to the laws of the Kalinago Council, or whenever convened by the Ouboutou. A meeting may also be summoned by the Ouboutou in the event that any three members present a written request to him.
A quorum for the transaction of business may be formed by any three members of the Kalinago Council, decisions will be taken by a majority of votes of the members, and no act or proceeding of the Council or any of its committees shall be questioned on account of the vacancy of any member.
The Council may appoint persons resident within the boundaries of the reserve, and establish as many committees as deemed necessary.
The Prime Minister reserves the right to request the appointment of persons that he considers suitable to serve as advisers to the Council according to the terms and conditions that may have been agreed with the Kalinago Council.
Very strict qualification requirements have been put in place for the acceptance of persons as members on the Council. First of all, in order to qualify to be elected as members, candidates must:
- be citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica
- have attained the age of eighteen years,
- be able to proficiently read and speak the English language
- must be competently capable of actively participating in the proceedings of the Council
- be residents of the Kalinago Territory
Additionally, the Council reserves the right to disqualify any member:
- if and while he is illiterate, that is, cannot speak, read or write English,
- is a minister of religion,
- is no longer resident in the Reserve,
- holds any office or place of profit in the gift or disposal of the Council,
- is an undischarged bankrupt, suffers from any mental disorder,
- has directly or indirectly by himself or his partner, or any person in his employ, any share or interest in any contract or employment with, by or on behalf of the Council.
A member of the Kalinago Council is free to resign his seat by giving fourteen days’ notice in writing to the Ouboutou.
Following the election of the new Ouboutou, he is elected as Chairman of the Kalinago Council and maintains this position for as long as he remains Ouboutou.
As Chairman, the Ouboutou presides at meetings and exercises the powers that are assigned to him by the Council. He also has an original vote, and a casting vote in the event of an equality of votes.
The Kalinago Council may from time to time confront challenges but continues to be a major force in ensuring proper governance and order among the Kalinago people.
The primary goal of the Kalinago Council is to preserve true Kalinago customs in a time when the world is rapidly becoming a global community.