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The Lokono or Arawak are an Arawak people native to northern coastal areas of South America. Today, approximately 10,000 Lokono live primarily along the coasts and rivers of Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. They speak the Arawak language, the eponymous language of the Arawakan language family.
Historically, the group self-identified as Arawak, a term adopted by outsiders to refer to them. In the 19th century, when Western scholars had established that the major indigenous population of the Caribbean during European contact (now known as the Taíno) were culturally and linguistically related to the South American Arawak, ethnologist Daniel Garrison Brinton proposed calling the Caribbean people "Island Arawak". Subsequent scholars shortened this convention to simply "Arawak", thereby causing confusion with the mainland people.
In the 20th century, scholars such as Irving Rouse began using the older term Taíno for the Caribbean peoples to distinguish them from mainlanders. The mainland Arawak also call themselves "Lokono" (also spelled "Locono" and "Lokomo"); this has become more common in scholarly literature since the late 20th century.
The Arawakan languages may have developed in the Orinoco River Valley, and subsequently spread widely as speakers migrated, becoming the region's most extensive language family by the time of European contact. The group that identified as the Arawak or Lokono settled the coastal and river valley areas of what is now Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, and parts of the island of Trinidad.
While the Spanish rapidly colonized the Caribbean islands, the Lokono and other mainland peoples resisted colonization for a much longer period. The Spanish were unable to subdue them throughout the 16th century. However, with increased encroachment from other European powers in the early 17th century, the Lokono allied with Spain against the neighboring Kalina (Caribs), who had allied with the English and Dutch. Subsequently, the Lokono engaged in trading relationships with the Europeans, an arrangement that led to prosperity. However, economic and social changes in the region in the early 19th century, including the end of the plantation economy, adversely affected the Lokono, and their population began to decline.
In the 20th century, the Lokomo began to supplement their traditional agricultural economy by selling fish and lumber and through migrant labor, and their population has begun to rise again. There are approximately 10,000 Lokono living in Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, as well as thousands of others with Lokono ancestry.
- Olson, James Stewart (1991). The Indians of Central and South America: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood. p. 211. ISBN 0313263876. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- Olson, James Stewart (1991). The Indians of Central and South America: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood. p. 29. ISBN 0313263876. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- Rouse, Irving (1992). The Tainos. Yale University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0300051816. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- Hill, Jonathan David; Santos-Granero, Fernando (2002). Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia. University of Illinois Press. p. 1–4. ISBN 0252073843. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
- Hill, Jonathan David; Santos-Granero, Fernando (2002). Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia. University of Illinois Press. p. 39–42. ISBN 0252073843. Retrieved June 16, 2014.