Florida Museum of Natural History archaeologist William Keegan collaborated with TED-Ed to produce a video dramatization of how the world came to be, as told by the Taíno, an indigenous people of the Caribbean.

Working with animator Franz Palomares of TED-Ed – the education initiative of the nonprofit technology, entertainment and design organization – Keegan said he hopes the 4-minute video will help viewers hear the story in a different way, with Taíno culture and beliefs at the forefront.

“If you watch the video and listen to the story, without trying to turn it into a lesson, you gain an appreciation for how the Taíno explained the beginning of the world,” said Keegan, curator of Caribbean archaeology. “It’s not meant to be a literal explanation – it’s meant to be an emotional experience.”

Descended from the South American Saladoid people, the Taíno flourished across much of the Caribbean for nearly 1,000 years before the arrival of Europeans and were one of the region’s most developed cultures. The Taíno society was distinguished by complex ritual practices and elaborate artistry and craftsmanship, expressed in pottery and objects made from bone, shell, cotton and wood.

Keegan is an expert in Taíno archaeology and has been working with TED-Ed animators and writers for nearly a year on the video.

“Myth is an oral abstraction performed by the storyteller,” Keegan said. “I liken it to learning a second language – the breakthrough moment comes when you stop translating words into your first language and just understand what’s being said.”

The short film is part of a mythology series produced by TED-Ed, which makes short video lessons aimed at educators and students.

“Every human society has a story to describe their origins,” Keegan said. “By giving a voice to these stories, we can gain a better understanding of what it means to be human.”

Source: William Keegan, keegan@flmnh.ufl.edu, 352-273-1921

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