The history of the Caribbean is rich with adventerous tales, blended cultures, and natural diversity.

The impact of colonialism and slavery can still be seen in many of the island cultures today; so much so, in fact, that travelers often note a sense of living with the near-tangible history that permeates the region.

Caribbean Indians
Caribs (kăr'ĭbz) , native people formerly inhabiting the Lesser Antilles, West Indies. They seem to have overrun the Lesser Antilles and to have driven out the Arawak about a century before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. The original name by which the Caribs were known, Galibi, was corrupted by the Spanish to Caníbal and is the origin of the English word cannibal. Extremely warlike and ferocious, they practiced cannibalism and took pride in scarification (ritual cutting of the skin) and fasting. The Carib language was spoken only by the men, while the women spoke Arawak. This was so because Arawak women, captured in raids, were taken as wives by the Carib men. Fishing, agriculture, and basketmaking were the chief domestic activities. The Caribs were expert navigators, crisscrossing a large portion of the Caribbean in their canoes. After European colonization began in the 17th cent., they were all but exterminated. A group remaining on St. Vincent mingled with black slaves who escaped from a shipwreck in 1675. This group was transferred (1795) by the British to Roatán island off the coast of Honduras. They have gradually migrated north along the coast into Guatemala. A few Caribs survive on a reservation on the island of Dominica. The Carib, or Cariban, languages are a separate family. Caribspeaking tribes are found in N Honduras, Belize, central Brazil, and N South America.

Carib people are believed to have left the Orinoco rainforests of Venezuela in South America to settle in the Caribbean. Over the century leading up to Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Caribbean archipelago in 1492, the Caribs are believed to have displaced the Maipurean-speaking Igneri people from the southern Lesser Antilles. Their legends (as recorded by Fr. Breton in the seventeenth century) say that they killed (and ate) all the Igneri men and took their women as wives. Anthropologists are divided as to how true these legends are, but the fact that the Island Carib women spoke an Maipurean language gives credence to this idea. They spoke Kalhíphona, a Maipurean language (Arawakan), although the men either spoke a Carib language or a pidgin. In the southern Caribbean they co-existed with a related Cariban-speaking group, the Galibi who lived in separate villages in Grenada and Tobago and are believed to have been mainland Caribs. Several words of Carib origin became part of the english language, including hurricane, hammock and iguana.

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played a subordinate role in their society handled all the domestic chores, pottery made ceramics, & raised the children

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warriors making weapons for war, hunting, fishing, & trapping usually did the basket-weaving typical village contained: 30-100 members of several generations Carbet(Men's Houses) the central building -100-120 hammocks inside less important buildings surrounded the Carbet, wives & families lived here

The islands also raided and traded with the Eastern Taino of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The Caribs were the source of the gold which Columbus found in the possession of the Taino; gold was not smelted by any of the insular Amerindians, but rather was obtained by trade from the mainland. The Caribs were skilled boatbuilders and sailors, and seem to have owed their dominance in the Caribbean basin to their mastery of the arts of war. The Caribs were themselves displaced by the Europeans, and were eventually all but exterminated during the colonial period. However they were able to retain some islands, such as Dominica, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, and Trinidad. The Black Caribs (Garifuna) of St. Vincent who had mixed with marooned black slaves from a 1675 shipwreck were deported in 1795 to Roatan Island, off Honduras, where their descendants, the Garífuna, still live today. The British saw the less mixed "Yellow Caribs" as less hostile, and allowed them to remain in St. Vincent. Carib resistance delayed the settlement of Dominica by Europeans, and the Carib communities that remained in St. Vincent and Dominica retained a degree of autonomy well into the 19th century. The last known speakers of Island Carib died in the 1920s. The number of Caribs in Dominica today is about 3,000; there are several hundred ethnic Caribs in Trinidad.

Cannibalism and patriarchy controversies
In 1200, the Arawaks were conquered by the Caribs. The Caribs were a taller and stronger Amerindian tribe than the Arawaks. They were also cannibals. They were a warlike and savage people who are reported to have barbecued their captives and washed them down with cassava beer. In the History of Barbados, for example, it is reported that Caribs ate an entire French crew in 1596. They

were incredibly accurate bowmen and used a powerful poison to paralyze their prey. Europeans arriving on the Caribbean Islands in the 16th century remarked on the Caribs' aggressive and warlike ways and apparent taste for combat. Carib culture, looked at from the outside, seems to be heavily patriarchal. Women carried out primarily domestic duties and farming, and in the seventeenth century they lived in separate houses (a custom which also suggests South American origin). However, women were highly revered and held much power. Island Carib society was socially more egalitarian than Taino society. Although there were village chiefs and war leaders, there were no large states or multi-tiered aristocracy. Instances of cannibalism were noted as a feature of religious war rituals, and in fact, the English word cannibal comes from the Spanish caníbal, itself taken from the Carib karibna ('person') as recorded by Columbus. Claims of cannibalism, however, must be seen in light of the fact that in 1503, Queen Isabella ruled that only cannibals could be legally taken as slaves, which gave Europeans an incentive to identify various Amerindian groups as cannibals. To this day the Kalinago people fight against what they regard as a misconception about their ancestors.

Christopher Columbus
When European explorers first traveled to the New World, there were primarily two races of American Indians living in the Caribbean: the Arawaks, who originally settled in the Windwards and Leewards and eventually inhabited the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas; and the Caribs who came from Venezuela in South America and lived throughout the Lesser Antilles. History tells us that before both of those groups, the Ciboneys came to the Caribbean islands nearly four or five thousand years ago. Christopher Columbus' voyages, although sometimes controversial, certainly set the mark for New World exploration. There was an increased desire to explore the west and forge new routes that would reopen the spice trade. This was the motivation for Columbus’ historic voyages to the west and he called the islands he stumbled upon the Indies because he thought he’d found the western passage to Asia and maintained such until his death in 1506. Following Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of the New World in 1492, Spanish colonizers infiltrate the Greater Antilles, appropriating land and enslaving the Island Carib population. The Carib Indians defended their island against the

colonialist masters, Spanish, French and English excellently. The Spanish were the first to try and failed miserably. The French were the next to try by using missionaries. The British were more brutal and systematically destroyed the Caribs. The British introduced European diseases, such as smallpox and syphilis and tuberculosis, a threat to which the Carib had no resistance and the local indigenous population is nearly disseminated . Today there are a few thousand Caribs that live in the Nort East part of the island. By the early 1500s, African slaves, therefore, are brought over to these colonies to replenish a depleted labor supply. Runaway African slaves and survivors of two Spanish shipwrecks in 1635 are taken in by the Island Carib. The intermixing of these races produces the Black Carib peoples.

Garífuna History at a Glance
The Garifuna are the result of the intermingling of African slaves, Carib Indians and some Europeans. The Garifuna, also known as the Garinagu, are direct descendants of the “Island Caribs” and a group of African slaves who escaped two ship-wrecked Spanish slave ships near St. Vincent in 1635. Fishing and agriculture is a traditional way of living for the Garifuna . Today the Garifuna populations can be found in Guatemala, Honduras, Belize and many have migrated to the United States approximately, 300,000 Garífuna live around the world. The Garifuna, also known as the Garinagu, are direct descendants of the “Island Caribs” and a group of African slaves who escaped two ship-wrecked Spanish slave ships near St. Vincent in 1635.

Carib Food
The Carib Indians added more spice to their food with hot pepper sauces, and also added lemon and lime juice to their meat and fish recipes. The Caribs are said to have made the first pepper pot stew. No recipes exist since every time the Indians made the dish, they would always add new ingredients. Their daily diet consisted of vegetables and fruits such as papaw, yams, guavas, and cassava.

THE PINEAPPLE is originally unique to the Western Hemisphere, the fruit was a culinary favorite of the fierce Carib Indians. The Carib had a big impact on early Caribbean history, and the Caribbean sea was named after this tribe.

The Carib Queens of Arima, Trinidad

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Valentina 'Mavis' Medina Justa Werges Edith Martinez Maria Werges Ma Gopaul Dolores Medrano Francis Sorzano

Previously, as in the period dominated by Maria Werges and Edith Martinez (1930s-1970s), the Queen was the sole authority figure, with authority limited to preparations for the Festival period. She was responsible for all cleaning and decorations of the Church for the Festival, as well as cooking and providing food for those who worked for the Festival, and in leading prayers and the procession on the Festival Day. The Queen also received and controlled whatever funds or donations were forthcoming for the preparations for the Festival. In the contemporary Carib Community, I was told by key spokespersons that the Queen was elected for her knowledge of Carib traditions, her ability to pass on that knowledge and offer training in weaving skills amongst other things, and for her ability to deal with the public, receive visitors, and maintain a high standard of protocol on public occasions.

photo in the Santa Rosa Carib Community Cent re of Queen Edith Martinez, circa early 1980s, teaching children to weave using the terite reed to form the cassava strainer (the sebucán, also known as the matapí) as seen at the bottom of the picture

Valentina ‘Mavis’ Medina