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Amerindians Settlement In Antigua & Barbuda

The first peoples on the island of Antigua were Amerindians from South America. The date for their first known existence is about 2,400 BC and was determined from a site at Little Deep, Mill Reef. At about the time of Christ, agricultural seafaring Amerindians arrived on the blessed shores of Antigua and Barbuda and began to subsist by growing cassava, a local tuber plant still used to this day.

These copper coloured Amerindians also knew the art of pottery making and settled in many villages. To date, over 125 prehistoric settlements have been recorded in Antigua and Barbuda. According to the early missionaries, Antigua was then known as Waladli and Barbuda, Wa'omoni.

Columbus sailed past Waladli in 1493 and renamed the island after a famous miracle working virgin in Seville Cathedral called Santa Maria la Antigua. Get more historical information written by Desmond Nicholson of the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

Barbuda Amerindian History

The first inhabitants of Barbuda were hunter gatherers who came by canoe from Yucatan in Mexico about 3000 to 4000 years ago . These people are called Ciboney, "the stone people" from the Arawak language, or "pre-Ceramic" as pottery is not associated with their sites. Artifacts include blades fashioned from the large gastropods that the Ciboney harvested, while celts, picks, hoes, and water vessels were made from Queen Conch, King Helmet, and Trumpet shells and whelks.

The best evidence for their presence is along the southwest coast of Barbuda from Coco Point to River and up to the southeast corner of the Lagoon. This is the Strombus Line, made of piles of Queen Conchs (Strombus gigas) that had been harvested for their nutritious meat and thousands of chert flakes from Flinty Bay, in Antigua.

These hard sharp stones would have been used to cut meat for cooking or drying. Habitation sites are along the coast near Codrington, River, Sucking Hole, Factory, and Goat Pen. Human remains carbon-dated as 3100 years old were found at Boiling Rocks, near Spanish Point.

Caribs & Arawaks In Barbuda

The Arawaks or sub-Tainos came from Venezuela and Guyana at about the time of Jesus Christ. The earliest human remains are at Seaview, near Two Foot Bay, and date from 1600 years ago. The Arawaks were excellent at horticulture. They cultivated sweet potatoes, corn, peanuts, cotton, tobacco, and numerous fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants. The bitter cassava plant provided the staple of the Arawak diet.

They peeled, shredded, squeezed, and sifted the starchy tuber to remove the cyanide and then baked cassava as bread on griddles the size of pizza pans. Fish, turtles, manatees, and other seafood, birds and their eggs, iguanas, small mammals, and land crabs provided the protein in a very well balanced diet.

The Arawaks are characterised by their sophisticated ceramic pottery, known as Saladoid. The decoration was white-on-red and had zoned-incised-crosshatching. This pottery has been found at Sufferers in the Spanish Point area, but may exist at Indian Town, near Two Foot Bay. Later the pottery became simpler when red and brown or orange predominated.

The period 1500 to 800 years ago saw the heaviest population in Barbuda, which often was used only for seasonal provisioning. Six or more village sites are known including Sufferers, Indian Town, Highland Road, Franks, Guava, Welches, and Ghaut.

The Caribs

The ?infamous? Caribs spent time on Barbuda; they had probably replaced the more docile Arawaks by the time of European contact. The Caribs did not live on the island year round, but came seasonally to harvest seafood and whatever crops and land animals they could find.

They preferred the mountainous and well watered islands of St Kitts and Dominica. The Caribs were so fierce in their claim to Barbuda that they were a deterrent to European colonisation. In the early 1700s the British Royal Navy had to protect the inhabitants of Codrington from Carib attacks.