Amerindians Of Dominica
Dominica's indigenous people - properly known as the Kalinago, were the original inhabitants of the island and have a 3,700 acre Territory on Dominica's east coast. Dominica's First People - the Caribs - live on a 3,700 acre Territory on Dominica's east coast that set aside for them in 1903. They number approximately 3,000 and elect their own chief who holds the position for 4 years. July 2004 saw the election of Charles Williams as Carib Chief.
Besdies the warm and friendly people, other attractions in the Carib Territory include its many craft shops, the L'Escalier Tete Chien, Horseback Ridge and Isulukati Falls, as well as the Karifuna Cultural Group.
On the East Coast of Dominica, the native Dominicans live in peace and harmony. They are the most of their kind living together, the second inhabitants of the island after the Ciboneys. They are the Carib Indians. Unfortunately, due to inaccurate accounts written about them, Caribs have been regarded for many years as "fierce and warlike." However, any encounter with the Caribs, would quickly change one's mind. "Gentle" seems to be their generic trait. They are uncomplicated people who rely on the earth and the sea for a living.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed in Dominica with his men and his ships in search of gold and fortune. To his dismay, he found only rivers, rich volcanic soil, mountains and the Caribs! The Caribs had settled on Dominica, but their ancestors had come from South America: down the Orinoco river and then up the Caribbean Sea where they settled on the most rugged of the islands in order to protect themselves from enemies. The Caribs welcomed Columbus and his men and in return Columbus worked them, almost to the verge of extinction.
There are only 3000 Caribs remaining after years of brutal treatment by the Spanish, French and English. They live in eight villages on the East Coast of Dominica. Collectively, these villages are called the Carib Territory. The Caribs have their own chief and also a representative in the house of assembly. They tend to keep to themselves and their culture has remained very much unchanged compared to other areas of the island.
They reputedly use 300 different herbs for medicine -- some of the best bush doctors hail from the Territory. Dances, traditions, legends, and beliefs have been kept alive by the elders who pass on theses traditions through Story-Telling. The language is only spoken by a few people today but their dances are being performed by Karifauna, their dance group.
The Carib Territory is well worth a visit. It is almost spiritual how one is flung Centuries back into a cool, calm place with the most beautiful group of people, amidst the straw huts and baskets made by the best artisans. You might never want to leave but you would have to unless you could prove that you have Carib Ancestry!
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