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!