Kalinago History – The indigenous people of Dominica

Carib Territory

Dominica was the name given to 289.8 sq. miles of land, by Christopher Columbus, when he landed on the island on November 3 rd 1493. On the north eastern side of this beautiful tropical rainforest island is 3782.03 acres of land set aside known as the Carib Territory. It is situated between two villages, Atkinson to the North and Castle Bruce to the South. It is the home of approximately 2208 Kalinagos (Caribs), the remaining survivors of the first inhabitants of the island. The people called the island Waitukubuli (tall is her body), and they referred to themselves Kalinagos. The Europeans referred to them as Caribs.

The Caribs and Colonial forces

For more than two centuries, colonial forces attempted to gain control of the island but the Kalinagos (Caribs) met them with fierce resistance. Due to the inaccessibility of the coastline and the rugged terrain of the island, the Kalinagos (Caribs) managed to repel the invaders. The island changed hands many times but still they defended there lands. In 1748, under the treaty of Aix-La- Chapel le, Britain and France recognized the Kalinago domination of the island and declared it to be neutral and left it under Kalinago control. This treaty was short lived. The British continued to wage war on the kalinago (Carib) people but due to there courage and bravery they survived. In 1763, the British gained full control of Dominica. The Kalinagos were given 232 acres of mountainous and rocky shoreline in Salybia. In 1903, the amount of land was expanded to 3700 acres and was called the Carib Reserve; in addition the Carib Chief was officially recognized.

The kalinago people before the arrival of Christopher Columbus

Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus the Kalinagos (Caribs) were self-reliant people. The kalinagos (Caribs) survived mainly by fishing, hunting, and farming. They were skilled craft people and made canoes (hew from huge trees and dug out) which were used to travel to and from the neighboring islands. The Caribs also weaved baskets and were famous for their herbal medicine. They spoke their own language and worshipped the sprit of their ancestors.