Saturday Video: Visiting Carib Indian Territory in Dominica
Of all the many disparate peoples who have come to call the Caribbean home over its history, none are more feared and completely misunderstood than the Carib Indians. So great and lasting was their influence on our islands that the entire region still bears their name. At the same time, all most people know about them is that they ate people.
Only thing is, that whole cannibalism thing is false.
The Carib, or Kalinago people are thought to have arrived in the Caribbean some time in the 1200’s. The tribe originated in the Orinoco River region of South America, but soon became the dominant force in the Caribbean, displacing the Arawak Taino people by virtue of their superior skills in war, boat-building and sailing . Of course, Europeans came a couple hundred years later, killing off most of the Caribs purposely through warfare and enslavement, as well as accidentally through the spread of infectious diseases brought over from the Old World.
It was these very same European conquerors who recorded supposed incidents of cannibalism within Carib communities, doing so in such a way that painted the entire race as blood-thirsty man-eaters. But, what’s the real story?
To find out, just head to Dominica and pay a visit to the 3,700-acre Carib Indian Territory. One of the last remaining Carib Indian communities anywhere, the Territory is home to some 3,000 people. As you can see in the video above, there aren’t any war-crazed cannibals here. Instead, you’ll find a proud and resilient people, intent on preserving their amazing cultural heritage.
As for their alleged dark diet, it’s true that Carib warriors would chew and spit out one mouthful of flesh from the bravest of their vanquished foes. This was practiced as part of war rituals with the idea of transferring the foe’s bravery to the Carib warriors, but there’s no proof that Carib peoples ever just ate another person just ’cause they were hungry.
It’s just not true, despite what you may have seen in recent Disney movies…