Thursday, January 12, 2012

"Black Caribs" of St.Vincent and the Grenadines

A member of a people of mixed Carib and African ancestry living along the Caribbean coast of Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua. The Garifuna were deported to the area in the late 18th century after their defeat by the British on the island of St. Vincent, where shipwrecked and escaped African slaves had intermarried with the indigenous Carib population beginning in the early 17th century.

St.Vincent and the Grenadines today has a mixed population which can be clearly seen in the picture below. There are individuals of African, Asian, European and Native American heritage, and many have multiple ancestries. However, before the coming of the Europeans and the other groups, St.Vincent was settled by the Ciboney and then the Caribs, as well as, subsequently, the “Black” Caribs (known as the Garifunas). The descendants of these peoples live today on the Windward coast of St.Vincent (from Sandy Bay to Fancy) and at Greiggs. The island today has very few pure Caribs, with most having intermarried with other groups, primarily, the descendant of the Africans who make up the majority of the population.

A new group of African and Carib heritage developed and became known as the "Black Caribs" or “Garifuna” as the subsequently named themselves—the word "Garifuna" means "cassava eating people." Eventually the Garifuna outnumbered the original inhabitants, the "Yellow Caribs." The Garifuna’s population growth created political tensions with the outnumbered “Yellow Caribs” and so that at one point the Yellow Caribs even negotiated with French wanderers to settle on the islands in 1719—hoping to shift power away from the Black Caribs.

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