Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Carib Indians

There is no shortage of things to see in Dominica and so once again we headed out on a tour.  Our trip took us to the windward or eastern side of the island where there is one beautiful vista after another.

Our destination was the Carib Indian reservation.  The Caribs prefer the name Kalinago.  Carib is the name the Spaniards gave them.  We had previously thought that the Carib or Kalinago culture had been wiped out but here on the reservation are the decendants of this race of people.  Most have intermarried with people of African decent but there are still some full-blooded Kalinago. 

Our guide told us that the Kalinago would bring the bones of their dead family members back to their homes to worship them.  When the Spaniards arrived and saw the human bones they asumed the Kalinago were cannibals and gave them the name Carib.

This building is a replica of the common building or meeting house that would have been at the center of their village.  Only the men were allowed to enter.

An inside view of the meeting house.

This man is making Cassava bread the traditional way.  Cassava is a root vegetable that is ground to make flour.  We sampled some and found it delicious!

A traditional Kalinago canoe, carved from a single tree.

One of the small huts in the village.  Of course now the Kalinago live in modern homes.  They elect a chief who represents their interests in government.

An idol carved from the trunk of a tree fern.

Coastline view from the reservation.

Our guide told us about a tradition that the women still observe.  They collect a combination of herbs, always an odd ammount like 7, 9 or 11, never more then 21.  They go to where this stream meets the ocean and bath with the herbs,  The herbs are then thrown into the sea and the women walk back up the hill, never looking back.  It is supposed to cleanse the spirit.

Basket making was historically done by the men but has become the domain of the women.  The beautiful colors are achieved by soaking the fibers in stains from vines or from the colors of the soil. 

The work is beautiful.  These two small, covered baskets and the fan sold for just 13 EC each or about $5 U.S., remarkably inexpensive for such intricate work.

After many visits, we continue to find new things to love about Dominica.  It is truly the unspoiled jewel of the Caribbean.