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Caribs and Arawaks

Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, most of the Caribbean was peopled by three groups of inhabitants: the Ciboney (or Guanahuatebey), the Arawaks (or Tainos), and the Caribs. The cultural distinctions among the three groups are not great; the single greatest differentiating factor appears to be their respective dates of arrival in the region....The most numerous groups were the Arawaks, who resided in most of the Greater Antilles — Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the island containing Haiti and the Dominican Republic), and Puerto Rico. The Lesser Antilles was the home of the Caribs....The Caribs and the Arawaks were progressively wiped out by the aftereffects of the conquest, the peaceful Arawaks suffering the greater catastrophe....Both the Caribs and the Arawaks left indelible influences on the language, diet, and way of life of the twentieth-century people who live in the region. Caribbean food crops, such as peanuts, cashew nuts, potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, pumpkins, manioc, and maize, have spread around the world.

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General History

  • Central and South American Culture 1500 (Before)
  • Black Carib Bastion of Freedom
    The Indians were already there, by turns peacefully or bloodily minding their own business. Then the Europeans arrived to decimate them and usurp their land and with them came a trickle of kidnapped Africans that became a torrent as the... more
  • The Caribs: Overview
    The Caribs: Overview The Caribs... more
  • Columbus and the Indians: Friend or Foe?
    American Indian activists accuse Christopher Columbus of genocide, slave-trading and stealing their land, charges that supporters of Columbus say are exaggerated and even false. What was this great explorer's real relationship with... more
  • A World Too New
    IN THE YEAR 1513, a group of men led by Vasco Núñez de Balboa marched across the Isthmus of Panama and discovered the Pacific Ocean. They had been looking for it- they knew it existed- and, familiar as they were with oceans, they had no... more

Society and Culture

  • Idols and Ceremonial Weapons, Carib Tribe,... blished c.1820s-30s (colour litho)
  • Domestic Tools and Furniture, Carib Tribe,... blished c.1820s-30s (colour litho)


  • Cuba: New Taino Reflections
    After centuries of disregard, declared extinct by academia and written out of most histories, Caribbean Indigenous peoples, including Taino (Guajiro), Carib (Kwaib) and Garifuna, have emerged in the past decade to claim their places... more
  • On a Carib Reserve, Fragments of a Mighty Past
    They are the Carib Indians, descendants of the warlike tribe that inhabited this island of deep green volcanic peaks and jagged precipices when Columbus spotted it in 1493. more
  • Taino Nation Alive and Strong
    CARIDAD DE LOS INDIOS, Cuba - No one ever told Panchito Ramirez that his people were extinct. Though the history books tell us otherwise, here in the remote mountains of Cuba, the knowledgeable herbalist and healer lives with some 350 Taino... more
    NEW YORK, Aug. 8, 2005 (IPS/GIN) -- A group of indigenous Puerto Ricans has occupied a cultural center in hopes of pressuring Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila to meet with them and address what they say are continuing violations of human rights... more