Garífuna History at a Glance
how making casabe (yucca
bread) is a custom the Garifuna inherited from their Arawak ancestors.
Credit: Drew Irwin.
Pre-Columbian History: The Island
The Garífuna people are
a mix of African, Arawak and Carib Indian heritage. Due to overpopulation
and food shortages, the Arawak and Carib Indians migrate from Guyana,
Surinam and Venezuela and across the Caribbean Sea to the Lower and Greater
Antilles Islands by 1220 A.D. In this unpopulated land, the Arawak and
Carib mix and engender a new offspring, the Calinago, more commonly known
as the Island Carib. More -->
how drummers were influential
in Black Carib war.
VI-XVII Century :
The Black Carib Ancestor
Following Christopher Columbus'
"discovery" of the New World in 1492, Spanish colonizers infiltrate the
Greater Antilles, appropriating land and enslaving the Island Carib population.
Largely due to European diseases such as smallpox and syphilis, the local
indigenous population is nearly disseminated. By the early 1500s, African
slaves, therefore, are brought over to these colonies to replenish a depleted
labor supply. Runaway African slaves and survivors of two Spanish shipwrecks
in 1635 are taken in by the Island Carib. The intermixing of these races
produces the Black Carib peoples. More
how the Wanaragua
dance evolved from theCarib wars. Credit: Drew Irwin, InCorpore
XVII-XIX Century: The Carib Wars
By the seventeeth century, the French, English, Spanish, and Dutch set
up camp in the Antilles Islands, feasting their eyes on the plentiful
labor supply and the vast expanses of land, ideal for planting sugarcane,
coffee, and tobacco. The Black Carib fiercely resist European imperialism
but in 1797, are rounded up by English forces and deported to Roatan,
an island off the Northern coast of Honduras. They are rescued by the
Spanish and taken to the mainland to produce food for the colony and defend
against British attacks. More -->
||Read how Garífuna
workers were fired by banana transnationals after Hurricane Mitch
hit Honduras. Credit: Drew Irwin.
XX Century: The
of Spanish rule, the Black Carib, known today as the Garífuna, set sail
for Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua to log mahogany with British woodcutters
and smuggle contraband trade. Those who remain in Honduras find work on
banana plantations in the early to mid-1900s. Following a collapse in
banana prices and a deadly epidemic, many Garífuna join the United States
and British merchant marines by the 1950s and settle in port towns around
the world. Today, approximately, 300,000 Garífuna live around the world.
Curiously, the United States' Garífuna population of 90,000 about equals
Honduras' population of 100,000, which is the largest concentration of
Garifunas in Central America. More
Apuntes sobre los pueblos autóctonos de Honduras. Instituto
Hondureño de Antropología E Historia and Confederación de Pueblos Autocotonos
de Honduras: Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 1993.
Berger, Andrea and
Kathy Berger. Garifuna Journey Study Guide.
Cayetano, Sebastian. Garífuna History, Language, & Culture of Belize,
Central America & the Caribbean. Belize: S.& F. Cayetano, 1997.
Flores, Justin. The Garífuna Story: Now and
Then. Central America, 1979.
González, Nancie. Sojourners of the
Caribbean: Ethnogenesis and Ethnohistory of the Garífuna. University
of Illinois Press: Urbana and Chicago.
------- La historia del pueblo Garífuna
(pasado y presente). Pueblo Garífuna.
Kerns, Virginia. Women and the Ancestors:
Black Carib Ritual Kinship and Ritual. University of Illinois Press:
Urbana and Chicago, 1997.
Garinagu life in Central
Garinagu life overseas.
Nosotros los Garinagu.
Origen de la población
Black Karibs of
Honduras, University of Maryland.
the minorities of Honduras, Honduras
The African Diaspora.
University of Texas, Austin.
Glossary of Terms