Treasures of St. Kitts
Carib Origins, Beliefs & Traditions  
Carib or Island (opawy) Carib people, after whom the Caribbean Sea was named, live in the Lesser Antilles islands ( like St. Kitts – the name which the Caribs gave to the island was Liamuiga meaning the “Fertile Island”). They are an Amerindian people whose origins lie in the southern West Indies andthe
northern coast of South America.  When the Caribs first travelled in their “kurijara” (canoe, which was hollowed out of the trunk of a giant gommier tree) to the islands they did not take any of their own women with them. The Caribs raids on other islands
and tribesresulted in so many female Arawak captives, that from then, up until today, the kalinago or island carib people and their language are a mix of Maippurean (Arawakan) and Cariban. In the southern Caribbean they co-existed with a related Cariban-speaking group, the Galibi (mainland Caribs) who lived in separate villages in Grenada and Tobago. Galibi is known as ‘true Carib’ because the word Caribe (and eventually Carib) is a corruption of the word ‘Galibi’.  The European invaders to the Caribbean could not distinguish between the Kalinago people and other ethnic groups of the Caribbean and called all of them “Caribs”. The Carib culture, looked at from the outside, seems to beheavily patriarchal.  Women carried out primarily domestic duties and farming, and in the 17th century lived in separate houses to
the men.  However, women were highly revered and held much power, hence Carib society was actually more egalitarian.  At Clay Villa Plantation, throughout the gardens, house and museum you will find many indoor/outdoor statues and figurines of women from nude to fully dressed and the trustees,who are also the ultimate beneficiaries are also women. The Caribs were skilled boat builders and sailors and
seem to have owed their dominance in the Caribbean basin to their mastery of the arts of war (ereko). Generally, carib raids were aimed at bride capture. The capture of women of an enemy group was a feature of raiding and warfare among tribes who were traditionally in conflict with each other.This taking of captives by one Amerindian tribe from another inter-marriage among small communities. The Island Caribs integrated their captives as wives or in the case of males as ‘poitos’ (son-in-laws) into
their kinship network. The ‘Guardian Spirit’ of the Caribs is the ‘Great Snake’ and the ‘Hawk’ is the symbol of Carib bravery.  Both the Hawk and the Snake in healthy numbers were part of the wildlife of St Kitts.  When the British brought the mongoose to St Kitts to kill off the snake – Caribtradition/belief slowly began to die as well.  The British and Europeans did not like the Carib people (only tolerated them) even though they were
dark skinned (not negroes) they did not like the idea of them being free people and like the aborigine and native North American Indians wanted the land for themselves (hence the colonies). So they (the Caribs) were hunted down and many were killed in the process. The Carib people throughout their existence have placed
great importance on music, dance and storytelling, just like the African people.  They are also famous for their herbal medicines.

Carib Lament which records the demise of a proud people.

A Tooking ma kanari
Minara tanara manaricou      
Kimabouisi can kivacou

Destroyed our strength                                                                  
Myself without birthright, food or weapon.                              
Without strength my plants, our land and water;
Without weapons I am destroyed.
Our strength is without defences, fortress or land.

Carib Petroglyphs
Found at Old Road St. Kitts
Out of respect for all the Carib people, I would like to say, that due to inaccurate accounts written about them, going back to the times of Columbus, the Carib people are an uncomplicated, gentle, often shy people characterized by their long straight hair and quiet demeanour who rely on the earth (nono) and the sea (parana) for a living. They produce beautiful hand crafts and farm with unending enthusiasm. The production of bananas is still the mainsource of income. Coconuts, copra, soya beans, ginger, tropical fruit and various root vegetables are also grown in high numbers. The re-introduction of farine (flour) and cassava (arepa), which comes from the manioc (cassava – which is deadly poisonous if eaten raw) and was once the staple diet of the Carib, is also making a welcome return. The Caribs welcomed the white men, (paranakyry) Columbus and his men and in return the Europeans worked them, almost to the verge of extinction. There are not many Island Caribs remaining after years of brutal treatment by the Spanish, British and French, as well as European diseases taking their toll on the Carib population. Only a relatively small number of Caribs today are 100% pure bred. Even those with only a small amount of Carib blood are fiercely proud of their unique heritage. The Caribs elect their own chief and tend to keep to themselves. They use approximately 300 different herbs for medicines – some of the best bush doctors hail from their Territory. Dances, traditions, legends and beliefs have been kept alive by the elders who pass on these traditions through story-telling. The Carib and African people, even though from very different parts of the world share many similar beliefs and traditions. A Carib person today is known as a Karifuna Life has changed dramatically for the Carib people over the years. However, they are vigilant in their determination not to suffer from exploitation, a fate that has bedeviled many indigenous peoples throughout the world.

The KEEPERS of Earth's Secrets to LIFE.

Shamans recognize the spirtual powers and qualities of plants in many ways - their colours, perfumes, shape and form of leaves, where they grow and in what ways, moods they evoke, geographical, cultural or mythological landscapes they occupy. The appearance of a plant is the gateway to its spirit and consciousness. Nature has spirits and communicates with us. The bottom line is - lives are saved because of nature. Most shamans are 70 years and older. Each time one of them dies, it is as if a library has been burned down.