Caribbean Studies - Module 1 - Periods of caribbean_history
1. C A R I B B E A N S T U D I E S
M O D U L E 1
Periods of Caribbean History
2. Periods of History
The Caribbean experience several periods of
History that shaped it into what it is today.
1. The Amerindians
2. The coming of The Europeans: Columbus,
The inhabitants of Caribbean Societies are
not the original people, and the vast
majority came either to plunder or because
of economic necessity.
For whatever reason, the plural mix that has
resulted , within so small a physical space
through scattered, contributes to what
makes the Caribbean a place and a people,
interesting and fascinating.
4. The Tainos
These were peaceful and gentle people
who migrated from South America,
mainly through the Orinocco Valley via
Venezuela and Guyana In the time of
They came in search of food and to flee
the war like Kalinagos.
5. The Tainos
They island hopped and settled in the
Greater Antilles. This was were
Columbus ‘discovered’ them.
In 1494 approximately 60,000 Tainos
were living in Jamaica with large
populations also living in Cuba,
Hispaniola and Puerto Rico.
6. The Tainos
The Tainos established settlements on
coastal and fluvial (river) plains. This
facilitated fishing which was their main
method of gathering food.
Their homes were round huts or houses
made of wood and thatch. They were
clustered in small villages. The huts
contained hammocks and low stools,
cooking pots and other domestic utensils.
7. The Tainos
They were short sturdy people with brown
skin who wore few clothes but were
beautifully adorned with coloured paints,
flowers, beads, necklaces and feathers.
They lives in a communal structure in
villages. These villages coalesced to form a
province governed by a Cacique or Chief.
The villages were ruled by sub-chiefs.
10. The Kalinago
While the Tainos enjoyed fishing, the
Kalinago were farming people.
They planted manioc and sweet potato
In the rainforest and near their villages.
These villages consisted of a series of
round huts for women and a larger
rectangular ones for the men.
11. The Kalinago
They settled in the more humid and fertile
islands. They fished and collected shellfish
They hunted and developed techniques to
capture agouti, rice, rats and iguanas.
They also hunted turtles as a part of
12. The Kalinago
The popular foods such as manioc,
baked as cassava bread and pepper pot.
Pepper pot consisted of bits of meat
and fish, stewed in manioc juices and
spices with hot chilli peppers.
The making of beer was a popular task.
13. The Kalinago
The organized themselves socially in a tribal
in a tribal or egalitarian form. Where a
headman rules the village community but
didn’t have chiefs ruling over groups.
Their art and craft was simple, compared to
the sophistication of the Tainos.
They wore little clothing and slept in
14. The Kalinago
They used calabash as containers and
wood to make canoes and little stools.
They were expert weavers who made
By the 17th century they used metal
objects such as knives, needles, sickles,
hoes, axes and griddles to cook the
15. The Kalinago
For these warlike people, weaponry
was a major element of their
These weapons included a bow and
arrow, poisoned with manchineel
juice. Other weapons included the
war club or boutou and a blowgun.
16. The Kalinago
There was a marked difference in
appearance between the kalinago in the
Leeward islands and the others.
This difference was mostly seen in hair
The caribs of Guadeloupe wore long hair in a
ponytail and bangs on their forehead, while
the others favoured short- cropped hair.
19. The Amerindians
The tribes that Europeans met are no
longer physically in the region, but
there is evidence of their existence.
This evidence is seen in the Caribbean’s
economic activities, agricultural
systems, language, food, religion and
20. The Amerindians must be credited with
fishing in canoes and boats, peasant
farming and subsistence agriculture
(use of kitchen gardens).
Caribbean people have adopted the
plants planted by the Amerindians and
have their practices of interacting with
21. The Amerindians
Evidence is also seen in language as many
names for indigenous foods came from
Some genetic legacy still remains despite the
catastrophic decline of indigenous people in
the region. Inter-relationships took place
between them and Europeans and Africans
resulting in a mixture of ancestry in the
22. The Amerindians
They existed in the Caribbean region for
may centuries until the arrival of the
Europeans in 1492.
Their labour was exploited, they were over
worked, treated cruelly and exposed to
unfamiliar European diseases such as
measles, small pox and tetanus. These were
deadly to them as their had no resistance to
23. They died in large numbers and it was reported in
1611 that only 74 were alive in Jamaica.
At this point it was suggested that Africans would
make better workers in the West Indies.
24. The Europeans
Christopher Columbus in 1492 brought the
‘Old World’ into contact with the ‘New
He made a few voyages seeking gold and
quick riches and lured settlers with the
promise of new land and natives to do hard
work for them. The first settlers raised
cattle, grew tobacco and sugar cane as well
as subsistence crops.
25. The Europeans
The Spaniards introduced the Encomienda
system where each settler was granted a piece
of land and a groups of natives worked for
In return, they were to protect them and
convert them to Catholicism.
The government of Spain proclaimed that the
natives were free citizens but they were
usually treated inhumanely; bought and sold
and worked mercilessly by the settlers.
26. The Europeans
The Rapartimiento system was then
instituted and was meant to be an
improvement on the encomienda system,
but it had similar results.
A percentage of males in the village between
ages 18 and 60 could be recruited to work
for a Spaniard who desired their services for
a week or fortnight (2 weeks).
27. Under this system the Spaniards paid wages
and treated the natives, but the system was
abused as the Europeans seldom held up
their end of the agreement.
Their desire to exploit that land for
agriculture ignored the communal
arrangements of the indigenous people that
developed over many generations.
28. The cattle, horses, pigs, goats and sheep
trampled their fields and destroyed the
crops gown by the natives.
Their local process of food production
was destroyed as a result of European
Many natives starved or struggles to
29. By 1493, the New World was rules by Spain and
Portugal. This led to rivalry from other European
countries that wanted a share in the new found
wealth of the new world.
30. Indentured servants
Indentureship in the Caribbean began as white
indentureship. With the rapidly declining aboriginal
population an alternative had to be found for the
plantations. White indentured labour was introduced
in the French and English colonies in the Caribbean.
Each labourer was contracted for 5-7 years, usually
without pay. The plantation owners were to look
after them and at the end of the time frame, they
were expected to give the indentured servant a
passage back home and a sum of money or a piece of
31. Many of the white indentured servants were
deprived whites, political prisoners and criminals.
Barbados received the highest number among the
British West Indian Colonies. Many of these white
indentured servants can be found in some rural
districts of Barbados.
The decimation of the Amerindian societies caused a
labour shortage for the plantations and the granting
of full freedom to most colonies led to another labour
shortage crisis for them in the 19th century.
32. The first time , after the amerindian genocide in the
C’bean the solution was to get indentured servants
from Europe. The 2nd time (after emancipation) the
ex-slaves moved away from the plantations forming
free villages; the solution was sought mainly in Asia,
particularly India. Some indentured servants were
also sought from china to a lesser extent.
The conditions of both types of indentureship were
very much the same. The servants were not slaves,
who were forced to work against their will for no
33. Unlike the slaves, ther servants volunteered their
labour. However their low wages made them serfs.
Their hard labour, however made them experience
some of the hardships of plantation life.
From India, came 500,000 and much fewer numbers
came from other places such as Portugal 36,000 and
West Africa 36,000.
Later many other groups from the Middle East came,
fleeing religious persecution.
This system ended in 1917.
34. Indentureship provided a basis for the continuation
of plantation life in a more legal form of oppression.
The approximately 50% Indian populations of
Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago have added
significantly to the C’bean ethnic mixture. In jus
about every C’bean country, there are communities
of Indians and to a lesser extent Chinese and other
ethnic people such as Syrians, Lebannese and Jews.
35. The ethnic mixture of the C’bean makes it one of the
most racially mixed cultural places in the world,
second only to the USA.
Each and all of these ethnic groups have made
significant impacts on the culture they came and
found. Traces of their contribution can be identified
in religion, business, music and cuisine. The
struggles and achievements in regard to this mix
have made the Caribbean culture a unique and
African slavery was introduced into the C’bean after
the Amerindian and White slavery could not
withstand the rigours of plantation life. With the
genocide of the Amerindians cheap labour became
From about 1517 the Asiento or import licence was
granted to West Indian plantation owners to import
African slaves. Bewteen the 1600s and 1800s the
English and French brought over 3,000,000
captured Africans to the West Indies.
37. The vast majority came between 1700 and 1800 to
the British West Indies with Barbados receiving
134,500; Jamaica got 85,100 and the Leewards
The British West Indian slave trade ended in 1807.
The slave trade involved the transporting of human
cargo shipped through the Middle Passage from
West Africa to the C’bean and then old by auction to
38. A day in the life of a slave was very long. The
beginning was usually at day break (4:00 am) and
ended at 6:30 or 7:00pm. Slaves worked an average
of 16 and a half hours a day.
Punishment for insubordination was excessive,
intended to ‘break’ their resistant spirits and make
others cower. These punishments ranged from death
to cutting off an arm or leg and terrible floggings.
Instruments of punishment included the iron collar,
thumbscrew and the cart whip.