The word "Garifuna" come from the Arawak root Karina which then would be transformed intoGarinagu, then Karifuna. It means "cassava eater." Garifuna name (with a capital) is normally used to refer to the ethnic group, but it can also refer to the language (with a lowercase letter).





Garifuna History begins in the sixteenth century in the Lesser Antilles when Europeans colonized the area and transported slaves to work their plantations. Some islands were neglected by the Spanish, including St. Vincent and Dominica. The original Carib Amerindian Arawak were living there. They succeeded for a long time to stand up to the British and the French to keep their territory free from colonial powers.


Caribs to Garifunas

In 1635, slave ships were wrecked off the island of St. Vincent. Several slaves managed to escape death and fled to St. Vincent where Caribs (Caribbean native people) welcomed them. Caribs allowedAfricans to settle on the island. During the following decades, other castaways met there also. The news was spread in the Caribbean islands that was a "paradise" for runaway slaves, survivors from slaveshipwrecked and slaves taken to the Spanish or Dutch. Most refugees married Caribs, which created the Garifuna people.

Crossbred Garifuna then adopted not only the language but also the Caribs' culture and lifestyle.
Although, the tension between Caribs and Garifunas started to rise to the point where the two people divided the island of St. Vincent in 1700: Garifunas in the east, Caribs in the west. In reality it was the governor of Martinique who decreed that half of the island would be assigned to each.
Fearing the domination of the Garifunas and the stranglehold of the English, the French authorizedCaribs to establish colonies in 1719. They sent missionaries to all Caribbean and eventually obtain peaceful relations with the two peoples.



A free and independent nation

Then between 1763 and 1783, the British and French fought over control of St. Vincent. The British tried several times to occupy the island, but the Garifuna proved strong and good fighters managed to repel them.


The defeat

In 1782, the Treaty of Versailles gave the British possession of Saint-Vincent, the Garifuna were then delivered to their worst enemies. The English founded sugar cane plantations and brought African slaves to work, but the French encouraged the Garifuna to oppose the British colonization. In 1796, united under the command of their leader Joseph Chatoyer, Garifuna pushed the English along the coast. When Chatoyer was killed in a duel by an Englishman, the French were forced to abandon their allies and Garifuna were definitively defeated.
The British could not accept that "blacks" are free on the island defeated and continue to live like "whites". The British had to be liquidate unwanted populations: they chased them and burned their houses.
On 15 July 1796, the British Secretary of State for war ordered to transport 4300 Garifuna prisonerson the deserted Baliceaux island in the Grenadines. Half of them died of yellow fever due to poor conditions of detention and nutrition. Meanwhile, the English continued hunting and destroyed all the crops to starve the survivors.


The deportation

To prevent further resistance, the British government finally decided to deport most Garifuna. On 26 October 1796, he embarked on ships 5080 Garifunas and made drop them on the small Honduran island of Roatan, after expelling the Spanish garrison which occupied the place .
However, on this April 11, 1797, the British only left 2248 Garifunas on the island of Roatan, the others died during the long voyage. This community is present today in Honduras.


garifuna history


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