A new book by St Lucian researcher Sylvester Clauzel, Indigenous Peoples of St Lucia—Nou Se Kalinago, aims at debunking many of the most ignorant myths about the indigenous peoples of the region that persist so many centuries after early European travelers and settlers first invented them. Here are some excerpts from a recent review in the St Lucia Star:
“The Taino dominated the Greater Antilles by the time of the arrival of the Europeans around 1500 A.D.,” writes Clauzel. The second group of people called (and still call) themselves the Kalinago and began moving into the region around 600 A.D. “They were not raiders and savages as many historians described them but traders who also settled in the islands,” Clauzel’s book explains. This conclusion matches newer research which indicates that the Amerindian people of the islands were much more sophisticated than the simple savages that early Europeans painted them to be. Artifacts made of similar materials and style are being found in far-flung locations, suggesting that the Amerindians made long journeys with no other aim than to trade—something which the traditional history taught in primary and secondary schools today totally fails to recognize.
Researchers have also posited that Amerindians in the islands grew surplus manioc to sell to settlements in the Orinoco delta where cassava didn’t grow very well—blowing away the myth of subsistence farming.
One of the biggest myths that was long overdue for debunking is that the ‘Caribs’ were cannibals.
“The widely believed, repeated and taught myth that the Kalinago were cannibals has never been substantiated,” Clauzel insists. “Evidence of ‘Carib’ cannibalism has always been inconclusive. Cannibalistic practices had ritual or mythological components. It should therefore be surprising that none of these rituals has survived. If cannibalism was such a prominent practice among the Kalinago, why do descriptions of it lack the detail found for other aspects of Kalinago life? Descendants of the Kalinago today maintain that they have no oral history of this practice and that it is totally unfounded.”
For the complete review go to http://stluciastar.com/content/archives/9514