When Columbus and his men first landed on the islands of the Caribbean believing that they had made it to Asia, they encountered a thriving civilization of people who had been living there for thousands of years. Mistaking his location, Columbus referred to these people as Indians. In fact, they were the Taíno, Lucayan and Carib, the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean. They were the first people of the Americas to be victims of European invasion, enslavement, and colonization, which resulted in devastating consequences for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It is vital to confront our history and the reality of its impact.
The environment and culture of the Indigenous peoples of the Caribbean region.
The Caribbean region, or West Indies, refers to the island chains in the Atlantic Ocean and includes the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Lesser and Leeward Antilles, and others.
The climate in the Caribbean is tropical with temperatures of warm to hot all year with a wet season from June through November which can bring hurricanes. Vegetation is lush and green.
The rainforest provided palm trees for wood and leaves. They could hunt for sharks, manatees, crabs, birds, pigs, and more. They gathered berries, fruits, and vegetables, and farmed many things like maize, sweet potato, and chili peppers.
The Taíno lived in Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Lucayan Tainos were in the Bahamas, and the Carib were in the southern Lesser Antilles.
PEOPLES OF THE CARIBBEAN
CLOTHING AND TRANSPORTATION
Homes were called bohios, which were circular and made with reeds, bamboo, branches, grass, and mud with thatched palm leaf roofs. The largest bohio in the village was rectangular and was for the cacique.
A ball game, called batey, was played with a rubber ball and 10-30 players on two opposing teams. The ball game could have been played for festivals as well as to settle disputes between rival villages.
Canoes were used for travel and fishing. People wore little to no clothing because of the heat. Faces and bodies were decorated with paint and jewelry made of gold, precious stones, feathers, seashells.