To describe Dominica
to the king and queen of Spain, Christopher Columbus reportedly crumpled a piece of parchment into a ball: The folds and creases
illustrated the island's steep mountains (and created one of the first documented three-dimensional maps).
But his model did little to communicate the island's other wonders: Hundreds of
fast-running streams plunge through its thick tropical forests, and rare birds and animals flit through the greenery. Offshore,
steep underwater cliffs play host to colorful coral, sponges and fish. Best of all, most of these attractions are in pristine
condition. Even after recent attempts to increase the number of visitors to the island, Dominica (pronounced dom-in-EE-kah)
is one of the most underdeveloped islands in the region.
The lack of the usual travel amenities -- large resorts, museums, shopping, nightlife
-- means that travelers seeking a typical Caribbean getaway may want to steer clear of Dominica. But those who love nature
and don't mind roughing it in tropical wilderness will find the island to be pure paradise. People go to Dominica to catch
a glimpse of a rare bird, to spend the day hiking through dense forests, and to dive and snorkel in remarkably clear waters.
It's little wonder that it has become one of the primary ecotourism destinations in the Caribbean.
Dominica's First People - the Caribs - live on a 3,700
acre Territory on Dominica's east coast that set aside for them in 1903. They number approximately 3,000 and elect
their own chief who holds the position for 4 years. July 2004 saw the election of Charles Williams as Carib Chief.
Besdies the warm and friendly people, other attractions in the Carib Territory include its many craft shops, the L'Escalier
Tete Chien, Horseback Ridge and Isulukati Falls, as well as the Karifuna
On the East Coast of Dominica, the native Dominicans
live in peace and harmony. They are the most of their kind living together, the second inhabitants of the island after the
Ciboneys. They are the Carib Indians. Unfortunately, due to inaccurate accounts written about them, Caribs have been regarded
for many years as "fierce and warlike." However, any encounter with the Caribs, would quickly change one's mind. "Gentle"
seems to be their generic trait. They are uncomplicated people who rely on the earth and the sea for a living.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus landed in Dominica with his men and his ships
in search of gold and fortune. To his dismay, he found only rivers, rich volcanic soil, mountains and the Caribs! The Caribs
had settled on Dominica, but their ancestors had come from South America: down the Orinoco river and then up the Caribbean
Sea where they settled on the most rugged of the islands in order to protect themselves from enemies. The Caribs welcomed
Columbus and his men and in return Columbus worked them, almost to the verge of extinction.
There are only 3000 Caribs remaining after years of brutal treatment by the Spanish, French
and English. They live in eight villages on the East Coast of Dominica. Collectively, these villages are called the Carib
Territory. The Caribs have their own chief and also a representative in the house of assembly. They tend to keep to themselves
and their culture has remained very much unchanged compared to other areas of the island. They reputedly use 300 different
herbs for medicine -- some of the best bush doctors hail from the Territory. Dances, traditions, legends, and beliefs have
been kept alive by the elders who pass on theses traditions through Story-Telling. The language is only spoken by a few people
today but their dances are being performed by Karifauna, their dance group.
The Carib Territory is well worth a visit.
It is almost spiritual how one is flung Centuries back into a cool, calm place with the most beautiful group of people, amidst
the straw huts and baskets made by the best artisans. You might never want to leave but you would have to unless you could
prove that you have Carib Ancestry!
|Karifuna Cultural Group|
|The Karifuna Cultural Group is made up of individuals from the
Carib Territory who are preserving traditional Carib dance, music and performances.
Carib Territory Scapes
Building the Canoe
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