National Geographic : 1965 Dec
KODACHROMEW N.G .S . 800 "That is a new mace," whispered Alford Benoit as other Indians arrived to stand near the chief. "The people look docile, but as recently as 1930 they flared up in what we call the 'Carib War,' over smuggling. The Indians armed themselves with sticks, so the police used guns. Two Caribs were killed and two others seriously wounded. When police reinforce ments arrived, they were driven off. "The rebellion was finally put down by a Navy warship, H.M.S. Delhi, which fired star shells over the reserve and landed marines. As a punishment, the kingship was abolished, leaving only the title of chief, and the royal mace was confiscated." Surviving Caribs Face Loss of Land Before we left, Father Martin told us, "The great needs of the Caribs are education and opportunity. They make and sell baskets and dugout canoes, but there is no market on the reservation for what they grow. Would you like to carry bananas on your head over these steep trails, hoping to get them to Roseau?" Although a better access road is under construction, questions are now being raised about the legality of the establishment of the reserve in 1903. The Caribs, faced with the possibility that their land really does not belong to them, have reached a vital crossroads: Loss of their land, I realized sadly, could mean loss of tribal identity itself-the final blow for this remnant of a once mighty people. As I boarded Finisterre to leave Dominica, I re membered the doubts which had filled me when I arrived in Grenada. Now I had found that the islands remained basically the same planter isles I had known almost two decades earlier. They have preserved their spontaneous hospitality, unspoiled vistas, and a life largely unchanged. In a sense, they can be called the "Old Islands" of the West Indies. Then, as we hove in the anchor and Finisterre'sbow swung off as the sails began to fill, I wondered what lay ahead, in the Leewards to the north. Would they too retain the character I recalled? For a sailor, there is always a challenge in what lies over the horizon. THE END In sparkling white for her First Communion, a girl of Dominica walks to Mass in Roseau, the capital. Stoic features of a Carib woman of Dominica hint at the sad fate of her people. Man-eating Indians, the Caribs swept up from South America a few genera tions before Columbus, conquering Arawak tribes men in their path. They dined on captive warriors to absorb their fighting ability; the word "cannibal" stems from the Arawaks' name for the invaders. Is land Caribs fiercely resisted European colonizers but were finally subdued. Today their descendants-most of mixed blood-live on a mountainous reservation on Dominica overlooking the Atlantic.