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Callinago [archive]

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In the middle of the seventeenth century, several French missionaries started learning more about the Island Caribs or as the French called them the " Callinago". This was the name for the men, and Callinpuna was the name for the women. Today's anthropologists have discovered that the Island Carib's culture, language, and society is a seventeenth century phenomenon. The Island Caribs use the ethnic name, Kalinago or Kalina, and live on the island of Dominica. They paddled northward along the Antilles and settled in Dominica around 400 A.D. Dominica is now home to about 3,000 Island Caribs. The language of the Island Caribs is called Arawakan, which was picked up in Trinidad by the Arawaks where they fought for food and directed their seasonal trade.

The Caribs farmed and fished. They planted small manioc and sweet potato gardens, collected shellfish, and even caught crabs. There wasn't much to hunt on the islands, but they learned how to capture several animals such as iguanas and turtles. Weapons were a major part of the Carib's culture. They already knew how to use metal objects such as knives, needles, sickles, hoes, and axes. The longbow was used most often and was used for a variety of different reasons. In several of their battles they are known to have used a noxious gas, which was taken from a hot chili pepper.

The Island Caribs worshiped an evil being or devil named Mabouya. Also, Shamanistic practices were incorportated into their everyday life. It was also used for healing by what is called a boye or spiritual doctor. There is still a lot of controversy by anthropologists over which language the Kalinago spoke before picking up the Arawak language in Trinidad. A few Kalinago and Kalina societies still survive on the island of Dominica.


"The Caribs in Dominica." Kevin Menhinick. (1996). (1997).

Wilson, Samuel M. The Indigneous People of the Caribbean. Gainesville: Univ. Press of Florida, 1997.

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 Carib Languages
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