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Island Carib Origins: Evidence and Nonevidence

  • Dave D. Davis (a1) and R. Christopher Goodwin (a2)

Abstract

Origin stories collected among the indigenous peoples in the Windward Islands during the early colonial period have been interpreted as indicating a mainland Carib affiliation for the islanders. This interpretation gave rise to efforts in the present century to identify the archaeological correlate of the presumed late prehistoric or protohistoric migration of Cariban speakers into the Lesser Antilles. Recent debate centers around two models. One of these associates the supposed migration of mainland Caribs into the Lesser Antilles with the advent of the Suazey ceramic complex in the twelfth century; the other implies either a protohistoric migration or an episode of rapid acculturation of island populations to South American mainland Carib culture in the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries. A review of relevant archaeological, historical, and linguistic evidence provides little support for either of these models. Instead, the so-called “Island Caribs” were Arawakan speakers, probably longtime residents of the Windward Islands whose cultural and linguistic connections with the mainland Caribs probably were the products of contacts related to trade and alliance.

Résumé

Cuentos de origen de la gente indigena en las Islas de Barlovento durante la época colonial habían interpretado de indicar una afiliación entre los isleños y los Caribes continentales. Este interpretatión era la fundación durante el siglo vigésimo de rebuscas sobre la representatión arqueológica de una migratión protohistórica de una gente de lengua Caribano dentro de las Antillas Menores. Debate reciente envolve a dos modelos. Se supone que la presumido migratión es identificado con el complejo cerámico Suazey durante el siglo duodécimo; el otro implica una migratión protohistórico, o un episodio de aculturación rápido de poblaciónes isleños a la cultura Caribana continental durante los siglos quince o diesiséis. Una revista de los datos arqueológicos, históricos, y linguísticos no se ofrece evidencia que sostiene el uno ni el otro de estes modelos. Mas bién, los dichos “Caribes Isleños” eran habladores de una lengua Arauaqueño, habitantes de las Islas de Barlovento hace muchos años antes del llegado europeo. Sus relaciones culturales y linguísticos con los Caribes de tierra firme probablemente estaban productos de comercio y alianza.

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References

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Island Carib Origins: Evidence and Nonevidence

  • Dave D. Davis (a1) and R. Christopher Goodwin (a2)

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