10 April 2013

Indigenous People of Trinidad and Tobago.

Indigenous People of Trinidad and Tobago.
By Luna MoonLightandShadow
Moon, Light and Shadow | Wednesday, April 10, 2013.

The history of Trinidad begins with the settlements of the islands by Amerindians. Both islands were explored by Christopher Columbus on his third voyage in 1498. Tobago changed hands between the British, French, Dutch and Courlanders, but eventually ended up in British hands. Trinidad remained in Spanish hands until 1797, but it was largely settled by French colonists. In 1888 the two islands were incorporated into a single crown colony. Trinidad and Tobago obtained its independence from the British Empire in 1962 and became a republic in 1976.

Human settlement in Trinidad dates back at least 7,000 years. The earliest settlers, termed Archaic or Ortoiroid, are believed to have settled Trinidad from northeastern South America around 5000 BC. Twenty-nine Archaic sites have been identified, mostly in south Trinidad; this includes the 7,000-year-old Banwari Trace site which is the oldest discovered human settlement in the eastern Caribbean. Archaic populations were pre-ceramic, and dominated the area until about 200 BC.
7000 year old remains of Banwari Man (or woman)

Around 250 BC the first ceramic-using people in the Caribbean, the Saladoid people, entered Trinidad. Earliest evidence of these people come from around 2100 BC along the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. From Trinidad they are believed to have moved north into the remaining islands of the Caribbean. Thirty-seven Saladoid sites have been identified in Trinidad, and are located all over the island. 

Saladoid red on white ceramic artifacts.

After 250 AD a third group, called the Barrancoid people settled in southern Trinidad after migrating up the Orinoco River toward the sea. The oldest Barrancoid settlement appears to have been at Erin, on the south coast.

Following the collapse of Barrancoid communities along the Orinoco around 650 AD, a new group, called the Arauquinoid expanded up the river to the coast. The cultural artifacts of this group were only partly adopted in Trinidad and adjacent areas of northeast Venezuela, and as a result this culture is called Guayabitoid in these areas.

Around 1300 AD a new group appears to have settled in Trinidad and introduced new cultural attributes which largely replaced the Guayabitoid culture. Termed the Mayoid cultural tradition, this represents the native tribes which were present in Trinidad at the time of European arrival.


Their distinct pottery and artifacts survive until 1800, but after this time they were largely assimilated into mainstream Trinidad society. These included the Nepoya and Suppoya (who were probably Arawak-speaking) and the Yao (who were probably Carib-speaking). They have generally been called Arawaks and Caribs. These were largely wiped out by the Spanish colonizers under the encomienda system. Under this system which was basically a form of slavery, Spanish encomederos forced the Amerindians to work for them in exchange for Spanish "protection" and conversion to Christianity. The survivors were first organized into Missions by the Capuchin friars, and then gradually assimilated. The oldest organized indigenous group in Trinidad is the Santa Rosa Carib Community centered in the town of Arima, although several new groups have developed in recent years.

This was my I post in the A to Z Challenge 2013. I live on the tiny Caribbean island of Trinidad, the larger of the two islands which make up the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. My theme this year is True to Trinidad and Tobago. I invite you to explore my home with me. The rest of my A to Z posts can be found here.

3 comments:

jumilia brereton said...

a little confusing but i would read over and do a little more of my own research and with the help of my instructors i will have better understanding.....

Tahirah Abubakr said...

These are great revolution for it is now that the indigenous people all over the world reclaiming their birth right and knowledge of who they are. If there is such a judgement day this is it!

Ame Thyst said...

I absolutely love your blog!

I was born in London, England but dad is from Trinidad.

I'm doing some person research about groups of people who are located around Port of Spain, where my dad originates from, particularly historical records of tribes, indigenous and Native Indians.

Your blog has been very insightful for this research,

Sincerely Amethyst