Carib Indians of Dominica
Outsiders, once shunned, are welcome in the Carib Territory.
Dominica's Carib Territory
For many years, Dominica's Carib Territory--also known as the Carib Reserve or Kalinago Territory--had little to attract visitors. Many outsiders today generally drive straight through the Reserve with perhaps a stop at one or two roadside craft stands.
The Carib Territory has grown much more modern. There are guesthouses and a visitor center. Both are marked changes for the Caribs who as late as the 1970s and even into the early 1980s frowned on overnight guests inside the Reserve.
Even snack bars didn't exist back then because they might encourage tourists to linger.
This extreme isolationism in part was a reaction to how the majority of Dominicans then looked down on the Caribs, calling them stupid and lazy.
Some tension over this lack of respect still remains. Former Chief Joseph says that even today two of the most common stereotypes about the Caribs are “that our mental faculties do not function as efficiently as everyone else's and that we consume more alcohol than the national average.”
The belief that the Caribs were a bunch of mental dullards apparently arose from some of the old Carib sexual practices, which condoned incest. But these days about 90 percent of the Caribs are baptized Roman Catholics, so incest is taboo.
As for the Caribs being a bunch of besotted rummies, Chief Joseph maintains that the majority of his people “are just social drinkers.” He can even quote rum and beer consumption statistics to back up his argument.
Unusual shyness was another noted Carib characteristic not too long ago. It was reported that a Carib sometimes would run away in panic merely at the sight of a foreigner.
Obviously that's a thing of the past. On Sundays, boys and men play ball in the middle of the street traversing the Reserve. Whole families often sit outside talking by the side of the road as tourists pass.
The idea that anyone might run away at the sight of a car seems laughable. Anyone who spends time on the Reserve usually finds the people friendly and accommodating. They are encouraging, but certainly never pushy, at their roadside souvenir stands.