Thursday, May 6, 2010

Barbados's First Inhabitants "Run Fah Yah Life"

The first men to walk upon the beautiful shores on Barbados travelled long and far to reach our shores. They were Indians who came from the East across the Pacific Ocean, arriving in South America they made their way through dense forest and along great rivers before reaching countries such as Venezuela, Brazil and the Guiana’s.
It was from there that the Amerindian people began to enter the Caribbean Sea and its Islands.

The first tribe to come to Barbados were the Barrancoid people. They inhabited the island from the beginning of the Christian era to about 600AD
They were known for their pottery and agricultural skills.

After an interval of 200 years when Barbados was again uninhabited the second tribe of Amerindians the Arawaks came to call Barbados home. The Arawaks who were known for their navigation skills came to the island in long and narrow flat bottomed canoes. It is said that they would have found the Island quite attractive as there were no dense Forest to struggle through only beautiful beaches with coral reefs abounding in fish and land that was to them easily plant able.

The most noteworthy crops they planted were Tobacco and Cassava. It was in fact the Amerindians who introduced European to tobacco along with hammocks which they also made. Cassava on the other hand was an important crop for them and they used it to make cassava cakes.

The Arawak women were said to have been treated very well. Each Arawak man was to have only one wife, except for the chief who was allowed to have multiple wives. The women were also said to be very skilful in making pottery and clay was plentiful on the Island.

As a people it is said that they were a kindly peaceful people with a happy disposition and were fond of singing and dancing. I often think they had the idyllic simple life my only qualm is the lack of running water, which is essential to this Bajan girl.

Well as we know in this life where there is good, bad always follows and it certainly did for the Arawaks. In 1200 AD the Carib Indians arrived in Barbados and the Arawaks peaceful life was wildly torn apart.

The Caribs were a fierce warlike people and unlike other Amerindians did not eat such things as sea turtles as they believed it would make them become fat and stupid. They also did not eat pigs because they believed that if they did their eyes would become small and beady. The Caribs were interested in much bigger game, namely the Arawaks. The Caribs were said to have been a cannibalistic people hunting the Arawaks mercilessly. Thus the title: Barbados's First Inhabitants "Run Fah Yah Life". “Run Fah Yah Life” is Barbados dialect but means “Run for your life.”

Caribs took bamboo and made poison tipped blow darts aiming at the Arawaks necks. Once the poison got into the Arawaks blood stream it would leave them paralyzed. The Caribs would then place them on a stake and barbeque or smoke them. They first ate the adult males, while castrating and fattening the young males before eating them. They kept the beautiful Arawak woman as concubines and the other woman for making pottery. The Caribs also wore necklaces made of the bones of the people they ate.

The Carib women of themselves were not as skilled in making pottery and were only given the most menial of task. I often say this is a good lesson for men today. The Arawak women were treated well and produced good things, while the Carib women were treated poorly and produced poorly.

It is also said that the Amerindian people used the Cassava to make a beer like alcholic beverage. As I tell this story on my tours I can almost picture the Caribs and hear the drums as they have a beach barbeque party Carib Indian Style, one slice of barbeque Arawak and a cup of cassava beer to wash it down with.

It is also said the Caribs were known to have eaten a ship of Frenchmen and a ship of Spaniards. It was however the Spaniards that would eventually rid Barbados of these brutal people.

In 1536 before the Spaniard's came to Barbados a Portuguese ship made its way to the Island. The captain of that ship was Pedro a Campos however he did not meet up with any of these wild Carib people and it is thought that they may have migrated to other Islands. It was at that time Captain Campos named the Island Los Barbadoes "the bearded one". The Portuguese however could not claim Barbados as per the treaty of Tortougas written by the Pope. The treaty divided the newly discovered lands outside Europe between Spain and Portugal. Barbados fell in the area in which Spain and not Portugal had rights to claim.

When the Spaniards did come to Barbados they did find the Caribs and tried to enslave them it is said many would have died from European diseases and the harsh treatment.

The Spaniards themselves did not claim Barbados but found it quiet worthless and left it uninhabited. It was not then until 1605 that the British would eventually discover and claim Barbados as their own, but this is a story for another time.

This story is provided with the compliments of your friends at Glory Tours. The #1 Provider of Sightseeing Tours in Barbados

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