Barbados and other European held islands who sought refuge in St. Vincent, the land of the free. There is another theory, albeit difficult to prove, that Africans may have navigated their way to St. Vincent, even before the Europeans, by following the Trade Winds and ocean currents. However they got to St. Vincent, the ‘Black Caribs’ were reported by the British to be more warlike than the ‘Red or Yellow Caribs’ and they provided the fiercest resistance against the colonists. The term ‘Black Carib’ has today become synonymous with the term ‘Garifuna’, (or ‘Garinagu’ in the plural), which means ‘cassava eating people’. It is the commonly held belief that the ‘Black Caribs’ evolved from the intermarriage of Caribs from the Lower Orinoco with Africans. However, another reading of history indicates that the Caribs actually kept Africans as slaves and that there Garifuna Chief was great animosity between the Joseph Chatoyer two groups. It could therefore be - the nation’s first possible that the Black Caribs were National Hero in fact people of African descent. This version of history does not deny both sides suffering heavy losses. Finally, after an that there was some intermarriage arduous last battle at Vigie, the Caribs approached the between Caribs and the Africans, but not British with a flag of truce on June 10th, 1796. to the extent depicted by many historians. The British, convinced that they and the Black Caribs could Despite sustained resistance from the Black not both inhabit St. Vincent, ordered them all to be deported. Caribs, both the British and the French pursued During the next four months, nearly 5,000 Garinagu were exiled their attempts to occupy the richly fertile island. to the tiny island of Baliceaux off the coast of Bequia. In March The French eventually became St. Vincent’s first 1797, those who survived the ordeal – and almost half did not – European settlers, when permitted by the Caribs were loaded onto a convoy of eight vessels and transported to to establish small communities on the Leeward the island of Roatan off the coast of Honduras. The few remaining side in the early 1700s. However, the 1763 Treaty Yellow Caribs left in St. Vincent scattered to the northern of Paris, which ended the Seven Years War, extremities of the island, where their descendants can still be compelled France to cede St. Vincent to the found today, around the villages of Sandy Bay, Owia and Fancy. British, along with Grenada and the Grenadine Not surprisingly, given the mountainous relief of St. Vincent, the Islands. Over the course of the next 33 years, the attempted round up of all Black Caribs was not totally successful. French continuously tried to regain St. Vincent, Approximately 300 Garinagu fled up into the high ranges of the with the support of the Black Caribs who engaged island where the British could not reach them, and thanks to their in guerrilla-like warfare and destroyed plantations intimate knowledge of agriculture and nature, they continued by setting them on fire. The French did take back to survive and thrive from generation to generation. Today, the control for the short period from 1779–1783, but descendants of those Garinagu live in a mountainous agricultural lost it again. The ongoing dispute finally came to village known as Greiggs. The people of Greiggs have very much a head in 1795. With the aid of French rebels from kept their history alive and they welcome visitors who wish to Martinique, the Caribs, led by their two main chiefs, explore the lush hills and remote surroundings that proved to be Chatoyer and Duvalle, plotted the removal of the their fortress. The Greiggs Founders’ Day Agricultural Festival is British by systematically attacking the settlers and held each year on June 19th to celebrate the date when Greiggs engaging the British militia. Despite losing much was declared an exclusive territory for the Garifuna in 1905. of the French support and having their Chief Another festival, which showcases all aspects of the community’s Chatoyer killed in battle on March 14th 1795, the culture, is held in the village on National Heroes Day, March 14th, to Caribs continued fighting for another year, with honour Chief Joseph Chatoyer as the nation’s first National Hero.
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