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Sineku is one of several villages on the north-east coast of the island in an area unique to the Caribbean: the Carib Territory. Established by the British in 1903 as the Carib Reserve, It was one place in the region where the descendants of the original islands could own a portion of land after everything else, from Trinidad to Puerto Rico, had been taken from them. Their ancestors had roamed from the river valleys and ocean shores of the Guianas and Venezuela in lowland South America up along the chain of the Lesser Antilles to as far as the eastern islands of the Greater Antilles.

View from Sineku

The Kalinago (Caribs) used the natural resources of the land around them for survival. Very important was their knowledge of the changes in the tropical seasons and the signs of an approaching hurricane.  Because they had lived so close to the land for innumerable generations the Kalinago instinctively knew the pulse of nature and how to live in harmony with its cycles. The Kalinago people have accumulated over hundreds of years, an amazing knowledge about the wealth of the forest, the rivers and the seashore, including the use of herbs for medicine, knowledge about which forest woods were best for what purpose and what was edible and what was poisonous. They had skills such as how to trap fish and shoot them through the water with bows and arrows, how to prepare and eat the river snail vio, the lambi or conch and chatou or octopus, and where to find the sea mollusc bwigo.  They knew where the best clays were located for making pots and how to process this clay by preparing and heating it in open kilns.  From childhood they learned which plant materials were best for making baskets, mats, hats and cassava sifters. Their gommier canoes sustained Dominica's fishing industry for centuries. They showed others how to process manioc by grating the root tubers, squeezing out the toxic juice and heating the fibrous kassav on a griddle placed on three stones. They regarded the earth as feminine and also the island on which they lived. It was called Wai'tukubuli, ‘tall is her body’. The Kalinago had no concept of the ownership of land (just as it is difficult for us to conceive owning bits of the sky or the sea. How could you possess that which you could not carry with you or take after death? They knew no boundaries. Courtesy of Dr. Lennox Honychurch, www.LennoxHonychurch.com

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