Caribbean Life before the Arrival of the Europeans

Topics: Caribbean, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, Slavery Pages: 5 (1454 words) Published: October 31, 2012

The topic chosen for this SBA is fascinating, in the sense that it provides a great opportunity for research and in turn allows a clear insight as to what Caribbean life was like socially, culturally as well as technologically. This topic also aids me in learning more about the Caribbean’s history. My topic possesses many educational benefits. For instance a clear insight is offered as to what Caribbean life was like before the arrival of the Europeans and the impact that their arrival had upon Caribbean life and indigenous life in general.


Before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, the indigenous people lived in peace and harmony. They were simple people who mainly survived on simple subsistence farming, trading as well as hunting and gathering. They also had a very complex social and political organizational structure. Apart from their social and political structure, they were also very religious. They believed in a series of Gods and practiced many rituals in their honour. They practically dominated and conquered the entire Caribbean region, and it should be noted that the Caribbean was very unmodernised and the Indigenous peoples lived a simple free life. This changed in 1492 with the arrival of the Europeans. The Europeans, over a short period of time dominated the Caribbean region leading to the deculturisation as well as the extermination of the Indigenous race. With the arrival of Columbus in 1492, the Spanish began to explore the mainland territories of the Caribbean. It seemed as if the Spanish had used Hispaniola as a base for their exploration of the Caribbean. Within a few years the entire Caribbean region was dominated by Europeans. Much of what the Indigenous people had created was now destroyed. The imposition of Christianity upon the


Caribs and Awaraks led to their deculturisation as most of their beliefs and customs were destroyed. Over the next few years the Amerindians were unfairly and brutally massacred for a number of reasons and the Europeans did this in the cruelest ways possible. The Spanish had many methods to massacre the Amerindians. One example was that they used dogs to attack the Caribs and Awaraks and the dogs basically tore them apart. Another key factor which led to the extinction of the Amerindians was the diseases that the Spanish brought from Europe. Diseases like smallpox swept through the Caribbean territories. Many Amerindians were not immune to these diseases and thus died. Another form of domination was that the Spanish settlers forced the Amerindians to give up their women and food etc. by force. They also robbed them. Many settlers also killed the Amerindians but mainly the Awaraks for a past time sport. The Amerindians organized many forms of resistance, such as fighting back against the Europeans but their resistance failed. The Spanish was able to take out the much larger Amerindian army because they had armor and better weapons. It was a case of iron and steel weapons verses stonage weapons.


Another form of domination was the fact that Columbus made the Amerindians pay taxes and those who resisted were enslaved and sent to Spain for sale. The Amerindians were also subjects of forced labour. The Spanish had discovered many new crops they could exploit for the mother country. However, to cultivate these crops they needed labour, and thus they turned to slavery. The Caribs and Awaraks, were subjects to forced labour. They were overworked, unfed, and even beaten by the Europeans. They were forced to work long hours for which no direct benefits were provided. The Amerindians offered many forms of resistance. Firstly they tried starving themselves and the starvation technique along with the long hours worked led to the death of the slave. Many Caribs and Awaraks also killed themselves as they believed that killing themselves was better than living the life of a slave. These events led many of the Indigenous people to flee to the west to...
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