Documents and maps describe settlement locations and objects possessed by the Carib, or Kalinago, in the Commonwealth of Dominica during the post-Columbian period. Archaeological testing at multiple sites in northern Dominica reveals that historical Carib settlements functioned as trading sites, observation posts, or refuges, but such testing has not recovered material culture described in the documents. Part of the explanation for the lack of correspondence between ethnohistory and archaeology is the inadequacy of the Carib ethnonym, which has been manipulated by the political and economic interests of European colonizers since 1492. Beginning with the first voyages of Columbus, the Carib were portrayed as warlike cannibals who raided the “peaceful” natives of the Greater Antilles. Carib-French contacts in the seventeenth century recorded origin myths and linguistic evidence that fit with the initial Spanish impressions of native Caribbean peoples. Archaeological findings reveal some of the heterogeneity that has been obscured by the Carib category recorded in the ethnohistoric sources.

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