Sunday, October 03, 2004


Joseph Chatoyer

Someone once said that the key to immortality is first living a life worth living. On that note I salute SVG's national hero Paramount Carib Chief Joseph Chatoyer. Chatoyer loved this land so much that he paid the ultimate price. In recognition of this great man we honour him every March 14th, the day the of his death.

The Caribs taking advantage of the densely forested mountainous interior were able to resist European settlement for nearly 200 years, longer than any other Caribbean island. Joseph Chatoyer led his island in the Carib Wars against the French and the British starting in 1772/73. during the first Carib war the British were forced to sign a treaty which was the first time an indigenous people had forced them so to do. In 1795 a second Garifuna/British war broke out in response to British failure to honour the treaties. This time the French joined the Garifunas to fight the British. Sadly Chatoyer was killed during this war in 1797 at Dorsetshire Hill.

Following his death the Caribs surrendered and were imprisoned for eight months on the island of Balliceaux (Grenadine Island). They were later shipped from their homeland to Honduras where they would later make their way to Belize and other Central American countries.

The Garifuna people forced to migrate have never forgotten their homeland St Vincent. Indeed there is linking of villages in Belize with Carib villages here.Oral history has many stories of the homeland and today many Garifuna people travel back to SVG to pay homage to the land of their origin.

Gotta love those british. They were all about the deportation of their enemies. Almost anyone in the New world who opposed them and lost or were seen as a threat were taken from their homes and deported elsewhere.
Got to love them indeed.That was ethnic cleansing they were doing way before the phrase became popular.Thank God the Garifuna people survived.Respect to Chatoyer and the Vincy people.
Could have been worse I suppose. Could have given them blankets infected with whatever disease they werent immune to and killed off the whole lot. And people think the british have a sense of fair play.
You are right in the British having a lot to answer for. Reparations?
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Wow, what a great history lesson. Proof that the internet can be educational in addition to being a great place to surf Por......nah I won't say it....she go kill me :)
Wow, what a great history lesson. Proof that the internet can be educational in addition to being a great place to surf Por......nah I won't say it....she go kill me :)
My father is a Garifuna (Black Carib) and I am very proud to call myself Garifuna, "Garifuna Au tia" I feel proud of my language, culture, and have no shame in being Garifuna, "Uwala Busiganu" I am thankful for my ancestors strength and courage and the sacrafices they made so I could know where I came from and so I could call myslef a Garifuna....Being black in Central America is not easy and in many times in history we suffered racism, prejudice, and unjust laws....just because we are black, and are from Yurumein (St. Vincent in Garifuna) In Belize, we weren't allowed on the streets after 6, we couldn't buy alcohol, we had to carry passes to go to the Belize City, in Honduras we were beat by teachers if we talked our langauge in school, and the history books said we were cannibals, vicious, fierce, baby-eaters, that we had the face of dogs, and devil-worshipers.....but in the midst of all we suffered we survived and we are here to stay......

Garinagu,Seremein waya lun Bungiu Baba, Seremein waya houn wayunagu, sermein waya lun warugute Joseph Satuye, Garinagu wagiya tia mabulieda wamamuga...Mabuiga nia houn tia sun Garinagu, hinga

Translation: Garifunas, thanks from us to father God, thanks from us to our ancestors, thanks from us to our grandfather Joseph Chatuye, We are Garifunas and let us not forget that, Greetings to all Garifunas, ya heard......
I enjoyed reading the comments and history. I just finished my masters thesis on the Second Carib War and made two trips to St. Vincent to do research and visit historic sites related to the war. I want to make a couple of corrections from the first post, though by no means is this a negative comment on it, as some versions in cyberworld of the history of the war vary and seem in conflict with what is generally available from sources. Chatoyer was killed during the first week of the Second Carib War, on March 14, 1795 on Dorsetteshire Hill overlooking Kingstown. A force of French settlers and Caribs (probably both Red and Black) under Duvalle, Chatoyer's brother, had just captured the hill and was poised to capture the capital and drive out the English. Chatoyer and his force of French and Caribs joined Duvalle but were attacked on a moonless night by British sailors, soldiers, colonial militia and their armed slaves and driven off the hill. After Chatoyer's death, possibly at the hands of Major Leigth, the French fled back to Layou and the Caribs into the mountains. The war went on for another almost two years under the leadership of Duvalle and the Caribs were reinforced from Guadaloupe by the French with mixed forces of French, pirates, deserters, mulattoes, and freed slaves fighting under the banner of the French Revolution.
After their defeat at the hands of the Black Caribs in an aborted 1719 invasion of St. Vincent the French generally had good relations with both the Red and Black Caribs and lived amoung them until the British took St. Vincent in 1763. They supported the Caribs in the first Carib War against the British and again were allied with the Caribs in 1779 when they retook the island from the British and held it for five years. The treaty signed by the Carib Chiefs, including Chatoyer and Duvalle was forced on the Caribs as a result of the British invasion of their territory. The treaty was a result of political pressure back in England by those who were sympathetic with the Carib cause and saw the imminant extermination of the Caribs and the conquest of their lands as unjust. The treaty was favorable to the British planters but still left the Caribs with the best potential sugar lands and that was the eventual cause of the Second Carib War. The immediate cause was a plot by the Revolutionary governor of Guadaloupe, Victor Hugues, who plotted to forment revolt by slaves, Caribs, and French settlers living under British rule on several of the West Indian Islands. His support for the Caribs was crucial to the beginning of the Second Carib War. When the French forces were defeated and French supplies cut off the days of the Caribs were numbered on St. Vincent. They held out with a few Black French supporters until they were forced to surrender in 1796. The Black Caribs were then held on Balliceaux for almost eight months, where more than half died, before the 2000 or so survivors were exiled on Roatan in 1797. This group became the founders of the Garifuna population of today that numbers at least 200,000. Honduras has the largest number, about 98,000, with the United States now having the second largest population and has a active social and cultural life and even big street festivals in Los Angeles. Garinet is a website with lots on modern Garifuna.
While on St. Vincent I got a chance to take a boat over to Balliceaux where the Black Carib exiles were held and many died. I visited Carib Country, Sandy Bay and Owia, where the descendants of the Red Caribs, now much mixed with Afro-Caribbean Vincentians, still live, and Greggs, where the holdout descendants of the Black Caribs settled who avoided exile by hiding out in the jungle and mountains.
This history is fascinating and should be important to those of you from St. Vincent and who are of Garifuna descent as it defines what St. Vincent was to become as a nation and how the Garifuna diaspora began.
There are some cool paintings online if you look up Chatoyer and the artist Agostino Brunias, who painted St. Vincent around the time of the First Carib War. A lot of what you read, even in online encyclopedias, is inaccurate or over generalized. It is really fun to delve into the history and see what seems to have happened from the eyes of those who wrote about it at the time. The accounts of the French, such as Alexandre Moreau de Jonnes, who fought on the side of the Caribs and those of Sir William Young, who advocated the expulsion and eventually signed the order expelling the Caribs are almost diametrically opposite. I guess each side pushes its own history to its own advantage. We need to hear more from Garifuna and Vincentian historians willing to dig into the history of their land and people. Dr. Adams and Dr. Frazier on St. Vincent are good local sources of Vincentian history.
Jim Sweeney
Itri, Italy
This may be the begining of a larger dialogue with respect to the Garifuna people and the plight; past, presene and in the future! We may no longer use the jungle as a battlefield, but we can use the Library, the halls of Learning, our political will,etc. to wage this battle! Chatoter was selfless in his love for his land and his people, so we should be when we unite to further the struggle.
Libari HighBall nuguya!
chatoyer is my hero and a fight for the bolivarian revolution i had in guiria, sucre state, venezuela, in 2006 i had an incredible experience, it was easter in march and during the fight after 15 of march my 31 birthday during the full moon i was sleeping at the beach and i saw how my body was coming out of me and going up to the moon and after that i got more corage and continue fighting and then another day i was in the backyard of my house crying over a book of the life of simon bolivar which i use to read and mwhile i was reading and crying i had this vision of chatoyer giving me the sord of bolivar and telling me that my grand father had kept it for me for thet moment i ruan to look for the rain stick and small basket and other things i had bought in st vincent of chatoyer in 2002 and then i got more mad and continue fighting and on the 1 of july day of the birhtday of my dead grand father during the night i saw how the spirit of my grand father came inside of me and from that expperience i belive that i am chatoyer and the same happen to my grand father and so on
I am a garifuna living in Dominica,i extoll chatoyer as my savour,
He is my great, great, great grandfather.
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