Dominica History - History

Dominica History - History


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DOMINICA

Before Columbus' voyages to the Caribbean, Dominica was inhabited by Carib indians. Though Spanish ships passed through from then on, the island was actually settled by Europeans in the 17th century and those Europeans were French missionaries. The island came under British rule in 1763. Variously tied to the Leeward Islands, the Windward Islands, and then the West Indies Federation, Dominica embarked upon a political relationship with Britain (1967) which culminated in independence for Dominica in 1978.

MORE HISTORY


Dominica: History

Britain takes control of Dominica in accordance with the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Seven Years' War.

Dominica becomes the first and only British colony in the Caribbean to have a black-controlled legislature.

Britain re-establishes crown colony government over Dominica.

Dominica becomes a member of the British West Indies Federation.

Britain grants Dominica Self-government rule.

Dominica becomes fully independent.

The government announces plans to make Dominica a principal provider of offshore financial services to the world.

Dominica seeks help from the Caribbean Development Bank as it goes through economic and financial difficulties as exports and tourism decline.

Dominica cuts diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favor of ties with mainland China, which agrees to give $100 million with the aid over five years. Later that year, a severe earthquake strikes Dominica, significantly damaging the country's infrastructure, which will cost them millions of dollars to repair.

Hurricane Dean wipes out 99% of Dominica's banana crop, putting further pressure on the island's struggling main industry.


History of Dominica

Dominica like many other Caribbean islands has been inhabited since around 3100 BC. The first settlers were the Ortoroid people who set out from the South American mainland and gradually spread northwards through the Caribbean island chain. Evidence suggests they became extinct around 400BC. Later came the Arawaks (Igneri) who settled in about 400AD. Their way of life was agricultural and peaceful with a well-defined culture. By 1400 this was about to change as the Caribs (Kalinago) from South America moved their way up the Caribbean. The Caribs were strong warriors and successful in eliminating the Igneri from Dominica, as well as other Caribbean islands. The island was known as Wai’tukubuli at that time.

On Sunday 3rd November, 1493 Columbus became the first European to sight Dominica officially, and named it ‘Dominga’ The Spanish were the first to try to colonise islands in the Lesser Antilles but were met with strong resistance. Attempts to colonise Dominica with their Christian missionaries were futile. The Spanish did not have the skills or knowledge of the mountainous terrain to win over their enemy.

The English and the French started to arrive in Dominica at the start of the 1600’s, in their race to colonise the area, and in 1627 the island was claimed by France. They established basic settlements and started small-scale farming. Soon more land was cleared, and labour needs were met by bringing African slaves to the island.

In 1664 Sir Thomas Modyford, a sugar plantation and slave owner in Barbados, was appointed first governor of Jamaica for the British. Modyford began expanding plantation agriculture with cacao and sugarcane. By the early 1700s sugar estates worked by black slaves were established throughout the island, and plantation profits dominated the economy. The slave trade grew and both males and females of all ages were labourers on the plantations, domestic servants, as well as skilled tradesmen, technicians, and traders.

Between 1748 and 1761, Dominica was declared ‘neutral territory’ by both France and Britain. In 1761 the British attacked and gained control. Between 1756 and 1763 the Seven Years War between Britain and France dominated the political scene. After several battles, the British finally occupied Dominica in 1761 and in 1763 with ‘The Peace of Paris’, Dominica was officially ceded to Britain.

During this time the Carib population dwindled with European diseases and superior firepower, from 5,000 in the year 1647 to just 400 in 1730. Some fled to South America however the majority were wiped out. During the 1760s Amerindian survivors withdrew toward the northeast side of the island where 233 acres around Salybia came to be called the ‘Carib Quarter’. Around three thousand Caribs still inhabit Dominica today, most of them living in Carib Territory up in the North East of the island.

Between 1763 and 1778 the trans-Atlantic slave trade brought around 40,000 Africans to Dominica, many for sale to planters in neighbouring French-colonized Guadeloupe, Martinique, and St.-Lucia.

The British introduced a system of colonial government, however the freed slaves, black estate owners, and the large slave population remained completely excluded from involvement in political and economic discussions and decision making. Profitable trade developed between the colonies and Dominica in wood, rum, horses and cattle.

The 1775 war was declared by the North American colonies against Britain, encouraging the French to attack the British fortifications in 1778, they were victorious. This caused English inhabitants to leave the island, putting a strain on the agricultural economy. Dominica was then hit by a hurricane in 1779 and again in 1780. In 1781 Roseau was destroyed by fire.

In 1782 the English naval battle, The Battle of the Saintes, saw the English defeat the French, and in 1784, with the Treaty of Versailles, control of Dominica returned to the British.

Maroons and escaped slaves, had grown in number and confidence. They were well armed and fought the English between 1785 and 1786. They were eventually cornered and defeated and their leaders imprisoned and/or executed. Fighting between the Maroons and British lasted until 1815. The French attempted an invasion in 1797, but were defeated.

The Abolition of Slavery Act, passed in the British Parliament in 1833 and became law in Dominica on August 1, 1834. The Census riot in 1844 followed, taking place mainly in Grand bay, where angry freed slaves and caribs revolted.

In 1832 three black members were elected to the Dominican House of Assembly, and by 1838 there was a black majority, making it unique throughout the British ruled islands. Political tensions grew rapidly as legislators began to press for laws promoting the welfare of the newly liberated citizens of the island. Dominica experienced increasing domestic political unrest.

The British formally granted around 3,700 acres of common land to the Caribs in 1903 and officially recognized the office of chief . Relations were strained and in September 1930, there was an uprising. It wass started by police as they entered the Carib territory searching for ‘smuggled’ goods. The already disgruntled Cribs resisted, and eventually the police retreated, but not before leaving two Caribs shot dead and the Chief Jolly John imprisoned.

In 1945 the first Trade Union was formed in Dominica, the Dominica Trade Union, and in 1951 Universal Adult Suffrage introduced. Throughout he late 1960’s, 1970’s and early 1980’s there was political instability. The Independence Constitution, was recognised officially on 3rd November 1978. The following year in 1979 Hurricane David devastates the island.

Making history in 1980 Eugenia Charles, becomes the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, replacing Oliver James Seraphine. Patrick John, prime minister from 1974 – 1979, after coup attempts in 1981 was tried and acquitted, until 1985 was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. Increasing political stability from the mid 1980’s allowed Dominica to focus on tourism.


Dominica History

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the seven years' war, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population, which was largely French. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the brown privilege bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. The elected legislators were outmaneuvered on numerous occasions by planters allied with colonial administrators. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the representative government association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.

Independence did little to solve problems stemming from centuries of economic underdevelopment, and in mid-1979, political discontent led to the formation of an interim government. It was replaced after the 1980 elections by a government led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean's first female prime minister. Chronic economic problems were compounded by the severe impact of hurricanes in 1979 and in 1980. By the end of the 1980's, the economy had made a healthy recovery, which weakened in the 1990's due to a decrease in banana prices.

In June 1995 elections, Edison James, leader of the United Workers Party, became Prime Minister, replacing Dame Eugenia Charles.


Official Foundation

On 22 December 1216, Pope Honorius III approved the foundation of the St Dominic&rsquos community and took them under papal protection. Finally on 21 January 1217, Pope Honorius III issued a second bull to Dominic which crowned the first and completed the confirmation of the Order. Whereas the earlier bull had confirmed the Order, it had left much unsaid. The new bull conferred on the new Order a &lsquorevolutionary&rsquo name and office - an order of preachers rather than just an order comprised of people who are preaching. The pope thus addresses Dominic and his sons as &ldquoFriars Preachers&rdquo and entrusts them with the preaching mission. Dominic had obtained, explicitly and officially, what he had first petitioned from Innocent III: &ldquoAn Order which would be called and would be an Order of Preachers.&rdquo


Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Prime determiners of social class are wealth, level of education, occupation, and family history including family name, and class may change through educational advancement or pursuit of a prestigious occupation. The wealthier upper classes are concentrated in Roseau, but there are also marked differences in social class and status in rural villages.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Styles of dress, food, and language were traditionally major symbols of class differentiation, and strongly reflected rural/urban differences. Today, however, rural folk desire the same goods and modern conveniences as urbanites. English still tends to be associated with the educated upper classes and Kwéyo`l with lower-class peasants, but this is changing as rural areas become more accessible and education more widespread.


US Occupation

Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic were occupied by the US Marines in the 20th century and the way each country was treated, hints at the larger issues underpinning both countries.

In Haiti, though they carried out basic humanitarian aid such as building sewage systems and infrastructure, they also helped draft a new constitution giving foreigners the ability own land in Haiti, which in turn allowed American companies to extend their reach across the border from the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, in the Dominican Republic, far more humanitarian work was carried out, vastly upgrading the infrastructure in the country, while the US also took complete control of their customs in exchange for paying off all debt the country owed.

Haiti was occupied from 1915–1934 and had constitutional reforms beneficial to the US enforced on it, while the Dominican Republic was occupied from 1916–1924 and was given far more favourable terms.

The underpinnings of this different treatment have as much to do with race as they do with policy. In Haiti, almost the entire population are descended from West African slaves, while those in the Dominican Republic have a much higher proportion of European descendants.


Dominica - History

The island's indigenous Arawak people were expelled or exterminated by Caribs in the 14th century. Columbus landed there in November 1493. Spanish ships frequently landed on Dominica during the 16th century, but fierce resistance by the Caribs discouraged Spain's efforts at settlement.

In 1635, France claimed Dominica. Shortly thereafter, French missionaries became the first European inhabitants of the island. Carib incursions continued, though, and in 1660, the French and British agreed that both Dominica and St. Vincent should be abandoned. Dominica was officially neutral for the next century, but the attraction of its resources remained rival expeditions of British and French foresters were harvesting timber by the start of the 18th century.

Largely due to Dominica's position between Martinique and Guadeloupe, France eventually became predominant, and a French settlement was established and grew. As part of the 1763 Treaty of Paris that ended the Seven Years' War, the island became a British possession. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, the French mounted a successful invasion with the active cooperation of the population. The 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, returned the island to Britain. French invasions in 1795 and 1805 ended in failure.

In 1763, the British established a legislative assembly, representing only the white population. In 1831, reflecting a liberalization of official British racial attitudes, the Brown Privilege Bill conferred political and social rights on free nonwhites. Three Blacks were elected to the legislative assembly the following year. Following the abolition of slavery, in 1838 Dominica became the first and only British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature in the 19th century. Most Black legislators were smallholders or merchants who held economic and social views diametrically opposed to the interests of the small, wealthy English planter class. Reacting to a perceived threat, the planters lobbied for more direct British rule.

In 1865, after much agitation and tension, the colonial office replaced the elective assembly with one comprised of one-half elected members and one-half appointed. Planters allied with colonial administrators outmaneuvered the elected legislators on numerous occasions. In 1871, Dominica became part of the Leeward Island Federation. The power of the Black population progressively eroded. Crown Colony government was re-established in 1896. All political rights for the vast majority of the population were effectively curtailed. Development aid, offered as compensation for disenfranchisement, proved to have a negligible effect.

Following World War I, an upsurge of political consciousness throughout the Caribbean led to the formation of the Representative Government Association. Marshaling public frustration with the lack of a voice in the governing of Dominica, this group won one-third of the popularly elected seats of the legislative assembly in 1924 and one-half in 1936. Shortly thereafter, Dominica was transferred from the Leeward Island Administration and was governed as part of the Windwards until 1958, when it joined the short-lived West Indies Federation.

After the federation dissolved, Dominica became an associated state of the United Kingdom in 1967 and formally took responsibility for its internal affairs. On November 3, 1978, the Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom.


Dominica — History and Culture

Its small size and little amount of gold made Dominica initially unattractive to European colonizers, so its history is surprisingly peaceful compared to that of other Caribbean islands. That's not to say they didn't fall prey to fierce battles for power.

History

The Arawak tribes, called the Orinoco, were the original inhabitants of the island, and the arrival of the Carib Indians is believed to have caused them to leave. It was the Caribs who met Columbus and his fleet when it arrived in 1493. Many Spanish ships discovered Dominica, too, but the Caribs were able to successfully keep them at bay. The indigenous inhabitants originally referred to the island as Wai’tukubuli, which translates to "tall is her body." It was Columbus who renamed it Dominica. Native Caribs still live on the island today, mostly in the Carib Indian Reserve.

Dominica was theoretically claimed by the Earl of Carlisle in 1627, two centuries after the arrival of Columbus. They had contact with Europeans prior to this as Captain John Smith and his crew were recorded to have stopped in Portsmouth on their way to Jamestown. The French also called dibs on Dominica, further fuelling disagreements between France and Britain. A treaty was declared in 1660, leaving the island to the Caribs. However, never satisfied, the French still attempted to reclaim it.

From 1720 to 1759, they were successful and Dominica respected the French in power, during the time slavery was widespread. In 1759 the British took back the throne and in 1763, the Treaty of Paris officially handed control of the island to Britain. Two more efforts were made by France, but they were unsuccessful. In 1783, the Treaty of Versailles granted full control to the British and Dominica was peacefully assimilated by the 1800's.

Dominica has enjoyed independence since 1978, but initially freedom was turbulent. Its first prime minister was forced to resign because of corruption. Hurricane David devastated the island in August 1979, causing economic ruin. Dame Eugenia Charles was elected in 1980. She ruled until 1995 and was the Caribbean’s first female leader. Roosevelt Skerrit is the current prime minister.

The political history of Dominica has been turbulent, but its citizens remain friendly and welcoming. While Dominica today faces economic challenges, development continues and tourism is growing.

Culture

Dominica’s culture is mainly influenced by the Caribs, the French, the British, and the Africans who were brought over by the French for slavery. The result is a colorful and festive Creole society which is evident in the island’s language, food, art, and music. A majority of the residents are Roman Catholic.

Almost every type of musical genre is available on the island, but the most important ones are local folk, reggae and calypso. Every village has its own events, but among the most notable festivals are Carnival (celebrated a week before Ash Wednesday) and the World Creole Music Festival (October).

The traditional clothing worn in Dominica says a lot about the island’s history and culture. Colorful fabrics and garments printed in batik or plaid are the norm. Creole style clothing called jupe is worn for special occasions, particularly on the feast days of saints and on Sunday. The outfit consists of a bright top over a white cotton chemise and a floor-length skirt. The hem, sleeves and neck are lace-trimmed, while a white handkerchief is wrapped around the head to resemble a bonnet. The chest is adorned with a foulard, a cotton triangle in white or a bright color. This manner of dressing is similar to what provincial women in France once wore. Petticoats were fashionable in the past, as well as West African clothing. Nowadays, women wear a combination of jupe, chemises, dantell, foulard, and mouchoir. Gold jewelry is also common.


Dominica History, Language and Culture

Before being discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493, Dominica&rsquos mountainous natural beauty was originally enjoyed by the Carib Indians who made the island their home in the 14th century. The Caribs called their sunny isle Waitukubuli, meaning &lsquoTall is her body, and some Carib descendants remain in Dominica today &ndash the last surviving community of this indigenous group.

Following Columbus&rsquo arrival, the island became known as Dominica, taking its name from the day he landed (Dominica is Latin for Sunday). France colonised it in the 1600s, before, in 1805, the island became a British possession, remaining under British rule until the late 1960s. During both world wars thousands of Dominicans volunteered to fight in Europe for the Allies and the country provided a place of safety for Free French refugees fleeing the Vichy-controlled French islands.

Dominica has been nicknamed the &lsquoNature Isle of the Caribbean&rsquo on account of its stunning natural features, not least Boiling Lake, the appropriately named hot spring &ndash the second largest in the world.

Since 1978, the island has enjoyed full independence although self-rule has been somewhat stormy, with two coup attempts by leftist members of the island&rsquos Defence Force during the early 1980s.

The arrival of Hurricane David in 1979 brought mass chaos as the immense tropical storm damaged three quarters of the island, destroying homes and killing 42 people. A bus still remains to this day crushed under a storm-felled tree in Rousea&rsquos Botanical Gardens.

After the 1980 elections Dominica appointed Eugenia Charles, the Caribbean&rsquos first female prime minister.

Politically, the early 2000s proved eventful, with two Prime Ministers &ndash Roosevelt Douglas and Pierre Charles &ndash both dying while in office. Since 2004, Roosevelt Skerrit has been leading the country and remains a popular figure.

In recent years, Dominica has developed a close, if controversial, relationship with Japan, which has provided extensive development aid including a modern fisheries complex. In exchange, Dominica now supports Japan&rsquos much criticised efforts to undermine international controls on whaling. Nevertheless, given the island&rsquos serious economic problems, the deal enjoys wide popular support.

&bull Dominica&rsquos national bird is the Sisserou parrot, which features on the national flag.

&bull The Commonwealth of Dominica has emerged as a major international offshore financial centre thanks to its low-tax regime.

&bull Playwright and novelist Jean Rhys was born in Dominica, which features as the &lsquohoneymoon island&rsquo in her best known work, Wide Sargasso Sea.


Watch the video: KALINAGO TERRITORY, DOMINICA, WEST INDIES


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