367 years of history
(1635 - 2002)
1635 - two Spanish ships wrecked off the coast of St. Vincent -
West African slaves escape to the island, where they found the
Yellow Caribs, a group which emerged from the intermarriages
between the Venezuelan Caribs and the island Arawaks.
1675 - another shipwreck brought another wave of Africans to St.
Vincent. Also, African slaves who had escaped nearby slave
plantations from places like Jamaica found their way to the
1750 - The new race of people - today called the GARIFUNA or
Black Caribs, which emerged on the island of St. Vincent through
the integration of 3 peoples: the Arawaks, the Yellow Caribs and
the Africans - are said to have grown strong and prosperous on
1763 - British colonizers established presence on the island;
French had already partially colonized the territory. British and
French were fighting for territorial control. The Garifuna sided with
the French, with whom they had developed a trading relationship
after an informal war truce/peace pact.
1763-1795: 32-year conflict between the Caribs and the
Europeans, particularly the British. There was some intermarriage
also between the Caribs and the Europeans, resulting in the so-
called Red Carib race, known from the island of Dominica.
1795: On March 14, Paramount Chief of the Black Caribs, Joseph
Chatoyer died in battle.
It is reported that Chatoyer’s daughter, Gulisi was one of the first
to settle Belize. At the age of 24, she reportedly came to Belize
from Honduras, with 5 sons.
Chatoyer, Chief of
Black Caribs on St.
Vincent with his 5
(Late 18th century engraving from 1773
original by Agontino Brunias.)
1796: The French surrendered to the British;
but the Caribs kept up the fight. They were
famed as “belligerent.”
To subdue them, the British -who were after
the land they had cultivated- torched their
possessions. There were two major wars:
the Caribs won the first in 1795, and the
British won the second sometime in 1796.
1797: Just over 5,000 Garinagu were said to
have “survived” the wars. In March, the British
launched a manhunt for the Garinagu. They
wanted to use those who had survived the
bloody wars to help them fight against the
Spaniards. They were expecting a war, which
came in 1798 - the historical Battle of St.
George’s Caye, and had uniforms made for
the Garifuna men.
1797 cont’d: One year before the Battle of
St. George’s Caye, the British packed up
about the Garinagu into ships, reportedly
with the intent of sending them to Belize.
The popular traditional accounts say that
they were “deported” from St. Vincent to
Roatan, Honduras - then a Spanish colony.
Perhaps the Garinagu refused to fight!
1797 cont’d: The Garifuna people were transported from Bequia
in St. Vincent to Roatan, and half of them reportedly perished
from the scourges of disease, starvation and harsh treatment by
1799: First reported contact with Belize.
1801: On March 25, Garinagu arrive at Belize City, spotted many
white buildings near the sea and called it by the name YARBURA
- which later became Yarborough. They were only allowed to
stay temporarily for 2 days.
1802: 150 Caribs settled in Belize at Yarborough. Some
surnames of the settlers include: Avaloy, Avila, Beni, Blanco,
Cayetano, Ciego, Diego, Ellis, Enriquez, Guerrero, Lambey,
Lewis, Martinez, Moguel, Noguera, Nunez, Rhys, Reyes and
Serano. One of the prominent leaders at the time was Benito
1802: Village of Red Cliff - present day Barranco - established.
Today, Barranco, one of the first Garifuna communities in Belize,
is one of the last havens where the Garifuna culture is preserved
in one of its most dynamic forms.
1823: 375 Garinagu recorded at Yarborough in
On March 31, Elejo Beni, Romauldo Lewis, Elias
Martinez, Alejo Lambey joined by Alejo Beni’s
cousin, Benito Beni, their interpreter, approached
Sup. Major-General Edward Codd (1823-1829)
for permission for Garinagu to migrate from
1823: On Wednesday, November 19, 500 Garinagu
settled in Belize. This was the largest recorded
exodus of Garifuna to Belize.
300Dangriga (then Stann Creek Town)
125Punta Gorda (Toledo)
28 Seine Bight
15 Jonathon Point
8 Newtown (desolated by hurricane)
1941 - First celebration of Garifuna
Settlement Day in Belize, called
Carib Disembarkation Day.
Founded by Thomas Vincent
1943 - Ramos lobbied for a public and
bank holiday and succeeded two
years after celebrations began.
Granted only for Stann Creek.
1944: Holiday extended to the Toledo District, where the second
largest concentration of Garifuna lived.
1977: Carib Settlement Day becomes a national holiday, and
name changed by Garifuna Settlement Day.
THEME for 2002:
200 years - Celebrating our Achievements and Meeting the New
Bian San Irumu – Afeduha Wamei Wawanseru, Aranseñu Luba Iseri
2001: On November 15, UNESCO made a
public proclamation of the Garifuna culture
as a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible
heritage of Humanity.
2002: On November 13, the Order of Belize
will be bestowed posthumously upon T. V.
Ramos, now recognized as one of Belize’s