At the Garifuna of St. Vincent

Krivonogov V.P.  (Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation)


                      page 88–99


The article introduces modern ethnic processes among the indigenous inhabitants of the island of Saint Vincent the Garifuna Indian people («Black Caribs»). It is based on a 2015 ethnographic study when 10 % of the Garifuna were interviewed with the help of a special questionnaire on their ethnic territory. The Garifuna make up only 3 % of the country's population, their number which had grown during the entire twentieth century, has begun to decline rapidly in recent years. Negroes and «mix» («mixed») people are the vast majority of the population. The last ones include not only mulattos (born of one white parent and one black parent) but all the mixed population, including children of mixed marriages among the Garifuna and the Blacks. Less than a third of the Garifuna remained on their main ethnic territory, in Sandy Bay district, the others migrated to other parts of the country, and many of them moved abroad. The proportion of the Garifuna in the district is reducing, the number of Negroes and, especially, «mix» people is growing rapidly. There have been active migrations in recent years. The reason is a limited number of jobs in this agricultural district. Migrants go mainly to the South of the island, where tourist industry is actively developing. There are almost no ethnic differences left in the material and spiritual culture and in the language between the Garifuna and the majority of the surrounding Saint Vincentians (blacks and mulattos). The native language went out of use in the first half of the twentieth century. Almost all Garifuna are Christian (Catholics, Anglicans, etc.), as well as the rest of the population. The number of mixed marriages with Negroes and «mixed» people in Sandy Bay district is close to 50 %, and most of the children do not belong to the Garifuna, they join the community of the «mix» people. During the twentieth century, the situation was different: almost all Garifuna were concentrated in the neighborhood of Sandy Bay, where they were the vast majority of the population, there were significantly less mixed marriages, and children in mixed families were often consi-dered to be Garifuna. As a result, the number of the Garifuna on the island was rapidly growing, as well as their proportion in the total population. Things have begun to change only recently, in the last 2030 years, which threatens the very existence of this ethnic group in the decades to come. At the moment, the uniqueness of the Garifuna is manifested only in their ethnic identity and some minor anthropological features, although there are little differences in appearance of the Garifuna and the Blacks (as a result of an intermixture several centuries long with the surrounding majority).

Key words: Saint Vincent, the Caribs, the Garifuna, ethnic processes, language processes, migrations, demography, mixed marriages, mestization.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2017-36-1-088-099




V.P. Krivonogov

Institute of Humanities of Siberian Federal University, prosp. Svobodniy, 82, 660041, Krasnoyarsk, Russian Federation