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Musings on Caribbean History

Are they not our heroes too?

Reviewing the list of distinguished citizens of the English-Speaking islands of the Caribbean who have been elevated to the status of ‘National Hero’, I was struck by the absence of Kalinago chiefs who fought valiantly against oppression and whom I would therefore have expected to be included in the lists.

In 1626 Cacique Tegremond of Liamuga/St. Kitts was killed in a massacre by English and French settlers after his plans to drive them off the island were betrayed.

Having initially allowed the Spanish to settle in Kairi/Trinidad, relations took a turn for the worse when the Spaniards began kidnapping Kalinago and Tainos from Trinidad to work as slaves in the pearl fisheries off Margarita island.

In 1532 the Kalinago under the leadership of Baucunar succeeded in driving the Spanish governor Antonio Sedeño and his settlers off the island. When the Spaniards returned a year later, Baucunar and his warriors again confronted the Spaniards but, on this occasion, they were defeated.

In 1600 the Kalinago under the Cacique Augraumart drove the French off of the island of Hewanorrra/St. Lucia when they attempted to establish a settlement. In 1605 67 English colonists started a settlement on Saint Lucia after initially being welcomed by another Kalinago Cacique Anthonie. However, by 26 September of the same year, only 19 survived, after continued attacks by the Kalinago chief Augraumart, so they fled the island. English settlers did not give the island another try until 1640, but again were met with strong resistance.

In 1651 Kalinago Cacique Kairouname of Camerhogne/Grenada led a force of Kalinago warriors in an attack on the fort that been built by French settlers in 1650. Because they made the mistake of launching a frontal attack on the fort the Kalinago were easily defeated. Kairouname subsequently led his surviving warriors in a mass suicide in a final act of defiance.

Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, I think they all deserve to be honoured for their efforts to retain control of their people's land and to preserve their freedom.

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