people to settle the Americas came across the Bering Straits
from Asia. As waves
of populations followed one another, the first settlers were
driven from the Andes and arrived in the Caribbean about 10,000
The first group
to arrive was the Arawak Indians, also known as the Taino.
They are believed to have originated on the eastern
slopes of the Andes. Shortly thereafter they began to spread
down the Amazon River and its tributaries, north into the
Orinoco Valley, along the coast of Venezuela to Eastern
Colombia, and the Guiana, and out into the Antilles.
A few ventured to settle in and around the Florida Keys
described them as friendly, happy, and gentle;
they had a hierarchical, paternal society and were ruled by
chieftains or caciques.
Indians arrived several centuries after the Arawaks, and came
from the same vicinity in South America.
to have overrun the Lesser Antilles about a century before the
arrival of Christopher Columbus.
Extremely warlike and ferocious, their religion called
for cannibalism, scarification (ritual cutting of the skin), and
fasting. The Caribs
were expert navigators, crisscrossing a large portion of the
Caribbean in their canoes.
colonization progressed after the landing of Christopher
Columbus, the natives were all but exterminated by European
diseases, conquest, and enslavement.
Where Ecological and Social Systems Merge
and Playing on the Water