The Kalinago Territory

Location, Name and Territory

The Kalinago Territory of Dominica was formerly known as the Carib Territory or the Carib Reserve. It is located on the wild north-eastern coast of the island facing the Atlantic Ocean. Its area comprises some 3,700-acre (15 sq. km.) of remote and mountainous land. The territory was established by British colonial authorities in 1903 for the indigenous Kalinago people. The Kalinago tribe inhabited Dominica prior to European colonization and settlement. A paved coastal road links the territory’s eight hamlets. The eight hamlets are Bataka in the north to Sinecou in the south, with Concord to the west of Salybia.

The Carib Reserve Act

The Carib Reserve Act was enacted in 1978, seventy five years after establishment of the Carib Reserve. It was the same year of Dominica’s independence from British rule. Its enactment reaffirmed the Carib Reserve’s boundaries, its land management, institutions of local government and its governance by a Chief.

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Development and Infrastructure

Prior to the 1980s, the Carib Reserve/Kalinago Territory possessed only a rough, dirt road through the hamlets. In the late 1980s, this road was finally fully paved as an asphalt road. Since its construction, the coastal road is known by locals as the ‘Old Colonial Road’. With the exception of Concorde, it connects all hamlets in the territory. Electricity and other infrastructure was given to the territory in the years following its paving. Prior to the paving of the main road artery, the Kalinago Territory did not enjoy electricity nor piped water as necessary services provided to all other communities in Dominica. Social development and integration with the rest of the inhabitants in Dominica was therefore severely hampered to the detriment of the Kalinago people.

Population and Governance

Since during the 1980s, the population of the Kalinago Territory has always been estimated to be around 3,000 Kalinago strong. Furthermore, the population in hamlets nearer to the boundaries of the territory has mixed with local people of African and mixed descent outside the territory to a large degree and a few have also mixed with others from outside the island, a natural process of slow globalisation.

Legal residents of the territory share communal ownership of all land within the Territory. The Kalinago Territory has limited local government in the institutions of the Kalinago Council, and its head, the Kalinago Chief. These are the equivalent in power to the village councils and council chairpersons elsewhere in Dominica. The administrative centre is located in Salybia (also known as Salibia), which is the largest of a total of eight hamlets in the Kalinago Territory.

Revival of Kalinago Customs & Culture

Revival, rediscovery and preservation of Carib culture is ongoing by various small groups in the territory. These are largely fueled largely by Caribs/Kalinago who had immigrated to other countries and therefore gained more awareness. Most immigrants to Europe settled in the United Kingdom and Europe. A key contributor to this increased self-awareness and value was also the growth in the tourist industry. Prior to these movements, most of the tribe’s culture and customs had becomes lost during the years of colonization.

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The Model Kalinago Village

A Model Carib village, the Kalinago Barana Auté, was constructed and officially opened in 2006. Cultural preservation groups stage dance and musical performances at the model village and other locations, and practice traditional Carib crafts, such as making baskets and pottery, that are sold to tourists as souvenirs.

In February of 2015, a name change from the ‘Carib Reserve’ to ‘Kalinago Territory’ was brought to Parliament under the Carib Territory Amendment Act by Kalinago Affairs Minister, Mr. Casius Darroux, which received approval from Parliament and was subsequently passed into law.

Other completed projects include the construction of the Salybia Primary School in May 2010 and the L’Escalier Tête Chien Tourism Facility which was completed in 2011.

What The Future Holds for the Kalinago

Current Minister of Kalinago Affairs has development plans for the Kalinago Territory which are slated to include:-

  • new accommodations for the Kalinago Village Council,
  • the resurfacing of the Kalinago Territory road networks and
  • the Sineku playing field (started in 2010, ongoing)

Dated: April 28th, 2017