Joseph Chatoyer

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Joseph Chatoyer
Chatoyer the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St. Vincent with his five Wives., 1796. 03044001 (detail).jpg
Chatoyer the Chief of the Black Charaibes in St. Vincent, 1796
Died (1795-03-14)March 14, 1795
Chatoyer in St.Vincent, in an 1801 engraving

Joseph Chatoyer, also known as Satuye (died March 14, 1795), was a Garifuna (Carib) chief who led a revolt against the British colonial government of Saint Vincent in 1795. Killed that year, he is now considered a national hero of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and also of Belize and Costa Rica. Vincentian politician Camillo Gonsalves described him in 2011 as his country's "sole national hero".[1]


In 1772, the population rebelled. Led by Chatoyer, the First Carib War forced the British to sign a treaty with them in 1773; it was the first time Britain had been forced to sign an accord with non-white people in the Caribbean.

By 1795, it became apparent to the local population that Britain had no intention of keeping to the treaty. So they rose in rebellion and were joined by a group of French radicals inspired by the ideals of the French Revolution. In the Second Carib War, Chatoyer divided the island with his brother Duvalle, who was another chieftain.[2] Duvalle had a Guadeloupean lieutenant by the name of Massoteau.[3] Working his way along the coast, Chatoyer met with his French supporters at Chateaubelair, and together the forces worked their way to Dorsetshire Hill, from where they would launch their attack on Kingstown.

On March 14, a battalion of British soldiers led by General Ralph Abercromby, marched toward Dorsetshire Hill. That night, Chatoyer was killed by Major Alexander Leith. Though the rebellion continued until October 1796 under the leadership of Duvalle,[2] Chatoyer's death led to the desertion of the French supporters and turned the tide of the war.

As a national hero of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Chatoyer is recognized with a monument on Dorsetshire Hill, where he died.


Although Chatoyer died before the remainder of the rebels were deported to Roatan in Honduras from where they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America and became known as the Garifuna people, he is considered to have been a Garifuna warrior.[4]

A play based on his life, The Drama of King Shotaway, written by William Henry Brown, an African-American from the West Indies, and Director of the African Theatre. It was the first play written in the United States by a black man. The play was produced by the African Company at the African Grove Theatre in New York City in 1823, but no manuscript survived.[5]