Kalinago Genocide of 1626
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The Caribs realized that many more Europeans would come and settle in St. Kitts. The Caribs decided that the European settlers had to be destroyed. Large numbers of Caribs from Dominica and other neighbouring islands were invited to St. Kitts to help get rid of the settlers. However, the plan was told to one of the English settlers by an Igneri woman named Barbe. The English and French joined forces and launched a surprise night-time attack on the St. Kitts Caribs. According to Du Tertre (1667 I:6), between 100 and 120 Caribs were killed in their beds that night, with only the most beautiful Carib women spared death to serve as slaves. Having thus rid themselves of the local Caribs, the French and English subsequently divided the island between them and set about fortifying the island against the expected invasion of Caribs from other islands. In the ensuing battle, three to four thousand Caribs allegedly took up arms against the Europeans. Du Tertre gives no precise information on the number of Caribs killed, but mentions that the fallen Amerindians on the beach were piled high into a mound. The English and French suffered at least 100 casualties (Du Tertre 1667 I:6). It is said that the blood of the Caribs ran down Bloody River for three days. This is why the area was named Bloody Point.
The entire tale of the Kalinago Genocide, however, was told exclusively from the perspective and writings of the Europeans. A few historians now doubt their claims, saying that they were fraudulent or exaggerated in order to justify the killings. One such theory observes that the time of year of the Kalinago Genocide (late January) is referred to by the modern Kalinago as the season of Bat—due the abundance of bats at that time of year. Usually, raids on Taino and other Amerindians would take place at this time for sacrifices, etc., to appease Bat man to ensure that the dry season ends and that the wet season (season of Frog woman) begins. This would explain why so many Kalinago from various islands were present on St. Christopher at the time, as its Northern location on the borderline between Kalinago controlled and Taino controlled islands made it a base for such raids. The other theory is that the place of the massacre was deliberately the Kalinago place of worship, which would serve solely as a tool of fear for Kalinago from neighbouring islands.
However, these arguments are not considered to be very persuasive[by whom?]. Indeed, the "Bat Man" theory rather supports the view that the Kalinago intended to slaughter the European settlers, since it emphasises that January was a time for human sacrifice, and European victims would have been particularly prized. The massacre was, unfortunately, the inevitable consequence of a grave miscalculation by the Kalinago.
Today, a white cross commemorates the slaughter of the Caribs.
- Jean Baptiste Du Tertre, Histoire Generale des Antilles..., 2 vols. Paris: Jolly, 1667, I:5-6
- Du Tertre, Jean Baptiste, 1667: Histoire Generale des Antilles... 2 vols. Paris: Jolly.