The Indigenous Populations In Trinidad History Essay

2265 words (9 pages) Essay

1st Jan 1970 History Reference this


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The Spanish colonization of Trinidad began through Christopher Columbus. Columbus was born to a weaver in the year 1451; he began sailing in the early 1470s. During the days of Columbus, gold was very limited and it was believed that the wealth of a nation would be determined by the amount of gold its economy owned. He made his third voyage in the year 1498, with the sponsorship and the approval from Spanish monarchy in return for the title of lands and a great percentage of profits from his voyage. His voyage was an attempt to provide evidence to support his theory that the world was round, and he would be able to reach the Indies (located in the east) easier and faster by sailing in a westward direction. He wanted to sail to the Indies to acquire the immense riches he heard of in India, and return the wealth to the Spanish monarchy. The Spanish believed that it would be profitable to trade with India because they had precious gold and immense riches because of their resources. However in his attempt to reach the Indies it was at this point he rediscovered Trinidad, unfortunately he believed that he had reach India for the Spanish had no prior knowledge of the Americas. On July 31st the island of Trinidad was then claimed to the crown in this year and it stayed in the rulings of the Spanish until the year 1797.

Upon Columbus arrival in Trinidad he was amazed that this theory was indeed right and that he had reached India. He immediately examined the native people with the biases eyes of his European nature. He recognized the indigenous people to be good factors of production (labour). Columbus also acknowledged that the Caribs were violent people but they seemed healthy and intelligent and would make good slaves to the queen. However the native saw the Spaniard as Gods because of their white skin complexion, so they immediately welcomed them. The native worshiped, served and granted the desires of the Spanish. They believed in doing so, the Gods as they called the Spanish would be pleased of them, and they would be richly blessed. Columbus entered Trinidad for reasons such as mercantilism, colonialism, and to expand their religion of Christianity upon the native people claiming titles and profits for the Spanish monarchy.

The population of Trinidad was mainly comprised of two sets of indigenous tribes known as the Amerindians, recorded from written history; they were called the Tainos and the Kalinagos. They were known as the Arawaks and Caribs respectively, these names given by the Europeans. The Arawaks began to settle in Trinidad around 250BC. They arrived from the Orinoco region and were much more advance than the earlier settlers. The Arawaks were great hunters and farmers for the purpose of sustaining their food needs. Their religion had a selective mixture representing nature worship, ancestor worship and protective magic. They adorned themselves with mixtures of colored dye smeared in pattern on their bodies also with hanging ornaments. They created their own crafts and weapons using simple elements of nature. They developed small temporary village societies; their houses were round with steep thatched roofs. The Arawaks portrayed honesty, sympathy, generosity and put others before themselves. They were considered to be a little more civilized and humane than the Caribs.

The Caribs arrived in Trinidad after the Arawaks around AD 1000. They also journeyed through the Orinoco region. Eventually they had great control of the entire Lesser Antilles. The Caribs aggressive by nature, the Europeans falsely address them as human flesh eaters. Their lifestyles were stemmed from the former settlers of Trinidad, the Arawaks. They adopted traits form the Arawaks, which made them very similar to the Arawaks. They were described from the Europeans to be taller, stronger and more beautiful than the Arawaks. The Caribs diet was similar to the Arawaks but they had more protein in their diet. They relied less on cassava and maize because they were excellent fishers. Their religions were similar to the Arawaks, as well as, the way they adorn themselves with dye smeared on their body. The Carib houses being woven thatch, they looked like beehives. Their social organizations were different from the Arawaks’ the males were separated from the females and were thought warrior training. The Arawaks had no segregation. These traits uniquely represented the ethnicities cultures and lifestyles of the indigenous people of Trinidad. The Amerindians were simple, peaceful and free-willed humans.

During Columbus conquest of Trinidad, the physiological destruction of the native came, by forcing the natives to accept the Roman Catholicism as the only acceptable religion and enforcing the role of slaves because the Amerindians were seen as subhuman. The physical destruction of the natives was also accomplished by the Spanish through exploitation of the native tribes for labour. They brought new diseases to the island which the indigenous people were vulnerable to, even hunting the native as a means of entertainment was done by the Spanish who adopted the ‘hidalgo class attitude’. The worth and essence of native races were destroyed through miscegenation. The Spaniards fought and killed the men of the tribes for their females because they came without wives. These cruel and malevolent changes which the Spanish imposed on the natives led to the decimation of the indigenous populations in Trinidad.

The religion of the Spanish, Roman Catholicism remains the largest Christian denomination and the single largest grouping in the nation. Following the success of Columbus voyage the Spanish monarchy secured the religious title of Trinidad and by extension the entire western hemisphere. The Spaniards were convinced that if they could change the religious view of an individual to their religion Christianity, they would have great power or great control on the individual. They also believed that service to God was the sole legitimate purpose of all human beings and once their religion was delivered to the world, the Spanish’s empire would be very pleased and powerful. The Spanish leaders regarded the right of the native mainly because they weren’t of Christianity and brutally enforced the religion of Roman Catholicism on the native. They made the religion mandatory, forbidding the natives to practice their own religious rituals and anything of Amerindian nature. The Spanish destroyed their zemis and places of worship which the native build to practice their rituals. Objection to the Spanish religion would result in extreme punishment or possible death. The force of Christianity impacted negatively on the natives for a huge amount of the population was killed in a short time also their unique cultures were slowly vanished.

Despite the queen’s attempt to treat the natives fairly according to her Christian faith, she understood that force labour was necessary for the development of the country. The Repartimiento system was soon introduced by Columbus and was further developed to the Encomiendas systems. These systems were accepted and passed by the house of Castile. The system would distribute the natives in groups and submit them to wealthy Spaniards for the purpose of labour. The masters were to ensure the protection, civilization, payment and conversation of the natives passed by the Burgos law in return for their labour. However the masters completely ignored the crown. The native were made official slaves through the system of the Encomiendas. The Encomonderos (the masters) saw the system as a venue to produce force labour without paying any wages therefore gaining in a lot of profits for themselves. The native were unfamiliar with the harsh working conditions of the Encomiendas system, compared to their former lifestyle. The natives believed that the Gods were displeased, and they were being punished for their wrong doings. They began to commit suicide, infanticide and ran away instead of submitting their self and their infants to the Encomonderos. Through the extreme conditions of the master’s daily labour, working the farms in the hot sun for long hours. This brought a number of deaths. Working the gold mines with extreme beatings and heavy loads also brought loss. As a result the native had little time and strength to attend to their own gardens (Conucos) which provided them with food to sustain the life of their families and themselves. The Spaniards also allowed their animals to trample and eat the produce of the native leading them to starvation. The Encomiendas system was the result of legal deaths of a vast amount of the indigenous people through starvation and physical strain of labour.

Another major reason which caused the genocide of the native was the Smallpox and measles. These two diseases are the most famous diseases, brought to the indigenous people by the Spanish deliberate intension to kill the natives. They offered the natives blankets infected with smallpox. These diseases had a major influence on the decrease in population. Several tribes and villages had been completely killed out to extinct because they were unknowledgeable and unequipped to immune themselves of these new, strange diseases.

Additionally, hunting and killing the native as a means of sport or entertainment to the Spanish significantly supported the genocide of the natives. They used steel swords, tipped pikes and cross-bows, they also used armor-covered horses and dogs because they had knowledge the native were very fearful of those large animal. They allowed the bloodhounds to tear there victims to pieces and the horses to trample over the natives. The Spaniards competed on their horses to cut off a native head with just one stroke and run their swords through the body and out the other side of the natives. They drown the native babies by dropping them of cliffs into rivers. The Nobbles and Chiefs of the Spaniards had the privilege to burn the native to death for this practice was reserved for their personal pleasure. The natives had simple weapons such as bows and arrows, stone clubs and wooden spears which were no match compared to the weapons of the Spanish. The Spaniards had great advantage over the natives. The native suffered severely at the hand of the Spanish. These cruel practices lead to several deaths of the indigenous population in Trinidad.

Furthermore miscegenation was the factor which caused the value of races of the native to become abolished. On Columbus third voyage he was only able to gather mostly soldiers who fought in the battle to defeat the Moorish kingdom and criminal. These Spaniards were interested in adventure and had no concerns or regards for the natives. They came without their wives and began to seek interest in the female Amerindians. The Spanish began to take the females of the native tribes as their own. The Amerindian men were very displeased so they rebelled against the Spanish. The Spanish, being at the advantage with their weapons and animals quickly defeated the Amerindians attempt to protect their females. The Spanish exceeded once again in their horrible acts against the native and had their way. Soon after new form of races and cultures were introduced, a mixture of Spanish and Amerindian decent. Thus the rich values of the Amerindians races and cultures were slowly faded.

Although the Spanish colonization mostly affected the natives negatively, they did also bring with them some positive contributions. The Spanish introduce technological development, with this new technology they learned to build advance ships and to use nautical instruments for navigation on their journeys. Crops such as banana, wheat, rice, coffee and olive where introduce to the natives through the Spanish. They cultivated many lands and harvest abundantly. Trinidad was recognized for their success in the development of its plantation economy and its mass production. The Spanish also imported their animals such as chickens, pigs, horses, cows and dogs. These animals were a factor of production for both labour support and produce. The animals also give Trinidad a variety in its animal species.

The term colonization refers to the inhabitation, maintenance and expansion of colonies of an area from persons of a different area. In this context the Spanish certainly colonized Trinidad. Regrettably the Spanish colonization did undoubtedly cause the decimation of the indigenous population of Trinidad almost too extinct. This process started with the entry of Christopher Columbus and his crew members. The Spanish had obtained a greed to gain power and riches overall and lead the world’s economy. They also had a passion to convert the souls of others or “heathens” to the form of Christianity by any means possible. They believed it was their purpose for life on earth. They made their religion compulsory for the natives. They invaded the territories of the native and control them regardless of their persistent rejection. They made them slaves for their selfish need to obtain power and most of the natives were killed it the defensive wars to keep their freedom. They brought strange diseases and hunted them for entertainment; they also caused miscegenation and therefore the native cultures and races slowly became nonexistent. Indeed the colonization is the cause of the extermination of the indigenous population of Trinidad.

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