There is an ongoing debate among Dominica’s indigenious people over moves in recent times to officially change their name from Caribs to Kalinagos.
The word “Caribs” was used by Europeans to describe the people who inhabited the islands of the Lesser Antilles at the time of Columbus’ second voyage in 1493.
But French missionary Raymond Breton, who visited Dominica in 1642, recorded that the “Caribs'” name for themselves was Callinago. Breton wrote the word as “Callinago”, but today the name is written “Kalinago”.
“This is the real name of the Caribs of the islands,” Breton wrote.
The name Carib has stuck to the island’s indigenous people throughout history until recent times when calls to officially get rid of the European name and use the original name instead began surfacing .
Proponents of the change are also calling for an official change of name from Carib Territory to Kalinago Territory.
During a meeting to celebrate World Indigenous People’s Day in the Carib Territory on the weekend, some indigenous people expressed resentment towards the name change, saying that they saw no benefits to be derived from it as they had grown accustomed to the name Carib.
But others see it as a small step in the right direction.
“The name change is very important and residents need to steer away from that backward thinking,” Chief Garnett Joseph said.
He said further efforts must be made at the level of government to see the name change implemented.