Kalinago Territory, DOMINICA 00109-8000

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The Kalinago Territory

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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. 

The Old Colonial (Old Coast) Road

The indigenous territory is located along what was once known more popularly as the Old Colonial Road or Old Coast Road along the north-eastern coast that passes through the Kalinago Territory today.

The old colonial road into the Kalinago Territory remained unpaved well into the 1970s. This coastal road links the territory’s eight hamlets. The eight hamlets are Bataka in the north to Sineku 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 globalization.

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 Kalinago culture is ongoing by various small groups in the territory. These are largely fueled by Caribs/Kalinago who emigrated to other countries and therefore gained more awareness and education.

Most emigrants 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 become 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. The Karina and Karifuna cultural groups stage performances that are an exciting part of your visit to the Kalinago Barana Autê. These groups strive to maintain Kalinago tradition through song and dance. Cultural preservation groups also practice traditional Kalinago 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

The Ministry of Kalinago Affairs completed many development projects that stand their testament in the Kalinago Territory today. More development projects are slated for the territory and include:-

  • The St. Cyr Community & Resource Center (completed)
  • Carib Territory Community Capacity Building Project which is made up of the construction of two Resource Centres (St. Cyr and Bataca),
  • construction of two (2) roads,
  • Local Area Plan,
  • House Retrofitting Training,
  • Enterprise and Cultural Development and
  • Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component
  • Chinese Housing Project – construction of thirty-nine (39) new houses in the Carib Territory.

Updated: October, 2019