The conquest of the Caribs of the Orinoco basin, 1498-1771
This thesis is concerned with the Spanish conquest of those Carib groups who, at the time of the first contact, occupied the eastern llanos of Venezuela, the north and south banks of the lower Orinoco and the region between the Sierra Imataca and Essequibo River. An historical analysis of Carib resistance to the Conquistadors and missionaries, during the years 1498-1771 is presented. Alongside this general theme certain specific issues in Carib history and ethnography are also discussed, as follows: 1) Carib Demography and Population: problems of historical demography are discussed and an estimate of Carib population levels at the time of contact presented: subsistence practices, trading and warfare, leadership, the village and kin group are also discussed: detailed archival evidence is offered to demonstrate the effect of European diseases among Carib groups during the eighteenth century. 2) Carib Cannibalism: the evidence for this practice is examined in detail and the role that accusations concerning this practice played in the Spanish conquest explained. 3) Carib Slaving: the role of the Europeans in encouraging this practice is examined with a view to showing that, while it was indeed widespread in its effects, it was not as exclusively a Carib practice, as was suggested by the Spanish chroniclers. 4) The Carib/Dutch Alliance: the origin, operation and effect of this alliance in the success of the Dutch colony of Essequibo, in enhancing Carib influence among other Indian groups and in aiding Carib resistance to the Spanish, is examined in detail. It is argued that this alliance proved to be of greater significance than that of Carib and French, English or Swedish and that the impor-tance of the Amerindians, to all colonial projects in this area, has been systematically underrated.