Carib Indians
of Dominica
Part 4

Canoes are used for altars
in the Carib churches.

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At the Carib village of Salybia, look for the Roman Catholic Church of St. Marie located at the end of a steep dirt road. The church is famous for its altar, which is carved in the shape of a canoe.

It was the canoe that allowed the Caribs to spread so extensively and quickly throughout the Caribbean region. Murals on the church walls (as well as at the smaller church in the village of Mauhaut ) describe events in Carib history.

One of the murals depicts the famous Carib Leap at Sauteurs in Grenada showing the Caribs jumping to their death on ocean rocks rather than submit to slavery.

This mural and others commemorates the sacrifice the Caribs made to maintain their freedom long before Patrick Henry of Virginia ever proclaimed “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

Driving through the Reserve, you'll see canoes both on the beach and on the high main road.

Traditionally, canoes were made near the water, but so many of them were washed away by hurricanes in recent years that some canoe makers have taken to building the craft high up in the hills.

The canoes are made from a single large gommier tree that is chiseled out and hardened by fire. In recent years Caribs have modified their canoes by nailing a single board above the base of the canoe to create a higher freeboard (side) for offshore fishing.

In 1997, the seaworthiness of Carib canoes was once again demonstrated when the 35-foot long “Gli Gli” set out from Dominica to retrace the original Carib voyage from South America.

Along the way the group of 10 Carib men and two Carib women visited Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Trinidad, Venezuela and Guyana.

Carib canoes are still so highly thought of that they're regularly sold to other islands.   

You'll probably to have ask directions to Jenny Point at the village of Sineku in order to find the line of hardened lava flow jutting into the sea.

L'Escalier Tete-Chien

The formation called L'Escalier Tete-Chien (Stairway of the Snake) was created by lava flowing into the ocean. What is remarkable about it are the circles and marks similar to the patterns of a snakeskin that were formed on the top of each lava segment as it cooled.

According to legend, this stone-coated snake is emerging from the sea and climbing its way up the mountain. Explanations about the importance of the snake differ.

One story says the snake once came ashore to grab a virgin, but the version most popular today tells how the Caribs used to climb the rock staircase up into the mountains to visit the mystical snake and obtain special powers.   

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Carib Indians of Dominica Part 1

Carib Indians of Dominica Part 2

Carib Indians of Dominica Part 3