Video | Guatemala: The Garifuna of Central America

In either 1635 or 1675, a slaving ship bound for the new World sank close to the coast of St. Vincent Island in the Caribbean.  The native Indians killed the European crew and welcomed the African slaves into their society.  These Africans willingly learned the language and customs of the native St. Vincentians and eventually intermarried.  From this union, a new ethnic group emerged called the Black Carib, or Garífuna.

The above is the most widely recognized account of Garífuna ethnogenesis.  This is the creation narrative that dominates resources of Garífuna history on the internet.  The first time this story is put into print is by British major John Scott in 1667; he reports to the British crown that St. Vincent was comprised of “…all Indians and some negroes from the loss of two Spanish ships in 1635”.  Over one hundred years later in 1795, William Young, then governor of St. Vincent, also published information about a shipwreck, but he claims that the wreck happened in 1675.  No eye-witness accounts of these events are known to exist.


In the centuries since, the Garínagu (plural of Garífuna) migrated and founded villages along the Caribbean coast of Central America. Today, the Garifuna population is estimated to be around 600,000 both in Central America, Yurumein (St. Vincent and The Grenadines) and the United States.  Due to heavy migration from Central America, the United States has become the second largest hub of Garifuna people outside Central America. New York has the largest population, heavily dominated by Hondurans, Guatemalans and Belizeans. Los Angeles ranks second with Belizean Garinagu being the most populous, followed by Hondurans and Guatemalans. There is no information regarding Garinagu from Nicaragua having migrated to either the East or the West Coast of the United States.


Click here to watch video on the Garifuna by The World-PRI.



Comments are closed.