Early Settlers of Dominica

Early Settlers of Dominica

Dominica was first sighted by Europeans, including Christopher Columbus, in 1493. They encountered the indigenous peoples known as the Caribs, but soon left the island after being defeated by the Caribs. It is said that when his superiors asked Columbus to describe this island in the “New World,” he crumbled a piece of parchment roughly and threw it on the table. This, Columbus explained, is what Dominica looks like- completely covered with mountains with nary a flat spot.In 1627 England also tried and failed to capture Dominica. In 1635 the French claimed the island and sent missionaries, but were unable to wrench Dominica from the Caribs. They abandoned the island, along with the island of Saint Vincent, in the 1660s.

For the next hundred years Dominica remained isolated, and even more Caribs settled there after being driven from surrounding islands as European powers entered the region. France formally ceded possession of Dominica to the United Kingdom in 1763. The United Kingdom then set up a government and made the island a colony in 1805. The emancipation of African slaves occurred throughout the British Empire in 1834, and, by 1838, Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a Black-controlled legislature. In 1896, the United Kingdom re-took governmental control of Dominica and turned it into a crown colony. Half a century later, from 1958 to 1962,
Dominica became a province of the short-lived West Indies Federation.

In 1978 Dominica finally became an independent nation. Dominica’s fortunes improved in 1980 when its corrupt and tyrannical administration was replaced by that of Mary Eugenia Charles, the first female prime minister in the Caribbean, who remained in office for 15 years. In 1995 Charles resigned and was replaced by Edison James. And Now Hon. Roosevelt Skerit

Dominican Culture

Dominica is home to a wide range of people. Historically occupied by several native tribes, only a Carib tribe remained by the time European settlers reached the island. French and British settlers each claimed the island, and imported slaves from Africa. The native Caribs have a

reserve on which they live in their traditional manner. This mix of cultures is important to Dominica.

The famed novelist Jean Rhys was born and raised in Dominica. The island is obliquely depicted in her best-known book, Wide Sargasso Sea. Rhys’s friend, the political activist and writer Phyllis Shand Allfrey, set her 1954 novel, The Orchid House ISBN 0-8135-2332-X, in Dominica.

The dialect of Dominica also includes Cocoy and a French Patois. “Cocoy”, is primarily a mix of cockney English imported by English settler and with an infusion of African lingual. Cocoy is mainly spoken in the north-eastern part of the island. The French patois which is more widely spoken came from the French plantation owners from the neighbouring French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique