THE AMERINDIAN ANTILLES
The Amerindian Antilles demonstrates how a focus on survival pattern and social
reproduction decenters extinction as the primary means by which we understand Caribbean
history. Early Spanish Caribbean colonization relied on forced migrations and the breakup of
domestic units that created thousands of deracinated indigenous survivors uprooted from their
communities and culture. By 1550, Taíno indigeneity had been destroyed and a vast swathe of
Indians from across the Americas were amalgamated within vague socio-legal categories or
written into Caribbean records as black or African. Indigeneity no longer defined the Caribbean
despite the persistence of indigenous peoples.
Five chapters explain how the processes of deracination, dispossession, and displacement
inaugurated by the Spanish were then altered or magnified by English and French colonization.
Chapters 1 and 2 describe the peopling of the Caribbean and assess how forced relocation and
labor along with the spread of disease destroyed Taíno society while producing deracinated
indigenous survivors. Chapter 3 explains how two forms of indigeneity coexisted in tension in
colonial Cuba: a history of rootedness and a history of diaspora and dispersal. Where Taíno
population density had been highest, deracinated Indians recohered in protected pueblos and
attempted to persist with varying degrees of success. Additionally, an analysis of over 17,000
death entries spanning from 1600-1800 reveals that indigenous peoples from across the Americas
lived in Cuba. Chapter 4 explains how Caribbean indigeneity shaped and was influenced by
maroonage and creolization in colonial Jamaica. Indians lived and labored alongside peoples of
African descent, and together as maroons their movements, networks, and aspirations caused
anxieties among colonists seeking to control a population that vastly outnumbered them.
Simultaneously, analysis of 7,000 baptismal records reveals that indigenous ancestry figured
prominently in the island’s mixed-race population. Lastly, chapter 5 tests the value of using
survival pattern as a lens for understanding Caribbean colonization. It explains how the Kalinago
of Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Christopher’s, and Dominica were able to socially reproduce and
persist against the forces of colonization by forming alliances with mainland Indians, staying
mobile with canoes and other vessels, and raiding European colonies for captives and goods.