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Garifuna language resources

Garifuna is spoken on a daily basis in: Honduras, Belize Garifuna--> --> --> -->

Additional background on Garifuna

The Garifuna are an ethnic group in the Caribbean area, descended from a mix of Amerindian and African people. They are also sometimes known as Garifune or Black Caribs. There are estimated to be about 200,000 of them in Central America and the United States. Properly, the term "Garifuna" refers to the individual and the language, while Garinagu is the (plural or collective) term for the people.

The most common version (¹) of how 'Black Caribs' came to be states that in 1635, two Spanish ships carrying slaves to the West Indies from what is now Nigeria were shipwrecked near the island of Saint Vincent. The slaves escaped the sinking boat and reached the shores of the island, where they were welcomed by the Caribs, who offered their protection. Their intermarriage formed the Garinagu people, known as the Garifuna today. The name was derived from "Kalipuna", one of the Island Carib names for themselves. In addition to shipwrecked Africans or early explorer Africans, the Caribs also captured slaves when they raided the British and French on neighbouring islands, and many of them were eventually adopted into the tribe.
(¹) A myth version of 'Black Carib' origin is that pre-Columbus African explorers intermingled with the indigenous population (refer to "They Came Before Columbus" by Ivan Van Sertima).

When the British invaded Saint Vincent, they were opposed by French settlers and their Carib allies. When the Caribs eventually surrendered to the British in 1796, the "Black Caribs" were considered enemies and were deported to Roatán, an island off what is today Honduras. The British separated the more African-looking Caribs from the more Amerindian looking ones, and decided that the former were enemies who must be deported, while the latter were merely "misled" and were allowed to remain. More than 4,000 Black Caribs were deported, but only about 2,000 of them survived the trip to Roatán. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garifuna petitioned the Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland. The Spanish employed them as soldiers, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

Today many Garifuna are settled around the Bay of Honduras, especially in southern Belize, on the coast of Guatemala around Livingston, and on the island of Roatán, and coastal towns of Honduras and Nicaragua.

Garinagu speak English, Spanish, and Garifuna. Guatemalan and Honduran Garinagu speak Garifuna and Spanish, which are also spoken by Belizean and American Garinagu. Belizean and American Garinagu also speak English as their first language. American Garinagu may speak English as their sole language.

They are also known for their unique style of music, which is called punta.


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