The descendants of former African slaves and European colonists populate many of the islands of the Caribbean, but an outpost of the region's indigenous Carib Indian population still survives on the lush island of Dominica.
The newly opened Kalinago Cultural Center allows visitors to Dominica to get an up-close look at the lives and traditions of the islands' 3,000-strong Caribs, known locally as the Kalinago people.
The Kalinago, whose greeted Columbus upon his arrival in Dominica in 1493, still inhabit the island's east coast despite the sad history of enslavement, warfare and disease that wiped out most of their cousins around the rest of the Caribbean.
The eight Kalinago villages are located in Dominica's Carib Territory, a 3,700-acre reservation ruled by an elected chief. Visitors are welcome to the villages, craft shops, and Isulukati Falls in the territory, as well as to dances and other performances by the Karifuna Cultural Group.
The new Kalinago Cultural Center, known as Kalinago Barana Aute, opened in April 2006 and offers insights into Carib culture and lifestyle, including demonstrations of basket weaving, canoe-building, and fishing. A traditional Karbet meeting hall hosts lectures, storytelling, and performances. Kalinago spiritual cleansings also will be offered to visitors, who also can purchase some of the hundreds of herbs used by the Caribs in their traditional healing practices.
Admission to Kalinago Barana Aute is $8; additional activities are $2 each. the center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tues.-Sun. between Oct. 15 and April 15; closes Wednesdays and Thursdays during the summer.
The Center is located on the Old Coast Road at Crayfish River in Dominica's Carib Territory.
Reservations are recommended; call 767-445-7979 for more details.