Culture & Heritage
Visit Salybia (also spelt Salibia) is a small town on the east coast of Dominica. It is located to the south of Pagua Bay and north of the town of Castle Bruce. It is the main commercial and administrative center for the Carib reserve, the only indigenous people’s reserve in the Caribbean
The first human beings to set foot on the shores of Dominica came by the sea along the island chain from the region of the Orinoco River delta on the coast of South America. Recent research indicates that they set out on their journey 5,000 years before the birth of Christ. There is proof that people were living on neighbouring islands in 3,100 BC and others may have been here even earlier. But who they were, what they called themselves and exactly how they lived we will probably never know
Dominica’s First People – the Caribs – live on a 3,700 acre Territory on Dominica’s east coast that set aside for them in 1903. They number approximately 3,000 and elect their own chief who holds the position for 4 years. July 2004 saw the election of Charles Williams as Carib Chief
Four diverse cultures mingled to create the island culture of Dominica: The native Caribs influenced the British and French settlers who brought slaves from Africa with them. The resulting creole culture is evident in Dominica’s food and language, as well as in many other important cultural expressions throughout the island.
Like the other Francophone musics of the Lesser Antilles, Dominican folk music is a hybrid of African and European elements. The quadrille is an important symbol of French Antillean culture, and is, on Dominica, typically accompanied by a kind of ensemble called a jing ping band. In addition, Dominica’s folk tradition includes folk songs called bélé, traditional storytelling called kont, masquerade, children’s and work songs, and Carnival music.
Until the late 1950s, the Afro-Dominican culture of most of the island was repressed by the colonial government and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, both of which taught that African-derived music was evil, demonic and uncultured. This perception changed in the mid- to late 20th century, when Afro-Dominican culture came to be celebrated through the work of promoters like Cissie Caudeiron.