Belize Table of Contents
Emigration of the Garifuna
At the same time that the settlement was grappling with the
ramifications of the end of slavery, a new ethnic group, the
Garifuna appeared. In the early 1800s, the Garifuna, descendants of
Carib peoples of the Lesser Antilles and of Africans who had
escaped from slavery, arrived in the settlement
7). The Garifuna had resisted British and French colonialism in the
Lesser Antilles until they were defeated by the British in 1796.
After putting down a violent Garifuna rebellion on Saint Vincent,
the British moved between 1,700 and 5,000 of the Garifuna across
the Caribbean to the Bay Islands (present-day Islas de la Bahía)
off the north coast of Honduras. From there they migrated to the
Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and the
southern part of present-day Belize. By 1802 about 150 Garifuna had
settled in the Stann Creek (present-day Dangriga) area and were
engaged in fishing and farming.
Other Garifuna later came to the British settlement of Belize
after finding themselves on the wrong side in a civil war in
Honduras in 1832. Many Garifuna men soon found wage work alongside
slaves as mahogany cutters. In 1841 Dangriga, the Garifuna's
largest settlement, was a flourishing village. The American
traveler John Stephens described the Garifuna village of Punta
Gorda as having 500 inhabitants and producing a wide variety of
fruits and vegetables.
The British treated Garifuna as squatters. In 1857 the British
told the Garifuna that they must obtain leases from the crown or
risk losing their lands, dwellings, and other buildings. The 1872
Crown Lands Ordinance established reservations for the Garifuna as
well as the Maya. The British prevented both groups from owning
land and treated them as a source of valuable labor.
Data as of January 1992