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Heritage Sites

Dominica's heritage stretches back some 7,000 years when the first hunter-gatherers reached the islands of the eastern Caribbean from South America. Subsequent migrations of Amerindians followed by European colonization and the Atlantic slave trade, have all combined to create a heritage that is rich and diverse.

Kalinago Territory

Dominica’s Kalinago Territory is unique in the Caribbean. It is the only place where descendants of the region’s indigenous Amerindian people – the Kalinago – still live in a domain that is theirs.

Only Kalinago people are permitted to live in the Territory, which is administered by a Kalinago Chief and a Kalinago Council.

The Kalinago are extremely proud of their Amerindian roots and cultural heritage and make huge efforts to keep the spirit of their ancestry alive.

Visitors to the Kalinago Barana Auté in the village of Crayfish River can see traditional thatched buildings (called karbets and ajoupas) and examples of heritage crafts such as basket weaving, cassava bread making, and canoe building.

European colonial sites

A number of sugar mill ruins scattered around the island as well as beautifully preserved estate houses shadow the island’s European colonial past. One of the most interesting colonial sites is the partially restored Fort Shirley garrison in the Cabrits National Park.

Take a leisurely walk along parkland trails and around the restored officers’ quarters, guardhouse and powder magazines and enjoy expansive views of Prince Rupert Bay from the elevated canon batteries. Prince Rupert Bay, also viewed from Secret Bay, was an important haven for ships crossing the Atlantic to the New World from Europe. Sir Francis Drake recorded a visit here when his ship required fresh water and other provisions which his crew traded with the island’s indigenous people.

African Influences

In the 1700s and early 1800s, Maroons (runaway slaves) lived in camps in the high forested areas of Dominica doing what they could to survive the brutality of the colonial administration. Dominica’s most famous Maroon was Chief Jacko, whose camp was located on a high plateau near the village of Belles. This plateau, known as Jacko Flats, could be accessed only by steep stone steps that were hand-carved into the cliffs by members of the camp. The flats and the steps form part of one of the island’s great heritage hikes that also incorporates the meandering Layou River in the Central Forest Reserve.

A memorial to Dominica’s legacy of the Maroons is located near the main entrance to Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort in the island’s capital, Roseau. The statue depicts a Maroon in broken shackles blowing a conch shell, symbolizing the enduring fight for freedom.

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