Barbadians grow up, like most others who learn about Caribbean History and the arrival of Columbus in the ‘New World‘ (and the subsequent invasion it unleashed for the true landlords of the Western Hemisphere) – hearing about ‘the Arawaks‘ and the ‘Caribs‘; but the Eurocentric educational system of the Western World gives everyone the impression that these people existed in the past tense only…consigned forever to the dustbin of world history; but this is false.

SSA Officer Aidan Maxwell of the Westbury Cemetery

SSA Officer Aidan Maxwell of the Westbury Cemetery

We are not told that thousands of Taino-Arawaks still survive in the Greater antilles islands of Cuba, Dominican Republic and Puerto-Rico (where recent National Geographic DNA tests revealed that 40% of todays Puerto Ricans still had a predominance of Taino DNA)…in truth and in fact – with the simple stroke of his Pen Governor Toribio Montes (1804-1809) of Puerto Rico arbitrarily re-classified the last few thousand remaining Taino-Arawaks of the island from ‘Indians’ to ‘free colored people‘ – and thus the name ‘Taino/Indio’ disappeared from the official records and the MYTH of Taino-Arawak extinction began…but the people did not disappear from reality and they are still here today.

Grave Monument work - 12th June 2013

Grave Monument work – 12th June 2013

In fact, if we look at the Puerto-Rico census of 1771 – 1778 we can clearly see that the Taino-Arawak population (labelled ‘Indians‘), after the initial waves of foreign pestilence, war and slavery had decimated them from 1509 when the Spaniards invaded the island – was increasing by 30% every 7 years in the late 1700’s!

* The results of the Census were the following:
Year 1771Year 1778
Free Colored………24,16434,867
Free Negroes………4,7477,866
Mulato Slaves……..3,3434,657
Negro Slaves………4,2496,603
As far as the Lokono-Arawaks are concerned (and Anthropologist consider the Lokono to be the linguistic mother-tribe of the Taino, and the Kalinago-‘Caribs’ of the Lesser Antilles actually spoke a language that was more Lokono-Arawak than true Kalina-Carib of the South American mainland – due to the heavy intermarriage of Kalinago men with Lokono women) – they still exist in Guyana (primarily), Venezuela and Suriname; with about 20,000 remaining on the earth….and here is where the story begins to get relevant to Barbados.

In 1879 in Guyana – ageing Lokono-Arawak Hereditary Chief Amorotahe Haubariria’s (Flying Harpy Eagle) last child ‘Shoko Laliwa’ (Little Yellow Butterfly) was born, as his only surviving child but being female he could not pass his hereditary authority on to her, she was born at ‘Sauka‘ (known today as ‘Saka landing‘) principal village.

The Grave of the Princess

The Grave of the Princess

This is the origin of Marian – daughter of the last ruling hereditary Chief of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks of Guyana, and she was the one who was later addressed as anArawak Princessby English colonial society in Guyana prior to World War 1… though in the Arawak language there is no word for ‘Prince’ or ‘Princess’, a child of a Chief was called the son or daughter of the Chief…

ALL Arawak chiefs were hereditary when they lived traditionally, there were no democratic elections every 3 years as there are now in Guyana, a system started by the colonial English who outlawed the traditional Lokono-Arawak hereditary system in the first place – despite proudly retaining their own (albeit making it ceremonial in authority only) British Royal family!

Also, the Chief of a Village in Lokono-Arawak is called the 3 syllable word ‘Ka-fo-tay‘ – mistakenly pronounced ‘ka-see-kay‘ by Spanish speakers (further mistakenly pronouncedKa-seekby English speakers attempting to read the Spanish noun which is written asCacique‘).

So Marian lived to see the world she was born into, a mostly clothesless traditional Lokono-Arawak society (the LAST one in Guyana) where her bloodline had led the people by right of birth for centuries (a huge responsibility to a traditionalist who knows that you will answer to your ancestors when you die if you fail to lead the people well). She also saw a strange illness come to her people in her infancy (Measles & Smallpox) which killed 90 percent of them including her mother and her siblings, she saw her birthplace of the principal village of the upper Demerara River Isauka (and ‘Isauka’ means ‘Chiefdom’) be abandoned; with the dead being burned in their homes which were set on fire.

No-one ever lived at Isauka after this time, her Barbados born great grandson Damon Corrie was the first (and only) descendant of hers (so far) to find & set foot there in the late 1990’s (as the relatives left behind when Marian left had paddled down to McKenzie/Linden Town in their canoes to meet with Grandfather David DeWever (Marian’s son) when he visited Guyana in the 1960’s trying to save what was left of the Tribal lands in the law courts from Guyana Government annexation – but to no avail… and David never made it to actually set foot on the old Chiefdom lands).

Her grandfather’s former Chiefdom was so vast that to her dying days Granny Hannah Corbin (daughter of Marian) still said “Guyana became bigger when they took our land away“….Great Grandmother Marian herself spoke to her children about leaving the Chiefdom and ‘going to Guyana where strange people were living – showing that in the minds of the Eagle Clan Arawaks less than 150 years ago the nation state then called ‘British Guiana’ was considered to be a foreign country full of foreign people.

The last Eagle Clan Arawak Medicine Man Koyaha Maka (‘Spirit Macaw’ in English) survived the epidemic – as did his 3 sons, but the people blamed him for not having strong enough spiritual powers to save the majority who died, so he lost his spiritual authority in the eyes of the people becoming disillusioned himself – and even allowed his own surviving sons to be Christianized by Reverend William Percy Austin; and they were given the new surname ‘Simon’.

These 3 ‘Simon’ brothers migrated North from the Chiefdom and eventually settled on a new Anglican Mission called ‘St. Cuthbert’s on the Mahaica river (with other newly Christianized Arawaks who had been given the surnames ‘Dundas’, ‘Bernard’ and ‘Kattow‘ already settled there), 60 miles south from the coastlander settlement called Mahaica town. The traditional name in Arawak for St. Cuthbert’s is ‘Pakuri‘; and it was so named for the Pakuri trees that once were abundant there.

So Marian was the first person in the Eagle Clan Arawaks to see and own a Bible – it was given to her by the Anglican Missionary Priest Reverend William Piercy Austin, a man who came to Barbados from England FIRST, was trained at the Codrington College in St. Joseph – and sent to Guyana to evangelize….and HE is the man who evangelized the Lokono-Arawak people of the Eagle Clan right after the epidemics destroyed our Chiefdom. Rev. William Piercy Austin (1807 – 1892) was made the first Anglican Bishop of Guyana – and in 1883 (the year he adopted Marian) – Archbishop of the West Indies! Damon still has the Bible that he gave to Great grandmother Marian, it is a prized possession – tattered though it is after over 120 years, not for it’s contents – but because it is the Clan’s only tangible connection to her outside of her DNA that they all inherited.

Rev. Austin adopted Marian as a 4 year-old girl and gave her a new Christian name ‘Marian Luckie‘ (‘Marian’ after ‘Mary‘ and ‘Luckie’ because she was the first one of her people to be Christianised and perhaps he considered this to be ‘lucky‘ for her) whilst her father – the old Chief Flying Harpy Eagle (Amorotahe Haubariria) was still alive, and she was the first person of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawak people to wear western style clothing, go to school and learn the ways of westernization.

After becoming a young woman biologically and finishing her formal education in those days Great Grandmother returned to Malali Village (which was nearest to ‘Sauka’ to the south and Muritaro to the north) to be with her father and learn the ways of her people from him.

Marian had a traditional marriage among her people to her first love, an Arekuna man at Muritaro (which in the late 1800’s had many Makushi, Arekuna, Akawaio and Patamona resident there along with Lokono-Arawaks, Marian’s mother was herself an Akawaio and daughter of Chief Kaigougi (Jaguar) of the Great Falls area; and Marian’s grandmother was a Makushi from the Southern Pakaraimas. Her Amerindian first husband died in the epidemics but their only child – a daughter survived, a daughter who’s name was Elismay – she later married a Chinese man in Guyana and was never heard from again.

It was during this time in her mid 20’s that she was seen by a young Dutch businessman in Guyana who was delivering goods to ‘Muritaro Mission‘ from McKenzie (now called ‘Linden Town); his name was Vivian Arnold De-Wever (his father owned the Argosy Newspaper among other businesses), who fell in love with her instantly and quickly wed her. Despite being raised most of her formative years by a Christian Missionary with a zeal for evangelization that saw him being rewarded with a title of Archbishop of the West Indies later in his life…

Great Grandmother Marian was never brainwashed into becoming a ‘self-loathing Bible thumping eccentric‘ by the step-dad Reverend who raised her, nor the Dutchman who became her second husband (this strong woman trait comes up often in her 250 descendants), instead – and in spite of the hostility to her TRUE indigenous spirituality, Great Grandmother Marian used to maintain her Lokono-Arawak spirituality she learned from her father (which both the Reverend – and later her husband, both considered to beheathen nonsense’

This story was told to Damon by her daughter Hannah (who was his Grandmother)…once she saw her mother smoking pure tobacco and asked her: “Mama what are you doing?“…and Great Grandmother Marian told her last daughter: “Baby, I am praying for you and your brothers and sisters“….for traditionalist Amerindians believe that Tobacco smoke carries one’s prayers up to God – in the same manner that Catholic and Anglicans believe that the smoke from the incense dispenser held aloft by their priests does the same.

They were socialites in the colonial society of Guyana in the DeWever’s heyday in Georgetown with maids, nannies, man-servants and yard boys…but fortune waned when the patriarch of the DeWever family died and left all his businesses to Vivian (who was NOT an astute businessman like his father), and he moved to Barbados alone in 1924 to seek a better life, he then sent for his wife and six surviving children to join him in Barbados in 1925 with what was left of his inheritance.

Some of her descendants gathered at her grave site in Westbury Cemetery in Barbados on 16th June 2013

Some of her descendants gathered at her graveside in Westbury Cemetery in Barbados on 16th June 2013

To add to her unhappy life thus far, upon moving to Barbados (after ALL that occurred up to this time) Great Grandmother Marian now had to hear white Barbadian neighbors shout out in public to their children who wanted to make friends with HER children (children of an ancient and noble royal Amerindian bloodline), such things as: “Come inside at once – do not play withthose peopleor they will eat you!” …gone were the relatively happy days of her life in colonial Georgetown in British Guiana when among other noteworthy occasions Marian was introduced in 1920 to the then visiting HRH The Prince of Wales (who later abdicated the throne as King Edward VIII of England) as ‘Princess Marian of the Arawaks‘….now she had to live among white Barbadians who considered her and her children to be nothing more ‘cannibals from the jungles of Guyana‘.

NB: Great Grandmother’s eldest daughter Ruth Della married James Darrel Brandon Serrao, middle daughter Martha Isabella married William Keith Chandler, and youngest daughter Hanna Mariah married George Cecil Corbin (himself a descendant of Kalinago Chief ‘Carib’ Warner of Dominica through his mother Florence Warner) – so all three daughters of the Princess wed Barbadian men and spent the rest of their lives on this Caribbean island where over 100 of the descendants of these 3 ladies remain to this day…less than 90 years later.

To make matters worse her husband Vivian’s businesses failed in Barbados as well and he left his wife Marian with 3 young teen daughters and youngest son Joshua in Barbados and took son David Arnold DeWever (who was then 18) with him to England in 1926 to start another new business. In that same year eldest son Vidi emigrated to South-Eastern Cuba.

In 1928 Great granny Marian died at the age of 49…..of a ruptured appendix. Great Grandmother Princess Marian is buried in Westbury Cemetery in the capital city of Bridgetown, Barbados; it is the ONLY known burial site of an Arawak royal in the entire Lesser Antilles.

Princess Marian’s eldest son Vidi Arnold DeWever left an unknown and as yet uncontacted number of descendants residing in Cuba, her son David Arnold DeWever remained in England and there are 100+ descendants of him living in the United Kingdom today, and youngest son Joshua DeWever died in WWII but has left 7 descendants in Canada and the UK.

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.


add a comment

Some HTML is OK

or, reply to this post via trackback.