Indigenous Music in the Caribbean As in many other parts of the Americas, the Caribbean already had indigenous peoples living there when explorers and colonists arrived from Europe. The largest Native American population was the Arawak (also called Taino). They lived on the island that Europeans named Hispaniola, which includes Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as on other nearby islands. Another major indigenous group was the Carib tribe, which lived on Puerto Rico and often fought with the Taino. Indigenous Caribbean music was used in ceremonies and religious celebrations. In great ceremonies called areito , as many as 1,000 participants would dance and sing around the musicians. Common instruments included flutes, rattles, gourd scrapers, and slit drums. The music took the form of energetic chants with a call-and-response structure. Eventually, however, the native populations were overrun by the invaders from Europe. Christopher Columbus and other Spanish explorers of the early sixteenth century unwittingly carried diseases that the Native Americans had no natural resistance to, such as smallpox. These killed many natives. In addition, wars between the Spanish and the natives, and attempts by the Spanish to enslave the Arawak and Carib peoples, all but eliminated the indigenous people of the Caribbean islands by the year 1600. Today, just a few descendants of the Arawak people remain in small villages on the island of Dominica. The Arawak language, and other indigenous Caribbean languages, are largely extinct. Although the native populations did not survive contact, their music nonetheless had an impact on the music that eventually developed in the region. Some of the instruments that were common among indigenous Caribbean natives are still used in music from the region today. Maracas are a type of rattle made from dried


Latin and Caribbean

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