When the first Kalinagos migrated from the South American mainland to the Lesser Antilles more than five hundred years ago, little did they know that their vast repertoire of traditional knowledge would be of any significance in an ever-changing world several generations later.
Like all other migratory populations, the Kalinago people brought with them several aspects of their cultural heritage to the Caribbean including their cuisine, myths and folktales, customs and methods of plant propagation among others. But one of the more invaluable contributions of the Kalinago people to present day Caribbean cultural landscape was the introduction of the use of herbs in everyday life.
As a people, the Kalinagos lived in harmony with nature and depended entirely on the natural environment for their daily survival and wellbeing. Herbs growing in the wild were collected and meticulously observed for their properties.
From these observations arose the distinct collections of herbs for several uses such as flavourings and preservatives in foods and drinks as well as medicines for a wide array of illnesses and complications. The use of herbs also formed a significant element in various rituals and religious practices.
Fortunately, with the passage of time, the value of the traditional knowledge of the Kalinago people as it relates to the use of herbs has begun to find its rightful place in present day society.
Today, more than ever before with the growing trend for alternative medicine and the desire for healthier foods, the use of herbs as an essential component of our daily life style has become almost irresistible in every strata of present day society. And the trend is set to maintain this momentum!
Recognizing the priceless value of this component of the Kalinago cultural patrimony, several initiatives have been undertaken to better manage and preserve this aspect of the Kalinago heritage.
Foremost among such initiatives is the establishment of the Kalinago Heritage Society, a Non-Government Organisation operated by young residents of the community devoted entirely to the preservation and management of the heritage of Dominica’s indigenous population, the Kalinago People.
Today, visitors to the Kalinago Territory still have the rare opportunity to be exposed to this mythical aspect of the heritage of the Kalinago people. Pre-arranged herbal tours in the Kalinago Territory can also be facilitated through the Kalinago Barana Aute or the Kalinago Heritage Society. Contact us for more information about herbal tours.