Natives civilizations - Arawak and Carib

I would like to provide some info and lore for the people interested in Carib and Arawak tribes.

I wish there was an Arawak cvilization or minor civilization.
I want to share lore and mythology from “The Handbook of South American Indians - Volume 4 - The Circum-Caribbean tribes” by Julian Steward and the Smithsonian institution a bureau of american ethnology.
There already is a Carib minor civ in the game, and i’m also posting their lore.
These writings are from priests and missionaries who interacted with the natives, mostly spanish priests who christianised the natives.
For the maps this focusses on: Caribean islands and Orinoco.

The tribes of northwestern Venezuela
The tribes of the northwestern portion of Venezuela between Lake Maracaibo and Cabo Codera seem to have formed a somewhat tenuous link in the Circum-Caribbean culture between the Timoteans and the tribes north of the Orinoco River. In religion and politicial organization the Arawakan Jirajara and Caquetio have certain specific resemblances to the Arawakan Taino of the Antilles.
The political unit was the village, which had its own chief, but the Jirajara had a tribal war chief and the Caquetio had a tribal chief of general power and prestige. The Caquetío chief was accredited with supernatural power to control natural phenomena and plant growth, he was carried in a hammock, and he recieved special treatment at death. Under the chief were nobles, warriors, and rich men, each forming a special class. At death, leading men were burned and their ashes drunk, but the head hief’s body was dessicated, placed in his house in his hammock with a wooden image below him, and later cremated and his ashes drunk.
These tribes were extremely warlike, but the functional role of warfare in sociopoliticial life is not known.
There was some kind of community temple where offerings were made by shamans to the sun and moon and where shamans practiced divination with tobacco ash and communed with spirits while taking tobacco and a narcotic herb. Each house was also a place of worship in that it had its own idols. Human sacrifice was practiced: young ones were beheaded and their blood offered to the sun in order to obtain rain. Shamans not only served as priests but they also cured illness by sucking out the disease-causing object.
Agriculture was best developed among the Caquetío and Jirajara. Near Barquisimeto, irrigation was carried on. Salt was manufactured and traded. Items of material culture reported include: pile dwellings, clubs, bows and arrows (poisoned among the Jirajara), fish drugs, hammocks, wommens front apron, skirt, calabash ■■■■■ cover, body paint, chief’s feather, gold, pearl ornaments, dugout canoes, carrying bags, ceramics, woven cotton bags, garments, hammocks, trumpets, tobacco, masato, chica, maguey drink.

Tribes of northern Venezuela.
Connection between the Andes and the Antilles, though somewhat broken in the Cordillera Oriental and the Cordillera de mérida, are partly resumed among sme of the Cariban tribes of the area between the Orinoco River and the north coast of Venezuela. The linkage however, is mainly in material and social features: the temple cult is lacking. As archeology suggest s that resemblances of this area and the Antilles were somewhat greater at an earlier period, the historic inhabitatns may not have transmitted the Circum-Caribbean culture ot the Antilles, possibly they merely acquired it by contact with those who did transmit them.
Intense farming is indicated not only by a considerable list of plants, including bitter manioc and rows of fruit trees, but by irrigation (Cumanagoto) and in some tribes the performance of the main labor by men. Villagers were very large (as many as 200 houses), carefully laid out, and surrounded by one to three palisades. Some villages were abandoned at a death. Social classes were well developed with a powerful chief and frequently various subhiefs: and there were some federations. The chief was carried in agold-adorned litter, and on the Unare River he had a harem o 200 wives (attended by eunuchs). His decrees were promulgated from an artificial mound, and he had power of life and death over his subjects. Often these chiefs had magical power and were also shamans. The Caracas tribe had graded mlitary classes with distinctive insignia. Traces of Sub-Andean death practices are found here, though it is not clear whether they were restricted to chiefs: desiccation of nobles and hanging the body in the house (Chiribichi), roasting and burrial with subsequent reburial or cremation (Piritú), burial in a clay and log tomb with an image on top (Aruacay). The Cumaná dried the body and drank the bone powder and fat. Little is known of commoners or slaves, except that the latter, who probably were war captives, were objects of gtrade. There was considerable warfare, carried on with fairly well organized armies which included female warriors. The principal weapons were bows, arrows with animal-derived poison, spears, shields, clubs. And on Trinidad spear throwers, these were kept in arsenals. The Cumanagoto, Marcapana and Palenque were cannibalistic, and the Piritú drank powdered enemy hearts in chica. The only record of human trophies is Piritú flutes of human bone. Human sacrifice is not reported.
Religion lacked the temple cult. The sun and moon were supreme beings. Ceremonies had some connection with deer and fish, and offerings of first fruits and of various valuable objects were made to the earth and ocean. The Palenque had hunting and fishing magic. The shaman, who had great power and social prestige and frequently was also the chief, came nearest to performing priestly functions when he served as oracle, communicating with spirits in caves so as to learn the future. He cured sickness by sucking out or causing the patient to vomit the the decease-causing evil spirit. Witchcraft and divination with “yopa”, a narcotic snuff, are reported. The Piritú used flagellation in battle magic and the ant ordeal in gir’s puberty rites.
Material culture includes the following elements: textiles of woven wild cotton, pottery, basketry, salt making, dugout canoes, hammocks, excellently carved wooden stools, the calabash ■■■■■ cover, breechclout for men, the apron, breechclout, or drawers for women, head deformation, profuse ornaments of many materials including trade gold and pearls (Guaiqueri had pearl fishing), tattooing, domesticated turkey, Muscovy duck, bees, fish harpoons, nets, traps, hooks, bird snares and bird lime, the babraot, chica, tobacco, hollow-log drums, flutes, shell trumpets, rattles (used by shamans).

The Antilles
Three waves of cultural influene had swept the Antilles: first the primitive hunting and gathering Ciboney coming probably from Florida. Second the Arawak, who were typically Circum-Carribean and came from South America. Third the Carib, who were Tropical Forest rather than Circum-Caribbean, and also came from South America. At the (european) Conquest the Ciboney occupied part of Cuba and Haiti. The Arawak held the remainder of the Greater Antilles, but they had been driven from most of the Lesser Antilles by the Carib, probably in a very recent prehistoric period.
The Arawak lacked some of the more important Circum-Caribbean cultivated plants but nonetheless depended more upon farming than on fishing, and they tended to live away from the seacoast. Their villages, which consisted of as many as 3000 persons, were carefully planned and each enclosed a ball court. Commoners occupied communal houses, but the chief who had great prominence, lived in a special house of his own. In the hierarchy of chiefs, the head chief ruled a province, which was divided into as many as 30 districts, each under a subchief, and a district consisted of 70 to 80 villages, each with a headman. A chief had power of life and death, and he controlled civil, military, and religious affairs, there being no separate priesthood. He bore titles, was treated with special etiquette, and to complete the parallel with Colombie, he was carried in gold-decorated litter and upon his death he was either disemboweled, dessicated, and kept as an idol (zemi), or he was burried, accompanied by several of his wives. Ranking below the chief were the nobles who formed a council, the commoners, and the slaves. The society had matrilineal inheritance but lacked clans.
It is probable that the slave class came from war captives, but the Arwak evidently departed from the Circum-Caribbean pattern in lacking cannibalism and human sacrifice. There was some warfare, howerever, and on the St. Croix Island, female warriors are reported.
Arawakan religion had the functional equivalent of the priest-temple-idol complex, but the elements and organization were somewhat distinctive. Evidently combining the guardian spirit concept with fetish worship, there was a large number of idols called zemis. These were made of different materials, and they represented plant, animal, and human spirits, often those seen in dreams. A common type found archeologically is a three-cornered stone. Each zemi served a special purpose, and every person had one or more in his house. The zemis were offered food, and people fasted and took emetics and snuff while invoking their help.
Because the chief’s zemis were the most powerful in a community, he conducted group celebrations in their honor.
A more specific Circum-Caribbena trait is the public séance which shamans held in caves to communicate with zemis and other spirits. In addition to zemis there was belief in nature spirits and in human ghosts, which were feared. Celestial deities are mentioned, and the sun and moon were connected with the myth of human emergence from a cave. Shamans conformed to the ritual pattern in taking snuff and emetic before singing, shaking a rattle, and sucking the cause of disease from a patient. The dead were usually burried in the ground or placed in a cave, but the head was always kept in a basket in the house. Children sometimes received urn burial.

The Arawak material and technological culture seems to have included most if not all the Circum-Caribbena elements. With the aid of irrigation, they grew potatoes, peanuts, beans, and arrow root, but they evidently either lacked hard-kernel maize or ate their maze before it matured. This may explain why they used the mortar but not the metate. They also had bitter manioc and squeezed the poison out of it with the tipití, but these traits may have been acquired in the historic period. The pepper pot was a characteristic dish. The Arawak hunted with clubs, dogs, bird decoys, drives, and corrals and they used calabash mask for taking ducks. The absence of the bow, except among the Ciguayo (who used featherless arrows that were sometimes poisoned), and the presence of the spear thrower suggest that the spread of the former at the expense of the latter elsewhere may have been comparatively recent. In warfare, clubs and stones (on Trinidad, the sling) were also weapons. Fishing devices included the usual items: nets, weirs, hooks, harpoons, and baskets. The domesticated parrot is of local interest, and the somewhat puzzling mute dog may be related to a similar animal (perro mudo) of the Aburrá of Colombia.
Other typical Circum-Caribbean traits found among the Island Arawak are the woman’s apron, frontal head deformation, ear and nose piercing, the platform bed for chiefs and hammocks for commoners, carved stools of both stone and wood, dugout canoes, carrying baskets, twilled basketry, pottery with plastic forms and with one-, two-, and three-color positive and negative designs, and wooden bowls. Metallury was restricted go gold, which was taken from placer miens and worked by hammering, but objects of gold-copper alloy were obtained by trade. The presence of true weaving is uncertain: hammocks, bags, and aprons may ahve been netted of cotton. The rubber-ball game, cigars, hollow-log drums, gourd rattles, shell trumpets, chicha, and coca are all Circum-Caribbean. But the use of emetics and of snuff taken through a Y-tube is exceptional.

The Carib
The Island Carib were very similar to the Arawak in material culture, but their social and religious patterns were more like those of the Tropical Forests, and their ferocity and cruelty in warfare were very reminiscent of the Tupí. They made continual raids and took female captives as wives, but tortured, killed, and ate male captives and made trophies of their bones. Socially they were extreme individualists and attached little importance to rank or to chieftainship. Prestige was acquired by achievement, and a boy’s powers were tested in his puberty rites. Although captive wives were kept in a slave status and occasionally a slave was buried with his or her master, the children of captive women were freemen. Lacking social calsses, kinship relations were of great importance, and the village tended to consist of an extended matrilineal family.
A reflection of Arawakan religion is seen in offerings made to guardian spirits, which were not, however, represented by idols. The importance attached to the dead people is shown not only in the great fear of ghosts but also in the shaman’s practice of keeping his ancestors bones as a source of power and the belief that his ancestor’s spirit assisted him in obtaining a spirit helper. Shamans cured by means of sucking. They also held public séances. Ritual elements included fasting, scarifying -both were present in boys and girls puberty rites- and feasts with much use of chica. Among mythological supernatural beings were an unnamed pwoer in Heaven, various astral beings, especially the su and moon, and a culture hero from heaven.
The carib usually practiced earth burial, but sometimes they cremated a chief and drank his ashes with chicha.
In material traits the Carib differed from the Arawak in making great use of bitter manioc, which they prepared with the manioc grater and the tipití, in their failure to use salt, in the certainty that they wove cotton, and in their expert navigation in large, planked, dugout canoes. Their weapons included bows and poisoned arrows, javelns, and clubs. The Carib lacked the ball game and had other athletic contests instead, but they used cigars, single-head skin drums, gourd rattles, conch-shell trumpets, and one-string gourd instruments.


Take this source with a bunch of salt.

Also Steward is a somewhat from a old generation of anthropologists. More modern sources would be better.

BTW, Arawak woukd be very cool to add to the game, they could replace a lot of minor natives thay are wrongly placed, specially if the DLC civ is Brazil

There aren’t really modern sources…
I do know some stories that are passed on in my family’s area. But that also needs a lot of salt.


Arawak would be very appropriate for many South American maps. It will turn the Caribbean into a minor faction that provides bonuses in fishing and navigation, while Arawak will be mainland.

Distribution of the Arawaks.


Well the Caribe are also to be found in the north of south america. But are in this region and in the Caribean. They still live next to eachother in many countries as neighbours.

i did find some modern sources but the book is only out in the dutch language lol

Along with those tribes, I would love to see the Miskito in there as well for Western Carribbean areas (along Nicaragua and Honduras,). They fought against the Spanish and would often form alliances with English and French buccaneers/pirates.

Their unique units could include Miskito Strikers. These spearmen were often part of pirate crews (also often wearing Euro sailor attire until they’re back n home soil). They were well known for their hunting skills, spearing sea turtle or hogs, as well as using their spears as throwing and melee weapons in battle.

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