A succession of tribes and cultures called our island home.
Our earliest inhabitants, dating back to 2000 BC, were the Amerindian people, originally from South America, who named the island Malliouhana, the Sea Serpent. Living off the sea and the land, they established farms and villages on Anguilla. Over the following three thousand years, a succession of tribes and cultures called our island home.
Painting of our earliest inhabitants
One such group was the Arawak people whose deep religious beliefs were based on the sun, moon and two sacred caverns, from where all mankind originated. The caves, Big Springs at Island Harbour, and The Fountain at Shoal Bay, remain to this day. The Fountain cavern is the Eastern Caribbean’s most intact ceremonial site from this period and features petrogylphs, offering bowls, and a stalagmite carved in the likeness of Jocahu, the Supreme Deity of the Arawak people.
The god Jocahu “The Creator”, or “Giver of Cassava” carved into the limestone
The first Europeans arrived towards the end of the fifteenth century. The English colonized Anguilla in 1650, but for the next 150 years the British and French fought each other for control of the island. The new settlers grew cotton, later replaced by tobacco and then by the eighteenth century, sugar. Crucial to the growing of sugar was labor, and, as with other West Indian colonies, slaves were imported from Africa.
August 1, 1834 marked the emancipation of all slaves in the British colonies, and the first Monday in August is celebrated today as a public holiday in Anguilla.
In 1958 St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla became part of the Federation of the West Indies. With the collapse of the Federation in 1962, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla together were made an associated statehood, despite a petition against the union brought by the Anguillians. Anguilla embarked on a campaign to withdraw from the St. Kitts-Nevis regime, and the spark for the Anguilla Revolution was lit on May 30th, 1967, now celebrated as Anguilla Day, when the Royal St. Kitts Police were forced from the island. Negotiations over Anguilla’s status continued for another decade, until on December 19th 1980, Anguilla became a British Overseas Territory, with some measure of autonomy in government. *
Anguillians today celebrate their independence and their heritage of strength, survival, and determination with Church services, uniformed parades, cultural performances and, of course, the traditional round-the-island boat race.
*Adapted from the works of Colville Petty O.B.E and Nik Douglas.
OBJECTS FOR LIFE
Creative, passionate, peaceful expressions abound. From canvases of color and driftwood carvings, to the sounds of steel pan and guitar, the island articulates its joy of life through music, art, poetry and dance. The individual celebrates creativity with complete freedom on Anguilla.
Artists from around the world have come to join the local artistic community in pursuit of their creative muse. Galleries are abundant and gentle music fills the air, celebrating the individual, the community, the laid-back Anguillian lifestyle.
On almost any night of the week, but particularly on the weekends, it’s possible to hear live music in Anguilla. The island is brimming with talent, from international touring acts like British Dependency, Omari Banks, and Pantha Vibes International to locally based entertainers Natalee, Sprocka, Springer, BOSS and his Horsepower Band, AIM, Amalia Watty, True Intentions, and more.
Anguilla has produced a number of popular reggae, calypso, soca and country musicians, the most famous of whom is undoubtedly Bankie Banx, who has performed with music legends Jimmy Buffett, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Cliff and the Bacon Brothers, and who founded the island’s legendary music festival Moonsplash. Stop by his Dune Preserve at night and you might catch an impromptu jam session featuring Bankie and friends.
Sunday brunch is another excellent opportunity to experience Anguillian vibes – DaVida’s, Elodia’s, Gwen’s Reggae Grill – each has its own roster of live entertainment, popular among locals and visitors alike.