On Grand Bahama Island,
the sea has always provided. The earliest settlers, the Siboney Indians,
were a people who lived off conch and fishing, and the shells and jewelry
they left behind form the majority of what we know about them. Their remains
suggest that they were here as early as 7,000 years ago, but disappeared
after they were superceded by another Caribbean group, the Lucayans.
reconstruction of a typical Lucayan village.
Photo by James Turner,
The Lucayans (also called Arawaks) were a broad group
of tribes who worked their way up the Caribbean from South America's Amazon
between 5 and 7,000 years ago. When Christopher Columbus sighted San Salvador
on his first crossing in 1492, there were an estimated 40,000 of them living
in The Islands of The Bahamas, with a population of about 4,000 on Grand
Bahama Island. Surprisingly little is known about the Lucayans, a fact
that comes from their rapid extermination by the Spanish shortly after
the arrival of Columbus. It is believed they had an advanced political
and social structure, and lived in well-organized cities.
and artifacts have been found in the caves at Lucayan
National Park, and a significant new archeological site recently discovered
near Deadman's Reef has uncovered hearths, animal bones, pottery
pieces, and shell beads.