Posted on December 15, 2014
Bonaire and nearby islands used to be called “las Islas de los Gigantes” – the Islands of the Giants!
Now those islands are called, variously, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao), the Netherlands Antilles (until that country dissolved in 2010), and the BES Islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba). Bonaire is considered a municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and so many Dutch people live there.
Knowing the Dutch people, I was imagining that many of the inhabitants of Bonaire are very tall. (The Dutch people are, on average, some of the tallest people in the world.) I asked my daughter, who has been to Bonaire, and she confirmed: oh, yes, a LOT of the people walking around in Bonaire are very tall Dutch people. It's strange that the old name would be so appropriate now...
...Since the old name pertained to a people who were completely killed off a long time ago!
The Caquetio people lived on Bonaire and the other ABC islands before the Spaniards first discovered the islands in 1499. They had apparently traveled to the islands from what is now called Venezuela, in South America – seventeen miles across the sea in canoes hollowed out of logs.
At that first Caquetio-Spaniard contact, the native people had only Stone Age technology, with no metal tools or weapons. There were very many islanders – probably only 500 or 600. The Cauetio were no match for the Spanish colonizers—who were, after all, about to conquer the mighty Aztec Empire! The Spaniards didn't kill all the Caquetio people right away, but they did something almost as bad—they took the people from their homes and sent them to another island (Hispaniola) to work in their new mines.
In other words, the Spaniards enslaved the Caquetio people.
By the way, the Spaniards said of the ABC islands that they had no use. Can you imagine saying that about the island of Bonaire? Take a peek:
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