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The Arawaks are a tribe in Civilization IV: Colonization.


The Arawaks were one of the most prominent societies of the Caribbean at the time of the New World's discovery and were the first natives encountered by Columbus. Originating in South America (where there remain a few scattered settlements of Arawak to this day), the Arawaks migrated to the Caribbean islands, where they established settlements from the Lesser Antilles to Cuba. They are thought to have arrived in the Caribbean around 500 BC, but in large part were obliterated from the Lesser Antilles by their sworn foes the Carib, who also hailed from northern South America and for whom the Caribbean Sea was named.

The Arawak migration across the vast Caribbean was possible thanks in large part to their expert abilities as navigators. Arawak boat-builders were capable of creating massive canoes, the largest of which could carry roughly 150 souls. These served the Arawaks well in their primary activity - trade. Arawak canoes could often be found cruising between islands, heavy with trade goods, including gold, wood carvings, trained parrots and other luxuries, along with basic food stuffs, pottery, or fishing nets.

Our earliest records of Arawak society come from Columbus himself. Upon setting down at Hispanola, Columbus was impressed by the gentle nature of the Arawaks, who seemed more awed than threatened by his sailors. When Columbus' ship, the Santa Maria, ran aground of the coast of the island, a cacique (Arawak leader) named Guacanagari sheltered Columbus and his men, giving them gifts of gold and other fineries.

The ease of Arawak life would not long survive the arrival of the Europeans: in fact, a convergence of events nearly wiped them from the Caribbean. After seeing that there was gold to be had in this new land, the Spaniards began employing the docile natives as slave labor. At the same time, the Carib began a renewed effort to remove the Arawaks from their homes in the southern Caribbean. And all the while, European diseases began to creep through the population. Between these three factors, the Arawak population was nearly obliterated within a decade.

As the first people to meet westerners, the Arawaks left an indelible mark on the European conquerors. The hammock was among the innovations first presented to western society by the Arawaks and the space-saving resting place would become an important part of naval fleets until the twentieth century. As well, the cooking method known as barbecuing, where pieces of meat are left to simmer over low heat for hours on end, was first performed before western eyes by the Arawaks.

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