What Did the Carib Indians Eat?

According to the Spanish conquistadores, the Carib Indians were cannibals who regularly ate roasted human flesh. Archaeological evidence indicates that if they were cannibals, they limited the consumption of humans to ceremonial occasions.

In the records of the conquistadores, statements claim the Carib ceremonially grilled or roasted human flesh over hot coals, a process called a barabicu, which the Spanish pronounced "barbacoa." The English word "barbecue" derives from that Spanish word. In addition to barbecue, the Carib ate cassava root, which is also known as manioc, tapioca root or yuca.

The Carib were among the first Native Americans with whom Christopher Columbus came in contact. The Spanish who came to the New World were allowed to enslave only people who would be better off as Christians. For this reason, arguments persist claiming that the conquistadores labeled the Carib as cannibals so they could enslave them. The Carib were the first indigenous American people enslaved by the Spanish.

The modern descendants of the Caribs deeply resent their ancestors' characterization as cannibals. This became an issue during the filming of the 2006 movie "Pirates of the Caribbean II: Dead Man's Chest." Disney proposed a scene showing Carib cannibalism. Modern Carib Indians and their supporters protested this characterization, and ultimately the scene was edited out of the movie.