The Caribbean was populated when the Spanish arrived. But European diseases and brutal attacks resulted in the decimation of indigenous populations on many Caribbean islands. In 1922 the archaeologist Gudmund Hatt referred to them as ‘the lost people’.
There is no conclusive evidence of how the Caribbean islands were populated, but there are strong indications that there was a lot of mobility and that immigration took place in waves from the Amazonas, Central America and the Andes region. In the Columbian era the Caribbean islands were largely populated by two groups – the Taino to the west and the Carib to the east. Salt River Bay had been populated by both groups: From 650 CE the Taino took over the islands from the Igneri, and were in turn expelled by the Carib in 1425 CE. The Caribs were warriors, raiding their neighbours and taking Tainos as slaves.
Salt River Bay is the only place in the U.S. we can be certain Columbus disembarked on his second voyage to the American continent in 1493. His meeting with the indigenous population is described by his son Ferdinand Columbus.