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National Flag Of Saba

Saba Amerindians

The island of Saba in the Netherlands Antilles is perhaps the only island of its size (5.1 sq. miles) in the Caribbean to be almost continually inhabited. This is due to the fact that there are at least two known sources of fresh water on the island viz. a spring at Fort Bay and one at Spring Bay.

Archaeological research made by Dr. J.P.B. Josselin de Jong on Saba in 1923 and findings by many private individuals on Saba attest to the fact that the Carib Indians were here. Further proof is emerging that the first Sabans were the Amerindian Arawaks, who were here even before the Caribs and who even possibly survived their onslaught.

Columbus first sighted Saba on his second voyage, on November 13th, 1492. It had long been assumed that the first settlers sent by the Dutch from neighboring St. Eustatius in 1640 found Saba uninhabited. Recent research, however, brought to light by a archaeological team from Leiden University, has indicated that a Frenchman named Guillaume Coppier found Indian inhabitants living on Saba.

He described them in his book of 1645, 'Histoire et Voyages des Indes Occidentales et de plusiers autres regions'. Coppier is an interesting source; he lived for three years on the French (east) side of St. Kitts and he must have been relatively well informed on the Dutch Windward Islands. He probably visited Saba in 1629. He first discusses St. Eustatius, where at the time a Frenchman, de Cusac, lived, and he continues:

We landed thereafter on the island of Saba, which is also small; there is a very large rock, where very large and palatable lizards are; several sea-turtles come to the shore there; their shield is made into finger rings which are enriched with gold and also various costly combs are made of it.

[He could be describing activities of people of European decent elsewhere, or possibly referring to them as living on Saba already in 1629.] A group of "wild people" live there, that are named Igniris; they go with their body completely naked and they have beards, which is different from all Indians, who pull out the hair as soon as it comes. They are idolatrous and they live in caves [litt: their retreat is in cave-like places], living like wild animals.

Source of this information can be found here