Migration or interaction: Reinterpreting pre-columbian West Indian culture origins

Gary S. Elbow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The standard model for explaining the settlement of the West Indies in pre-Columbian times is based on a series of migrations from South America that account for the origins of Ciboney, Taino, and Island Carib ethnic groups. Recent work in linguistics and archaeology have led to the development of a new model. According to this model, the Ciboney may have descended from the earliest inhabitants of the West Indies, who were probably migrants from Yucatan or Central America to the Greater Antilles, while Taino and Island Caribs represent separate branches from a single migration wave of Arawak speakers that moved northward from South America. Changing models of West Indian culture history provide a useful framework for discussing the processes of culture change and for introducing information on use of scientific analysis in the social sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)200-204
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 1992


  • Arawak
  • Ciboney
  • Culture origins
  • Island Carib
  • Migration
  • Pre-history
  • Taino
  • West Indies


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