Saladoid: Indigenous Caribbeans

The Saladoid are the second group of indigenous peoples native to the Americas that we will focus on for American Black History Month

Saladoid culture is a pre-Columbian indigenous culture of territory in present-day Venezuela and the Caribbean that flourished from 500 BCE to 545 CE. Concentrated along the lowlands of the Orinoco River, the people migrated by sea to the Lesser Antilles, and then to Puerto Rico.

Whilst this expansion was not a bid to spread influence or build an Empire, the group did leave the South American peninsula in order to explore the limits of their technology and settle on what they thought were uninhabited islands.

The name Saladoid is not a direct reference to the groups genetic structure or cultural differences. Instead, it is from their archaeological categorisation which identify the peoples of the early ceramic age. As the strongest archaeological evidence in favour of the Saladoid, is their unique, ceramic pottery styles, which validate the existence of the culture.


The Saladoid period includes the four following subcultures, defined by ceramic styles.

  • Hacienda Grande culture(250 BCE–300 CE)
  • Cuevas culture(400–600 CE)
  • Prosperity culture(1–300 CE)
  • Coral Bay-Longford culture(350–550 CE)


This culture is thought to have originated at the lower Orinoco River near the modern settlements of Saladero and Barrancas in Venezuela. Seafaring people from the lowland region of the Orinoco River migrated into and established settlements in theLesser Antilles, Puerto Rico, and Hispaniola. They displaced the pre-ceramic Ortoiroid culture. As a horticultural people, they initially occupied wetter and more fertile islands that could best support agriculture. These Indigenous peoples of the Americas were an Arawak-speaking culture.

Between 500-280 BCE, they immigrated into the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, eventually making up a large portion of what was to become a single Caribbean culture. In Puerto Rico, evidence of their historic settlements is found mainly in the western part of the island.

Saladoid people are characterised by agriculture, ceramic production, and sedentary settlements. Their unique and highly decorated pottery has enabled archaeologists to recognise their sites and to determine their places of origin. Saladoid ceramics include zoomorphic effigy vessels, incense burners, platters, trays, jars, bowls with strap handles, and bell-shaped containers. The red pottery was painted with white, orange, and black slips.

Distinctive Saladoid artefacts are stone pendants, shaped like raptors from South America. These were made from a range of exotic materials, including such as carnelian, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amethyst, crystal quartz, jasper-chalcedony, and fossilised wood. These were traded through the Great and Lesser Antilles and the South American mainland, until 600 CE.



At first this article says, “Whilst this expansion was not a bid to spread influence or build an Empire, the group did leave the South American peninsula in order to…settle on what they thought were uninhabited islands.” Then it says, “They displaced the pre-ceramic Ortoiroid culture.”

If they displaced people on inhabited islands, how do you know that they thought the islands were inhabited? Where have you read that the Saladoids thought they were settling on uninhabited lands? If so, what were their thoughts after they decided to continue and settle on inhabited land? These were a pre-literate people and so you wouldn’t have known their thoughts.

Methinks that the first-mentioned comment was used to minimize the idea that they too were replacing previous inhabitants the same way the Spanish did. I’m not saying that they were as brutal or genocidal as the Spaniards, but as the article said, they displaced another group just like any other conquering group displaces another.

Colonization isn’t unique to European nations but it something common to all people of the human race.

@ Jason Whitcher They were agricultural and had pottery which means that at the very least they were in their Neolithic period. The Neolithic period is when the earliest forms of writing begin to be seen in most cultures but cave paintings and other decorative motifs (and pictures being the precursors to writing in terms of cultural development) predate this and are able to convey ideas which like most parts of human history are “interpreted” by those who come after. Unfortunately you don’t seem to comprehend that a lot of archaeological conclusions as those of many other sciences are subjective and interpretive guesses not necessarily the objective hard facts the mainstream media portrays them as.

When you say that the Saladoid were pre-literate, how would anyone know that when it’s established historical fact that Europeans purposely destroyed the artefacts of other races, hid historical facts and archaeological evidence from the general public and even went so far as to make it illegal to state that certain monuments, such as The Great Zimbabwe could not have been built by negroes since this did not fit in with their scientific racism? How would you know if the people didn’t have writing and Europeans destroyed the evidence of it to further justify their subjugation of the races that followed?

You wrote:

“Where have you read that the Saladoids thought they were settling on uninhabited lands? If so, what were their thoughts after they decided to continue and settle on inhabited land? These were a pre-literate people and so you wouldn’t have known their thoughts.”

Is that the same standard that you apply to the European prehistoric or to people in the lower levels of European society until up until about 200 years ago? Why must the entire world hear, read and watch the make believe thoughts and feelings of poor Europeans when most were not pre-literate (since the wealthiest in their countries could read0 but illiterate deep into the Victorian period?

Also when the article states that one culture displaced another, they do not necessarily mean colonisation. They could be referring to their artefacts replacing those of a pre-existing culture in the archaeological record. What the author actually should have written was “replaced” because this is more accurate and doesn’t give rise to racist fantasies since the European nations excelled at colonialisation so much that they were able to be chopping off Congolese children’s limbs to psychological torture their fathers into the last century, start two world wars and then turn around and claim that they’re are the epitome of peace because they created a pro-white organisation called the EU but happily murdered off anyone who wanted to make a transafrican union?

You’re right, the European nations weren’t the only ones to colonise another races territory but I’m a qualified archaeologist and yet I can’t think of another race that dug up the bodies of dead Africans to eat and use as paint and then ignoring the images the people left of themselves, whitewashed their history (having eaten the physical evidence) so that they could justify why they had a right to subjugate the race that created civilisation when they were still living in mud huts, tattooing their skin blue and using urine for hair dye.

If you would care to name other race that industrialised murder on the scale seen in World War II, I would be very interested to learn about it but I mean so long as we don’t assume that only Europeans ever colonised anywhere…

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