Q:

What did the Arawak tribe eat?

A:

The Arawak tribe ate meat, fish, snakes, rodents, bats, worms, birds, ducks, turtles, corn, squash, beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts and the cassava root. They hunted small game and developed a maintenance-free type of agriculture.

Arawaks were the original inhabitants of Hispaniola, now known as the island of Haiti, and the Caribbean at the time Christopher Columbus first landed in the Americas. There was not a lot of large game to hunt on the islands, so the tribe concentrated on agriculture inland, ate smaller animals and fished on the coast or in lakes. Arawaks that lived closer to the coastline relied heavily on fish, and usually ate it raw or lightly cooked. Arawaks raised crops in what they called a conuco, a large mound that was designed for farming. They packed the conuco with leaves to protect the mound from soil erosion, and planted a variety of crops to ensure that something would grow, regardless of weather conditions. Arawaks grew cotton for fishing nets. Arawaks also grew cassava. The juice of the cassava root is poisonous, but after squeezing out the juice, Arawaks baked the root into a bread. Today, Haitians still bake this flat bread, which makes a sort of stale burrito or pizza shell.


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