By Dr. William Riviere Attorney-at-Law

The affairs of residents of the Kalinago Territory are governed by the Carib Reserve Act, Chap 25:90. Every Dominican should know the contents of this piece of legislation. In particular, the following should be noted.


  • The Kalinago Chief holds office for five (5) years unless he or she resigns of his or her own accord or is removed from office.

  • At the end of a term of office the Chief may contest for re-election.

  • Only persons registered to vote in the "Reserve" are entitled to participate in the election of the Chief. The Chief may be removed from office before his or her term comes to an end, if (a) he or she steals property which comes under his or her control because of the office of Chief, (b) he or she is convicted of so doing, (c) the Kalinago Council has passed a vote of "No confidence" in him or her, (d) he or she becomes a bankrupt, or (e) approximately five (5) years have passed since he or she was elected to office.

  • A person is not qualified to seek election as Kalinago Chief, if within ten (10) years before the date of election he or she has been convicted of stealing property under his or her control by virtue of his or her position as Chief.

  • An Acting Chief may be appointed by the Prime Minister based on the advice of the Chief to perform the duties of Chief, when the Office is vacant or the Chief is out of State or the Chief is unable for one reason or the other to carry out his or her functions.


  • The Kalinago Council, known in law as the "Carib Reserve Council", is a local government body consisting of the Kalinago Chief as Chairperson and six (6) other elected members.

  • In addition to these powers given to Village Councils, the Council has special powers.

  • Such special powers include (1) holding, managing and controlling the lands of the "Reserve" on behalf of the residents of the area; (2) collecting and spending for the benefit of the area of all monies which under the law may be raised for that purpose, and (3) providing for the good government and improvement of the area.

  • The Council has power to settle disputes among residents of the "Reserve" but is not entitled like a Court of law to try cases or impose fines.

  • It has power to impose licences, rates, dues and fees within the boundaries of the Kalinago territory in respect of matters pertaining to any by-law.

  • No by-law made by the Council goes into operation unless it is approved by Cabinet.

  • Only persons resident in the "Reserve" can stand for election to the Council?

  • A duly elected member of the Council is disqualified from remaining a member, if he or she is no longer resident in the "Reserve".


  • The "Reserve" consists of about 3,700 acres.

  • Shortly before Dominica gained its independence in 1978 Government granted the said lands to the Council for and on behalf of the people of the Reserve, and made it possible for the Council to obtain a Certificate of Title to these lands.

  • Government may from time to time make grants of more land to the Kalinago Council to form part of the Reserve. In 1996, 82.03 acres were added. 

  • No person residing outside the boundaries of the "Reserve" is entitled to take possession of land there or otherwise acquire lands or an interest in lands there.

  • In 1978 the "Reserve" was bounded as follows: on the North, by Big River, by Lot 63 and by the Balata River; on the East, by the Sea; on the South, by the Raymond River and State lands; and on the West, by the Pegoua River, Concord Estate and by parts of Lots 61 and 63. When more land was added in 1996 one of the boundaries changed.

  • None of these lands may be sold, exchanged, mortgaged, encumbered or disposed of without the written permission of the Prime Minister.

  • The lands in the Reserve are held in the custody and under the control of the Kalinago Council for and on behalf of the people of the Reserve.

  • Only the Council is authorized to sell, exchange, devise, mortgage or otherwise dispose of and deal with any lands in the Territory.

  • No one, except residents in the area, are entitled to Kalinago lands for agricultural or other approved purposes.

  • The Council has power to prevent persons who do not normally reside in the territory from working there or from occupying and cultivating lands there in their own right.


- It also has power to prevent people who have no right in the reserve from entering and remaining there.

  • A person who normally resides in the Territory is entitled to invite non-residents there, so long as the visit is for a lawful purpose.

  • No one can be prevented from lawfully passing on a public road inside the Territory.

  • The Kalinago Council may with the approval of the Minister responsible for Local Government expel from the Territory persons who have no right to remain there.

  • A person who has resided there for more than twelve (12) years cannot be required to leave or to give up possession of any lands occupied by him or her.

  • A person is deemed to have a right to reside in the Territory if (a) he or she was born there; (b) at least one of his or her parents is a Kalinago, (c) he or she has lawfully resided there for a period of twelve (12) years or more.

  • Under the laws of Dominica it is not known what characteristics make this or that person a "Carib".


  • There is a "Carib Reserve Fund" made up of monies derived from the following: land and house taxes, dues and fees charged by the Kalinago Council; fines for breaches of the Council's by-laws; revenue from the sale, hire or mortgage of properties held by the - Council; and other sources of revenue, including any funds provided by Government.

  • While the annual estimates of revenue and expenditure are prepared by the Kalinago Council, they must be approved by the Minister.

  • The Government of Dominica is responsible for the overall planning and development of the Kalinago Territory.


  • The Carib Reserve Act came into operation at the end of March 1978, that is to say, seven months before the island's accession to Independence. The Act was amended in 1980, 1984, 1990, 1994 and 1996. The terminology, "Reserve", is a painful reminder of the horrors of colonial rule during which time native peoples in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa were herded like cattle, and restricted to small unproductive areas of their own country, while the colonialists enriched themselves by exploiting the vast expanses of arable land. So far as is known, no Caucasian (white) people, when conquered, were placed in "reserves", whether by other Caucasian nations or otherwise.

  • As a mark of respect for the Kalinago population and a recognition of their historical and continuing contribution to the building of this nation, it is fitting that the racist term "reserve" should be erased from our Statute Books, once and for all. Further, that our first peoples should be referred to as Kalinago their original name, rather than by Carib, a European invention.

Copyright © William Para Riviere, May 2014


News has just broken that Government has promised at long last to do both. It is sincerely hoped that this promise is not an electoral gimmick intended merely to win votes at the upcoming general elections. Such gimmickry has historically been used to beef up support in constituencies believed to be marginal.