The MOSQUITO COAST, also known as the MISKITO COAST, historically
comprised an area along the eastern coast of present-day
The Mosquito Coast
* 1 History
* 1.1 Attempted Spanish settlement
* 1.2 British contact and recognition of the Mosquito Kingdom
* 1.2.1 Early British alliance * 1.2.2 Emergence of the Mosquitos Zambos (Miskito Sambu) * 1.2.3 Sociopolitical system * 1.2.4 British settlement * 1.2.5 British evacuation
* 1.3 Spanish interlude
* 1.3.1 Government reorganization and Spanish settlement * 1.3.2 Miskito revolt
* 1.4 Renewed British presence
* 1.5 Treaty of Managua
* 1.5.1 Annexation to
* 1.6 Miskito under
* 2 Miskito Kings * 3 Inhabitants * 4 Religion * 5 See also * 6 Footnotes
* 7 Sources and references
* 7.1 Internet resources * 7.2 Printed sources
Before the arrival of Europeans in the region, the area was divided into a large number of small, egalitarian groups, possibly speaking languages related to Sumu and Paya . Columbus visited the coast briefly in his fourth voyage. Detailed Spanish accounts of the region, however, only relate to the late 16th and early 17th centuries. According to their understanding of the geography, the region was divided between two "Provinces" Taguzgalpa and Tologalpa . Lists of "nations" left by Spanish missionaries include as many as 30 names, though careful analysis of them by Karl Offen suggests that many were duplicated and the regional geography included about a half dozen entities speaking related but distinct dialects occupying the various river basins of the region.
ATTEMPTED SPANISH SETTLEMENT
See also: Spanish conquest of
During the 16th century, Spanish authorities issued various licenses to conquer Taguzgalpa and Tologalpa in 1545, 1562, 1577 and 1594, but there is no evidence that any of these licenses resulted in even brief settlements or conquests. The Spanish were unable to conquer this region during the 16th century and in the 17th century sought to "reduce " the region through missionary efforts. These included several attempts by Franciscans between 1604 and 1612; another one led by Fray Cristóbal Martinez in 1622, and a third one between 1667 and 1675. None of these efforts resulted in any lasting success.
Because the Spanish failed to have significant influence in the region, it remained independent of outside control. This allowed the indigenous people to continue their traditional way of life and to receive visitors from other regions. English and Dutch privateers who preyed on Spanish ships soon found refuge in the Mosquito Coast.
BRITISH CONTACT AND RECOGNITION OF THE MOSQUITO KINGDOM
God Save the
CAPITAL Sandy Bay (King's residence)
LANGUAGES Miskito English
• c.1650–1687 Oldman (first known)
• 1776–1801 George II Frederic (last)
SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SHORE
• 1749–1759 Robert Hodgson, Sr. (first)
• 1775–1787 James Lawrie (last)
• Arrival of the Providence Island Company 1630
• British ally 1638
• British protectorate 1740
• Convention of London 1786
• British evacuation 1787
PRECEDED BY SUCCEEDED BY
Although the earliest accounts do not mention it, a political entity of uncertain organization, but probably not very stratified, which the English called the "Mosquito Kingdom" was present on the coast in the early seventeenth century. One of the kings of this polity visited England around 1638 at the behest of the Providence Island Company , and sealed an alliance with Great Britain.
In subsequent years, the kingdom stood strongly against any Spanish incursions in their region, and were prepared to offer rest and asylum to any anti-Spanish groups that might come to their shores. At the very least English and French privateers and pirates did visit there, taking in water and food. A detailed account of the kingdom written by a buccaneer known only as M. W. describes its organization as being fundamentally egalitarian, with the king, and some officials (usually called "Captains" in that period but later being more elaborate) being primarily military leaders, but only in time of war.
Early British Alliance
The first British contacts with the Mosquito region started around 1630, when the agents of the English chartered Providence Island Company —of which the Earl of Warwick was chairman and John Pym treasurer—occupied two small cays and established friendly relations with the local inhabitants. Providence Island , the company's main base and settlement, entered into regular correspondence with the coast during the decade of company occupation, 1631–41.
Providence Island Company sponsored the Miskito's "King's Son"
visit to England during the reign of Charles I (1625–49). When his
father died, this son returned home and placed his country under
English protection. Following the capture of Providence Island by
Spain in 1641, England did not possess a base close to the coast.
However, shortly after the English captured
Emergence Of The Mosquitos Zambos (Miskito Sambu)
Main article: Miskito Sambu The Wanks or Coco river, in the northern limit of the Mosquito Kingdom.
While accounts vary, the Miskito Sambu appear to be descended from the survivors of a shipwrecked slave ship who reached this area in the mid-seventeenth century. These survivors intermarried with the local Miskito people and produced mixed-race offspring. They gradually adopted the language and much of the culture of their hosts. The Miskito Sambu settled near the Wanks (Coco) River . By the late 17th century, their leader held the office of General with jurisdiction over the northern portions of the Miskito Kingdom. In the early eighteenth century, they managed to take over the office of King, which they held for at least the rest of the century.
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, Miskitos Zambos began a
series of raids that attacked Spanish-held territories and still
independent indigenous groups in the area. Miskito raiders reached as
far north as the Yucatán, and as far south as Costa Rica. They sold
many of the captives they took as slaves to English or other British
merchants; the slaves were transported to
Although English accounts referred to the area as a "kingdom", it was relatively loosely organized. A description of the kingdom written in 1699, notes that it occupied discontinuous areas along the coast. It probably did not include a number of settlements of English traders. Although English accounts refer as well to various noble titles, Miskito social structure does not appear to have been particularly stratified. The 1699 description noted that people holding titles such as "king" and "governor" were only empowered as war leaders, and did not have the last word in judicial disputes. Otherwise, the author saw the population as living in an egalitarian state.
M. W. mentioned titled officers in his account of 1699, but later sources define these superior offices to include the king, a Governor , and a General . In the early 18th century, the Miskito kingdom became organized into four distinct clusters of population, centered on the banks of the navigable rivers. They were integrated into a single, if loosely structured political entity. The northern portions were dominated by Sambus and the southern ones by Tawira Miskitos. The King, whose domain lay from the Wanks River south to the Rio Kukalaya , including the king's residence near Sandy Bay, was a Sambu, as was the General, who ruled the northern portions of the kingdom, from the Wanks River to nearly Trujillo. The Governor, who was a Tawira, controlled the southern regions, from the Cucalaya River to Pearl Key Lagoon . In the later 18th century (post 1766), another title, Admiral , was recorded; this man was also a Tawira, controlling a region on the extreme south from Pearl Key Lagoon down to around Bluefields .
The Miskito king Edward I and the British concluded a formal Treaty of Friendship and Alliance in 1740, and Robert Hodgson, Senior was appointed as Superintendent of the Shore. The language of the treaty includes what amounts to a surrender of sovereignty, and is often taken by historians as an indication that a British protectorate was established over the Miskito Kingdom.
Britain's primary motive and the most immediate result of the treaty
was to secure an alliance between the Miskito and British for the War
of Jenkin\'s Ear , and the Miskito and British cooperated in attacks
on Spanish settlements during the war. This military cooperation would
prove important as Miskito forces were vital to protecting not only
British interests in the Miskito Kingdom, but also for British
holdings in British
A more lasting result of this formal relation was that Edward I and other Miskito rulers who followed him allowed the British to establish settlements and plantations within his realm, and issued the first land grants to this effect in 1742. British settlement concentrated especially in the Black River area, Cape Gracias a Dios, and Bluefields. The British plantation owners used their estates to grow some export crops and as bases for the exploitation of timber resources, especially mahogany. Most of the labor on the estates was supplied by African slaves and by indigenous slaves captured in Miskito and British raids into Spanish territory. By 1786, there were several hundred British residents on the shore and several thousands slaves, mostly African.
The Miskito kings received regular gifts from the British in the form of weapons and consumer goods, and provided security against slave revolts and capturing runaways.
Spain, which claimed the territory, suffered considerably from the Miskito attacks which continued during peacetime. When the American Revolutionary War broke out, Spanish forces attempted to eliminate the British presence, seizing the settlement at Black River , and driving British settlers from the isle of Roatán ; however, this ultimately failed when armed settlers led by the Anglo-Irish soldier Edward Despard retook the settlements .
Although Spain had been unable to drive the British from the coast or
occupy any position, in the course of the diplomatic negotiations
following the war, Britain found itself making concessions to the
Spanish. In the 1786 Convention of London , Britain agreed to evacuate
British settlers and their slaves from the
Government Reorganization And Spanish Settlement
The Mosquito Coast
The Spanish hoped to win over support of the Miskito elite by
offering presents like the British had and educating their youth in
Guatemala, as many Miskito had been educated previously in Jamaica.
The Spanish also sought to occupy the positions formerly held by
British settlers with their own colonists. Beginning in 1787, around
1,200 settlers were brought from the
The new colony suffered setbacks as a result of many of the settlers
dying en route and the Miskito Crown showing its dissatisfaction with
the gifts offered by the Spanish. The Miskito resumed trade with
With Spanish power over the
In the mean time George II's brother Stephen made some overtures to
Spain, who reciprocated by calling Stephen king and giving him the
traditional gifts (albeit in less frequency than to George II), but
he later changed allegiances and raided Spanish held territory. In
1815 Stephen, styling himself "
RENEWED BRITISH PRESENCE
As internecine conflicts seized both Gran
View of Black River in the (fictional) Territory of Poyais Fort Wellington on the Black River
The Miskito kings allowed the settlement of foreigners in their lands
as long as their sovereignty was respected, opportunity that was
seized by British merchants and
Garifuna people from Trujillo,
At the same time, the mahogany trade peaked in Europe, but the supply in Belize, a main exporter, was becoming scarce. The Miskito Kingdom became an alternative source to Belize-based traders and wood cutting companies, who acquired concessions and land grants from Robert Charles Frederic. In 1837 Britain formally recognized the Mosquito Kingdom as an independent state, and took diplomatic measures to prevent the new nations that left the imploding Federal Republic of Central America in 1838–1841 from interferring with the kingdom.
The expansion of the economy attracted and benefitted from the
arrival of capital from the United States, and immigrants from the
In August 1841, a British ship, without knowledge of London, carried
ANTHEM God Save the Queen
LANGUAGES English Miskito
• 1842–1860 George Augustus Frederic II
Consul-General Consul (after 1851)
• 1844–1848 Patrick Walker (first)
• 1849–1860 James Green (last)
• Annexation of San Juan del Norte 1848
• Bombardment of San Juan del Norte 1854
• Treaty of Managua January 28, 1860
PRECEDED BY SUCCEEDED BY
In 1844 the British government declared a new protectorate over the Mosquito Kingdom and appointed a Consul-General of the Mosquito Coast, Patrick Walker with seat in Bluefields. The proclamation was motivated by the state of anarchy in the Mosquito Kingdom after the death of Robert Charles Frederic, but also by the impending American annexation of Texas and the British desire to build a canal through Central America before the United States did.
The protectorate was claimed to extend from Cape
Mexican-American War concluded, the new US delegate in
E. G. Squier , tried to get Nicaragua, El Salvador
The United States assumed that this meant the immediate British evacuation of the Mosquito Coast, while the British argued that it only bound them to not expand further in Central America and that both the 1844 protectorate and the 1848 peace treaty were still valid. On November 21, the American steamer _Prometheus_ was fired upon by a British warship for not paying port tariffs at Greytown. One of the passengers was Cornelius Vanderbilt , business magnate and one of the richest people in the United States. The British government apologized after the United States sent two armed sloops to the area.
More incidents happened in the following years. In 1852, Britain
occupied the Bay Islands off the coast of
By 1859 British opinion was no longer supportive of their nation's
presence in the Mosquito Coast. The British government returned the
Bay Islands and ceded the northern part of the
Arrival Of The Moravian Church
In the 1840s, two British citizens who travelled Europe advertising
the sale of land in Cabo Gracias a Dios attracted the interest of
Prince Charles of Prussia
TREATY OF MANAGUA
Autonomous territory of Nicaragua
Flag Coat of arms
ANTHEM Hermosa Soberana
LANGUAGES Spanish Miskito
• 1860-1865 George Augustus Frederic II (first)
• 1890-1894 Robert Henry Clarence (last)
• Treaty of Managua January 28, 1860
• Annexation to Nicaragua 1894
PRECEDED BY SUCCEEDED BY
The 1860 treaty also recognized that the Mosquito Kingdom, now reduced to the territory around Bluefields, would become an autonomous Miskito reserve. The municipal constitution of the reserve, signed on September 13, 1861, confirmed George Augustus Frederic II as ruler of the territory and its inhabitants, but only as hereditary chief and not king, a title that, along those of general, admiral and governor, was abolished; and that the hereditary chief would be advised by a council of 41 members elected for a period of eight years. The composition of this council was not limited to Miskito: instead, the first council included a number of Moravian missionaries and its first session started with an oration in this denomination. In compensation for his losses, George Augustus Frederic II would be paid £1000 yearly and until 1870 by the Nicaraguan government.
The death of
George Augustus Frederic II in 1865, after only half
that time had passed, led to a dispute between
* Sovereignty over the
From 1883, the land and capital in the reserve began to be aglutinated by an increasingly small number of US citizens.
Annexation To Nicaragua
When, in 1894, Rigoberto Cabezas led a campaign to annex the reserve,
natives responded with vigorous protest, an appeal to Britain to
protect them, and more militant resistance – to little avail. The
situation was such that, from July 6 to August 7, the US occupied
Bluefields to 'protect US interests'. After enjoying almost complete
autonomy for fourteen years, on 20 November 1894 their territory
formally became incorporated into that of the republic of
MISKITO UNDER NICARAGUA
The Miskito continued to enjoy a certain autonomy under Nicaragua, though there was considerable tension between the claims of the government and those of the indigenous people. This tension was expressed openly during Sandinista rule, which sought greater state control. The Miskito were strong supporters of U.S. efforts to undermine the Sandinistas and were important allies of the Contras .
Miskito dissidents declared the independence of the unrecognized Communitarian Nation of Moskitia in 2009. The movement is led by Reverend Hector Williams, who was elected as "Wihta Tara" (Great Judge) of Moskitia by the Council of Elders, its governing body composed of traditional leaders from within the Miskito community. The council advocates for independence and has considered a referendum, seeking international recognition. It also addresses the needs of the impoverished Moskitian communities, such as drug addiction among youth as the coast is slowly gaining influence as a corridor for drug trafficking. However, the allure of possible Narco funding might be a tempting method of supporting independence should the movement find no support.
The movement was backed by a 400-man "indigenous army" made up of veterans of the contras , which captured the YAMATA party headquarters in 2009.
* c. 1650–c. 1687 Oldman * c. 1687–1718 Jeremy I * 1718–1729 H.M. Jeremy II * 1729–1739 H.M. Peter I * 1739–1755 H.M. Edward I * 1755–1776 H.M. George I * 1776–1801 H.M. George II Frederic * 1801–1824 H.M. George Frederic Augustus I * 1824–1842 H.M. Robert Charles Frederic * 1842–1865 H.M. George Augustus Frederic II * 1865–1879 H.E. William Henry Clarence , Hereditary Chief of Miskito * 1879–1888 H.E. George William Albert Hendy , Hereditary Chief of Miskito * 1888–1889 H.E. Andrew Hendy , Hereditary Chief of Miskito * 1889–1890 H.E. Jonathan Charles Frederick , Hereditary Chief of Miskito * 1890–1908 H.E. Robert Henry Clarence , Hereditary Chief of Miskito
The Mosquito Coast
MISKITO CREOLE LADINO SUMO GARIFUNA CHINESE RAMA
57% 22% 15% 4% 1% 0.5% 0.5%
* ^ "Mosquito Coast". _Encyclopædia Britannica_. Britannica
Concise Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
* ^ Naylor, Robert A.; _Penny Ante Imperialism: The Mosquito Shore
and the Bay of Honduras, 1600–1914: A Case Study in British Informal
Empire_, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, London, 1989, pp.
95–102, 110–112, 144–57
* ^ Offen, Karl (2002). "The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial
Origins and Geography of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern
* ^ _A_ _B_ Rogers, Tim (2011-05-10). "Drugs dilemma on Nicaragua\'s Mosquito coast". _BBC News_. * ^ Rogers, Tim (2011-04-14). "Narco-Dividends: White Lobsters on the Mosquito Coast". _Time_. * ^ _Mosquito bite as a swarm of Miskitos takes over the coast of Nicaragua_, SchNEWS, no. 677, 2009-05-29 * ^ "Lenguas indigenas" (PDF). Salamanca: El Rincón del Vago. Retrieved 2014-10-01.
SOURCES AND REFERENCES
* http://www.flag.de/FOTW/flags/ni-mc.html –
* Dozier, Craig; _Nicaragua's Mosquito Shore: The Years of British
and American Presence_, University of Alabama Press, 1985
* Floyd, Troy S.; _The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia_,
University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque (NM), 1967
* Hale, Charles R. (1994). "Resistance and Contradiction: Miskitu
Indians and the Nicaraguan State, 1894-1987". Stanford (CA): Stanford
* Helms, Mary (1969). "The Cultural Ecology of a Colonial Tribe".
_Ethnology_. 8 (1): 76–84. doi :10.2307/3772938 .
* Helms, Mary (1983). "Miskito Slaving and Culture Contact:
Ethnicity and Opportunity in an Expanding Population". _Journal of
Anthropological Research_. 39 (2): 179–197.
JSTOR 3629966 .
* Helms, Mary (1986). "Of Kings and Contexts: Ethnohistorical
Interpretations of Miskito Political Structure and Function".
_American Ethnologist_. 13 (3): 506–523. doi
* Ibarra Rojas, Eugenia; _Del arco y la flecha a las armas de fuego.
Los indios mosquitos y la historia centroamericana_, Editorial
Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, 2011
* Naylor, Robert A.; _Penny Ante Imperialism: The Mosquito Shore and
the Bay of Honduras, 1600–1914: A Case Study in British Informal
Empire_, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, London, 1989
* Offen, Karl (2002). "The Sambo and Tawira Miskitu: The Colonial
Origins and Geography of Intra-Miskitu Differentiation in Eastern
Coordinates : 13°22′44″N 83°35′02″W / 13.379°N 83.584°W / 13.379; -83.584
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