An Overview of the Missions of Trinidad and the Indigenous People
The mission was the most effective Spanish colonial institution for the pacification and hispanisation of our native peoples. Mission activity in Trinidad started between 1687 and 1691 with the establishment of eight Capuchin missions among the free native populations in central and south Trinidad.
- La Anunciata de Nazaret de Savana Grande, now Princes Town
- La Purisma Concepcion de Maria Santisma de Guayria, near San Fernando
- Santa Ana de Savaneta
- Nuestra Senora de Montserrate near Mayo
- San Francisco de los Arenales near present-day Arena and the site of one of the most significant instances of Indigenous uprising in the Spanish colonial history of Trinidad
- San Francisco de Careiro (Guayaguayare)
- San Josef de Mayaro and a short-lived and un-named one at Moruga.
Of these missions, only four survived: Savana Grande, Savaneta, Guayria and Montserrate. By the end of the 17th century, only Savana Grande existed. Subsequent mission settlements included Toco, Matura, Punta de Cumana and Salybia, all established in 1736. Mucurapo and Arima were established in 1749 but were abandoned by 1754.
In 1786, two more missions were established: La Divina Pastora and Santa Rosa de Arima. Both missions were created to free Indigenous lands for European colonists. These were more successful and have given rise to the towns of Siparia and Arima both of which are strongly associated with continued Indigenous activity and descent populations the most significant of which is our Santa Rosa Carib Community of Arima, the only surviving Indigenous community in Trinidad and Tobago.