Miskito Indians

Miskito Indians live and survive in the Honduran rainforests, and were established by black slaves that had escaped their masters and fled to the Mosquitia rainforest, to evade capture. These runaways married into the local Indian tribe and became the Miskito Indians.

This tribe came to the forefront during the Nicaragua Contra War, when they fled the conflict in their housands, to seek shelter in refugee camps, or in the safety of the armed camps that were protected by the Contras, and was situated in the Honduran Mosquitia. Even thought the name Miskito might sound like it derives from the Mosquito insect, and some have even believed that the name was formed from the muskets that were used by the British, the name actually originates from a chief by the name of Miskut.

The Miskito Indians that still live in the areas of Nicaragua and the Honduras, fiercely protect their beloved rainforests by campaigning for their rights to protect the land they live on, the development of clinics and schools, and the protection of their lobster divers. The lobster industry in Nicaragua employs approximately between 4 000 to 5 000 Miskito Indians, to dive and retrieve lobsters from the oceans, that will end up on dinner tables in the United States and Canada. It was a tradition for the Miskito Indians, to harvest lobsters for their own use, but the trade and industry for lobsters has grown rapidly, putting increasing pressure on the divers. These Miskito Indians that dive, are not protected by the industry, and many divers die or are disabled by the lack of decompression chambers and not being made aware of the dangers. It is estimated that approximately 1 500 divers have been disabled by the industry, that keeps pushing the Miskito divers deeper into the oceans, and for longer periods of time.

And it is not just the employment issues that plague this peaceful community. When sailing down the Rio Coco River it is common to see a Miskito village on the banks of the river. It has been their home for hundreds of years and the children running in the water, women attending to their duties and the gentle smoke that rises silently from the fires, is a very deceptive scene that looks so peaceful to the visitors, that do not know the history of Nicaragua. During the war, both sides planted many landmines and anti-tank grenades in and around the river. The quiet, undisturbed existence of these people, were invaded by the war, in an area that is so remote that no-one had disturbed them for many years. Now, after the war had ended and the soldiers had moved on, the Miskito Indians are still fighting the war. The Miskito Indians loose many livestock to the mines that were simply left behind. Livestock is very important to the Miskito, as it is their livelihood in regard to trade and food. Unfortunately, it is not only the livestock that suffer the consequences of war but the innocent Miskito children at play, that often fall victim to the horrors and trauma of landmines.