Kaya Salina was once claimed and fought over by The Netherlands, France, Spain, Great Britain and the Duchy of Courland, a small Baltic nation that made a few attempts at colonization. All of them were there for the valuable Link site. This Link site connects to the Cape Verde islands at regular intervals and is one of the few that goes across the Atlantic Ocean. Between 1608, when the English made their first claim and 1702 when the island became a no-man's-land the island changed hands many times. In this bloody century the native Carib population was either killed, enslaved or chased away.
For years the Knights Hospitaller had been interested in opening up the Link for transatlantic trade and battling piracy, but the constant fighting and hostile harbors gave them a rough time. In 1703, the Knights took the opportunity to stabilize the area around the Link. They called together a meeting on the island with a Dutch, French, Spanish, Courlandish and British ambassador and tried to work things out peacefully. Sadly none of the parties involved wanted to see a transatlantic Link in the hands of one of the others. The whole meeting seemed to head to a failure until the Courlandish ambassador suggested that if they couldn't have the island, none of them should have it. Eventually all parties agreed on releasing the island to natives converted to Christianity. This was the famous [Treaty of Sanctus Crux]. Those natives were to be a neutral party that administers the Link site and the neutral Freeport on the island. The natives, mostly of Taíno descent, had been heavily influenced by European culture and technology but they tried to build their nation on the old Taíno traditions.
The Taíno set up a chiefdom, establishing the city of Wawa Serra on the southern coast near an old Dutch city. Their first chief, or Cacique, was named Batey. That wasn't his real name, he assumed the name of the ceremonial ball game of the Taíno because before he became Cacique he was very adept at the game and did his best to keep it alive despite European influences. In later years new Caciques have been democratically elected from Bohio Batey, or House Batey. Only people from Bohio Batey can vote. But the European influences on the island have been great since the beginning. There are emissaries of all nations that fought over Kaya Salina to make sure the terms of the neutrality are kept. And several other groups of converted natives migrated to the island where they tried to make a life for themselves under the Taíno Cacique. Some do this in a legal way, others have formed large crime syndicates that control vast amounts of trade. These syndicates are names mitaínos, after the old Taíno word for noble. The Cacique, who by the terms of the neutrality is not allowed to create an army, has a hard time controlling the Mitaínos. Because of this the Kaya Salina government has a group of highly trained assassins under it's control. These assassins are used to keep some semblance of peace, they murder people that break the rules too badly. But there are boundaries to what they can do, if the Cacique uses them too much the Mitaínos will start an outright revolt. This fragile balance between Cacique and Mitaínos and the terms of the neutrality are now being threatened by the mass conversion of commoners to Voudou. The neutrality hinges Kaya Salina staying Christian, and the Cacique and Mitaínos are loyal to this religion, but the popularity of Voudou is a huge threat.
In 1742 the Cacique of Kaya Salina purchased the island of Trinidad from the Spanish crown. They renamed the island Kaya Colibri, or Island of the Hummingbirds. Colonists from Kaya Salina are building their own homes and farms on the island now and the island is quickly becoming the breadbasket the whole nation.
The Cacique Kaya Salina and Kaya Colibri are ruled by the Cacique, at this time Anacaona Batey rules both islands. She is the granddaughter of the Great Cacique Batey. The Cacique is a member of Bohio Batey, or House Batey, and is elected from within Bohio Batey. Once elected the Cacique can only be removed from office by a unanimous vote of the whole of Bohio Batey minus three, one for each part of the Holy Trinity. The Cacique has the power to make laws and enforce those laws using the Assassins and the Guazabara Canoa, the Canoe Warriors. Kaya Salina is the only place in the Caribbean where slavery is outlawed. The first thing the Great Cacique Batey did when he and his people arrived on the island was abolishing slavery. The majority of the people that live on this island are descendants of former slaves.
The Bohiques The Bohiques are the Caciques advisors, the priests of the nation and the judges that make rulings on the law. The Bohiques give up all claims to the seat of Cacique so it is rare for somebody of Bohio Batey to become a Bohique although a few have joined them. Bohiques can be both male and female, but only male Bohiques can be priests by order of the Church. Bohiques often travel over Kaya Salina and Kaya Colibri as wandering judges.
The Neutrality The independence of Kaya Salina depends on the terms of Neutrality. There are emissaries of The Netherlands, France, Great Britain, Spain and the Knights present on the island to make sure the terms aren't violated. The terms are relatively simple:
- The Government of Kaya Salina officially recognizes Christianity as its state religion and will attempt to convert their whole population to Christianity.
- Kaya Salina is a free port open to all ships.
- The Link site in Kaya Salina is open to all who wish to use it.
- Kaya Salina will not have a standing army but may reside on small militia's that may be hired for no more than 1 year.
- Kaya Salina will protect the waters around the island in a 10 mile radius and is allowed to have a navy large enough for this purpose.
The Mitaínos While the Mitaínos are not an official part of the Kaya Salina government, they do have an enormous influence. The have enormous wealth and a large group of faithful underlings that work for them. They control trade houses, inns, brothels, craftsmen and many other businesses. The Mitaínos even have contact with the Cacique from time to time and they often give a form of taxes to Bohio Batey. They don't refer to it as taxes and prefer to call it gifts. Mitaínos have a lot of power, but there are limits to what they can do. If they step out of the boundaries too much the Cacique will send his assassins to murder the offender and only the offender. But the Cacique can't use his assassins too much or the Mitaínos will start an outright revolt.
Bohio Mitaínos Edit
Bohio Boricua (House of Puerto Ricans) A large group of Puerto Rican Taíno migrated to Kaya Salina after they achieved their independence. Most of them settled in and around Wawa Serra and made a normal life for themselves. Some however were still disgruntled from their lives under the Spanish and started to quietly work against the established order. They control parts of the harbor and several inns and brothels that serve the sailors who visit the harbor. They have close contacts with various pirates and privateers and trade in many of the goods these pirates have acquired.
Bohio Garifuna (House of the Black Carib) One of the smaller Mitaínos, the Garifuna migrated from the Grenadines, a French possession. They're the offspring of displaced Carib people and escaped African slaves. They control a few inns and brothels away from the waterfront and various distilleries They collect protection money from several jewelers and blacksmiths.
Bohio Carib (House of the Carib) A Mitaíno that consists of a large amount of Carib people that migrated to Kaya Salina. The Carib are much more warlike than the Taíno and this still shows a bit. This is the largest Mitaíno if you count the numbers, but they are more divided than the other Mitaínos. There is a lot of infighting and squabbling over leadership in this Mitaíno. They control little territory, mostly inland, but they do have a lot of farms paying them protection money as well as some inns. They are famous for their mercenary militias and they hire themselves out quite often. The Cacique often has one of these militias on his or her payroll.
Bohio Yamuy Yarima (House of the Cat's Anus) A Bohio made up of various ethnic groups. This Mitaíno started out as a joke, a group of pranksters that mostly did mischief and vandalism. Over time they evolved into a true Mitaíno that uses their power to collect protection money and to commit other crimes. They still require their members to prove themselves by doing a daring act of vandalism or by doing a big prank. They control many inns, brothels and stores in the urban center. They also control large parts of the sewer system below Wawa Serra. Bohio Yamuy Yarima is famous for its spies and thieves. A person that needs information will have a good chance of finding it with them. Same applies for a person that needs a certain item stolen, the best chance for success is in this Bohio.
Bohio Bi Hapito (House of Life without beginning or end) This Bohio tries to recruit arcanists from every ethnicity, they use them and their arcane power to keep their territory under control. They are well known for their knowledge and it is said that they have a large library of arcane text hidden on a secret location. There are rumors that they have even more powerful items hidden on the island. A person that needs a magical item crafted has a very good chance of ending up with Bohio Bi Hapito. They control part of the harbor and use that to smuggle arcane items in and out of Kaya Salina. And like most other Bohios they control several inns and brothels as well.
Other Bohios There are several other smaller Bohios that control their own territory and have their own specialties. There are many houses, these are some of their names: Bohio Ita Macu (House of the big red eyes) Bohio Caona Tanama (House of the golden butterfly) Bohio Yu Turey (House of the white sky) Bohio Bara Ceiba (House of the dead tree)
Kaya Salina has agreed not to have a standing army so they don't have much land based troops. They only have a small police force to keep the order. For everything else they rely on their Assassins, the Guazabara Canoa and mercenary militias.
Assassins Highly trained and fiercely loyal to the Cacique these assassins are one of the pillars of power of the government. Once they have their target they will do whatever it takes to murder that target. They will however avoid the death of innocent people whenever they can. The assassination of their target is as much a symbol as it is a way to keep order and to maximize that effect the death of innocents is not wanted. They will also use whatever means necessary to get the job done: weapons, poisons, accidents,... If the target ends up dead, it doesn't matter how it happened.
Guazabara Canoa (The War Canoes) These men and women are the navy of Kaya Salina and despite their name they don't just use canoes. They did start out with a swarm of canoes they used to keep the 10 mile radius safe. After a while they started capturing and purchasing their own larger European style boats which they supplemented with their own canoes. They have many men and women who are trained for combat on boats and for amphibious attacks. Because of this amphibious training the Guazabara Canoa are sometimes deployed on land. They have been used to quell unrest on Kaya Salina before. This doesn't really violate the Neutrality, but it's a borderline case so they are mostly used in secret or in times of great trouble. If the Cacique decides to use them, he usually 'hires' them as a mercenary militia.
Mercenary Militias Groups of mercenaries hired to keep order on Kaya Salina. Their contracts may not last for more than a year and after that year they may not be rehired for another year. These militias are hired from many sources, but a most of them are hired from the Mitaínos.
The island is inhabited by several groups of converted Natives. Most of them are Taíno people, the rest consists of a mixture of Carib people, Garifuna people and the people of several other native groups that used to live on the Caribbean islands. There are also a number of Natives that migrated to Kaya Salina from the Spanish colonies in Cabralia. The language spoken by these people is the Taíno language supplemented by Latin words for the technological concepts that weren't know to the Taíno before their contact with the Europeans. The people of Kaya Salina have been heavily influenced by European culture and customs. The most prominent example of this is that they live in a huge city that would starve within weeks if supplies didn't get imported on a daily basis. Another example is the houses the Taíno build. Before they made contact with the Europeans they used to build simple longhouses. They kept building longhouses when Kaya Salina was established but these were large longhouses often multiple stories high and designed by European architects.
Life on Kaya Salina Edit
Apart from Wawa Serra, the large capital city and a huge trading hub in the Caribbean, there isn't much to see on Kaya Salina. The rest of the island is made up of small farms that breed the livestock to feed Wawa Serra. It is never enough to feed the city and many animals are imported on a daily basis, they don't arrive in the city but on small ports scattered over the island. Fish is brought in through these ports by Taíno fishermen as well. Still a lot more food is imported to feed Wawa Serra, mostly grain and maize but other produce as well. Because of all this meat is a relatively rare luxury while a vegetarian diet supplemented with fish is pretty common.
The Taíno on Kaya Salina try to return to the clothing styles they used before European contact, but they absolutely adore the many styles of hats introduced to them by their trade relations. If you walk through the streets you can see people with Tawantinsuyu style hats, European hats, African hats and even some Fusangese hats. Hats are used to show off your social standing, your wealth or even your allegiance. In Kaya Salina, hats are serious business and a good hat maker can get rich very quickly.
In order to keep to the terms of the Neutrality the Cacique and Bohiques are Christian. The Mitaínos and the people working for them are Christian as well. The Mitaínos are too dependent on the Cacique and on foreign trade to convert to another religion. Most commoners are Christian as well. However in recent years commoners are converting to Voudou en masse. This religion is already spreading like wildfire over the other Caribbean islands, mostly among the slaves, and is now spreading on Kaya Salina as well. The Cacique and Bohiques are desperately trying to convert the populace to Christianity again while trying to contain the spread of Voudou. If Voudou spreads too much it might endanger the Neutrality.
Batey Game Edit
Batey is played in large rectangular playing fields surrounded by huge stone slabs. These playing fields are usually located on a central plaza. Two teams of anywhere between 10 and 20 people, both men and women, gather in the playing field. Each team tries to pass the ball over the line to the other team. If the other team drops the ball or passes it outside of the boundaries a point is scored. The first team to score as many points as there are players in the team wins. The ball can not be touched with the hands, but can be touched with the thighs, legs, shoulders, head, knees and elbows. The game is played with a Batu, a rubber ball. The use of magic, magical items or anything else than the player's natural skill is forbidden. The stone slabs surrounding the playing field have been enchanted to light up when somebody uses magic on the field. This is why those fields are also used for meetings, that way nobody can use magic to influence the crowd. When Kaya Salina was established, one of the first things built was a court for the Batey game. The game had almost vanished during the time that Europeans ruled the islands, but the Taíno held on to enough of their culture to play their ancient game. Currently the game is played all over Kaya Salina, there are several local leagues of various teams that oppose each other. The winners of these local leagues compete in a national league until a champion is found. This champion is then allowed to compete against the champion of Bohio Batey, the house that took the name of the game as it's own. The people born in Bohio Batey learn the game at a very early age and are trained in it for a large part of their life. Most able bodied members of Bohio Batey are in a Batey team and there are several teams in the house. Usually the champion of Bohio Batey will defeat the national champion, they have been trained for it for most of their lives. If the national champion defeats the champion of Bohio Batey the whole team will be rewarded for their prowess. They have the choice between marrying a partner of their choosing of Bohio Batey, adoption into Bohio Batey to a parent of their choosing or a special boon they can ask of the Cacique. This special boon can be anything, the Cacique only needs to agree. So far there have only been 4 national champion teams that were able to defeat the champion of Bohio Batey.