The first inhabitants of the Saint Lucia are believed to have arrived between the years 450 BC-850 AD, a period referred to as the Saladiod Period. They are historically referred to as the Arawaks. This period was followed by the Troumassiod or Post Saladiod period between the years 600 AD – 850AD. The last of the early inhabitants were referred to as the Caribs. Historical evidence suggests that they arrived in the Suazoid period from 1150 AD onwards.
Evidence of the presence of early settlers can be found at the various archaeological sites in the Pitons Management Area. These include the petroglyphs at Beau Estate, the Ravine Chute d’Eau and Stonefield Estate areas; Midden and rock basins at Anse l’lvrogne, Fond Gens Libres, Gros Piton point, La Pointe and the Jalousie, Malgretoute and Sauzay areas.
The early settlers lived a subsistence based lifestyle. They harvested crops such as cassava, yams, sweet potato, corn and hot peppers and also hunted animals such as the agouti, iguana and birds. Their diet is also observed to have included fish, Conch and Welks and the bark-less dogs. They also consumed fruits such as guava, pineapples and star apples.
Europeans colonisers followed the Early inhabitant’s ad they are credited with the introduction of sugar industry and slavery. Soufriere emerged as a growing commerce centre during the rise of sugar industry. While the sugar industry was dominant in Saint Lucia, the topography of Soufriere allowed for the cultivation of coffee, bananas, cotton and food crops. The labour needed for working on the plantations was derived from African slave labour which was obtained from the slave trade. In 1784, Soufriere had 30 plantations, enslaving 2000 Africans. By the year of Emancipation in 1838, the number of slave plantations rose to 72, with the number of the enslaved standing at 2664 making Soufriere the largest district in terms of slave population in Saint Lucia.
The period of enslaved labour was not without its fair share of resistance and revolt. Enslaved Africans resisted slavery by escaping from bondage on the plantations, disrupting plantation work; and mounting exhibitions to destroy plantations. On June 1st, 1791 under the influence of the French Revolution, the enslaved people in the town of Soufriere, revolted. They demanded their freedom because the enslaved in Martinique were set free. The success of this effort was short-lived. Leaders of the said revolt were captured and beheaded in the Town Square to prevent the rebellion from further spreading. On the June 23rd a second rebellion sprung up. Like the first it was quickly ended. This second rebellion nonetheless gave rise to the number of runaway slaves who became known as the brigands. These brigands settled in difficult and inaccessible terrain at the foot of Gros Piton in a community of Fond Gens Libres (Valley of the Free People).
On 18th April 1795, the battle of Rabot commenced with 1000 troops leaving Vieux Fort to attack Soufriere which was controlled by the French and the Brigands. During the battle, the Brigands employed guerrilla warfare tactics to attack the British troops as they attacked the troops from a camp at Gros Piton. The British troops were soon forced to retreat to Vieux Fort as their numbers dwindled.