Hopkins was Founded by Garifuna people who decided to migrate to Belize after the persecution of their people in Honduras. When the first Garinagu arrived at the Hopkins area , a woman from Uganda and her daughters already lived in the area and many of Hopkins inhabitants today believe she is the reason for the villages first name which was Yugadan many thought the elders named the village that because they were trying to say Uganda. At the time Hopkins was formed in the 1800s it was a very small village with basic living styles contrasting to what neighboured it as a large Banana Industry surrounded Hopkins . The people only fished and farmed and used bargaining systems for many years and they lived in solitude and peace.
Hopkins had many inhabitants and their lives where simple men farmed and fished, women cooked and did house chores and farmed to a degree and young boys would fetch water and do other minor tasks. The people lived in thatch houses a style that is not used anymore, the people lived closer to the trees and few lived closer by the beach. Many believed in many of the old Garifuna religion. However, a priest from Dangriga came to Hopkins and gave it the formal name it had today. Hopkins was the name given to the village because a bishop had died and the priest named the village after the dead Bishop, although many inhabitants disagreed. The priest also built a house for government officials to stay and tried to convert many inhabitants thus changing Hopkins village drastically. The priest did issue however, some new buildings in the community and did help to a degree , he built the largest building which was a two-story church and helped fight for the people’s rights.
Trouble in Paradise
For many years Hopkins village lived in peace however after a devastating hurricane hit its neighbour New Port and a large amount of New Port residence moved to Hopkins , the increase in populations started many problems. The first problems according to the residence of Hopkins were land disputes with the growing population many disputes over farmland arose some getting quite violent. The disputes over land never got to a serious point in the village. However, later as the population grew it caught notice of the colonial government which heavily disagreed with them settling there at first. The government at the time was still very racially prejudice and heavily abused and harassed the people of the area however the people stayed strong and fought it.
The government eventually gave the people of Hopkins stasis in the early 1900s in the area with certain limitations. However, 17 years after that they again were affected by an agricultural bill even though the village was not in the parameters of the bills rights. The people continued to fight for their rights which helped them keep their land and rights.
The biggest problem the village had been a land owner by the name of Ore. Ore was an American land owner who supposedly bought all the property in the area from the colonial government however no proof was ever shown. Ore heavily abused the people of Hopkins and even New Port residence when it was still a village. Ore forced inhabitants to pay him 25 dollars a month and made ruled for them to follow if they were to stay in Hopkins such as not having any permanent crops.
Important Figures and Facts:
Many people who helped the Garifuna migrate including a teacher named Palacio and many other Belizeans who lived on the coast of northern Belize.
Hopkins had many early residents that were very impactful. Many who deserve special notice for their contribution in their community.
- Gill Escolastoco
- Arzu Reyes
- Garcia Williams
- Francia (midwife)
- Olga Flores (Doctor)
Some facts about Hopkins are :
- Residence of Hopkins still fight to change the name of the village to Yugadan.
- The only school near Hopkins was in New Port. Young kids had to walk or travel by sea to reach there.
- The thatch houses were typically made of bamboo or any other material they had readily available.