There was a strong sense of community for those living on the Islands, everything was shared between neighbours, friends and family. They had little use for money as fruits and vegetables were grown and livestock raised. The sea was a great resource and was used for leisure and a source of food.
Fishing was a daily activity that all members of the family were involved with and any extra fish were shared with others. It was the men’s role to go fishing, in boats constructed themselves. Their catch would range from large rays and turtles to a variety of reef fish.
Each morning children would wake early to help their parents with chores at home before heading to school. The majority of the islanders worked in different areas of copra production. Men would take on the physical work like gathering coconuts and removing their tough husks. Women would break open the coconuts, remove and dry out the flesh. Once the children were home from school they would help feed the animals, tend to the garden and assist with dinner preparations.
Chagossians lived on the islands in harmony with their environment and their ability to read the land and the ocean was invaluable to their success. Knowledge of how to read the skies for incoming bad weather, how to predict the tides and knowing which animals to catch when was passed down through the generations.
For more information about history check Chagos: A History available from the Chagos Conservation Trust.