The indigenous people of Dominica, the Arawak people, were expelled or exterminated by the Caribs in the fourteenth century. Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1493, but was defeated by the Caribs and fled. The Caribs continued to assert dominance in the island well through attempts by the British and French to gain control during the 1600s. While not being able to inhabit the island, the French claimed Dominica under their control until 1763. The United Kingdom deemed Dominica a colony in 1805 and set up a government. In 1838 Dominica became the first British Caribbean colony to have a black-controlled legislature. It was turned into a crown colony in 1896 and became an independent nation in 1978 after participating in the short-lived West Indies Federation. The dominant religion is Christianity, but freedom of religion is constitutionally provided.