|Regions with significant populations|
|Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Bahamas|
| English, Spanish, Creole Languages |
|Related ethnic groups|
|Lokono, Island Carib, Garifuna, Igneri, Guanahatabey, Yamaye|
The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean.At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Taíno were the first New World peoples to be encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. They spoke the Taíno language, an Arawakan language.
Cuba, officially the Republic of Cuba, is a country comprising the island of Cuba as well as Isla de la Juventud and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is located in the northern Caribbean where the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean meet. It is east of the Yucatán Peninsula (Mexico), south of both the U.S. state of Florida and the Bahamas, west of Haiti and north of both Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Havana is the largest city and capital; other major cities include Santiago de Cuba and Camagüey. The area of the Republic of Cuba is 110,860 square kilometers (42,800 sq mi). The island of Cuba is the largest island in Cuba and in the Caribbean, with an area of 105,006 square kilometers (40,543 sq mi), and the second-most populous after Hispaniola, with over 11 million inhabitants.
Hispaniola is an island in the Caribbean archipelago known as the Greater Antilles. It is the most populous island in the West Indies and the region's second largest after Cuba.
The Dominican Republic is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean region. It occupies the eastern five-eighths of the island, which it shares with the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of only two Caribbean islands, along with Saint Martin, that are shared by two sovereign states. The Dominican Republic is the second-largest Caribbean nation by area at 48,671 square kilometers (18,792 sq mi), and third by population with approximately 10,299,000 people, of whom approximately three million live in the metropolitan area of Santo Domingo, the capital city.
Groups of people currently identify as Taíno, most notably among the Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Jamaicans, and Dominicans, both on the islands and on United States mainland. [ citation needed ]Some scholars, such as Jalil Sued Badillo, an ethnohistorian at the University of Puerto Rico, assert that although the official Spanish histories speak of the disappearance of the Taínos as an ethnic identification, many survivors left descendants – usually by intermarrying with other ethnic groups. Recent research revealed a high percentage of mixed or tri-racial ancestry in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Those claiming Taíno ancestry also have Spanish ancestry or African ancestry, and often, both.
Puerto Ricans are the people of Puerto Rico, the inhabitants, and citizens of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and their descendants. Puerto Rico is home to people of many different national origins as well.
Cubans or Cuban people, are the inhabitants, citizens of Cuba and people born in Cuba. Cuba is a multi-ethnic nation, home to people of different ethnic and national backgrounds. As a result, some Cubans do not treat their nationality as an ethnicity but as a citizenship with various ethnicities and national origins comprising the "Cuban people."
Jamaicans are the citizens of Jamaica and their descendants in the Jamaican diaspora. Most Jamaicans are of African descent, with minorities of Europeans, East Indians, Chinese, Middle Eastern and others or mixed ancestry. The bulk of the Jamaican diaspora resides in other Anglophone countries, namely Australia, Canada, United States and the United Kingdom and, to a lesser extent, other Caribbean countries and Commonwealth realms. Outside of Anglophone countries, the largest Jamaican diaspora community lives in Costa Rica, where Jamaicans make up a significant percentage of the population.
Taíno activists have created two unique writing scripts. The scripts are used to write Spanish, not a retained language from pre-Columbian ancestors. [ citation needed ]The organization Guaka-kú teaches and uses their script among their own members.
In February 2018, a DNA study from an ancient tooth determined that the Taínos have living descendants in Puerto Rico, indicating that most Puerto Ricans have a degree of Taíno ancestry.
Frank Moya Pons, a Dominican historian, documented that Spanish colonists intermarried with Taíno women. Over time, some of their mixed descendants intermarried with Africans, creating a tri-racial Creole culture. 1514 census records reveal that 40% of Spanish men on the island of Hispaniola had Taíno wives.[ citation needed ] Ethnohistorian Lynne Guitar writes that the Taíno were declared extinct in Spanish documents as early as the sixteenth century; however, individual Taínos continued to appear in wills and legal records for several decades after the arrival of the Spaniards.
Creole people are ethnic groups which originated during the colonial-era from racial mixing mainly between Africans and Europeans and sometimes South Asian and Native American peoples, known as creolisation. Creole peoples vary widely in ethnic background and mixture, and many have since developed distinct ethnic identities. The development of creole languages is sometimes mistakenly attributed to the emergence of creole ethnic identities; however, they are independent developments.
Evidence suggests that some Taíno men and African women inter-married and lived in relatively isolated Maroon communities in the interior of the islands, where they evolved into a hybrid rural or campesino population with little or no interference from the Spanish authorities. [ citation needed ] Scholars also note that contemporary rural Dominicans retain elements of Taíno culture: linguistic features, agricultural practices, food ways, medicine, fishing practices, technology, architecture, oral history, and religious views. Often these cultural traits are looked down upon by urbanites as backward, however. Sixteen "autosomal" studies of peoples in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean and its diaspora (mostly Puerto Ricans) have shown that between 10–20% of their DNA is indigenous. Some individuals have slightly higher scores and others have lower scores or no indigenous DNA at all. A recent study of a population in eastern Puerto Rico where the majority of persons tested claimed Taíno ancestry and pedigree showed that they had 61% mtDNA (distant maternal ancestry) and 0% y-chromosome DNA (distant paternal ancestry) demonstrating as expected that this is a hybrid creole population.
Maroons were Africans and their descendants in the Americas who formed settlements away from New World chattel slavery. Some had escaped from plantations, but others had always been free, like those born among them in freedom. They often mixed with indigenous peoples, thus creating distinctive creole cultures.
A tenant farmer is one who resides on land owned by a landlord. Tenant farming is an agricultural production system in which landowners contribute their land and often a measure of operating capital and management, while tenant farmers contribute their labor along with at times varying amounts of capital and management. Depending on the contract, tenants can make payments to the owner either of a fixed portion of the product, in cash or in a combination. The rights the tenant has over the land, the form, and measure of the payment varies across systems. In some systems, the tenant could be evicted at whim ; in others, the landowner and tenant sign a contract for a fixed number of years. In most developed countries today, at least some restrictions are placed on the rights of landlords to evict tenants under normal circumstances.
Medicine is the science and practice of establishing the diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and prevention of disease. Medicine encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness. Contemporary medicine applies biomedical sciences, biomedical research, genetics, and medical technology to diagnose, treat, and prevent injury and disease, typically through pharmaceuticals or surgery, but also through therapies as diverse as psychotherapy, external splints and traction, medical devices, biologics, and ionizing radiation, amongst others.
The ancestors of the Taíno originated in South America, and the Taíno culture as documented developed in the Caribbean. Taíno groups were in conflict with the Island Caribs of the southern Lesser Antilles. At the time of contact, the Taíno were divided into several groups. Western Taíno groups included the Lucayans of the Bahamas, the Ciboney of central Cuba, and the inhabitants of Jamaica. The Classic Taíno lived in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, while the Eastern Taíno lived in the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles.[ citation needed ]
At the time of Columbus's arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms in Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chief), to whom tribute was paid. The Taíno name for Hispaniola was Ayiti ("land of high mountains"), which is the source of the name Haiti. Cuba was divided into 29 chiefdoms, many of which have given their name to modern cities, including Havana, Batabanó, Camagüey, Baracoa, and Bayamo.Taíno communities ranged from small settlements to larger centers of up to 3,000 people. They may have numbered 2 million at the time of contact, and almost 3 million at the end of the 15th century. Columbus was surprised by the civility of the Taíno people. Columbus stated, "They will give all that they do possess for anything that is given to them, exchanging things even for bits of broken crockery,” he noted upon meeting them in the Bahamas in 1492. “They were very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces....They do not carry arms or know them....They should be good servants.”
The Spanish conquered various Taíno chiefdoms during the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century. According to The Black Legend and some contemporary scholars such as Andrés Reséndez, warfare and harsh enslavement by the colonists decimated the population. [ full citation needed ] Men were forced to work on colonial plantations and gold mines, as a result, there was no Taíno left to cultivate their own crops the feed their population. Conversely, most scholars believe that European diseases caused the majority of deaths. A smallpox epidemic in Hispaniola in 1518–1519 killed almost 90% of the surviving Taíno. The remaining Taíno were intermarried with Europeans and Africans, and were incorporated into the Spanish colonies. The Taíno were considered extinct at the end of the century. However, since about 1840, there have been attempts to create a quasi-indigenous Taíno identity in rural areas of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This trend accelerated among Puerto Rican communities in the mainland United States in the 1960s. At the 2010 U.S. census, 1,098 people in Puerto Rico identified themselves as "Puerto Rican Indian", 1,410 identified as "Spanish American Indian", and 9,399 identified as "Taíno". In total, 35,856 Puerto Ricans considered themselves Native American.
A direct translation of the word "Taíno" signified "men of the good". [ full citation needed ] The Taíno people, or Taíno culture, has been classified by some authorities as belonging to the Arawak, as their language was considered to belong to the Arawak language family, the languages of which were present throughout the Caribbean, and much of Central and South America. The early ethnohistorian Daniel Garrison Brinton called the Taíno people the "Island Arawak". Nevertheless, contemporary scholars have recognized that the Taíno had developed a distinct language and culture.Additionally, the name was used by the indigenous people of Hispaniola to indicate that they were "relatives".
Taíno and Arawak appellations have been used with numerous and contradictory meanings by writers, travelers, historians, linguists, and anthropologists. Often they were used interchangeably; "Taíno" has been applied to the Greater Antillean nation only, or including the Bahamian nations, or adding the Leeward Islands nations, or all those excluding the Puerto Rican and Leeward nations. Similarly, "Island Taíno" has been used to refer to those living in the Windward Islands only, to the northern Caribbean inhabitants only, as well as to the population of the entire Caribbean.
Modern historians, linguists and anthropologists now hold that the term Taíno should refer to all the Taíno/Arawak nations, except for the Caribs, who are not seen to belong to the same people. Linguists continue to debate whether the Carib language is an Arawakan dialect or creole language, or perhaps an individual language, with an Arawakan pidgin used for communication purposes.
Rouse classifies as Taíno all inhabitants of the Greater Antilles (except the western tip of Cuba), the Bahamian archipelago, and the northern Lesser Antilles. He subdivides the Taíno into three main groups: Classic Taíno, mostly from Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic; Western Taíno, or sub-Taíno, for population from Jamaica, Cuba (except for the western tip), and the Bahamian archipelago; and Eastern Taíno for those from the Virgin Islands to Montserrat.
Two schools of thought have emerged regarding the origin of the indigenous people of the Caribbean.
Taíno culture as documented is believed to have developed in the Caribbean. The Taíno creation story says that they emerged from caves in a sacred mountain on present-day Hispaniola.In Puerto Rico, 21st century studies have shown a high proportion of people having Amerindian MtDNA. Of the two major haplotypes found, one does not exist in the Taíno ancestral group, so other Native American people are also part of this genetic ancestry.
Taíno society was divided into two classes: naborias (commoners) and nitaínos (nobles). These were governed by male chiefs known as caciques , who inherited their position through their mother's noble line. The nitaínos functioned as sub-caciques in villages, overseeing naborias work. Caciques were advised by priests/healers known as bohiques. Caciques enjoyed the privilege of wearing golden pendants called guanín, living in square bohíos, instead of the round ones of ordinary villagers, and sitting on wooden stools to be above the guests they received.Bohiques were extolled for their healing powers and ability to speak with deities. They were consulted and granted the Taíno permission to engage in important tasks.
The Taíno had a matrilineal system of kinship, descent, and inheritance. When a male heir was not present, the inheritance or succession would go to the oldest male child of the sister of the deceased. The Taíno had avunculocal post-marital residence, meaning a newly married couple lived in the household of the maternal uncle. He was more important in the lives of his niece's children than their biological father; the uncle introduced the boys to men's societies. Some Taíno practiced polygamy. Men, and sometimes women, might have two or three spouses. A few caciques had as many as 30 wives.[ citation needed ]
The Taíno women were highly skilled in agriculture. The people depended on it, but the men also fished and hunted. They made fishing nets and ropes from cotton and palm. Their dugout canoes (kanoa) were made in various sizes, which could hold from 2 to 150 people. An average-sized canoe would hold about 15–20 people. They used bows and arrows for hunting, and developed the use of poisons on their arrowheads.[ citation needed ]
Taíno women commonly wore their hair with bangs in front and longer in back, and they occasionally wore gold jewelry, paint, and/or shells. Taíno men and unmarried women were usually naked. After marriage, women wore a small cotton apron, called a nagua.The Taíno lived in settlements called yucayeques, which varied in size depending on the location. Those in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola were the largest, and those in the Bahamas were the smallest. In the center of a typical village was a central plaza, used for various social activities such as games, festivals, religious rituals, and public ceremonies. These plazas had many shapes, including oval, rectangular, narrow, and elongated. Ceremonies where the deeds of the ancestors were celebrated, called areitos, were performed here.
Often, the general population lived in large circular buildings (bohios), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves. These houses, built surrounding the central plaza, could hold 10–15 families each. [ full citation needed ] The cacique and his family lived in rectangular buildings (caney) of similar construction, with wooden porches. Taíno home furnishings included cotton hammocks (hamaca), sleeping and sitting mats made of palms, wooden chairs (dujo or duho) with woven seats, platforms, and cradles for children.
The Taíno played a ceremonial ball game called batey . Opposing teams had 10 to 30 players per team and used a solid rubber ball. Normally, the teams were composed of men, but occasionally women played the game as well.The Classic Taíno played in the village's center plaza or on especially designed rectangular ball courts called batey. Games on the batey are believed to have been used for conflict resolution between communities. The most elaborate ball courts are found at chiefdom boundaries. Often, chiefs made wagers on the possible outcome of a game.
Taíno spoke an Arawakan language and used an early form of writing Proto-writing in the form of petroglyph.
Some words that they used, such as barbacoa ("barbecue"), hamaca ("hammock"), kanoa ("canoe"), tabaco ("tobacco"), yuca , batata ("sweet potato"), and juracán ("hurricane"), have been incorporated into Spanish and English.
For warfare, the men made wooden war clubs, which they called a macana. It was about one inch thick and was similar to the coco macaque.
The Taíno were the most culturally advanced of the Arawak Group to settle in what is now Puerto Rico.Individuals and kinship groups that previously had some prestige and rank in the tribe began to occupy the hierarchical position that would give way to the cacicazgo . The Taíno founded settlements around villages and organized their chiefdoms, or cacicazgos, into a confederation. The Taino society, as described by the chroniclers, was composed of four social classes: the cacique , the nitaínos, the behiques, and the naborias. According to archeological evidence, the Taíno islands were able to support an enormous number of people for approximately 1500 years. Reason being, everyone in the society had a task to do. For the Taíno's, it was very important that everyone living in their island's ate properly. They followed a very efficient nature harvesting and agricultural production system. Either people were hunting/looking for food, or doing other productive tasks that would allow other people to eat.
Tribal groups settled in villages under a chieftain, known as cacique, or cacica if the ruler was a woman. Many women the Spaniards called cacicas were not always rulers in their own right, but were mistakenly recognized as such because they were the wives of caciques. Chiefs were chosen from the nitaínos and generally obtained their power from the maternal line. Male rulers were more likely to be succeeded by his sister’s children than his own, unless their mother’s lineage allowed them to succeed in their own right.
The chiefs had both temporal and spiritual functions. They were expected to ensure the welfare of the tribe and to protect it from harm from both natural and supernatural forces.They were also expected to direct and manage the production process. The caciques power came from the number of villages he controlled and was based on a network of alliances related to family, matrimonial and ceremonial ties. These alliances showed unity of the indigenous communities in a territory that would get together as a defensive strategy to face external threats, like the attacks by the Caribs on communities in Puerto Rico. Polygamy allowed the cacique to have women in different localities, thus extending his power. The cacique carried, as a symbol of his hierarchy, a guanín of South American origin made of an alloy of gold and copper. This symbolized the first Taíno mythical cacique Anacacuya that means star of the center or central spirit. In addition to the guanín, the cacique used other artifacts and adornments that served to identify it. Some examples are tunics of cotton and feathers, crowns and masks or "guaizas" of cotton with feathers; colored stones, shells or gold;cotton woven belts; and necklaces of snail beads or stones with small masks of gold or other material.
Under the cacique there social organization was composed of two tiers: The nitaínos at the top and the naborias at the bottom.The nitaínos were considered the nobles of the tribes. They were the warriors and family of the cacique. Advisers that assisted in the mundane matters of assigning and supervising communal work, planting and harvesting crops, and keeping peace among the village’s inhabitants, were selected from among the nitaínos. The naborias were simply working peasants of the lower class.
The behiques were priests who represented religious beliefs.Behiques dealt with negotiating with angry or indifferent gods as the accepted lords of the spiritual world. The behiques were expected to communicate with the gods, to soothe them when they were angry, and to intercede on the tribe’s behalf. It was their duty to cure the sick, heal the wounded, and interpret the will of the gods in ways that would satisfy the expectations of the tribe. Before carrying out these functions, the behiques performed certain cleansing and purifying rituals, such as fasting for several days and inhaling sacred tobacco snuff.
Taíno staples included vegetables, fruit, meat, and fish. There were no large animals native to the Caribbean, but they captured and ate small animals, such as hutias and other mammals, earthworms, lizards, turtles, and birds. Manatees were speared and fish were caught in nets, speared, trapped in weirs, or caught with hook and line. Wild parrots were decoyed with domesticated birds, and iguanas were taken from trees and other vegetation. The Taíno stored live animals until they were ready to be consumed: fish and turtles were stored in weirs, hutias and dogs were stored in corrals.
Due to this lack of large game, the Taíno people became very skilled fishermen. One technique was to hook a remora, also known as a suckerfish, to a line secured to a canoe and wait for the fish to attach itself to a larger fish or even a sea turtle. Once this happened, men would jump into the water and bring in their assisted catch. Another method used by the Taínos was to take shredded stems and roots of poisonous senna shrubs and throw them into nearby streams or rivers. Upon eating the bait, the fish were stunned just long enough to allow the fishermen to gather them in. This poison did not affect the edibility of the fish. Taíno youth, mostly young boys, also collected mussels and oysters in shallow waters and within the mangroves.In addition, some young boys hunted fowl from flocks that "darkened the sun", according to Christopher Columbus.
Taíno groups in the more developed islands, such as Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Jamaica, relied more on agriculture (farming and other jobs). Fields for important root crops, such as the staple yuca, were prepared by heaping up mounds of soil, called conucos. This improved soil drainage and fertility as well as delaying erosion, allowed for longer storage of crops in the ground. Less important crops such as corn were raised in simple clearings created by slash and burn technique. Typically, conucos were three feet high and nine feet in circumference and were arranged in rows.The primary root crop was yuca or cassava, a woody shrub cultivated for its edible and starchy tuberous root. It was planted using a coa, a kind of hoe made completely from wood. Women processed the poisonous variety of cassava by squeezing it to extract the toxic juices. Then they would grind the roots into flour for baking bread. Batata (sweet potato) was the next most important root crop.
Contrary to mainland practices, corn was not ground into flour and baked into bread, but was cooked and eaten off the cob. Corn bread becomes moldy faster than cassava bread in the high humidity of the Caribbean. Corn also was used to make an alcoholic beverage known as chicha.The Taíno grew squash, beans, peppers, peanuts, and pineapples. Tobacco, calabashes (West Indian pumpkins), and cotton were grown around the houses. Other fruits and vegetables, such as palm nuts, guavas, and Zamia roots, were collected from the wild.
Taíno spirituality centered on the worship of zemís. A zemí is a spirit or ancestor. The major Taíno zemis are Atabey and her son, Yúcahu. Atabey, was the zemi of the moon, fresh waters, and fertility. Other names for her include, Guabancex, Atabei, Atabeyra, Atabex, and Guimazoa. Guabancex was the non-nurturing aspect of the zemi Atabey who had control over natural disasters. Juracán is often identified as the zemi of storms, but the word simply means hurricane in the Taíno language. Guabancex had two assistants: Guataubá, a messenger who created hurricane winds, and Coatrisquie who created floodwaters. – the Taínos' main crop – and the sea.[ citation needed ]The Taínos of Quisqueya (Dominican Republic) called her son, "Yucahú Bagua Maorocotí", which means "White Yuca, great and powerful as the sea and the mountains". He was the spirit of cassava, the zemi of cassava
The minor Taíno zemis related to the growing of cassava, the process of life, creation, and death. Baibrama was a minor zemi worshiped for his assistance in growing cassava and curing people from its poisonous juice. Boinayel and his twin brother Márohu were the zemis of rain and fair weather, respectively.
Maquetaurie Guayaba or Maketaori Guayaba was the zemi of Coaybay or Coabey, the land of the dead. Opiyelguabirán', a dog-shaped zemi, watched over the dead. Deminán Caracaracol, a male cultural hero from whom the Taíno believed themselves to be descended, was worshipped as a zemí.Macocael was a cultural hero worshipped as a zemi, who had failed to guard the mountain from which human beings arose. He was punished by being turned into stone, or a bird, a frog, or a reptile, depending on interpretation of the myth.
Zemí was also the name the people gave to their physical representations of the Zemis, whether objects or drawings. They were made in many forms and materials and have been found in a variety of settings. The majority of zemís were crafted from wood, but stone, bone, shell, pottery, and cotton were used as well.Zemí petroglyphs were carved on rocks in streams, ball courts, and on stalagmites in caves. Cemí pictographs were found on secular objects such as pottery, and on tattoos. Yucahú, the zemi of cassava, was represented with a three-pointed zemí, which could be found in conucos to increase the yield of cassava. Wood and stone zemís have been found in caves in Hispaniola and Jamaica. Cemís are sometimes represented by toads, turtles, fish, snakes, and various abstract and human-like faces.
Some zemís are accompanied by a small table or tray, which is believed to be a receptacle for hallucinogenic snuff called cohoba, prepared from the beans of a species of Piptadenia tree. These trays have been found with ornately carved snuff tubes. Before certain ceremonies, Taínos would purify themselves, either by inducing vomiting (with a swallowing stick) or by fasting.After communal bread was served, first to the zemí, then to the cacique, and then to the common people, the people would sing the village epic to the accompaniment of maraca and other instruments.
One Taíno oral tradition explains that the Sun and Moon come out of caves. Another story tells of people who once lived in caves and only came out at night, because it was believed that the Sun would transform them. The Taíno believed they were descended from the union of the cultural hero Deminán Caracaracol and a female turtle. The origin of the oceans is described in the story of a huge flood that occurred when a father murdered his son (who was about to murder the father). The father put his son's bones into a gourd or calabash. When the bones turned into fish, the gourd broke, and all the water of the world came pouring out.
Taínos believed that Jupias, the souls of the dead, would go to Coaybay, the underworld, and there they rest by day. At night they would assume the form of bats and eat the guava fruit.
Columbus and the crew of his ship were the first Europeans to encounter the Taíno people, as they landed in The Bahamas on October 12, 1492. After their first interaction, Columbus described the Taínos as a physically tall, well-proportioned people, with a noble and kind personality.
In his diary, Columbus wrote:
They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will ... they took great delight in pleasing us ... They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal...Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ... They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.
At this time, the neighbors of the Taíno were the Guanahatabeys in the western tip of Cuba, the Island-Caribs in the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe to Grenada, and the Calusa and Ais nations of Florida. Guanahaní was the Taíno name for the island that Columbus renamed as San Salvador (Spanish for "Holy Savior"). Columbus called the Taíno "Indians", a reference that has grown to encompass all the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A group of Taíno people accompanied Columbus on his return voyage to Spain.
On Columbus' second voyage to their culture, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispaniola. According to Kirkpatrick Sale, each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking, twenty-five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not brought, the Spanish cut off the hands of the Taíno and left them to bleed to death.These cruel practices inspired many revolts by the Taíno and campaigns against the Spanish — some being successful, some not.
In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico, such as Agüeybaná II, Arasibo, Hayuya, Jumacao, Urayoán, Guarionex, and Orocobix, allied with the Carib and tried to oust the Spaniards. The revolt was suppressed by the Indio-Spanish forces of Governor Juan Ponce de León.Hatuey, a Taíno chieftain who had fled from Hispaniola to Cuba with 400 natives to unite the Cuban natives, was burned at the stake on February 2, 1512.
In Hispaniola, a Taíno chieftain named Enriquillo mobilized more than 3,000 Taíno in a successful rebellion in the 1520s. These Taíno were accorded land and a charter from the royal administration. Despite the small Spanish military presence in the region, they often used diplomatic divisions and, with help from powerful native allies, controlled most of the region.In exchange for a seasonal salary, religious and language education, the Taíno were required to work for Spanish and Indian land owners. This system of labor was part of the encomienda .
Taíno society was based on a matrilineal system and descent was traced through the mother. Women lived in village groups containing their children. The men lived separately. Because of this Taíno women had extensive control over their lives, their co-villagers, and their bodies.Since they lived separately from men, they were able to decide when they wanted to participate in sexual contact. This social organization partially shaped the views of conquistadors who came in contact with Taíno culture. They reportedly perceived women as "macha women" who had strong control over the men.
Although unclear, most historical evidence suggests that Taíno gender roles were non exclusive regarding most of the activities in their community.
Taíno women played an important role in intercultural interaction between Spaniards and the Taíno people. When Taíno men were away fighting intervention from other groups, women assumed the roles of primary food producers or ritual specialists.Women seem to have participated in all levels of the Taíno political hierarchy, occupying roles as high up as being cazicas . Potentially, this meant Taíno women could make important choices for the village and could assign tasks to tribe members. There is evidence that suggests that the women who were wealthiest among the tribe collected crafted goods that they would then use for trade or as gifts.
Despite women being seemingly independent in Taíno society, during the era of contact Spaniards took Taíno women as an exchange item, putting them in a non-autonomous position. Dr. Chanca, a physician who traveled with Christopher Columbus, reported in a letter that Spaniards took as many women as they possibly could and kept them as concubines.Some sources report that, despite women being free and powerful before the contact era, they became the first commodities up for Spaniards to trade, or often, steal. This marked the beginning of a lifetime of kidnapping and abuse of Taíno women.
Early population estimates of Hispaniola, probably the most populous island inhabited by Taínos, range from 100,000 to 1,000,000 people. The maximum estimates for Jamaica and Puerto Rico are 600,000 people.The Spanish priest and defender of the Taíno, Bartolomé de las Casas (who had lived in Santo Domingo), wrote in his 1561 multi-volume History of the Indies:
There were 60,000 people living on this island [when I arrived in 1508], including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this?
Researchers today doubt Las Casas' figures for the pre-contact levels of the Taíno population, considering them an exaggeration. For example, Anderson Córdova estimates a maximum of 500,000 people inhabiting the island.They had no resistance to Old World diseases, notably smallpox. The encomienda system brought many Taíno to work in the fields and mines in exchange for Spanish protection, education, and a seasonal salary. Under the pretense of searching for gold and other materials, many Spaniards took advantage of the regions now under control of the anaborios and Spanish encomenderos to exploit the native population by seizing their land and wealth. Historian David Stannard characterizes the encomienda as a genocidal system which "had driven many millions of native peoples in Central and South America to early and agonizing deaths." It would take some time before the Taíno revolted against their oppressors — both Indian and Spanish alike — and many military campaigns before Emperor Charles V eradicated the encomienda system as a form of slavery.
In thirty years, between 80% and 90% of the Taíno population died.Because of the increased number of people (Spanish) on the island, there was a higher demand for food. Taíno cultivation was converted to Spanish methods. In hopes of frustrating the Spanish, some Taínos refused to plant or harvest their crops. The supply of food became so low in 1495 and 1496 that some 50,000 died from the severity of the famine. Historians have determined that the massive decline was due more to infectious disease outbreaks than any warfare or direct attacks. By 1507 their numbers had shrunk to 60,000. Scholars believe that epidemic disease (smallpox, influenza, measles, and typhus) was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the indigenous people. However, some academics, such as historian Andrés Reséndez of University of California, Davis, assert that disease alone does not explain the total destruction of indigenous populations of Hispaniola. While the populations of Europe rebounded following the devastating population decline associated with the Black Death, there was no such rebound for the indigenous populations of the Caribbean. He concludes that, even though the Spanish were aware of deadly diseases such as smallpox, there is no mention of them in the New World until 1519, meaning perhaps they didn't spread as fast as initially believed, and that unlike Europeans, the indigenous populations were subjected to slavery, exploitation and forced labor in gold and silver mines on an enormous scale. Reséndez says that "slavery has emerged as a major killer" of the indigenous people of the Caribbean. Anthropologist Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics estimates that a third of indigenous workers died every six months from lethal forced labor in these mines.
The Arawak are a group of indigenous peoples of South America and of the Caribbean. Specifically, the term "Arawak" has been applied at various times to the Lokono of South America and the Taíno, who historically lived in the Greater Antilles and northern Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. All these groups spoke related Arawakan languages.
Juan Ponce de León, commonly known as Ponce de León, was a Spanish explorer and conquistador known for leading the first official European expedition to Florida and the first governor of Puerto Rico. He was born in Santervás de Campos, Valladolid, Spain in 1474. Though little is known about his family, he was of noble birth and served in the Spanish military from a young age. He first came to the Americas as a "gentleman volunteer" with Christopher Columbus's second expedition in 1493.
Diego Salcedo was a semi-legendary Spanish conquistador who is said to have lived during the colonization of the Americas. According to legend, his death at the hands of the indigenous Taíno people ignited the Taíno rebellion of 1511.
Encomienda was a Spanish labor system that rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of subject people. It was first established in Spain following the Christian recovery of their territories under Muslim rule. And it was applied on a much larger scale during the Spanish colonization of the Americas and the Philippines. Conquered peoples were considered vassals of the Spanish monarch. The Crown awarded an encomienda as a grant to a particular individual. In the conquest era of the sixteenth century, the grants were considered to be a monopoly on the labor of particular groups of indigenous peoples, held in perpetuity by the grant holder, called the encomendero, and his descendants.
A cacique is a leader of an indigenous group, derived from the Taíno word kasikɛ for the pre-Columbian tribal chiefs in the Bahamas, the Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. In the colonial era, Spaniards extended the word as a title for the leaders of practically all indigenous groups that they encountered in the Western Hemisphere. In Spanish America, Brazil, Spain, and Portugal, the term also has come to mean a political boss or leader who exercises significant power in the political system known as caciquismo.
The Ciboney, or Siboney, were a Taíno people of Cuba, Jamaica and Hispaniola. A Western Taíno group living in central Cuba during the 15th and 16th centuries, they had a dialect and culture distinct from the Classic Taíno in the eastern part of the island, though much of the Ciboney territory was under the control of the eastern chiefs. Confusion in the historical sources led 20th-century scholars to apply the name "Ciboney" to the non-Taíno Guanahatabey of western Cuba and various archaic cultures around the Caribbean, but this is deprecated.
Hayuya Municipal of Puerto Rico located in the Caribbean.
The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean included the Taíno, the Island Caribs of the Lesser Antilles, and the Guanahatabey of western Cuba.
Juracán is the phonetic name given by the Spanish colonizers to the zemi or deity of chaos and disorder which the Taíno natives in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Cuba, as well as the Island Caribs and Arawak natives elsewhere in the Caribbean, believed controlled the weather, particularly hurricanes.
The culture of Puerto Rico is the result of a number of international and indigenous influences, both past and present. Modern cultural manifestations showcase the island's rich history and help to create an identity which is a melting pot of cultures - Taíno, European, African, Anglo American (U.S.A.), Latin American/Caribbean Asian, Hawaiian and other influences.
Anacaona was a Taíno cacique (chief), born in what is now Léogâne, Haiti, into a family of chiefs, and sister of Bohechío, chief of Xaragua. Her husband was Caonabo, chief of the nearby territory of Maguana. Her brother and her husband were two of the five highest caciques who ruled the island of Kiskeya when the Spaniards colonized it in 1492. She was celebrated as a composer of ballads and narrative poems, called areítos.
Agüeybaná II, born Güeybaná and also known as Agüeybaná El Bravo, was one of the two principal and most powerful caciques of the Taíno people in "Borikén" when the Spaniards first arrived in Puerto Rico on November 19, 1493. Agüeybaná II led the Taínos of Puerto Rico in the Battle of Yagüecas, also known as the "Taíno rebellion of 1511" against Juan Ponce de León and the Spanish Conquistadors.
Guarionex was a Taíno cacique from Maguá in the island of Hispaniola at the time of the arrival of the Europeans to the Western Hemisphere in 1492. He was the son of cacique Guacanagaríx, the great Taíno prophet who had the vision of the coming of the Guamikena.
The chiefdoms of Hispaniola were the primary political units employed by the Taíno inhabitants of Hispaniola in the early historical era. At the time of European contact in 1492, the island was divided into five chiefdoms or cacicazgos, each headed by a cacique or paramount chief. Below him were lesser caciques presiding over villages or districts and nitaínos, an elite class in Taíno society.
Taíno is a poorly-attested Arawakan language that was spoken by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. At the time of Spanish contact, it was the principal language throughout the Caribbean. Classic Taíno was the native language of the northern Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and most of Hispaniola, and it was expanding into Cuba. Ciboney is essentially unattested, but colonial sources suggest that it was a similar language to the Taíno language and was spoken in westernmost Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and most of Cuba.
Ponce de León Island was a proposed name for the 45 miles (72 km) long, barrier island stretching from Cape Canaveral to Sebastian Inlet in Brevard County in central Florida, located on the Atlantic Ocean. The population was 67,933 at the 2010 United States Census. The barrier island is 21.4 square miles (55 km2). Another proposed name for this area was Ais Island after the native Ais people who originally inhabited the area. Currently, the island has not yet been designated any official name.
The areíto or areyto was a Taíno language word adopted by the Spanish colonizers to describe a type of religious song and dance performed by the Taíno people of the Caribbean. The areíto was a ceremonial act that was believed to narrate and honor the heroic deeds of Taíno ancestors, chiefs, gods, and cemis. Areítos involved lyrics and choreography and were often accompanied by varied instrumentation. They were performed in the central plazas of the villages and were attended by the local community members as well as members of neighboring communities.
The native Taíno tribes have played a major role in the history and culture of the island of Puerto Rico. At the head of each tribe was a cacique who, along with the nitaínos, governed each of the yucayeques, or villages of the island.
Caonabo was a Taíno cacique (chieftain) of Hispaniola at the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival to the island. He was known for his fighting skills and his ferocity. In retaliation against mistreatment of the Taíno people, Caonabo led attacks against the Spanish, including an assault on La Navidad which left 39 Spaniards dead. His capture in 1494 led to the first native American uprising against Spanish rule. He was married to Anacaona, who was the sister of another cacique named Bohechío.
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