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Encyclopedia > Taíno

The Taíno are pre-colombian Amerindian inhabitants of the Greater Antilles islands, which include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. The seafaring Taíno are relatives of the Arawakan peoples of South America. Taíno of the Bahamas were known as Lucayan. Their language is a member of the Arawakan linguistic family, also found in South America. Native Americans (also Indians, Aboriginal Peoples, American Indians, First Nations, Alaskan Natives, or Indigenous Peoples of America) are the indigenous inhabitants of The Americas prior to the European colonization, and their modern descendants. ... The Greater Antilles are an island group in the Caribbean Sea. ... Hispaniola (from Spanish, La Española) is the second-largest island of the Antilles, lying east of Cuba. ... The Arawakan languages are an indigenous language family of South America and the Caribbean. ... South America South America is a continent crossed by the equator, with most of its area in the Southern Hemisphere. ... The Lucayan were those Arawak which inhabited the Bahamas at the time of Christopher Columbus landing. ... The Arawakan languages are an indigenous language family of South America and the Caribbean. ...


The Taíno culture was nearly destroyed in the 16th century, decimated by genocide, introduced disease, and forced assimilation into the plantation economy that Spain imposed in its Caribbean colonies, with its subsequent importation of African slave workers. There was substantial mestizage as well as several Indian pueblos that survived into the 19th Century (Cuba). The Spaniards who first arrived in the Bahamas, Cuba and Hispanola in 1492, and later in Puerto Rico in 1508, did not bring women. They took many Taino wives in civil marriages, and had mestizo children. Events and Trends The Bonneville Slide blocks the Columbia River near the site of present-day Cascade Locks, Oregon with a land bridge 200 feet high. ... Events January 2 - Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, surrenders his city to the army of Ferdinand and Isabella after a lengthy siege. ... Events February - Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor attacks Venice June 6 - Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor is defeated in Friulia by Venetian forces; he is forced to sign a three year truce and cede several territories to Venice December 10 - League of Cambrai formed as an alliance against Venice between... Mestizo (Portuguese, Mestiço; Canadian French, Métis: from Late Latin mixtcius, from Latin mixtus, past participle of miscere, to mix) is a term of Spanish origin used to designate the peoples of mixed European and Amerindian racial strain inhabiting the region spanning the Americas, from the Canadian prairies in the north...


At the time of Colon's arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno "kingdoms" or territories on Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chieftain), to whom tribute was paid. Another indigenous group called the Carib lived in the islands. This group is said to be another Arawakan related people originally from South America. The Tainos and the Carib would sometimes battle each other. Events January 2 - Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, surrenders his city to the army of Ferdinand and Isabella after a lengthy siege. ... A cacique is a tribal chief in Latin America, particularly of the Spanish West Indies from the 16th century. ... Carib or Island Carib is the name of a people of the Lesser Antilles islands, after whom the Caribbean Sea was named; their name for themselves was Kalinago for men and Kallipuna for women. ...


At the time of the Spanish Conquest, the largest Taíno population centers may have contained around 3,000 people or more.

Contents

Culture and Lifestyle

In the center of a typical Taíno village (yucayeque) was a flat court (batey) used for various social activities such as games, various festivals and public ceremonies. Houses would surround this court. The Taíno played a ceremonial ball game called "Batu between opposing teams (of 10 to 30 players per team) using a solid rubber ball. Batu was also used for conflict resolution between communites. Rubber is an elastic hydrocarbon polymer which occurs as a milky emulsion (known as latex) in the sap of a number of plants but can also be produced synthetically. ...


Taíno society was divided into four main sections:

  • 1) naboria (common people)
  • 2) nitaíno (sub-chiefs)
  • 3) bohique (priests/healers)
  • 4) cacique (chieftains)

Often, the general population lived in large circular buildings (bohio), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves. These houses could hold 10-15 families. The caciques and his family would live in rectangular buildings (caney) of similar construction, with wooden porches.


Taíno home furnishings included cotton hammocks (hamaca), mats made of palms, wooden chairs (dujo) with woven seats, platforms, and cradles for children.


The Taíno practised a mainly agrarian lifestyle but also fished and hunted. A frequently worn hair style featured bangs in front and longer hair in back. They sometimes wore gold jewellery, paint, and/or, shells. Taíno men sometimes wore short skirts. Taino women wore a similar garment (nagua) after marriage.


The Taíno spoke a form of Arawak and used the words: barbacoa (barbecue), hamaca (hammock), canoa (canoe), tabaco (tobacco), yuca (yucca) and Huracan (hurricane) which have been incorporated into the Spanish and English languages. The Arawakan languages are an indigenous language family of South America and the Caribbean. ...


Some Taíno practiced polygamy. Men, and sometimes women, might have 2 or 3 spouses, and the caciques would marry as many as 30.


The Taino indians originally came from what is today Venezuela and moved through the Caribbean and into parts of Florida.


Food and Agriculture

The Taíno diet was centered around vegetables, meat and fish. There never were many large wild animals to hunt on the islands, but small animals such as rodents, bats, worms, ducks, turtles, and birds were utilized. Families Many, see text The order Rodentia is the most numerous of all the branches on the mammal family tree. ... Families Pteropodidae Emballonuridae Rhinopomatidae Craseonycteridae Rhinolophidae Nycteridae Megadermatidae Vespertilionidae Molossidae Antrozoidae Natalidae Myzopodidae Thyropteridae Furipteridae Noctilionidae Mystacinidae Mormoopidae Phyllostomidae Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera with forelimbs developed as wings. ... A worm is an elongated soft-bodied invertebrate animal. ... Subfamilies Dendrocygninae Oxyurinae Anatinae Merginae Drake Mallard Duck is the common name for a number of types of bird in the family Anatidae. ... Families See text Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudinata, most of whose body is shielded by a special bony shell developed from their ribs. ... Orders Many - see section below. ...


Taíno groups in the interior of the islands relied more on agriculture. Their crops were raised in a conuco, a large mound, which was packed with leaves to prevent erosion and then planted with a variety of crops to assure that something would grow, no matter what the weather conditions. They used a coa, an early kind of hoe made completely out of wood. Severe soil erosion in a wheat field near Washington State University, USA. Erosion is the displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock, and so forth) by the agents of wind, water, ice, movement in response to gravity, or living organisms (in the case of bioerosion). ...


One of the primary crops cultivated by the Taíno was cassava, which they ate as a flat bread similar to a burrito or pizza shell. The Taíno also grew maize, squash, beans, peppers, sweet potatoes, yams, peanuts as well as tobacco. Binomial name Manihot esculenta Crantz Cassava or manioc (Manihot esculenta; also yuca in Spanish, and mandioca, aipim, or macaxera in Portuguese) is a woody perennial shrub of the spurge family, that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop for its edible starchy tuberous root. ... Species Zea diploperennis Zea luxurians Zea nicaraguensis Zea perennis References ITIS 42268 2002-09-22 Sorting Zea names This article is about the staple food. ... Look up Squash in Wiktionary, the free dictionary Squash may refer to: Squash, the fruit of vines of the genus Cucurbita. ... This article is on the plant. ... Compact orange pepper plants in the genus Capsicum. ... Binomial name Ipomoea batatas Linnaeus, The sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) is a crop plant whose large, starchy, sweet-tasting tuberous roots are an important root vegetable. ... For the Levantine god of the untamed sea, see Yaw. ... Peanuts book cover Peanuts was a syndicated comic strip written and drawn by American cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. ... Species N. glauca N. longiflora N. rustica N. sylvestris N. tabacum Ref: ITIS 30562 as of 2002-08-28 Tobacco () is a broad-leafed plant of the nightshade family, indigenous to North and South America, whose dried and cured leaves are often smoked (see tobacco smoking) in the form of...


Technology

The Taíno used cotton, hemp and palm extensively for fishing nets and ropes. Their dugout canoes (Kanoa) were made in various sizes, which could hold from 2 to 150 people. An average sized Kanoa would hold about 15 - 20 persons. They used bows and arrows, and sometimes put various poisons on their arrowheads. They used spears for fishing. For warfare, they employed the use of a wooden war club, which they called a macana, that was about one inch thick and was similar to the cocomaque. Cotton is a soft fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant, a shrub native to the tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old World and the New World. ... Hemp is the common English name for the annual herb cannabis, (marijuana), which can be and is grown for numerous non-drug purposes, including fiber (e. ... This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Canoe at El Nido, Philippines A canoe is a relatively small human-powered boat. ... Drawing of a 15th century macahuitl The term macana, of Taíno origin, refers to a number of different wooden weapons used by the various native cultures of Central and South America. ...


Religion

The Taíno respected all forms of life and recognized the importance of giving thanks, as well as honoring ancestors and spiritual beings whom they called (Cemi). (meaning) (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/Taino/photos/zemi.html) Many stone carvings of Cemi have survived. Some of the stalagmites of the Caves of Dondon were carved into the figures of Cemi. The Cemi are sometimes represented by toads, turtles, snakes, caiman and various abstract and human-like faces. Genera Ansonia Atelopus Bufo Capensibufo Crepidophryne Dendrophryniscus Didynamipus Frostius Laurentophryne Leptophryne Melanophryniscus Mertensophryne Nectophryne Nectophrynoides Nimbaphrynoides Oreophrynella Osornophryne Pedostibes Pelophryne Peltophryne Pseudobufo Rhamphophryne Werneria Wolterstorffina The true toads are amphibians in the Bufonidae family. ... Families See text Turtles are reptiles of the order Testudinata, most of whose body is shielded by a special bony shell developed from their ribs. ... Superfamilies and Families Henophidia Aniliidae Anomochilidae Boidae Bolyeriidae Cylindrophiidae Loxocemidae Pythonidae Tropidophiidae Uropeltidae Xenopeltidae Typhlopoidea Anomalepididae Leptotyphlopidae Typhlopidae Xenophidia Acrochordidae Atractaspididae Colubridae Elapidae Hydrophiidae Viperidae Snakes are cold blooded legless reptiles closely related to lizards, which share the order Squamata. ... Genera Alligator Caiman Melanosuchus Paleosuchus Alligators and caimans are reptiles closely related to the crocodiles and forming the family Alligatoridae (sometimes regarded instead as the subfamily Alligatorinae). ...


During certain ceremonies, the Taíno would induce vomiting with a swallowing stick. This was to purge the body of impurities, both a literal physical purging and a symbolic spiritual purging. After the serving of communal bread, first to the Cemi, then to the cacique, and then to the common people; the village epic would be sung and accompanied by maraca and other instruments. Maracas are simple percussion instruments (idiophones), usually played in pairs, consisting of a dried gourd shell (cuia - kOO-ya) filled with seeds or dried beans. ...


Taíno oral tradition explains that the sun and moon come out of caves. Another story tells that people once lived in caves and only came out at night, because it was believed that the Sun would transform them. The origin of the oceans is described in the story of a huge flood which occurred when a father murdered his son (who was about to murder the father), and then put his bones into a gourd or calabash. These bones then turned to fish and the gourd broke and all the water of the world came pouring out. A Sun is the star at the center of a solar system. ... Crust composition Oxygen 43% Silicon 21% Aluminium 10% Calcium 9% Iron 9% Magnesium 5% Titanium 2% Nickel 0. ... Binomial name Lagenaria siceraria (Molina) Standl. ...


The Supreme God was called "Yucahú", which means "white yuca", or "the spirit of the yuca", for the yuca was the main source of food of the Taínos, and as such it was revered. The Taínos of Quisqueya (Dominican Republic) called him "Yucahú Bagua Maorocotí", which means "White Yuca, great and powerful as the sea and the mountains". "Yucahú" was also the invisible spirit of the sky, whose mother was "Atabey", the mother of the gods and spirit of the waters. Other names for this goddess include "Guabancex", "Atabei", "Atabeyra", "Atabex", and "Guimazoa". "Huracán" was the evil god of storms, although some historians claim this was only the Taíno term for "storm", and the real goddess of storms was "Guabancex". Other minor gods or "cemíes" include "Boinayel" (god of rain, in other sources the Sun god), the messenger "Guataubá", "Deminán Caracaracol" (who broke the gourd and caused the flooding of the world and the spreading of the waters), "Opiyelguabirán" (a dog-shaped god), and "Maketaori Guayaba" (the ruler of the Coaybay, the underworld).


The Taínos believed that the souls of the dead go to Coaybay, the underworld, and there they rest by day, and when night comes they assume the form of bats and eat the fruit "guayaba".


Some anthropologists assert that some or all of the Petwo Voodoo rites may have their origins in Taíno religion.


Columbus and the Taíno

Columbus and his crew, landing in the Bahamas on October 12th, 1492 were the first Europeans to encounter the Taino People. It was Columbus who called the Taino "Indians", an identification that was grown to encompass all the indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere.


There is debate as to how many Taíno inhabited Hispaniola when Columbus landed in 1492. The Catholic priest and contemporary historian Bartolome de Las Casas wrote (1561) in his multivolume History of the Indies: Events January 2 - Boabdil, the last Moorish King of Granada, surrenders his city to the army of Ferdinand and Isabella after a lengthy siege. ... Bartolom de Las Casas Bartolom de Las Casas (1484 – July 17, 1566) was a 16th century Spanish priest, the first ordained in the New World and the first Bishop of Chiapas. ... Events The Edict of Orleans suspends the persecution of the Huguenots. ...

"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?"

It is proposed by some historians today that Las Casas's figures for the pre-contact levels of the Taino population were an exaggeration and that a figure closer to one million is more likely. The Taino population estimates range all over, from a few hundred thousand up to 8,000,000. They were not immune to European diseases, notably smallpox, but many of them were worked to death in the mines and fields, put to death in harsh put-downs of revolts or committed suicide to escape their cruel new masters. Some academics have suggested that the numbers the population had shrunk to 60,000 and by 1531 to 3000 in Hispanola. Events January 25 - Alfonso II becomes King of Naples. ... Events February - Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor attacks Venice June 6 - Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor is defeated in Friulia by Venetian forces; he is forced to sign a three year truce and cede several territories to Venice December 10 - League of Cambrai formed as an alliance against Venice between... Smallpox (also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera) is a highly contagious disease unique to humans. ... Events January 26 - Lisbon, Portugal is hit by an earthquake-- thousands die October 1 - Battle of Kappel - The forces of Zürich are defeated by the Catholic cantons. ...


On Columbus' 2nd voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispanola. Each adult over 14 years of age, was expected to deliver a certain quantity of gold. In the earlier days of the conquest, if this tribute was not observed, the Taino were either mutilated or executed. Later on, fearing a loss of labor forces, they were ordered to bring 25lbs of cotton. This also gave way to a service requirement called "encomienda". Under this system, Taino were required to work for a Spanish land owner for most of the year, which left little time to tend to their own commuity affairs. Officially the pound is the name for at least three different units of mass: The pound (avoirdupois). ... Cotton is a soft fibre that grows around the seeds of the cotton plant, a shrub native to the tropical and subtropical regions of both the Old World and the New World. ...


Taino opposition

In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico allied with the Caribs and tried to oust the Spaniards. The revolt was pacified by the forces of Governor Juan Ponce de León. In Hispanola, a Taino Chieftain named Enriquillo also mobilized over 3000 remaining Taino in a rebellion in the 1530s. Events Diego Velázquez and Hernán Cortés conquer Cuba; Velázquez appointed Governor. ... Juan Ponce de León - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins/monobook/IE50Fixes. ... Centuries: 15th century - 16th century - 17th century Decades: 1480s 1490s 1500s 1510s 1520s - 1530s - 1540s 1550s 1560s 1570s 1580s Years: 1530 1531 1532 1533 1534 1535 1536 1537 1538 1539 Events and Trends Spanish conquest of Peru Beginning of colonization of Brazil Categories: 1530s ...


Taíno Heritage in Modern Times

The general scholarly opinion is that Taíno culture became extinct in the 16th century, wiped out by genocide and introduced disease; however many people still claim to be decendants of the Taíno, most notably among Puerto Ricans, both on the island and US mainland. Those who claim to be Taino decendants have been active in trying to assert a call for recognition of their tribe. Recently, a few contemporary Taino organizations, such as The United Confederation of Taíno People [1] (http://www.uctp.org/) and The Jatibonicù Taino Tribal Nation of Boriken (Puerto Rico) [2] (http://www.taino-tribe.org), have been established to put forth these claims. Events and Trends The Bonneville Slide blocks the Columbia River near the site of present-day Cascade Locks, Oregon with a land bridge 200 feet high. ...


Related topics

Puerto Rico List of Taínos An Arawak Tribe Abey, cacique of Salinas, Puerto Rico Agueybana,Supreme Cacique in Puerto Rico Agueybana II, Agueybana,s brother Alonso, minor cacique of Utuado, Puerto Rico Arasibo, cacique of Arecibo, Puerto Rico Armana, cacique around Coa (Toa) river in Puerto Rico Aymamon, cacique around river... Agueybana (died 1510) whose name means Great Sun, was the principal Cacique (Chief) of the Tainos and the most powerful governing Taino in Borinken (Puerto Rico) when the Spaniards first arrived. ... Agueybana (died 1510) whose name means Great Sun, was the principal Cacique (Chief) of the Tainos and the most powerful governing Taino in Borinken (Puerto Rico) when the Spaniards first arrived. ... Arasibo (born c. ... Caguax was a Taíno cacique who lived on the island of Borikén (Taíno name for Puerto Rico) before the Spanish colonization of the Americas. ... Hatuey was a Taíno chief who lived on the island of Hispaniola in the early sixteenth century. ... Hayuya (born c. ... Jumacao (born c. ... The Lucayan were those Arawak which inhabited the Bahamas at the time of Christopher Columbus landing. ... Cacique Orocobix, was the Taíno regional chief of the area called Jatibonicu. ...


References

  1. United Confederation of Taino People http://www.uctp.org/
  2. The Jatibonicù Taino Tribal Band of New Jersey (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/Taino/jatibonuco.html) (A Tribal Government Affairs website)
  3. The Jatibonicù Taino Tribal Nation of Boriken (http://www.taino-tribe.org/index.html) (Puerto Rico Tribal Government website)
  4. DeRLAS. Some important research contributions of Genetics to the study of Population History and Anthropology in Puerto Rico (http://www.udel.edu/LASP/Vol1-2MartinezC.html). Newark, Delaware: Delaware Review of Latin American Studies. August 15, 2000.

 
 

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