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Maps, Explorers & Adventurers => the Bahamas, Bermuda, Cuba & the West Indies => Topic started by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 05:53:41 pm



Title: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 05:53:41 pm
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The existence of an Indian population and identity in Cuba was vehemently denied
for most of the twentieth century, primarily by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz.

A liberal professor of Hispanic ancestry, Ortiz saw the question of Indian identity as
a ploy by the right wing to obfuscate black issues. Deeply conversant in all the social
sciences, Ortiz was limited by a Havana base and by a purist, "bell jar" anthropological
perspective of Indian-ness.

This perspective maintains that American Indians cease to be "real" Indians as they
adapt Western tools and methods. Indian "cultures" are assumed frozen at the
moment of contact with "the West."

Although he framed the theme of "transculturation" in Cuban letters.

Ortiz provided the tree of Cuban multi-ethnicity with a strictly Ibero-African trunk.

The assertion became that all Cuban Indians, purportedly a weak and timid people,
were exterminated by 1550.









                                                          INDIANS IN CUBA




By José Barreiro,
in Cultural Survival Quarterly,
vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 56-60
(1989)
Punta Maisi, Cuba

The old Indian woman, a descendant of Cuba's Taino-Arawak people, bent over and touched
the leaves of a small tree. Her open-palmed hand lifted the round, green leaves in a light hand-
shake. "These are good for inflammations of the ovaries," she said. "I gave them to all my
young women." "She knows a lot," her daughter. Marta, said. "She doesn't need a pharmacy.
You have something wrong with your body, she can make you a tea - un cocimiento - and fix
you up.

The mother and two sisters, part of a large extended family known in this town for its Indian
ancestry, continued to show me their patio. Around an old well, where they wash their laundry,
they pointed out more than a dozen herbs and other useful plants. The Cobas Hernandez clan,
from which Maria and her several daughters, her son, Pedro, and his brothers spring, counts
several living generations of families from here to the city of Baracoa, about 12O km west from
Los Arados on Cuba's southern coast. They are not the only such extended family and they are
not the only people of clear Indian ancestry in Cuba still living in their aboriginal areas.

It may surprise many social scientists that nestled in the mountains of the Oriente region (east-
ern Cuba), from Baracoa on the southern coast all the way to the Pico Turquino, the highest
mountain in Cuba, there are numerous caserios, several barrios, and at least one community of
more than a thousand Indian people. They were called Cubeños by Father Bartolome de Las Casas,
who helped some of their communities to survive, and are ancestors of the original Tainos who
met Columbus.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 06:01:33 pm
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In March and April 1989, I traveled to Santiago de Cuba to attend a conference, "Seeds of
Commerce, mutually sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and a Cuban research center,
the Casa del Caribe.

I took the opportunity to extend my visit for two weeks, first in the Baracoa-Punta Maisi
region and then west to the plains country of Camaguey. I wanted to ascertain the vera-
city of testimonies that I had heard as a child and that have been recently published in
Cuban academic journals, to the effect that Taino-Arawak descendants inhabit the east-
ern region of Cuba. I wanted to reacquaint myself with the people of guajiro background
still prevalent in the Camaguey countryside.

I heard about the Indian families of Baracoa while I was growing up in the Camaguey re-
gion, some 300 km to the northeast of Baracoa, during the 1950s, before I migrated to
the United States at age 12.

Among my elder relatives, don Joseito Veloz (born 1891) migrated to Camaguey from the
vicinity of the oriental mountain city of Bayamo. Don Joseito told stories about the old
communities in and near Baracoa.

He was himself what is called in Camaguey a "guajiro," and one who pointed out the Indian
origins of many of his customs and lifeways: the thatch-roof bohio made out of the royal
palm so abundant in Cuba; and his yucca field and his custom of eating the yucca bread,
casabe, and the traditional Taino soup, called the ajiaco. Guajiro identity, customs, and
lifestyle still prevail throughout the Camaguey region.1

More recently, after writing for some years on diverse Indian cultures, indigenous develop-
ment, agriculture, and human rights issues, I noticed several articles in the Cuban press de-
tailing studies carried out among the Indian descendants in the Baracoa region. The studies
were carried out by investigators from the University of Havana, in cooperation with scientists
from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 06:10:16 pm
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Rivero de La Calle Study





At the University of Havana, I met the chief investigator of those studies, Manuel Rivero
de la Calle, a gentle, soft-spoken scholar who is dean of Cuban anthropology.

He started work in the Oriente area in the mid-1960s, leading a team that for several years
conducted studies in physical and biological anthropology with an extended "base" populat-
ion in the Yateras municipality of the new province of Guantánamo, not far from Baracoa.

Rivero's biological study, conducted in two stages - 1964 and 1972-1973 - focused exclusi-
vely on certifying racial composition on a sample of 300 people of Indian origin in the Yateras municipality. His methodology included anthropometric measurements and somastopic obser-
vations (following the International Biologic Program), serulogic characteristics, and family
genealogies.

The methodology of "physical anthropology," which uses anthropometric measurements, is
considered antiquated by North American scholars and insulting by many Indians. Neverthe-
less, it proves fruitful in initially identifying the effusive Cuban indigenous population.

Rivero's conclusions challenged official academic and sociological positions in Cuba - posit-
ions accepted by the international academy - that the Indian population of Cuba was totally extinguished by 1550.

Indeed, the scientists found that at least 1,000 people conforming to physical characteristics associated with the Arawak branch of Amazonian Indian peoples live in Yateras alone.

The studies assert what oral and written historical sources have also attested: the Yateras
Indians are a core group in a larger pattern of extended families and communities of similar
Indian origin, now increasingly intermarried with other Cubans of Iberian and African ancestry.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:00:28 pm







Historical References





The existence of an Indian population and identity in Cuba was vehemently denied for
most of the twentieth century, primarily by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz.

A liberal professor of Hispanic ancestry, Ortiz saw the question of Indian identity as a
ploy by the right wing to obfuscate black issues.

Deeply conversant in all the social sciences, Ortiz was limited by a Havana base and by
a purist, "bell jar" anthropological perspective of Indian-ness. This perspective maintains
that American Indians cease to be "real" Indians as they adapt Western tools and methods.
Indian "cultures" are assumed frozen at the moment of contact with "the West."

Although he framed the theme of "transculturation" in Cuban letters. Ortiz provided the tree
of Cuban multiethnicity with a strictly Ibero-African trunk. The assertion became that all
Cuban Indians, purportedly a weak and timid people, were exterminated by 1550.

Nevertheless, the historic and ethnographic record supports the Indian presence in eastern
Cuba - the existence of its actual population of descendants and its cultural extensions. Both
Rivero and Antonio Nunez Jimenez, a prominent Cuban naturalist - and other historical referen-
ces - confirm the existence of dozens of Indian family nuclei (caserios) in the extended region
of Oriente, from Baracoa to Punta Maisi, to the Sierra Maestra and the Pico Turquino. In the
absence of a proper census, it is hard to hazard a guess as to the total population of Indian
descendants in the general Oriente area, but it probably comes to several thousand people.

Miguel Rodriguez Ferrer, a Spanish scientist who visited the area in 1847, wrote in the 1870s
about finding Indian communities at El Caney, in Jiguani, and on the banks of the Yumuri River
(Baracoa).

He wrote that the people lived in bohios, and "gifted me with a dance" - possibly an Areito, the
round dance of the Tainos - during which they recited cosmologies.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:07:03 pm








Jose Marti, the poet and revolutionary apostle of Cuban independence, traveled in the area
in his final days, camping with Indian families.

His diary entries just prior to his death in a Spanish ambush in May 1895 describe the "indios
de Garrido," direct ancestors of the Yateras families. Marti wondered at reports that some
Indians were scouting for the Spanish troops against the insurrectionists.

In a letter of 23 June 1895, possibly in answer to Marti's inquiry. another major historical figure,
General Antonio Maceo, who commanded troops in the area, commented that the "Indians of
Yateras" had now passed into the Cuban insurrectionary ranks (Marti 1964).

A French doctor and anthropologist, Henri Dumont, who for decades lived in the eastern sugar plantations and provided care for black slaves, wrote in 1922 about the existence of Indians in
the interior provinces of Cuba - "but where they abound with most frequency is in the eastern department" (Dumont 1922).

The Cuban historian Felipe Pichardo Moya wrote in 1945 that during the 1840s Indians in El Ca-
ney, near Santiago, could muster "several hundred pure-blood warriors".

" In March 1845, Remigio Torres, a "pure-blood Indian" clerk of the municipality, claimed lands
for the Indian population of the "many Indians in the extended semi-circle from the Paso de Ia
Virgen to the foothills of the Sierra de Limones." As proof of cultural continuity, the Indian clerk asserted that every Sunday Indian people held their original dances. In 1849, the same clerk,
still arguing Indian land rights, told a meeting of the Cabildo: "You know that it is very rare for a
natural of the People to mix his Indian blood with that of the Spanish, and insofar as marriage
with the people of color, this was never permitted to them as per arrangement with the sove-
reign dispositions."

As late as 1936, an official Cuban map of Oriente Province showed Indian reser- vations at Tigua-
bos (between Baracoa and Santiago) and at Palenque (Moya 1945).

Oral history of Yateras Indians corroborates court records indicating that the Indian caserios at Tiguabos and Palenque and Indian settlements in the San Andres valley were dispossessed, farm
by farm, during the nineteenth century. Those Indian populations, many with the family names of
Rojas and Ramirez, resettled in the more remote valley of Yateras and formed a community called Caridad de los Indios. All along that valley of the Rio Toa and down to Baracoa and Yumuri, and
along the coast to Los Arados, in Punta Maisi, the families of Rojas and Ramirez, as well as the Romeros, the Cobas, the Riveros, many of the Jimenez, Hernandez, Veloz, and Cabrera, retain
history, identity, and customs rooted in the Cuban Arawak traditions, the old Taino homeland.2


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:13:56 pm








Among the People





Alejandro Hartmann, the criollo historian of Baracoa. accompanied me in my initial rounds in
the area. A good citizen and a critical thinker, Hartmann heads the restoration of Baracoa,
the first colonial village founded in Cuba (1511). He pointed out that as late as 1561, Bara-
coa's actual population was made up of three Spanish and more than fifty Taino homesteads.

A native Baracoan of German ancestry, Hartmann marveled at the fuss about the Indian pre-
sence in the area, He pointed out that until the 1900s the region was relatively unpopulated
by Europeans and Africans. "Of course, the Indian presence is all around us," he said. "I know
many families who are clearly Indian."

Hartmann pointed out that "from Baracoa to Punta Maisi, the people use more Taino words than anywhere else in Cuba."3 He introduced me to several households in Baracoa, Guirito, and Yumuri, where I conducted interviews. One early morning we took the coastal road to Punta Maisi (maisi
is the Taino word for "maize"), where we met Pedro Hernandez's family at Los Arados.

"Here I can say, our Indian people, we have been like a fish in a cooler, our eyes wide open but
not seeing," Pedro Hernandez Cobas said. His sisters and mother had brought us into the living
room of the family's wood-frame, thatch-roofed house. His mother and sisters nodded when he said, "We have always been Indians. Our family, and there are many other families just here in
Los Arados, this is our ancestry. But I must tell you, it is only in recent years that we discuss
it openly with other people."


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:19:34 pm








Hernandez, curator of a small museum at Los Arados, is in his thirties and is a militant of
the Cuban Communist Party. He greatly admires Fidel Castro and particularly the late re-
volutionary commander, Camilo Cienfuegos. However, his professed passion is learning
about his Indian past.

Hernandez worked with Rivero's team during their study at Yateras. "There are a lot of In-
dian families there," he said. "But for a long time, we have been isolated from each other.
It has been good for us that other people pay attention now."

I took a ride with Hernandez to the lighthouse at Punta Maisi, easternmost point in Cuba,
50 miles across the Windward Channel from Haiti. Along the way we stopped several times
to visit with other Indians walking along the road. Two young women, from another Indian
family, were walking to town to get milk. They agreed to be photographed and told us that
their father had been a guide to Cuban explorer Nunez Jimenez during his expeditions in the
area in the 1950s. Their grandfather, they said, guided the North American archaeologist
Mark Harrington at the turn of the century.

The women's features had been measured for a study in 1964, and they joked about having
high cheekbones when I went to photograph them. One mimicked how the investigators had
marveled at their straight, black hair.

As we drove away, Hernandez apologized for their grandfather guide, whom he "respected",
but whose knowledgeable eye had led Harrington to valuable Indian pieces hidden and carv-
ed in caves. That Harrington took many Indian pieces from here to New York. He even saw-
ed off a stalagmite statue and carted it away," he said.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:23:06 pm








Over several days, often with Hartmann, I visited and interviewed 14 members of five
extended families claiming a Cuban Indian ethnicity. Besides Punta Maisi and Los Arados,
people received me along the Rio Toa valley north of Baracoa, along the banks of the
Yumuri, east of the city, and in a barrio of Baracoa itself.

To the unpracticed eye, but for their looks, many of my interviewees appeared much like
other Cuban campesinos. Among all of them I found a casual sense of Indian identity, and
most retained important aspects of physical and spiritual culture.

On the way from Baracoa to Punta Maisi, we stopped at a guajiro cemetery near the coast.
An indigenous touch: many of the simple graves were covered by small, thatch "houses" and surrounded by large sea shells. The shells (Strombus gigas Linneo), known in the area by their
Taino name, guamo, are believed to protect the deceased from bothersome spirits; guajiro
families still use them to call one another across remote valleys.

One evening in Baracoa, I witnessed a communal dance, kept alive by only one Indian caserio
at Guirito. The dance, called quiriba, has been passed down the generations by several relat-
ed families. The quiriba certainly has French elements to it (many French people settled in the
general region of Oriente after the black revolution in Haiti in the mid-1800s), but is significant-
ly unique in that it has survived within an Indian community.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:26:58 pm








All the agriculturalists confirmed, with great certainty, the practice of planting root crops
by the waning moon (luna menquante). The assertion is that both yucca and boniato (a
native sweet potato) will "rot early" (se pica temprano) if not planted by the waning moon.

In cutting wood, too, local guajiros argue that it will rot faster if cut in the full or ascending
moons. One old man near the banks of the Rio Toa spoke of fishing by the moon for a fish
called the teti, which is scarce at other times.

At Los Arados, I also visited an elementary school; the principal asked the Indian children
to gather, and about 25 students quickly surrounded us. Some were more reticent than
others, but all affirmed their Indian background. Many of their names corresponded to the
family names identified with Indian-ness.

My questions concentrated on a person's basis or rationale for claiming an Indian identity.
All pointed to family history: "We are an Indian family. It has been always that way." "We
do Indian things, like my mother, she drinks from a jicara, nothing else, she won't use a
glass or a cup." "We know the wilderness [manigua]."

Going toward the Punta Maisi lighthouse, I asked Hartmann about the reluctance of some
Cuban academics to accept the Indian identity in this area of Cuba. He responded, "Well,
even Rivero, he refuses to say the people here are Indians - he defines them as

                                               'descendants'

of Indians. It is common to say that there are no Indians left in Cuba."

"But I am here," Pedro Hernandez said from the back seat. "Indians or descendants, it's the
same thing. They, the old Tainos, were here. Now, we, my generation, we are here. We
don't live exactly like they did, but we are still here."


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:28:53 pm








Not only Hernandez, but everyone interviewed expressed interest in a conference or

congress of Indian families.


The idea that people with Indian backgrounds and identity could meet and exchange

oral histories and natural knowledge was appealing to everyone I interviewed.


Several people had heard about the Columbus Quincentenary, coming up in 1992, and

expressed interest in some kind of event to observe the occasion.



Since the aboriginal ancestors of this region, the Taino, were the first American Indians

to greet Columbus, the idea seemed pertinent.



Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:34:01 pm








                                               The Legend of Yumuri





At Guirito, I talked with Dora Romero Palmero, 78; her son, Pedro Cobas Romero, 53; and
her daughter, Mirta, 48. Grandmother Dora, as with Maria Cobas Hernandez in Los Arados,
had been a midwife and was still a well-known herbalist. Dora Romero, from an Indian family,
had earlier married a Cobas. Her son, Pedro Cobas Romero, was a cousin to Pedro Hernandez
Cobas from Los Arados - yet the two had never met.

Pedro Cobas said, "Our people have suffered a lot. I myself went to work as a boy of six,
picking coffee. That was the time you started work then. The adults in our families recognized
each other as Indian, but we children were directed not to talk about it.

He retold a legend about the promontory at the mouth of the Yumuri, a river that flows into
the Atlantic not far from Guirito. It is said that during the Spanish conquest the Indian families
who could not escape enslavement by the conquistadors climbed the mountain and cursed their pursuers. Entire families committed suicide by jumping. "How horrible that was," Hartmann commented. "But it is understandable, a proper thing," Cobas responded. "The conquistadors
treated them so bad in the mines and the fields. After they had lost in combat, this was their
only way left to defeat the Spanish, by killing themselves. That way they could not be humiliated.
And they died with their dignity."

Cobas also retold the stories of Hatuey and Guama, two Taino caciques who led the wars
against the early Spanish conquest. "Hatuey was from what is now Haiti, but Guama was a
cacique here. Hatuey crossed over to warn Guama and other chiefs about the evil of the
Spanish, what they had done to the Tainos on that island. They say Hatuey brought a
basket of gold in his canoe and told our people this gold was the only god the Spanish
adored."

Both Hatuey and Guama were killed. but not before leading a 10-year resistance to the
conquest. Other uprisings occurred in the area into the late 1500s. "They say a Spanish
friar wanted to baptize Hatuey as the soldiers got ready to burn him at the stake," Cobas
said. "He informed Hatuey that if baptized as a Christian, he would go to Heaven; but Hatuey,
who despised the Christians, refused the baptism. He preferred to go to hell, he said."


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:39:01 pm







                                                 The Way of the Yerbas





Three older women, all grandmothers of extended families, discussed herbal traditions with me.
"Green medicine," as their traditional knowledge is now called in Cuba, is of great interest to
the government, which is presently testing herbal substances in medical laboratories in San-
tiago and Havana.

The tropical fecundity of the region generates a lush plant life, much of which is named with
Indian words. The grandmothers. were slow at first to reveal their knowledge, but warmed to
the subject as we established mutual respect. Walking with Dora Romern around her bohio in
Guirito, I noted what I could as she pointed out small herbs and specific trees with medicinal
properties. With each plant, she explained when and how to pick it, and what part of the plant
to use and how to use it. No longer an active midwife (government doctors, who provide free
medical care even in these remote parts, have pushed aside the traditional midwifery), Romero
claims to have delivered more than 200 infants in her time, mostly cousins, daughters, and grand-
daughters of her extended family. I asked both Romero and Aleida Hernandez about the
source of their herbal traditions. "From my mother," Romero said. "From the grand-mothers,"
Hernandez responded. It was Hernandez, too, in Los Arados, who first pointed out the wild
tobacco plant growing on a trail behind her house.

The tobacco was most important to me, in that it is a peculiarly American plant, used by many
Indian people in spiritual ceremonies. I asked her if she used the tobacco in any way.

She looked away. "My father smoked tobacco," she said. "He liked the cigar" (el tabaco).

I said, "Not just to smoke, like anybody does. Many people smoke tabacos in Cuba. But the
tobacco plant itself, do you use it as a connection?"

"For the collection of the little leaves from the plants," she said quickly.

"Yes?"

"An offering," she said (una ofrenda). "To the mother plant. We give her the little seeds of the tabaco.~'

"So. you offer it to the plant or herb you are going to pick?"

"Yes, that is to ask the permission," she said. "So the cocimiento does you good."

These responses indicated the perpetuation of a rather ancient indigenous practice of the
Western Hemisphere: the use of tobacco, leaf, seed, as a communication to spirit beings or
the Creator. Often the tobacco is burnt or is left, wrapped in small bundles, in designated
places. In Aleida Cobas' case, it was a "leaving" of small tobacco seeds to the mother" plant.
The grandmother asserted that the "plants know" and can "help you or hurt you," depending
on how you approach them.

Later, with Dora Romero at Guirito, and in yet another instance, with the old couple by the
Rio Toa, both Hartmann and I would hear of a similar use of tobacco as a spiritual gift to the
medicinal plants.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:41:04 pm








                                                          Future Work





A relatively short visit yielded good preliminary information for the continuing study of
Cuban aboriginal customs still vital among a widespread, genealogically continuous
population of Taino-Arawak ancestry.

A contemporary people, counting many small agriculturalists among them and with valu-
able knowledge of tropical flora and fauna, the Indo-Cuban families of eastern Oriente
are descendants of the first American indigenous people to greet Columbus.



José Barreiro is editor-in-chief of Northeast Indian Quarterly at Cornell University.



Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:45:14 pm







Notes





1.  Joseiio Veloz. interviews with the author. 1983, 1989. Camaguey is an agricultural region.
Many of the traditions of the guajiro country culture in Camaguey are quite similar to those
found in the Baracoa area. The term guajiro is synonymous in Cuba with campesino or country-
man-peasant. There are contending schools of thought on the etymology of the word, but
everyone agrees it is deeply rooted. Caribbean scholar Jose Juan Arrom gives it a Taino etymo-
logy. meaning "one of us." It would have been the term applied to the new mestizo generation
by the Taino elders. Some scholars, including Fernando Ortiz. point to a Vucatec, Carib. or Co-
lombian coastal origin for the term, though all concur that guajiro describes what is most auto-
chthonous in the increasingly transculturated Cuban identity. Return.


2.  As recently as 18 June 1989 ("Indians of Cuba." Granma Newspaper), a Cuban historian.
Marta Rey, asserted that the Indian families are limited to two families. the Rojas and the
Ramirez. She is in error. Rey proclaims the Indian families are too racially mixed to be called
Indians. and states. with unwarranted rigidity. "There are no absolutely legitimate Indians
left in our country."  Return.


3.  Havana linguistics professor Sergio Valdes Bernal later pointed out about 200 active
words of Arawak origin in the fauna, flora, and topography of the region. Arrom, in conver-
sation with the author, thought Valdes' estimate conservative. See "Indoamericanismos
no aruacos en el espanol de Cuba," by Sergio Valdes Bernal, in Ciencias Sociales (Havana.
1978). and "Aportes antillanos a espanol de America," by Jose J. Arrom, in Areito 7 (27).
Return.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 26, 2008, 07:47:10 pm






References





Dumont H.
1922 Antropologia y patologia camparadas de los negros esclavor. I. Castellanos, trans. Colleccion Cubana de libros y documentos ineditos o raros. Vol. 2. Havana.

Dunn. 0. and J.E. Kelley, Jr.
1989 The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America, 1492-1493. Oklahoma City: University of Oklahoma Press.

Marti, J.
1964 Obras completas: Viajes. diarios. cronicas. jiucios. notas. Tomo 19. Havana: Editorial Nacional de Cuba.

Moya. F.P.
1945 Los Indios de Cuba en sus tiempos historicos. Havana: Imprenta "Editorial Siglo XX."

Nunez Jimenez, A.
1963 Geografia de Cuba. 3d ed. Havana: Editors Pedagogica.

Rivero de la Calle, M.
1966 Las culturas aborigenes de Cuba. Havana. Editora Universitaria.
1978 Cuba arqueologica. Santiago de Cuba: Editorial Oriente.

Rodriguez Ferrer. M.
1876 Naturaleza y civilizacion de la grandiosa isla de Cuba. Tomo 1. Madrid: Imprenta de J. Noguera.
Tejedor, 0.
1987 Have Cuban Aborigines Really Disappeared? Granma. 24 May.


http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/014.html

http://www.charliet.net/CubaJan2004/Museum/Museum.htm
TAINO CAVE MUSEUM


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 01:28:59 pm
(http://newsgrist.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/16cuba1span.jpg)

Huts have been reconstructed near the site as a heritage center.










                     Humble Brass Was Even Better Than Gold to a 16th-Century Tribe in Cuba





 Institute of Archaeology,
University College
London


By JENNIFER PINKOWSKI
Published: January 16, 2007

Because of its otherworldly brilliance, the 16th-century Taíno Indians of Cuba called it turey,
their word for the most luminous part of the sky.




(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/01/16/science/cuba.1.190.jpg)


Top:

One of only two gold pieces found in two dozen burial sites in the
Taíno village of El Chorro de Maíta, Cuba.

Bottom:

Lace tags found in Cuba.



They adored its sweet smell, its reddish hue, its exotic origins and its dazzling iridescence,
qualities that elevated it to the category of sacred materials known as guanín.

Local chieftains wore it in pendants and medallions to show their wealth, influence and
connection to the supernatural realm. Elite women and children were buried with it.

What was this treasured stuff? Humble brass — specifically, the lace tags and fasteners
from Spanish explorers’ shoes and clothes, for which the Taíno eagerly traded their local
gold.

A team of archaeologists from University College London and the Cuban Ministry of Science,
Technology and Environment came to these conclusions by analyzing small brass tubes
found in two dozen burial sites in the Taíno village of El Chorro de Maíta in northeastern
Cuba, according to a recent paper in The Journal of Archaeological Science.

The graves mostly date to the late 15th and early 16th centuries, when waves of gold-
hungry conquistadors landed on Caribbean shores. Within decades, the Taíno, like their
neighbors the Carib and the Arawak, were largely wiped out by genocide, slavery and
disease.

But the archaeologists say this is not the whole picture. Their research — the first syste-
matic study of metals from a Cuban archaeological site — focuses on one of the few indi-
genous settlements ever found that date from the period after the arrival of Europeans.
The scientists say the finds add important detail and nuance to a history of the Caribbean
long dominated by the first-person reportage of the Europeans themselves.

“It’s certainly true that the arrival of the Europeans was in the short term devastating,”
said Marcos Martinón-Torres of University College London, the project’s lead researcher.
“But instead of lumping the Taíno in all together as ‘the Indians of Cuba, who were elimi-
nated by the Spaniards,’ we’re trying to show they were people who made choices.

They had their own lives.

They decided to incorporate European goods into their value system.”



Brass first came to the Americas with Europeans.

While a few brass artifacts have been found elsewhere in the Caribbean, no one knows
when and how they were acquired. In contrast, El Chorro, first excavated in the
mid-1980s, is one of the best-preserved sites in Cuba, and its artifacts have a clear
archaeological context.

Training X-rays and microscopes on a half-dozen pendants, Dr. Martinón-Torres and
a Cuban archaeologist, Roberto Valcárcel Rojas, determined the metals’ bulk chemical
composition. It was a mixture of zinc and copper — the elements of brass.

They then used a scanning electron microscope to find the pendants’ unique geoche-
mical signature. All came from Nuremberg, Germany, a center of brass production since
the Middle Ages.

The few other metal artifacts from the cemetery — pendants made from a gold-copper
-silver alloy — probably came from Colombia, where the Taíno are thought to have origi-
nated. Only two tiny gold nuggets, of local origin, were found.

Sixteenth-century portraits in places like the Tate Gallery held further clues. Many sub-
jects wear bootlaces and bodices fastened with objects strikingly like those found in the
graves. Similar objects have been excavated from early colonial settlements, including
Havana and Jamestown, Va.

European accounts said the Taíno traded 200 pieces of gold for a single piece of guanín,
of which brass was the highest form. Yet the residents of El Chorro may not have con-
sidered the trade unfair, said Jago Cooper, a field director for the project. In fact, access
to European brass may have increased the power of local chieftains, hastening the trans-
ition from an egalitarian society to a hierarchical one.

The finds from El Chorro suggest that interaction between the Taíno and the Europeans
may have been more varied than once thought.

“Large European materials being incorporated into their culture, and exotic materials being
used to reflect Taíno beliefs — it’s new, important evidence for what was happening during
contact,” said William F. Keegan, an archaeologist at the University of Florida and the co-
editor of The Journal of Caribbean Archaeology, who was not involved in the research.
“There’s been a tendency to assume the Taínos quickly disappeared due to European dis-
eases and harsh treatment by the Spanish, but there’s increasing evidence that the culture
continued to be vibrant until the middle of the 16th century.”


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 01:51:39 pm








Some of that evidence comes from another site in Cuba:

Los Buchillones, a coastal settlement about 200 miles west of El Chorro de Maíta.

First excavated in 1998 by a Cuban-Canadian team, Los Buchillones is the site of the
only known intact Taíno house. In the last decade, continuing study of the site and
the surrounding region by Mr. Valcárcel Rojas and Mr. Cooper has revealed a commu-
nity with trade networks all over the Greater Antilles that survived into the Spanish
colonial period in the early 17th century.

Clearly, they would have known about Europeans’ presence, but chose to avoid con-
tact, unlike El Chorro’s chieftains. It may have kept them alive longer.

(http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/01/16/science/16cuba4.190.jpg)

Tate Images

A 17th-century portrait of William Style
of Langley, England, shows him wearing
lace tags, above, and other accouter-
ments like those found in Cuba.


Together, the sites hint at an array of tactics not documented by the Europeans.
 “Most accounts seem to be based on the idea that Europeans ‘acted’ and Taíno
‘reacted,’ ” said Elizabeth Graham of University College London, who with her hus-
band, David Pendergast, first excavated Los Buchillones. “In the case of El Chorro
de Maíta, the Taíno were clearly being proactive.”

The finds at El Chorro also help to fill a hole in the study of the Caribbean past created
by Cuba’s political isolation. Archaeology of the island has been little known outside
of its borders since the 1959 revolution. Very few foreign archaeologists have dug
there, and the few field reports published by Cuban archaeologists, mostly trained
by Soviet scholars, are difficult to get outside the country.

In recent years, there have been efforts to bring Cuban archaeology out of the long
shadow cast by the 45-year-old United States sanctions. In 2005, the scholarly vo-
lume Dialogues in Cuban Archaeology assembled a dozen English-language reports in
one place. (In it is a paper Mr. Valcárcel Rojas co-wrote about El Chorro de Maíta.)
The relatively new Journal of Caribbean Archaeology currently has its first Cuban paper
in peer review.

For most American archaeologists, papers published by their international colleagues
are about as close as they are going to get to Cuba these days.

Since 2004, the Bush administration has greatly tightened restrictions on educational
travel to Cuba; programs under 10 weeks are now prohibited.

Last summer, Florida went a step further, banning public universities from spending
money on research in countries the State Department considers state sponsors of
terrorism, including Cuba. Both sets of regulations are being challenged in court.

Last spring, Mr. Valcárcel Rojas was denied a visa to attend the annual Society for
American Archaeology conference in Puerto Rico. Dr. Martinón-Torres and Mr. Cooper
presented the research — which received Cuba’s highest academic prize — without him.

Still, the British-Cuban team is seeking a three-year grant in hopes of uncovering the
trade and social networks that connected El Chorro’s inhabitants — in particular, the
effects of the brass-gold trade on those connections. And there is European behavior
to puzzle out, too.

“We would expect the Europeans to load up with brass in their cargos, but we haven’t
found that brass in Cuba,” Dr. Martinón-Torres said. “It’s possible it hasn’t been reco-
gnized by archaeologists. We expect if both sides were happy with this exchange, there
must be more evidence of it.”


http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/16/science/16cuba.html


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:01:47 pm









                                                  Cuban Indians, Tau Natiaos






by Umfufu - last update: Mar 5, 2003
 
History

(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201494-Indian_History-Cuba.jpg)
                                                       
Indian History





Near Guardelavaca is a place in the mountains where you can visit an Indian Village.

Story goes that a farmer digging for water to gives to his cows, came across some
bones. He burried it again and started to digg a few meter further. Again there were
a lot of bones. The confernement came and saw this was special. And is it. Some of
the bones of the Indian people are still left like they were found, other buried again
and some were taken for more information. From the things they found they made an
 Indian village like it must have been, and the graveyard is still there. The skeletons
were dug up, but left like they were found, so there is no damage been done to the
skeletons found in the aeria.

This picture shows you the possibility of how this Indians came in Cuba.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:09:26 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201495-Indian_Chief-Cuba.jpg)

Indian Chief







Let's smoke



The first site, a Taino village on the northern coast of Cuba now known as Los Buchillones,
has been protected from decay in a layer of clay at the bottom of a shallow lagoon.

Last May a Canadian-Cuban team discovered the nearly intact remains of a Taino dwelling
buried in the muck. It has since located the foundation of as many as 40 structures, most
likely a combination of communal buildings, outbuildings and single-family houses.



The site is so extensive, says David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, that

"There's no doubt that a regional chief would have been based there. It may have been one
of the Taino's major centers."


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:14:25 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201496-Smoking_the_peace_pipe-Cuba.jpg)







Dad of the village



In the 16th century, Hatuey was a powerful Taino Cacique or chieftain, who has since
been considered by many as Cuba's first national hero, although he was originally from
the island of Quisqueya (Domincian Republic).

As a witness to the atrocities by the Spanish Conquistadors against his people and other
Taino communities throughout the island, Cacique Hatuey and his remaining followers fled
to Cuba to escape persecution and a death sentence imposed on them by the Spanish
Crown. After some success assisting in the Taino resistance in Cuba, Cacique Hatuey was
finally captured and sentenced to death.

His execution sentence: being burnt alive at the stake.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:17:42 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201498-Indian_house-Cuba.jpg)







Sick?



As a witness to the atrocities by the Spanish Conquistadors against his people and
other Taino communities throughout the island, Cacique Hatuey and his remaining
followers fled to Cuba to escape persecution and a death sentence imposed on
them by the Spanish Crown.

After some success assisting in the Taino resistance in Cuba, Cacique Hatuey was
finally captured and sentenced to death. His execution sentence: being burnt alive
at the stake.


How this story ended can be read

http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/093.html


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:21:27 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201499-Medicin_man-Cuba.jpg)







The doctor



It may surprise many social scientists that, nestled in the mountains of the
Oriente region, (eastern Cuba), from Baracoa on the southern coast all the
way to the Pico Turquino, the highest mountain in Cuba, there are numerous
caserios, several barrios, and at least one community of more than a thousand
Indian people.

They were called Cubeños by Father Bartolome de Las Casas, who helped
some of their communities to survive, and are descendants of the original
Tainos who met Columbus.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:25:18 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201501-Good_God_of_the_Indians-Cuba.jpg)







Good god



The existence of an Indian population and identity in Cuba was vehemently denied
for most of the twentieth century, primarily by the Cuban scholar Fernando Ortiz.

A liberal professor of Hispanic ancestry, Ortiz saw the question of Indian identity as
a ploy by the right wing to obfuscate black issues. Deeply conversant in all the social
sciences, Ortiz was limited by a Havana base and by a purist, "bell jar" anthropological
perspective of Indian-ness. This perspective maintains that American Indians cease
to be "real" Indians as they adapt Western tools and methods. Indian "cultures" are
assumed frozen at the moment of contact with "the West." Although he framed the
theme of "transculturation" in Cuban letters. Ortiz provided the tree of Cuban multi-
ethnicity with a strictly Ibero-African trunk.

The assertion became that all Cuban Indians, purportedly a weak and timid people,
were exterminated by 1550.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:31:11 pm








Bad god

(doesnt like to be with his pic on site)



Oral history of Yateras Indians corroborates court records indicating that the Indian
caserios at Tiguabos and Palenque and Indian settlements in the San Andres valley
were dispossessed, farm by farm, during the nineteenth century.

Those Indian populations, many with the family names of Rojas and Ramirez, re-
settled in the more remote valley of Yateras and formed a community called Caridad
de los Indios. All along that valley of the Rio Toa and down to Baracoa and Yumuri,
and along the coast to Los Arados, in Punta Maisi, the families of Rojas and Ramirez,
as well as the Romeros, the Cobas, the Riveros, many of the Jimenez, Hernandez,
Veloz, and Cabrera, retain history, identity, and customs rooted in the Cuban Arawak
traditions, the old Taino homeland.


If you like to know more about the indians in the Cuba please have a look at this site:

www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/014.html


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:32:56 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201504-Thinking_indian-Cuba.jpg)







Thinking



The word Taino meant "men of the good," and from most indications the Tainos were
good. The Taino's culture has been designated as "primitive" by western scholarship,
yet it prescribed a lifeway that strove to feed all the people, and a spirituality that
respected, in ceremony, most of their main animal and food sources, as well as the
natural forces like climate, season and weather.

The Taino lived respectfully in a bountiful place.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:36:08 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201505-baby_and_Mum_Indian-Cuba.jpg)







Little baby



In 1511, Diego Velásquez sailed from Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic) to
conquer and colonize Cuba.

Among his soldiers in that expedition was Hernán Cortés, who later conquered Mexico.

When he arrived in Cuba, Velásquez founded the island’s first Spanish settlement at Baracoa.


Meanwhile, reports from the Indians of Hispaniola reached Cuba. Hatuey, a Taíno chief,
had escaped in canoes with about four-hundred men, women and children, to warn the
Cubans about what to expect from the Spaniards. He explained the need to join against
their common enemy, the white men who had inflicted so much suffering on his people.


Go to this page to read more about the heroisme of <a href="http://www.historyofcuba.com/history/sidebar3.htm"target=new window">Hatuey</a>
and when you click on the year 1511 on the bottum of the page, you wil go to a timetable
where you can read the history of Cuba.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:41:02 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201506-Gardening-Cuba.jpg)







Patatoes and veggies



The Timucuans and Apalachees were divided into numerous independent villages,
each with a leader.

An inter tribal dialect developed by traders united the tribes.

In the summer, the planting of maize, squash, and beans dominated village life,
while in the lean months of winter, hunting deer, turkey, and small game in the
forests became important.

Meat was smoked on open grills and stored in pine needle baskets or clay con-
tainers in tribal warehouses.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:46:35 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201508-Farmer-Cuba.jpg)







Farmer

Ku Karey Spiritual Circle, Inc. is dedicated to maintaining Taino culture, its spirituality, and
language, as we connect with all indigenous people of the world.</>


<center><img src="http://www.kukarey.com/images/40_logokukarey.jpg">

<center><font color=darkorange size=-1><b>

The official logo of Ku Karey Spiritual Circle, Inc. is the symbol of the turtle signifying
spiritual food for thought, sustenance and strength.

The six circles representing the waters that purify the Sacred Turtle as it moves through
different oceans.

The waters signifying the six directions.

The outer triangles represent the ancestors of our culture.

The multiple colors represent the cultural diversity of the indigenous people of the world.

The center circle represents the Taino beliefs for an after life.

The large circle signifies Atabey (Mother Earth).

For more information about the real Taino culture go to their page just

http://www.kukarey.com/


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 02:55:51 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201509-Ancient_pictures-Cuba.gif)

Ancient Pictures







Florida



It seems that the Arawak or Taino or Ciboney (three names for the same indian) Indian
were living in Cuba.

The first settlements were found in Florida (USA) and in Mexico.

You better enlarge this picture to see what this indian was looking like and where
he lived in Florida.

All on this page I have found on the internet, except the pictures most of them are
taken by me personally, if not then there is no name on the picture.

When possible I link to pages on the internet.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 03:05:10 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201511-In_the_Indianhouse-Cuba.jpg)








What shall we do



The zemi, as well as dead caciques, have certain powers over the natural world and
 must be dealt with.

Thus these various services are ways of acknowledging their power (worship and
thanksgiving) and at the same time seeking their aid. Because of these powers
there are many Arawak/Taino stories which account for the origins of some ex-
perienced phenomena in myth and or magic.

Several myths had to do with caves. The sun and moon, for example, came out
of caves. Another story tells that the people lived in caves and only came out at
night. One guard was supposed to watch carefully over people to be sure that
they were well divided in the land. However, one day he was late in returning and
the sun caught him and turned him into a stone pillar.
(Shades of Lot's wife!)

Remeber the good and bad god I have showed you, well its call a Zemi.
Its a god in one piece, one site represent the good the other half the bad.



More stories about the Zemi and the life still of the Taino can be read at


http://www.webster.edu/~corbetre/haiti/history/precolumbian/tainover.htm


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 06:58:10 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201514-Dog_and_Indianboy-Cuba.jpg)







Doggies and Indianboy



Archeological discoveries and studies of village sites and burial places indicate that
there existed at least three cultures in Cuba: the Guanahatabeyes, the Ciboneyes,
and the Taínos.

The Guanahatabey was Cuba's first culture.

Cuba's second culture were the Ciboney.

The Taínos occupied the central and eastern parts of Cuba, as well as most of Hispaniola,
Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.

More info or become a member of Liceo Cubano on this


http://www.liceocubano.com/Eng/Circular/Edicion_IV/Inhabitants.asp


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 27, 2008, 07:03:38 pm
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201521-Historical_foundings-Cuba.jpg)

http://www.elmuseo.org/taino/







Taino culture was dominant throughout the Caribbean, a sea and island world that
was in turn cradle of Taino civilization.

The original Caribbeans spoke Arawak.

The people of the Arawak language family still comprise one of the more widespread
American Indigenous cultures.

Aspects of the animistic and material culture of the Taino-Arawak have been adopted
by the mestizo populations of the Caribbean.

The naked people Columbus first sighted lived in an island world of rainforests and
tropical weather, and adventure and fishing legends at sea. They could build a dwelling
from a single tree (the Royal Palm) and from several others (gommier, ceiba), a canoe
that could carry more than one hundred people.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 10:55:00 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201516-Baby_skeleton-Cuba.jpg)

BABY'S SKELETON







Baby skeleton





- Qu'emi means Rabbit

- Tanama means Butterfly

- Ita means Don't know

- Macu' means Big Eyes



I can believe my own eyes, I found a dictionary on the internet....when I started this page I knew as much as there is with the first picture (and a little more) but now, almost finished I know more about Taino's then about the Netherlands.....

If you like to speak more Taino see the


http://members.dandy.net/~orocobix/tedict.html


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 10:59:25 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201519-BW_pictures_of_excevations-Cuba.jpg)

B/W PICTURES OF EXCAVATIONS







What happend



This picture shows you one by one how the skeletons were digged up. On the right of this
pictures you see Yovani, he was our guide and he was a good one, although i forgot most
of his words. (but they were more like...this is the doctor, this is a hunter, and you are in
a cabin now..)

He was our guide cause he became a friend when an other friend of us meet him in Cuba
the other year


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:04:26 am










GOLD !

Our knowledge of the Taíno comes from several sources.

Sixteenth-century Spanish chronicles provide incomplete but crucial information about

Taíno society. Intensive archaeological excavation of Taíno sites, which began about
1950, has unearthed many types of pottery and artifacts, confirmed Taíno burial customs,
and revealed what their ancient communities looked like.

The Taíno were the dominant culture in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba,
Jamaica and the Bahamas from about 1200 AD to the arrival of Columbus in 1492.

For more art then there was found on the skelons place you can have a look at this page,
and recover some simular gods !



http://www.elmuseo.org/taino/
TIP !! Its a great page with a lot of info!


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:06:01 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201524-Pieve_of_the_building-Cuba.jpg)







Scary?




Art and Archaeology of Pre-Columbian Cuba
(Pitt Latin American Series)
by Ramon Dacal Moure, Manuel Rivero De La Calle,

Daniel H. Sandweiss
Our Price: $35.00
Availability: On Order; usually ships within 1-2 weeks.
Hardcover (December 1996) Univ of Pittsburgh Pr (Txt);
ISBN: 082293955X

This is the first English-language publication to synthesize Cuban prehistory in over fifty
years, the book covers five millennia of human life in Cuba.

It features the two kinds of prehistoric art found on the island: that of original settlers,
the Ciboneys, and that of the Tainos, who had largely replaced the Ciboneys by the time
of Columbus.

The authors are both professors at Havana University. With forward by Thor Heyerdahl.

FERCO provided support for this publication.




Wanna order this or other books about the Taino Indians, go to this


http://www.iluminated.com/taino.

and learn all about the Tainos.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:10:39 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201527-Skeleton-Cuba.jpg)







Skeletons




Most skeletons are showing coloured signs. Each sign is telling something about what
is found at the person who was burried. On some persons they found gold, clothes,
copper, grain, seeds and amulets.

Its worth going to this cemetery.

You can go to this place with the little train that comes along most of the Hotels.

You will also see the local doctor, the farmer, a school and plenty of local people.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:18:17 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201530-A_lot_of_skeletons-Cuba.jpg)







More of them




This skeletons were found like this, the only thing the people did was digging them up
and show them to the rest of the world. Some other who were found in the neighbour-
hood were taken for research.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:21:37 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201532-Princess-Cuba.jpg)







Princess




They think this was the princess of the tribal.

She has the most coloured arrows on her body. Maybe she died giving birth to a child,
cause her body shows this.

On her body they found gold....which maybe comes all the way from Peru or Mexico
(gold isn't something that is found in Cuba).


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:26:51 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201534-Where_to_have_a_look-Cuba.jpg)







Sleepy??




When we went to Cuba in 1999 we had to pay $1 to see the Indian village and $1 to
see the skeletons. We had to pay $1 to make pictures and again $1 to make a video.......

in 2000 when we went again we had to pay $3 for the Indian village, $5 for the skeletons,
$3 to make pictures and $5 to make a video (and this is per person and if you like to make
pictures on the other side you have to pay again !!!!!!!!!!!!).

So beware of what you pay, do or say you will do.

But its worth seeing all this.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:30:05 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201537-Map_of_Indian_homes-Cuba.gif)







Map




Arawak (or Taino) Indians inhabiting Cuba when Columbus landed on the island in 1492
died from diseases brought by sailors and settlers.

By 1511, Spaniards under Diego Velásquez had established settlements.

Havana's superb harbor made it a common transit point to and from Spain.

Christopher Columbus, whose name literally means "Christ-bearing colonizer," wrote
in his diary shortly after the landfall that he and his sailors saw "naked men" (there
were also women), whom they found "very healthy-looking."

Landing at Guanahani, in the Bahamas, and sailing on to Cuba and Bohio (Haiti/Santo
Domingo), renamed Española, Columbus soon noted a widespread language and system
of beliefs and lifeways. Conferring with various caciques (chiefs), he heard them call
themselves "Taino." (Tyler 1988)


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:34:39 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201539-Indiancity-Cuba.jpg)







Village




Taino culture was dominant throughout the Caribbean, a sea and island world that
was in turn cradle of Taino civilization. The original Caribbeans spoke Arawak.

The people of the Arawak language family still comprise one of the more widespread
American Indigenous cultures.

Aspects of the animistic and material culture of the Taino-Arawak have been adopt-
ed by the mestizo populations of the Caribbean.

The naked people Columbus first sighted lived in an island world of rainforests and
tropical weather, and adventure and fishing legends at sea.

They could build a dwelling from a single tree (the Royal Palm) and from several
others (gommier, ceiba), a canoe that could carry more than one hundred people.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:37:58 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201543-How_to_wash_your_hair-Cuba.jpg)







The River




The houses (bohios) were (and are today among Dominican and Cuban Cuajiros) made
of palm tree, trunk and thatch lashed together in a rectangle or sometimes a circle pattern.

The wood of the Royal Palm is still today considered the most resistant to tropical rot,
lasting untreated as long as ninety years.

The Tainos lived in the shadows of a diverse forest.

We know that their world would appear to us, as it did to the Spanish of the fifteenth
century, as a tropical paradise.

It was not heaven on earth, but it was one of those places that was reasonably close.


Title: Re: Indians in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:42:46 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201546-Dance_little_lady_dance-Cuba.jpg)







Dance




The people lived in small, clean villages of neatly appointed thatch dwellings along rivers
inland and on the coasts. They were a handsome people who had no need of clothing for
warmth.

They liked to bathe often.

They painted their bodies with earth dyes and adorned themselves with shells and metals.

Men and women chiefs often wore gold in the ears and nose, or as pendants around the neck.
Some had tattoos.


From all early descriptions the Tainos were a healthy people who showed no signs of distress
from hunger or want. The Tainos, whose color was olive-brown to copper, reminded Columbus
of the people of the Canary Islands.

In parts of Cuba and Santo Domingo, some of the caciques, village or clan and nation chiefs,
wore a type of tunic on ceremonial occasions, but they saw no apparent need to cover their
breasts or genitals and they were totally natural about it.

The Taino had plenty of cotton, which they wove into mats, hammocks and small sails and numerous "bejucos" or fiber ropes.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:48:00 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201548-Dance_and_music-Cuba.jpg)







Music




The Taino islands provided a vast array of edible fruits.

The Arawaks made specific use of many types of trees and plants from an estimated
floral and faunal range of 5,800 species. Further upriver in the villages, they saw large
fields of corn, yucca, beans and fruit orchards covering whole valleys.

The Taino were a sea-going people and took pride in their courage on the high ocean
as well as their skill in finding their way around their world. They visited one another
constantly.

Columbus was often astonished at finding lone Indian fishermen sailing in the open ocean
as he made his way among the islands.



More good information can be found on this page


http://www.hcc-online.com/floridahistory/history/indian.htm


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:52:52 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201551-Music-Cuba.jpg)







Lets hear it

Among Tainos, the women and some of the men harvested corn, nuts, cassava,
and other roots.

They appear to have practiced a rotation method in their agriculture.

Boys hunted fowl from flocks that "darkened the sun," according to Columbus, and
the men forded rivers and braved ocean to hunt and fish for the abundant, tree-
going jutia, the succulent manati, giant sea turtles and countless species of other
fish, turtles and shellfish.

Around every bohio, Columbus wrote, there were flocks of tame ducks (yaguasa),
which the people roasted and ate.

Father Bartolome de las Casas, the Spanish friar who arrived on Columbus's heels
and lived to denounce the Spanish cruelty toward Indians into the next century.

Tainos along the coasts of Espanola and southern Cuba kept large circular corrals
made of reeds which they filled with fish and turtles by the thousands.
In parts of Puerto Rico and Cuba, Jivaro and Cuajiro fishermen used this method into
the 1950s.

The early Taino and Ciboney of Cuba were observed catching fish and turtles by
way of a remora (suction fish) tied by the tail.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 11:57:43 am
(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/201554-Indian_meeting-Cuba.jpg)







Meeting




The Taino world of 1492 was a thriving place.

According to archeological evidence, the earliest human fossil in the region is
dated at 15,000 years.

The Taino existence was not threatened more than a modern American's existence
is threatened by street crime.

Bohio was the Taino name for Españiola, it means "home" in Taino.

It is true that Caribbean Indian peoples fought with each other, taking prisoners and
some ritually eating parts of enemy warriors, but even more often they accommodated
each other and as "discovery" turned to conquest, they allied as "Indians," or, more
properly, as Caribbean Indigenous peoples against Spanish troops.

As a peaceful civilization, the Taino caciques apparently made diplomatic use of their
agricultural bounty to appease and tame more militaristic groups.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 12:03:09 pm
                                                                 (http://cache.virtualtourist.com/p/virtualtourist.gif)


(http://cache.virtualtourist.com/m/1/59702.jpg)




                                             "Cuban Indians, Tau Natiaos by Umfufu"




a Cuba Travel Page by Umfufu



See the Entire Cuba Travel Guide
 


 

Umfufu:   

"When God created man,.........she was only kidding!"





Real Name: Yvette
Lives In: Bleiswijk, NL
Member Since: Jan 07, 2001
VT Rank: 400

 
  Umfufu's Travel Pages





 > View Larger Map



* Holguín, CU  34  104

* Banes, CU  39  53

* Punta Cana, DO  42  175

* Santo Domingo, DO  13  79

» more...


http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/c2da/


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:10:38 pm
(http://www.pathcom.com/~cancuba/extinct.jpeg)








                                         "We Are NOT Extinct": Indians in Cuba





Dr. José Barreiro,
American Indian Program
Cornell University,
Ithaca

In these eastern mountains of Cuba, region of Baracoa, Guatanamo Province, there are
several enclaves of indigenious comunity culture that have survived 500 years of coloni-
zation. This remote and yet culturally important area of Cuba has been characterized by
its historically rural quality and its major historical import to Cuban movements of autho-
cthonous liberation.

While the continued existence of several Native populations appears in the deep scientific
record (Marti, Rousse, Arrom, Rivero de la Calle, Nuez), the assertion of complete extinct-
ion of Taino Indians in the Caribbean became commonplace in the academy throughout
the twentieth century. Recently, however, some of these isolated Native groups have be-
gun to represent themselves within Cuba and to communicate with other Native groups
around the hemisphere.

                                   (http://www.centrelink.org/resurgence/reinarojas.jpg)

                                         Reina Rojas Ramirez,
                                         Baracoa, Cuba,


Cuban and international documentation was initiated, with several articles appearing in
scientific journals. Most prominently, the Taino community at Caridad de Los Indios, near
Guantanamo, has retained various Native dances and songs, as well as considerable oral
history and understanding of ecological relationships.

There are as well, Native populations near Bayamo, Santiago and Punta Maisi in this east-
ern-most triangle of Cuba. As a result of the indigenous revitalization now in process, the
several Native-based community enclaves are now reaching out to each other to generate
an awarenes of the remaining Taino identity and culture in the area.

While the Taino-descendant population is not dominant, this is a region of Cuba that has
maintained the most sustainable indigenous agricultural traditions (the conuco system)
and features an "old Cuba" flavor. The agricultural base of the region is largely self-suffi-
cient farming, with families maintaining gardens and small animals. The Baracoa-Guanta-
namo region is a great living microcosm of the Cuban ethnogensis, rooted in the tri-
raciality of Indigenous (Taino), Spanish, and African peoples. The natural history of the
region offers nature walks in tropical forests, cultural exchanges with Native communities,
ocean fishing and snorkelling and cultural/historical tours tracing the route of Columbus


www.pathcom.com/~cancuba/articles/extinct.html - 4k -


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:26:01 pm
(http://cuba-junky.com/foto-v/vin-cuevadelche.jpg)







                                             Lost in the smoke of time





Reina María Rodríguez, Cuban poet and novelist, author of La Foto del Invernadero (Casa de las Americas prize, 1998) and Te daré de comer como a los pájaros

(La Habana, Letras Cubanas 2000).
(Source: UNESCO.org)





 The Viñales Valley, near the western tip of Cuba, is a magical landscape of hills and
caves where life centres on growing tobacco. A Cuban writer recalls discovering this
World Heritage site through books well before setting foot there.

In the west side of the Cordillera de Guaniguanico, at the foot of the Sierra de los
Órganos, lies a region of limestone outcrops known as mogotes. These huge round-
topped hummocks rising out of the ground emerged from the sea more than two million
years ago and were formed during the Jurassic period. Born in the vicissitudes of history,
the land still bears the marks of precipices, chasms and seams carved out by erosion.

Tobacco grows in the valley—strange red leaves almost starved by the salty soil but
brought to life by permanent sunshine. 

 I always dreamed of the Viñales Valley but never ventured there. In school I could
touch the lush tobacco leaves pictured in textbooks and see the caterpillars that live
off them, slowly and avidly taking on the aroma of tobacco before devouring the plant.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:33:56 pm







My life was that of the concrete city, though the sensation left by dew on my hand
was so strong that I still recall it as if it were real. The leaf, bright and green like a
child, turns a deep toasted brown before it is smelt, chewed or burnt, becoming like
time itself and ending up, in old age, as wisps of smoke.

(http://www.regent-cuba.com/images/080-TABA.JPG)

Farmers, most of whom came from the Canary Islands, arrived around 1800 and began
cultivating tobacco across the region, which is commonly known as the Vuelta Abajo.
Two hundred years later, tobacco is still the lifeblood of the Viñales Valley, which pro-
duces 661,000 quintals of it every year. Only the best leaves get sent to Havana,
where hundreds of workers called torcedores and anilladores handroll them into cigars.

Cuba produces 65 million cigars a year, packed in cedarwood boxes and exported to
the entire world.

Growing tobacco calls for patience.

Some even say that the plant grows better if you speak to it.

Once the seeds are sown (between October and December), the moment to reap and
pack is of critical importance, marking all the difference between acidity, sourness or
waste-product.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:36:56 pm






The valley is like its tobacco—discreet, thrifty and tranquil, stuck in the same serene
pocket of time as its villagers.

People who have never been to the Viñales Valley, in the Cuban province of Piñar del
Río, should know that it boasts a unique variety of plant and animal life, some of it in
danger of extinction, such as the cork palm, the agabe, the macusey hembra, the alli-
gator oak and the dragon tree. Unaccustomed to the ways of civilization and to music
unlike their own songs, the valley’s birds also come in a kaleidoscope of species, with
names as evocative as the pine-forest grass quit, the mockingbird and the totí.






(http://www.redhoteles.com/cuba/c122/img/cuevaindio.jpg)






Exploring caves to the tune of haunting tales



It was here that the Guanajatabey Indians built their primitive homes in caves hollo-
wed out of the limestone mogotes, where relics of this nomadic people have been
found along with fossils of Pleistocene mammals embedded in the rock. Deep inside
the caves, albino fish swim and butterfly bats flit.
 

Some caverns, such as the Cueva del Indio, rediscovered in 1920, have close to four
kilometres of underground streams which can be explored in a small dinghy so long as
you don’t mind listening to all the scary tales the peasant guides love to recount.

As the streams slowly work through the limestone and mix with the mogote clay
falling from above, they become solutions of minerals and coppery earth, both of
which are then deposited on the roofs and walls of the caves, turning the surfaces
ochre milky green, rendering the scenery all the more mysterious.

We are only 150 kilometres from Havana, but millions of years away.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:40:17 pm
(http://www.tommyimages.com/Stock_Photos/Caribbean/Cuba/Cuban_Countryside/slides/Cuba_2842-Vinales_Cave_Magote.jpg)








Where Nature invites painters to take place



 Returning to Viñales is a bit like returning to a museum.

A silence hangs over it, a mysterious calm that dwells in the early morning mist.
In Viñales village we visit a church built in the last century with sombre pews that
have been repaired countless times.

The musty odour mingles with the smell of warmed-up food. Heavy rainfall in the
wet season has spoiled the splendid facades of the houses, which now look like
faded mosaics.

And Cuban hands, always touching and caressing things, cherishing the past,
have worn out the fine wooden railings at the front of the houses. As in every
village in my country, Viñales also has a central square—a byword for order amid
confusion.

(http://lh6.google.com/walvisch/RqUB79V9xvI/AAAAAAAABb4/5Jo7W9pElzg/Fotos%20Jaime%20049.jpg?imgmax=512)

Four kilometres from the village, on one side of the Dos Hermanas (Two Sisters)
mogote, stands the Mural of Prehistory, a impressive 120-metre high fresco paint-
ed by Cuban artist Leovigildo González, disciple of the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera.
Depicted are the animals and other creatures that lived in the valley in prehistoric
times.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 04:47:45 pm
(http://i63.photobucket.com/albums/h145/enaj000/Cuba_Viales2.jpg)








But how does one take leave of the valley?



Through its cliffs, its hollows?

Through the passage in a mogote and its columns of gentle stalagmites?
 
Through the long line of big-belly palm trees with their fiery plumes lit by summer?

Through its chattering streams full of blind fish?

Through the echoes of cockfights left in an old sugar factory?

Or through a cheap painting on the yellow wall of a restaurant somewhere in
Havana’s tourist district?


Which path home is best?


http://cuba-junky.com/pinar-del-rio/vinales-home.htm


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 28, 2008, 05:35:25 pm
                                                  (http://www.uctp.org/uctplogo.gif)

                                                       
 
The UCTP flag represents a unified Taino Nation reaching out in solidarity across the waters in all the sacred directions to our relations on other islands, lands, and beyond. The flag symbol was created for
and gifted to the UCTP By Taino Artist: Marie "Nana" Crooke.







                                       United Confederation of Taino People
                                                   Honoring Cuba





(http://www.uctp.org/CacikeFransico.jpg)

Cuban Taíno Indian leader Kasike Panchito Ramirez

Photo: R. Borrero © Copyright 1998


The UCTP would like to express our great appreciation to Kasike Francisco "Panchito" Ramirez
of Caridad de los Indios and all our Taíno Indian sisters and brothers in "Cubanakan" for their
commitment to defend our shared ancestral heritage and for promoting ideal of unity among
all Caribbean Indigenous Peoples.


La Confederación Unida del Pueblo Taíno quisiera expresar nuestro gran aprecio a Kasike Fran-
cisco "Panchito" Ramírez y todas nuestras hermanas y hermanos Taínos de Caridad de los
Indios en Cuba para su dedicación a defender nuestra herencia ancestral y para promover la
unidad entre toda las indígenas del Caribe.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 07:14:32 am
(http://www.uctp.org/TainoWomens.gif)

Los Taínos Aun Vivimos:
Taíno Women Dance in Baracoa, Cuba.

Photo: R. Borrero




(http://www.uctp.org/NanikiinCubas.jpg)

Boriken Taíno leader, Naniki Reyes Ocasio
(center) meets with members of the

Taíno Indian Community of Caridad de los Indios
in Baracoa, Cuba.

Photo: R. Borrero


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 07:21:34 am







Additional Resources - Recursos Adicionales

We are Not Extinct: Cuba's First Nations
by Dr. Jose Barreiro


A Note On Tainos: Whither Progress?
by Dr. Jose Barreiro


Smithsonian returns Taíno Indian remains to descendants in Cuba
http://www.rose-hulman.edu/~delacova/taino/taino-reburial.htm

UCTP Story: Taíno Repatriation in Cuba
http://www.uctp.org/Volume5/JulySeptr2002/index.html


The Story of Cuban Taíno Indian Leader Hatuey
http://www.uctp.org/Volume1/issue1/UCTP_Newsletter_-_January_.html


Taíno Nation Live and Strong
http://www.indiancountry.com/article/466

Cuba - Taíno Link to the Maya / Relaciones entre los Maya y el pueblo Taíno:
http://www.rom.on.ca/digs/belize/cuba.html

Taíno Find in Cuba 1999 (Arqueología Cubano)::
http://www.archaeology.org/9911/newsbriefs/taino.html

http://www.islandsmag.com/islnd98/logbook.html

http://www.rom.on.ca/news/releases/public.php3?mediakey=jncygqam0i

Taíno Find in Cuba 1998 (Arqueología Cubano):
http://www.archaeology.org/9809/newsbriefs/taino.html


Taíno Voices: Indigenous Legacies
http://www.pathcom.com/~cancuba/articles/voices.html


1597 map of Cuba / Mapa del 1597
http://www.athenapub.com/mpcubaMr.htm


Map of the Voyage of Grijalva (1518)
http://www.athenapub.com/mpgrij1.htm


The Grijalva Expedition (1518)
http://www.athenapub.com/grijalv1.htm


"Duho" or carved effigy seat from a Taíno town in Cuba
http://www.athenapub.com/duho2.htm


Model Taíno Village Proposed at Jardines del Rey
http://www.granma.cu/ingles/diciembre02/lu30/aeropt.html


‘Diccionario de Voces Taína’ (Taíno Dictionary)
http://www.uctp.org/VocesIndigena.html

Taíno: Virtual Exhibition on Cigars
http://www.cigarnexus.com/nationalcigarmuseum/exhibit1/


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 07:23:13 am





(http://www.uctp.org/Image20.gif)




(http://www.uctp.org/Image21.gif)


Depictions of Taíno Indians on Cuban Cigar Box labels 

Pinturas de indios Taíno en etiquetas de cajas del cigarros cubanos


http://www.uctp.org/cubar.htm


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 07:38:15 am








By 1527, Spanish control of the Greater Antilles* was complete and some ten million

Taino-Arawak Indians had perished.



The few survivors, in their infinite grief, spoke of The Great Dying of their peoples.

They did not know then that the dying would go on and on as the Spaniards and rival
Europeans, still lusting after conquest and gold, swept like a demon plague through
Middle and South America.

As the year 1600 dawned the holocaust had engulfed a further 95 million Indians.

(*Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica and Puerto Rico).







"Today, there are 40 million Indians in the Americas.

In many ways they still struggle against suppression,
racism, and subtler forms of genocide and assimilation.

But now they are strong of will and purpose and are
experiencing powerful ethnic resurgence."




 Rigoberta Menchu* in a foreword to Phillip Wearne's
marvellous book, 'Return of the Indian', 1996. writes:



"We are moving into the light of a new era.

After so many years of waiting for a new dawn we
believe that our voices will make themselves heard,
that you will listen to us and support our legitimate
aspirations."

*Rigoberta Menchu:

Mayan Indian and Nobel Prize winner of 1992.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 07:47:28 am
                                              (http://www.onaway.org/indig/images/taino3.jpg)
                                                  Taino Indian Bohio -
                                                    thatched dwelling   








                                            W E   A R E   S T I L L   H E R E





For five hundred years, historians asserted that the Caribbean Taino-Arawak Indians were
wholly extinct, victims of Spanish conquest. Today, it is known that thousands of Taino
descendants are alive and well, not only in Cuba but in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Florida,
New York, California, Hawaii and even Spain.

Since 1997 Taino Indians have been reunited annually with their relatives of the diaspora at
a conference held in Baracoa, Cuba's First City. For Panchito Ramirez, healer, herbalist and
Taino cacique (chief) of Caridad de los Indios, a Cuban mountain village, the reunion is on-
going answer to his many prayers. "It is as if our ancestors are now sending their children
back to us, for we now know we are not the last of our kind and are not alone."


(http://www.onaway.org/indig/images/taino1.jpg)

Cacique Pedro
Guanikeyu Torres,

Principal Chief of the
Jatibonicu Taino Tribal
Nation ofBoriken
(Puerto Rico)


The conferences have opened up to the world the reality of Taino continued existence, their
invaluable contributions to the fabric of Cuban society, and in 2001 brought together the
largest contingent yet of Native representatives, scholars, medical professionals and jour-
nalists. On the last day of the conference, Cuban government officials gave the gathering
the welcome and ringing assurance that "Cuba fully supports and will not allow any harm to
come to its Indian Peoples." 

Caridad de los Indios is so remote from mainstream Cuban modernity that Ramirez and his
350 Indian villagers live today as simply as did their ancestors, keeping deep resonance
with their ancient customs and spiritual lifeways. "Our Taino homes," says Ramirez, "are
traditional bohios, huts with thatched roofs, set amidst Conuco's, our permaculture*
raised-bed gardens. The Conuco's are our ample 'grocery store' and provide us with most
of our fruits and vegetables." (*The contraction of 'permanent agriculture')

The Taino intuitive at-oneness with all of Nature is still being manifestly expressed, health-
wise, by the richly enduring benefit they reap from the harvesting of plants from their lush
valleys and forested mountains. Their unbroken practice of extracting efficacious herbal
medicines now attracts global interest and is a constant theme for conference discussion.

Indeed, Taino 'green medicine' as it is known is greatly valued by the Cuban government
which promotes its wide use as an alternative to pharmaceutical medicine. Cuban children
in elementary schools are trained in herbal remedies which they can prepare at home as
poultices, tinctures, salves and teas. And local gardens, even in cities, are almost all or-
ganic and stocked with natural medicine plants.

As an extension to the 2001 conference, Panchito Ramirez and his daughter Reina* offered
delegates a tour of a 'healing forest' on an island in Cuba's Toa River. Vigilantly conserved
and protected, the sacred forest is a cornucopia of hundreds of medicinal plants. Delegates
agreed that it was a highlight of an already unforgettable conference and reunion. Before
their leave-taking, Reina asked the delegates to carry a message home to Native women in
the North to remind them "that we are all related. Tell them that the women here in Caridad
send greetings to our sister-mothers in the North Americas and other lands. Tell them to keep
their traditions. We wish for them healthy children." (*Panchito's helper in healing ceremonies.)

Daniel Wakonax Rivera, a Taino Indian from Brooklyn, New York, wistfully recalled how six
days into his visit he found what he was longing for. "When we climbed over that last ridge
in the mountains and I heard the drums and the songs of our people welcoming us I was over-
whelmed with emotion." With tears in his eyes, he added: "It was like coming home."
Echoing Daniel, Inarunikia Pastrana, a Taino Indian nurse, said, "Our ancestors fought for
survival and thanks to their tenacity the resurgence and restoration of the Taino people
are a reality. Our language is heard again, our songs are sung again. Against all odds we
have defeated extinction and continue to rescue our ancestral heritage and culture."


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 05:48:08 pm
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Tue, Aug. 17, 2004   




           
                            Historians work to set record straight on Cuba's Taino Indians




BY GARY MARX
Chicago Tribune

YARA, Cuba - (KRT) - In a sweltering coastal settlement, Alejandro Hartmann pulled out a spiral
notebook and jotted notes as a local peasant described his family's ties to a long forgotten indi-
genous group that is witnessing a modest resurgence.

"What is the name of your mother and father?" Hartmann asked Julio Fuentes, a wisp of a man
parked on a wooden bench. "Where do they live? How old are they?"

Hartmann fired off a dozen more questions as part of his effort to complete the first census of
the descendants of the Taino Indians, an indigenous group that once thrived in this remote re-
gion of eastern Cuba and later were thought to be extinct.

"Julio is a mixture of Spanish and Indian like many people," explained Hartmann, a historian and
Taino expert. "I want to eliminate the myth once and for all that the Indians were extinguished
in Cuba."

For years, anthropologists widely believed this island's once-powerful Taino Indians were exter-
minated shortly after Christopher Columbus sailed into a pristine bay and walked the steep,
thickly forested terrain more than 500 years ago.

The explorer spent only a week in the area in 1492 but described the Taino as gentle, hard-
working people growing crops and navigating the crystalline waters in huge dug-out canoes.

But, in a familiar story throughout the Americas, war and disease decimated the Taino, whose
sense of identity was further razed over the centuries by racism and by generations of inter-
mixing with whites, blacks and others who settled here.

Today, it's difficult to differentiate Taino descendents from the average Cuban peasant, or
guajiro, as they are called.

Yet, Hartmann and a group of experts continue to press ahead, rewriting the tale of the Taino's
demise in an effort to set the historical record straight and foster recognition among the island's
11 million residents of the group's contribution to Cuban life.

With a new museum, academic conferences and other projects, they also are trying to nurture
a nascent sense of identity among the hundreds - perhaps thousands - of Taino descendents
who are scattered along Cuba's impoverished eastern tip.

"We are recovering knowledge that was forgotten, knowledge that my parents and grandpa-
rents had," said Fuentes, 51. "A lot of people had knowledge but lived and died without know-
ing its Indian origin."

Experts say Taino influences are everywhere.

The palm-thatched huts common in the region are similar to those built centuries ago by the
indigenous group. Some farmers till the soil using a long, sharpened pole known to the Taino
as a coa.

Fuentes said he uses a coa to remove old plantain trees and dig latrines, while harvesting
beans, sweet potatoes and other crops according to the four lunar phases - a belief system
of indigenous origin.

Some coastal residents fish with small nets in the Taino style and crabs are trapped using
a crude, box-shaped device that has changed little over the centuries, experts say.

Although the Taino language, Arawak, has all but died in Cuba, hundreds of indigenous words
are peppered throughout the local Spanish. Many of the names of the island's most well-
known places - from Havana to Camaguey to Baracoa - come from the Arawak language.

"The Taino culture permeates the culture of Cuba in a fundamental way," explained Jose
Barreiro, a Cuban-American scholar of Taino history. "It's the base culture of the country
along with Spanish and African influences."

Experts say the Taino migrated north from South America's Amazon basin centuries ago,
populating much of what is now Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

The Taino arrived in Cuba about 300 years before Columbus and eventually numbered in
the hundreds of thousands.

Organized in villages under the authority of caciques or chiefs, the Taino cultivated beans,
yucca, corn and other crops, along with something they called cohiba, or tobacco.

They hunted turtles, snakes, iguanas and a giant rodent called a jutia, while also adhering
to a complex set of spiritual beliefs whose primary deity, Yucahuguama, represented agri-
culture and the ocean.

Roberto Ordunez, an anthropologist and director of the Taino museum in Baracoa, a pictu-
resque colonial town of 50,000, said Columbus described a large, thriving agricultural community.

"I climbed up a mountain and found the flat lands planted with many things," Ordunez said
Columbus observed in his journal in 1492. "It was a pleasure to see it and in the middle of it
was a large population."

Although the Taino left no large monuments, they built canals for channeling water, caves
for storing food during drought and a network of stone footpaths for travel and to escape
their enemies, a raiding tribe known as the Carib.

But the Taino had no chance against the Spanish, who brought malaria, smallpox and other
deadly diseases, along with modern weapons.

Still, some put up a fight.

An indigenous leader named Hatuey traveled from the island of Hispaniola to Baracoa to
warn the Tainos about the conquistadores. He was captured, refused to convert to
Christianity and was burned at the stake.

Hatuey remains a revered figure in Cuba, where his story is among the first lessons taught
to schoolchildren.

"Hatuey is considered the first rebel in America because he was the first to understand the
abuses of the colonialists and rebel against them," explained Noel Cautin, a guide at the
Taino museum.

A second indigenous leader, Guama, launched hit-and-run attacks against the conquista
dores for a decade before he was killed, perhaps by his own brother, in 1532.

By then, the Taino numbered only a few thousand, a figure that continued to plummet.
Historians in the 19th century declared there were no indigenous left on the island.

"Those who remained were in remote areas and the historians were primarily in the cities,
" Barriero said. "The Taino also had adopted Spanish technology and language."

Barriero and others say that not a single Taino community remains intact, though the group's
culture is best preserved in La Caridad de los Indios and a handful of other remote villages
in the mountains southwest of Baracoa.

In a sign of growing international recognition, the Smithsonian Institution last year returned
bone fragments from seven Taino Indians to the La Caridad community for a sacred reburial.

The human remains along with thousands of indigenous artifacts were taken almost a century
ago by American archaeologist Mark Harrington and later fell into the possession of the Smith-
sonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

Another source of pride is Baracoa's modest Taino museum, which opened last year in a hill-
side cave and displays pendants, necklaces and other pre-Columbian artifacts made of shells
and other materials.

Fuentes has visited the museum twice.

"I felt pride because I hadn't seen these things before and because I'm part of this culture,"
he said.


http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/taino/record.htm


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 05:52:29 pm
(http://www.cubasolidarity.com/images/NNOClogo.gif)


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 05:57:17 pm








                                                  An Indian revival in Cuba?



                      Once thought to be lost, Tainos now striving to keep their past alive





By Tracey Eaton
The Dallas Morning News,
12 July 2003

BARACOA, Cuba – At the top of a winding dirt path, past palm trees and overhanging branches,
is the entrance to a cave. And inside is one of Cuba's newest and most unusual museum exhibits: ancient remains of a fabled Taino Indian.

For years, scholars thought a museum was about the only place one could find traces of the long-
lost tribe.

Now though, a different view has emerged: the Tainos survived the Spanish conquest –and 1,000
to 3,000 of their descendants can be found in eastern Cuba. The Indians, with help from support-
ers in the United States, Puerto Rico and other nations, are on a quest to revive what's left of their indigenous culture and customs.

Just how successful they'll be remains to be seen. Resources for such work are scarce. Many Taino descendants are too busy trying to survive tough economic times to worry about their culture. And many traditions have already been forgotten, said Roberto Orduñez, president of the Archaeological Society of Baracoa.

Still, he and others push ahead.

"It's important to remember the past because, without it, we are nothing," Mr. Orduñez said.

A sign of the Indians' modest international support came earlier this year when the Smithsonian Institution sent bone fragments of seven Taino Indians to Cuba to be reburied.

Smithsonian workers –and members of three Indian tribes– attended the reburial ceremony in Cari-
dad de los Indios, a village in the mountains of eastern Cuba.

A 1989 U.S. law requires federally funded museums to inventory and, if requested, repatriate human remains to Indian groups. And while the law doesn't cover Cuba, Taino leaders in the United States spent seven years trying to arrange the reburial, finally succeeding in January.

American archaeologist Mark Harrington had dug up the remains –and thousands of artifacts– in 1915.


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 06:01:04 pm








Before Columbus



The Taino first journeyed to Cuba from what is now South America about 300 years before
Christopher Columbus came ashore in 1492.

Columbus wrote that the Indians, then thought to number at least 120,000, impressed him
with their "naked innocence. ... They are very gentle without knowing what evil is, without
killing, without stealing."

Columbus later decided the Indians should be enslaved, writing in his journals, "They will make
excellent servants." His vision never came to be.

During the Spanish conquest, hordes of the Taino –no one knows precisely how many– died
of smallpox, malaria, abuse or starvation. Others were killed in battle.

One Indian leader, Hatuey, tried to organize a rebellion against the Spanish in the 1530s.
He was captured and burned alive, and is remembered as a hero in Cuban classrooms today.

By 1508, only an estimated 20,000 to 50,000 Tainos remained, according to the magazine
Native Peoples. By 1544, a Catholic bishop reported that 60 were left.

Today, descendants of the Indians can be found throughout the island's eastern tip.

José Ramón Pérez, 57, lives with his family in a tiny settlement called Los Enanos, or The
Dwarves, a 30-minute walk from the highway that stretches from Baracoa to Guantánamo.
He grows yucca, plantains, corn, beans and other crops the Indian way – all mixed in toge-
ther in the same garden, a method that he says keeps the soil rich.

Mr. Pérez also cultivates at least a dozen medicinal plants.

"This one's good for colds," he said, bending down to touch a leafy plant growing outside his home. "This other plant is good for aches and pain, and this one will improve your eyesight.
My grandfather taught me all about these plants. Now I'm teaching my children."

His eldest son, Luider Pérez, 37, said he enjoys learning the Taino customs.

"You realize just how much you can do with plants and natural medicine," he said. "Every-
thing's here right in this yard, practically an entire pharmacy. I have plants that will cure your
kidneys, your stomach and ones that will calm your nerves."

His father, a rugged man with an easy smile and bronze, sun-baked skin, picked up a gourd.
"I'll tell you what this is for," he said, balancing the gourd on his head. "Find a pond, go into
the water up to your neck and put the gourd on your head. Then wait until a bird lands on it.
Stay still and then snatch the bird with your hands. Real fast. And it's dinnertime!"


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 06:04:50 pm








Mixed with other races



Whether that is an Indian tradition isn't clear.

The Tainos over the years have intermingled with blacks, whites and people of mixed race.
Few Indians of 100 percent Taino blood are thought to remain. But experts say indigenous
roots likely abound on the island, especially if one considers studies undertaken in Puerto
Rico.

There, scientists asked 56 people with Taino features to volunteer for a DNA test, and a full
70 percent had Indian DNA.

No such studies have been carried out in Cuba, but scholars say the results would probably
be similar.

Even so, many Taino descendants are hard to tell apart from the guajiros, or country folk, who
inhabit Cuba's farmland. And some pay little attention to heritage, which hurts efforts to pre-
serve the culture, Mr. Orduñez said.

"We're losing much of that history," he said.

Ultimately, some say, what might help save Taino culture is tourism, Cuba's leading industry.
That's because tourism promoters are eager for new attractions.

The museum exhibit in Baracoa, Cuba's first capital, is an example of that. It is in a natural
cave on a hillside overlooking town. It features Taino bones, pottery and other finds.

"This is part of Cuba's history," museum guide Leicer Gallardo said. "It's very special."


Title: Re: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba
Post by: Bianca on February 29, 2008, 06:08:47 pm







Meeting descendants



He and other guides also take visitors to villages where Taino descendants remain.

One such concentration of descendants is in the coastal town of Manglito, northwest of
Baracoa.

"My father was an Indian," said longtime resident Walquimides Hernández Sevilla, 74. "Most
of the people here have at least some Taino blood. But some don't admit it or it doesn't
matter to them."

His neighbor, for instance, said she almost never thinks of her Indian past.

"I have too many problems for that," said Marta Lores Arias, 42. "My husband died five months
ago. My house needs a roof. And somebody stole my two pigs."

The situation is bad, she said. She and her two young children barely get by on her plantain
and other crops and the few ducks, goats and chickens that scamper around in her yard.

Baracoa archeologists are doing a census to try to determine just how many people have
Taino blood.

"We are working with Indian descendants to try to help them rescue their past," Mr. Orduñez
said. "But we don't want to force it on them or change their lives. They've got to want to do it."

Taino activists in the United States, Puerto Rico and other nations are further along. They hold
regular conferences on Taino culture –including one yearly meeting in Cuba– and routinely pub-
lish the results of new studies on the Indians.

Such networking has allowed researchers to collect a wealth of information on the Tainos. They
know the Indians were of average height and had dark, flowing hair. They knew how to sail, fish
and make canoes. They grew potatoes, guava, garlic and other crops. They also crafted their
own hammocks, ate yucca bread and played the maraca, a musical instrument.

The Indians were peaceful but had a fierce rival before the Spanish arrived: the Carib tribe.

The Caribs raided Taino villages, captured women and girls for use as slaves and practiced canni-
balism. The Taino were – and are – much more noble, experts say.

"They are simple, modest people, but have great pride in their ancestry," said José Barreiro, a
Cuban-American researcher at Cornell University and author of a book about the Taino Indians.


http://www.cubasolidarity.com/aboutcuba/topics/race/0307tainos.htm