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Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba

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Author Topic: Taino Indians Still Thrive in Cuba  (Read 22072 times)
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« 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."
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