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The Taino People of the Caribbean Are NOT Extinct

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Author Topic: The Taino People of the Caribbean Are NOT Extinct  (Read 10105 times)
Bianca
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« Reply #30 on: March 01, 2008, 06:37:06 am »









The Greater Antilles region was settled slowly over the next two hundred years. Smallpox decimated large numbers of Tainos, and malaria, brought in by African slaves, also played a role. Many Indians fled west and south. During the conquest, many of the Taino ceremonial materials were transferred to western Cuba, hidden and found decades later. (Rivero 1966)

Small veins of gold were finally found in Cuba, but the discoveries coincided with Cortez's expedition to Yucatan and his "discovery" of the Aztec and Mayan mainland. The great quantities of the precious yellow metal in meso-America obviated the urgency to settle Cuba, as Española turned to sugar cane (Cuba would follow), and Havana became a port of call for African slavery and the shipment of gold and other treasure from the Spanish Main.

Many Puerto Rican Tainos or Boriquas, among a total number of perhaps 50,000-100,000, with a dozen caciques, and of indistinct religion and customs from the Cubeflos or from Española Tainos, appear to have migrated to-the islands of Lesser Antilles and possibly back to the South American mainland. Several Carib settlements to the east of them had been traditional enemies, but helped organize withdrawal of many Tainos to the Lesser Antilles. The Spanish never penetrated the wall of Carib resistance beyond the Taino territories. As many as a third of Borinquen Tainos fled into the mountains and disappeared and much the same can be said for Indians in Cuba and Santo Domingo.
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« Reply #31 on: March 01, 2008, 06:42:03 am »









Among the first conquistadors and among the new Spanish arrivals, particularly the men from the Canary Islands and Galicia, many were known to take one or more wives among the Indian villages. There were noted alliances and nuclei of mestizajes stemming from these early intermarriage's. In Santo Domingo, they settled along the Yaque River and into the Marien region. This "nascent, native feudalism . . . claimed hegemony over whole tribes. and was a subtle breakaway from Columbus's factoria system." (Floyd 1973)

The concubinage system set up by the old chiefs and some new Spanish men, both in Cuba and Puerto Rico, and the"guatiao" (exchange of names ceremony) in Santo Domingo created a few somewhat ordained mestizajes, one that would sustain a core of indigenous traditions to modern times.

There were incidents of sympathetic individual Spanish men marrying Indian women and thus removing the cacicas and their particular tribes from the encomienda system. The Spanish did this mostly to gain labor and advantage and at times as a way to remove themselves from the central authority all together. For the remaining indian caciques, it was a way to marry their remaining people and take status as one of the new people, neither white nor pure Indian Taino, but with at least the ability to establish families and hold land. The comendadores took after this practice when they could. One Cristobal Rodriguez (nicknamed "La Lengua") a well-known Spanish-Indian interpreter, was exiled for arranging the marriage of a cacica to a Juan Garces, "probably with the intent to remove her tribe from the encomienda system. (Floyd I 973).

A very few Indian communities, deep in the highest mountain valleys, did manage to survive in isolation in cuba for nearly five hundred years. These are the communities of Caridad de los Indios and others in the Rio Toa region.

In Cuba's Camagucy province, Vasco Porcallo de Figueroa, a particularly vigorous lieutenant from Narvaez's army took dozens of Indian wives and spawned a generation of more than a hundred mestizos. Rather than continue to fight, Camagucybax, the old cacique of the savanna organized marriages from among his people and Porcallo's children. Later, Porcallo invited some fifty Spanish families to send young men and women to settle in Camaguey where he coupled his mixed offspring to the new arrivals. They named the new mixed generation "Guajiro," a Taino word possibly coined by the cacique Camagucybax and meaning "one of us" or "one of our countrymen."

Porcallo and his fellow conquistadores provided no gentle model of "pater familias." Powallo's rule was so brutal that many Taino families in the region committed suicide rather than submit to his encomienda. Near Baracoa, Cuba, at a coastal village named Yumuri, a promontory stands in mute tribute to the many Taino families who, according to local oral history, jumped to their deaths off its cliffs while taunting their Spanish pursuers. (Wright 1916)
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« Reply #32 on: March 01, 2008, 06:43:23 am »









Whither progress?



Did the Spanish (read the West) represent progress to the Indian peoples? Did Indian people advance as a result of the great encounter? Or was there possibly something the West might have learned from the American indigenous peoples? The Indian populations had little opportunity to teach their culture to the newcomers. The encomienda system, which distributed whole tribes outright to conquistadores for working gold mines and tilling soil, destroyed the Tainos and surrounding peoples with genocidal tempo. Swept aside, the Indian populations retreated to remote areas as their civilization was truncated and their ancient communal patterns were destroyed. Five hundred years later, it might be appropriate to appreciate what more we might have now known, had their humanity been respected and their social-cultural knowledge intelligently understood.

That the Tainos (the term actually describes the sachem families from among the island Arawaks) could keep their quite numerous people strong and well fed, yet prescribe both agriculture and fisheries of a reduced scale, and using the softest of technologies, reaped sufficient yet sustainable yields of food, housing, and other resources, is a significant achievement. Labeled as "primitive" and "backward," even today, it has boen arguably not improved upon.

The label "primitive" is almost always a denigrating assignation. In academic historical thinking, the so-called "primitive peoples," whether in their "savage" and "barbaric" stages, were of a lesser time (the past) from which we (the humans) are thought to have progressed. however, in contemporary development theory, the most "advanced" thinking uniformly incorporates "scale" and the concept of "appropriate technologies." Such new fields as "sustainable agriculture" and "eco-systems management," and the theoretics of "no growth" are establishing themselves in colleges and universities. Their applicability and practicability in a world of fragile ecologies are increasingly accepted. Taino life, in fact, most of what heretofore has been branded as "primitive" and thus not worth emulating about indigenous cultures, is viewed in a totally different light as humankind enters the twenty-first century. "Primitiveness" which should only define a people's "primary" relationship with nature, might be seen as a positive human value and activity in these ecologically precarious times.
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« Reply #33 on: March 01, 2008, 06:45:01 am »









The history of the European contact with America and its subsequent conquest has been written and rewritten but seldom from an indigenous perspective and never from the continuity of an Indian survival over that history Western historians have had a tendency to disregard the Indian oral sources and many a fundamental lie about Indian culture has been carried from early written texts into the modern day. Not a few Indian elders have told their children, upon sending them to the western school: "Remember your culture. Don't forget who wrote the history."

To the American indigenous peoples, members of a unique civilization, first sight and first contact with Columbus and his caravels could only mean that a new and yet incomprehensible manifestation had arrived. Most of the early contact stories throughout the hemisphere confirm that the indigenous response was almost uniformly friendly, curious, and extremely respectful. What came back, uniformly and abruptly, was arrogant interrogation and a superior attitude. unrelenting brutality followed, one exploding in sexual temper and blood furies never before imagined, certainly not by the Tainos, and never equalled in all the (often questionable) annals of Sun sacrifice, cannibalism and inter-tribal warfare.

The actual brutality imposed on Indians by the European conquest is now more or less accepted history. What has not decisively changed is the notion that it was, after all, justifiable. Throughout the hemisphere, the average non-Indian American is early infused with the notion that Europe brought "civilization" to the Americas, that Amerindian peoples were mired in an early, "primitive" version of the universal historical process, that they were savages, pagans, and, most damningly, cannibals. But one still needs to wonder Iabout the nature of savagery between two peoples, one of whom worked for and provided food as an uncommercialized staple to its members, and another which could shed copious blood for the gold of the earth.
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« Reply #34 on: March 01, 2008, 06:46:20 am »









In his ship's log, the Admiral recorded how well formed and muscular the Taino men and women were, with "no bellies, and good teeth." He noted, too, what good servants they would make, reminding King Ferdinand that slavery has been justified historically many times. To King Ferdinand, as a justification for enslavement, Columbus wrote: "Many other times it has already happened men have been brought from Guinea . . .They (the Tainos) will make excellent servants." Columbus speculates that a few Spanish soldiers could enslave the Tainos: "They are all naked and neither possess weapons nor know of them. They are very well fitted to be governed and set to work to till the land and do whatever is necessary. They also may be taught to build houses and wear clothes and adopt our customs With fifty men, all could be subdued and made to do all that is desired." Time would prove the battle more difficult than expected, though the end result would ultimately be as Columbus predicted.

This fifteenth century Spanish idea that non-Christian peoples could be oppressed at will is rooted in the thesis of the Cardinal bishop of Ostia, Henry of Susa, in the thirteenth century, who successfully postulated that, "heathen peoples had their own political jurisdiction and their possessions before Christ came into the world. But when this occurred, all the powers and the rights of dominion passed to Christ, who, according to doctrine, became lord over the earth, both in the spiritual and temporal sense." (Tyler 1988)

Guacanagari, a Taino cacique who befriended Columbus and was in turn sold into slavery for his trouble, twice sent Columbus face masks made of gold. I think he meant to say: "Gold is such your interest that it is what you are. Your face must be of gold; gold must be the identity your eyes look through."
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« Reply #35 on: March 01, 2008, 06:48:17 am »








Notes



In the middle of a housing shortage, current planning in Cuba discourages the building of bohios. They are considered symbols of the "past" and associated with "under-development." In Cuba, for many years, the bohio-dwelling Guajiro was isolated and subject to harsh and arbitrary mistreatment at the hands of the Rural Guard. Eastern Guajiros in Cuba today have more access to modern conveniences but complain about government regimentation over their agricultural practices and market. They still build many bohios, some quite comfortable, out of the Royal palm.


 
Page note:

Friar Roman Pane', who wrote the earliest Native cosmology in the Americas, (Macorix field work commissioned by Columbus: Winter, 1493) uses the term, "anguilas," or eels, to describe what his informants spoke of as a large, slippery, river animal "with a form similar to a woman. Given the centrality and abundance of the manatee for the peoples of the Greater Antilles, it might be assumed that the old story refers to the manatee, rather than the eel, in this fecund context.


http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/41/013.html
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« Reply #36 on: March 01, 2008, 09:54:07 am »









                                                        Editorial Reviews






Book Description



Of Arawak descent, the Taino – whose ancestors migrated to the Caribbean from the Amazon Basin in South America during the 6th century – were the first people encountered by Christopher Columbus.

Although they ceased to exist as an autonomous society within 60 years of the arrival of Spanish colonizers, the Taino – skilled agriculturists and navigators and accomplished weavers, potters, and carvers – developed a complex political, religious, and social system, and made a substantial contribution to the biological, cultural, and linguistic makeup of large areas of the Caribbean.

To this date, Caribbean communities in the Antilles and in New York and other large American cities exhibit the survival of Taino practices in their worldviews, religious beliefs, language, music, and food.






From the Publisher



Organized by El Museo del Barrio in New York to coincide with a major exhibition, this is the first comprehensive English-language publication on the fascinating legacy of Taino art and culture.

Showcasing over 100 rare and beautiful ceremonial and domestic artworks and individual masterpieces of this ancient culture – produced in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti, and the Bahamas between A.D. 1200 and 1500 – Taino includes examples of finely detailed and polished sculptures carved in wood, precious ornaments of shell and bone, and ceramics decorated with animals, birds, and intricate geometric motifs.

The contributors include ten of the foremost scholars of pre-Columbian culture and art, and an appendix featuring writings from Spanish explorers who had contact with the Taino.
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« Reply #37 on: March 01, 2008, 10:00:24 am »









                                                           REVIEWS




By  Armando J. Marti (Guaynabo, PR USA) -

I consider this book the most complete on the Taino's art and crafts. The collection presented here
was gathered from all over the world and represents all the islands of the Greater Antilles.

Yet, it is not merely a "coffee table book" full of great pictures. The authors of the essays included represent some of the most important researchers of the Caribbean. Ricardo E. Alegría's essay "An Introduction to Taino Culture and History" is the best summary of this ancient people's way of life.

This was a real achievement for the Museo del Barrio and Monacelli Press.
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« Reply #38 on: March 01, 2008, 10:11:06 am »











                                                          C A V E S





                    These subterranean caverns yield fascinating clues about early life.

By Bill Keegan and Betsy Carlson

 

"THE ISLAND [Hispaniola] has a section called Caonao in which there is a mountain called Cauta and it has two caves, Cacibajagua, CAVE OF THE JAGUA, and Amayaœna, CAVE WITHOUT IMPORTANCE. From Cacibajagua came most of the people who inhabit the island."

[Ram—n PanŽ 1496; from Antonio Stevens Arroyo, Cave of the Jagua, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1988, p. 137]



The first physical evidence for the native peoples who inhabited the Bahama archipelago was discovered in caves. When Julian Granberry wrote the first summary of Lucayan archaeology in
1956 he noted that 45 of the known sites were in caves and only 16 were in open-air settings.

All but one of those 16 open-air sites was in the Caicos Islands. Today, there are about 111
cave sites and almost 400 open-air sites recorded for the archipelago.
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« Reply #39 on: March 01, 2008, 10:14:51 am »









The first physical evidence for the native peoples who inhabited the Bahama archipelago was discovered in caves. When Julian Granberry wrote the first summary of Lucayan archaeology in
1956 he noted that 45 of the known sites were in caves and only 16 were in open-air settings.

All but one of those 16 open-air sites was in the Caicos Islands. Today, there are about 111
cave sites and almost 400 open-air sites recorded for the archipelago.

The early discovery of cave sites resulted not only from the Tainos' fascination with caves,
but also from the extensive excavations of cave earth (bat guano) for use as fertilizer in the
19th century. During these excavations pottery, exotic stone cem’es, human burials, and
wooden objects (including fishhooks, bowls and duhos) were recovered and petroglyphs (en-
graved images) and pictographs (painted images) have been observed in the Caribbean.

The Tainos did not live in caves, although they may have used them as shelter from severe
storms. The materials observed and recovered from caves indicate a far more spiritual asso-
ciation; one that is reflected in part in the opening quotation concerning their mythology.

The Taino word for cave was xaweye.

Caves are common in the karst (limestone) landforms found throughout the Caribbean. They
occur in two forms. Sea caves formed where wave action has undercut rocky cliffs and bluffs
along the shore. An excellent example can be found at Mudjin Harbour on Middle Caicos.

Due to their proximity to the sea, the Tainos used few of these caves.
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« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2008, 10:17:39 am »









Caves in the interior ridges (ruku) of the islands formed through the dissolution of the bed-
rock usually beginning along fault lines in the rock where acidic rainwater easily dissolves
the limestone.

These caves typically have two components. Vertical sections created by the downward
flow of rainwater, and horizontal sections created by the flow of underground streams.
The highest rate of dissolution occurs on the margins where underlying salt water mixes
with the overlying freshwater lens creating what geologists call "flank margin caves." In
these caves, rounded tunnels are spaces that once were completely filled with water,
while triangular and rectangular tunnels result from streams running across the floor.

Caverns are large openings where several tunnels meet. They often have very high ceilings
with substantial amounts of collapsed rock from the roof lying on the floor and multiple
openings in the ceiling. Lakes (xara) can occur where the depth of the cave reaches the
water table. The longest explored underwater cave system in the Bahamas is Lucayan
Cavern on Grand Bahama Island with passages extending for more than five miles.
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« Reply #41 on: March 01, 2008, 10:19:45 am »









There is nothing quite like being deep in a cave and turning off your flashlight to be
surrounded by complete and utter darkness - duck-walking through a low and narrow
chamber as thousands of bats rush past you to escape your approaching light, or en-
tering an interior chamber with the floor alive with scurrying cockroaches and cave
crickets.

In the Turks & Caicos, Conch Bar Cave on Middle Caicos is the most spectacular and
nearby Indian Cave is also easily accessible. It is easy to arrange a tour and well worth
the experience.

(And both are sufficiently open that you won't come into close contact with bats or roaches).

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« Reply #42 on: March 01, 2008, 10:21:24 am »



Petroglyphs
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« Reply #43 on: March 01, 2008, 10:25:08 am »









The Tainos did not live in caves, but they used them as sanctuaries for ritual purposes.

They recognized three main divisions of the cosmos:

 - a sky world,

 - the land world of living people and

 - the world of subterranean waters.


Caves were the portals to the subterranean world.

As the myth at the beginning of this article tells us, the Tainos believed that all
humans shared a common origin.

However, only the origin of the Tainos was considered important. They had emerged from
the Cacibajagua (Cave of the Jagua), a reference to the jagua tree (Genipa americana),
whose edible fruit produces a black vegetable dye used for body painting. This black paint
was used in conjunction with a red dye derived from the bixa or achiote plant (Bixa orellana)
for ritual purposes that served to reinforce the sense of communality among the Tainos.
(Most of you probably don't realize that you have eaten bixa/achiote. It is today used as a
food coloring called annatto that gives American cheese its lovely orange color, and other
foods as well.)

In contrast, the Cave of Amayaœna is translated as the "cave without importance."

In sum, the Tainos are the one true people who emerged from the sacred cave, while the
rest of us came from a cave of no importance!
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« Reply #44 on: March 01, 2008, 10:27:30 am »









The importance of caves in Taino mythology is expressed in their association of animals
that frequent or live in caves with the ancestors.

Bats and owls are especially important in this regard.

Moreover, the decoration of cave walls with petroglyphs and pictographs enhanced the
ritual significance of these passages to the underworld.

Petroglyphs have been reported from only one cave in the Turks & Caicos. This cave is
located near Jacksonville Harbour on East Caicos and was visited by Theodoor de Booy
in 1912 when the East Caicos Sisal Company was in operation and bat guano was being
excavated from several caves.

Several efforts to find the cave have been unsuccessful.

There are no cave paintings reported for the Bahama archipelago.

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