Taíno: Indigenous Caribbeans – BAASE comprehension and history (pt2)

The Taíno people, or Taíno culture, has been classified by some authorities as belonging to the Arawak, as their language was considered to belong to the Arawak language family, the languages of which were present throughout the Caribbean, and much of Central and South America.

 

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The early ethnohistorian, Daniel Garrison Brinton, called the Taíno people the “Island Arawak”. Nevertheless, contemporary scholars have recognized that the Taíno had developed a distinct language and culture.

Modern historians, linguists and anthropologists now hold that the term Taíno should refer to all the Taíno/Arawak tribes except for the Caribs, who are not seen to belong to the same people. Linguists continue to debate whether the Carib language is an Arawakan dialect or creole language, or perhaps an individual language, with an Arawakan pidgin used for communication purposes.

Spaniards and Taíno

 

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Columbus and his crew, landing on an island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, were the first Europeans to encounter the Taíno people. Columbus described the Taínos as a physically tall, well-proportioned people, with a noble and kind personality.

Columbus wrote:

They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will…they took great delight in pleasing us…They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people…They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.

 

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At this time, the neighbors of the Taíno were the Guanahatabeys in the western tip of Cuba, the Island-Caribs in the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe to Grenada, and the Timacua and Ais tribes of Florida. The Taíno called the island Guanahaní which Columbus renamed as San Salvador (Spanish for “Holy Savior”). Columbus called the Taíno “Indians”, a reference that has grown to encompass all the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A group of Taíno people accompanied Columbus on his return voyage back to Spain.

 

Hawk-Bells

 

On Columbus’ second voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispaniola. According to Kirkpatrick Sale, each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking, twenty-five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not brought, the Spanish cut off the hands of the Taíno and left them to bleed to death. These cruel practices inspired many revolts by the Taíno and campaigns against the Spanish —some being successful, some not.

 

Hawk Bells: From European Falconry to American Trade Goods

In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico, such as Agüeybaná II, Arasibo, Hayuya, Jumacao, Urayoán, Guarionex, and Orocobix, allied with the Carib and tried to oust the Spaniards. The revolt was suppressed by the Indio-Spanish forces of Governor Juan Ponce de León. Hatuey, a Taíno chieftain who had fled from Hispaniola to Cuba with 400 natives to unite the Cuban natives, was burned at the stake on February 2, 1512.

In Hispaniola, a Taíno chieftain named Enriquillo mobilized over 3,000 Taíno in a successful rebellion in the 1520s. These Taíno were accorded land and a charter from the royal administration. Despite the small Spanish military presence in the region, they often used diplomatic divisions and, with help from powerful native allies, controlled most of the region. In exchange for a seasonal salary, religious and language education, the Taíno were required to work for Spanish and Indian land owners. This system of labor was part of the ‘encomienda’- the strongest protecting the weak for the purpose of economic gain .

 Modern Taino Heritage

Groups of people currently identify as Taíno, most notably among the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, both on the islands and on United States mainland. The concept of the “living Taíno” has been proven in a census in 2002. Some scholars, such as Jalil Sued Badillo, an ethnohistorian at the University of Puerto Rico, assert that the official Spanish historical record speak of the disappearance of the Taínos, but survivors had descendants and intermarried with other ethnic groups. Recent research notes a high percentage of mixed or tri-racial ancestry among people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with those claiming Taíno ancestry also having Spanish and African ancestry.

Questions:

  1. Taíno culture has been classified by some authorities as belonging to the Arawak. Why is this so?
  2. What is an ” ethnohistorian”? (Research)
  3. What does the word ” contemporary ” mean?
  4. What do contemporary scholars say about Taino culture?
  5. What are” linguists”? (Research)
  6.  What are ” anthropologists”? ( Research)
  7. Are Caribs considered to be part of the Arawak/Taino Tribe?
  8. In the sentence, ” Linguists continue to debate whether the Carib language is an Arawakan dialect or creole language, or perhaps an individual language, with an Arawakan pidgin used for communication purposes.” give the definitions of the words highlighted in red.
  9. In what year and month did Columbus land on an island in the Bahamas?
  10. How did Columbus describe the Taino people?
  11. ” According to Kirkpatrick Sale, each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months.” What is a Hawk’s Bell?
  12. Write 5 things Columbus said about the Taino people.
  13. Who were the neighbors of the Taíno?
  14. What name did Columbus give Guan -a -haní, and what does the name he gave it mean?
  15. On Columbus’ second voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispaniola, what did he have them give him?
  16. What are “caciques”? {Research}
  17. ” In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico, such as Agüeybaná II, Arasibo, Hayuya, Jumacao, Urayoán, Guarionex, and Orocobix, allied with the Carib and tried to oust the Spaniards.” What was the result of this?
  18. Who was ” Hatuey’, and what happened to him?
  19. ” In Hispaniola, a Taíno chieftain named Enriquillo mobilized over 3,000 Taíno in a successful rebellion in the 1520s.” What was the result of this?
  20. How the small Spanish military presence in the region stay in control?
  21. What was the ‘encomienda’, and what did it mean?
  22. Do Taino people exist today? If so where can they be found?

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