Sunday, February 27, 2011

Puerto Rico's Taino Culture


The original inhabitants of the Caribbean region of North America were the Arawak, Taino and Carib  native peoples.  The Tainos are a subgroup of the Arawaks and are recognized as the founders of the island of Boriken or Puerto Rico.  These were the people who offered a peaceful welcome to Columbus in 1493.  They didn't know the cruelty and violence that would follow his so-called "discovery" of the land that they had cultivated for centuries. Despite official government pronouncements that the Taino have been killed off by the massacres and slavery that followed in Columbus' wake, they live on.  As demonstrated in the photo above by  members of  the Puerto Rico Folklorico Dance & Culture Cultural Center, Taino traditions, food and names remain strong. Throughout Puerto Rico, town names like Mayaquez, Utuado and Caquas echo the Taino language as do the musical instrument maracas and hamaca or hammock. Legends of Taino warriors, like Hatuey, who organized the battle against the Spanish and who famously replied, when told to repent and go to heaven as they burned him at the stake, "If there are Spaniards in heaven, I'd rather go to hell," remain an important part of Caribbean history. Currently there is a movement to reclaim indigenous recognition for Taino ancestors throughout the Caribbean.

18 comments:

A Cuban In London said...

Beautiful post. I didn't know that Boriken was the Taino name. That's why Puerto Ricans call themselves 'boricuas'.

Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Fly Girl said...

Yes, that's exactly right Cubano!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's a good education for us! A great post.

Fly Girl said...

Jean-Luc, Learning is always a good thing, thanks!

Mary R said...

Thanks for the lesson! I never knew about these indigenous Taino people. Do they speak their own dialect?

Fly Girl said...

Mary, the language is what's left with words like maracas and yuca.

eden said...

Nice post. It is nice to learn something from other places. Thank you for sharing.

Fly Girl said...

Eden, thanks!

AngelaCorrias said...

Great post, sadly true about Columbus "discovery" - cruel and invading of a beautiful indigenous civilization.

Fly Girl said...

Angela, unfortunately, that's how much of Western history goes. Now is the time to learn from all those tragedies and not keep repeating them in other parts of the world.

Honeymoon India said...

BEAUTIFUL POST FLY GIRL...
Honeymoon In India

Fly Girl said...

India, thanks for dropping by!

Andrew Graeme Gould said...

A very nice group portrait, and interesting notes. I was reminded once again, though, of the terror of that occupation by the Spanish on seeing a Biography Channel program on Columbus and his voyages yesterday. What a horrible world from our present day perspective, with it being quite normal to conquer and take slaves -- although modern day slavery is unfortunately still around, it must be said.

Thanks for the links. I clicked back to the home page of indigenouspeople.net. A great resource, that I'll be going through.

Fly Girl said...

Andrew, thanks. The West did a very brutal job of colonizing the rest of the world and the legacy lives on. I id a very painful story about contemporary slavery in Mauritania that still haunts me. And th movie "Rabbit Proof Fence" about Australia's treatment of aborigines had me crying for weeks. There is still so much awareness that needs to spread. I'm glad you found the links helpful, they really shed a lot of light for me.

Domingo said...

Not only does Puerto Rico retain it's original name of Boriken, but the names "Cuba" "Jamaica" "Haiti" and Kiskeya for the Dominican republic are all Taino names. Even Florida was known to the Taino as "Bimini".

Fly Girl said...

Domingo, you are so right. Viva el Taino! Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

As an Indigenous native brother of the Dineh aka Navajo, and spiritual messenger from the southwest U.S., I have asked my people for prayers for the community of Boriken Island of the Taino, Arawak, and the Carib natives. Continue to revive your culture and remain strong in Creator.

Fly Girl said...

Anonymous, may your prayers reap great benefit and progress!