Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Taino Indian Culture in the Caribbean

The Taino Indian Culture in the Caribbean - Text article depicts the cultural History of the Taino Indians both before and after the invasion from Spain and the eventual demise of their dominance of the islands.

From the site:

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 EspaƱola, 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)

Taino culture was dominant throughout the Caribbean, a sea and island world that was in turn cradle of Taino civilization. In agriculture, seafaring and cosmology, Ciboney and Guanahatabey (western Cuba), Macorix and/or Ciguayo (Bohio) and even Carib (Lesser Antilles) all followed the material and much of the psycho-spiritual framework of the Taino. The original Caribbeans spoke Arawak. The people of the Arawak language family still comprise one of the more widespread American Indigenous cultures, with relatively large kinship nations in the Amazon and Orinoco river basins of South America. Throughout the Caribbean, usually in remote mountain ranges and coastal promontories, remnant groups and communities of Taino-Arawak and Carib descendants survive to the present. Aspects of the animistic and material culture of the Taino-Arawak have been adopted by the mestizo populations of the Caribbean and are interwoven into the Euro-African fabric of the islands' folk universe.

The word Taino meant "men of the good," and from most indications the Tainos were good. Coupled to the lush and hospitable islands over millennium, and a half, the indigenous people of "La Taina" developed a culture where the human personality was gentle. Among the Taino at the time of contact, by all accounts, generosity and kindness were dominant values. Among the Taino peoples, as with most indigenous lifeways, the physical culture was geared toward a sustainable interaction with the natural surroundings. 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 and so their nature was bountiful. (Jane 1930)

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