Taino Indians

The Taino Indians lived in the Greater Antilles and the northern Lesser Antilles regions of the Bahamas. The Taino predate Columbus' arrival in 1492. At that time, there were already five kingdoms in Hispaniola, or what is now known as the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Columbus, upon encountering the Taino, wrote, "They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will.they took great delight in pleasing us." However, Columbus began to expect the goodwill. On his second trip, adult Tainos who did not deliver bells full of gold or 25 pounds of spun cotton every three months got their hands cut off and they bled to death. This service requirement was known as encomienda.

The Taino fought violently with their neighbors, the Caribs. The Taino population was diminished greatly in the eighteenth century by diseases brought by the Europeans , intermarriage with the Spaniards, and forced assimilation into the plantation economy by the Spanish, who ruled over the Caribbean colonies. The Spaniards who arrived in the area didn't bring women, so they often took Taino women as their brides, resulting in Mestizo children of mixed Taino and Spanish heritage.

The Taino Indians were divided into two social classes. The Naborias were the commoners, while the Nitainos were the nobles. Chiefs, whether male or female, were known as caciques, while priests and healers were known as Bohiques.

The Taino practiced polygamy, and it was not uncommon for both men and women to have two or three different spouses. Caciques may have had up to thirty wives. The families lived in yucayeques (metropolises), with the larger locations being in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and the smaller locations being in the Bahamas. The center of each yucayeques included a plaza where games, festivals, religious rituals, and ceremonies were held.

The Taino Indians were largely agricultural, and their diets consisted of vegetables such as corn and beans, fruits such as pineapples and guavas, meat such as lizards and turtles, roots such as yucca, and seafood such as manatees.

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