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The Taino - are they alive or extinct?

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posted on May, 30 2010 @ 07:50 PM
The Taino (as far as I understand it) is now a collective name for the original inhabitants of the Caribbean islands. This would include the bigger islands of the Antiles, like Cuba, Hispaniola and Jamaica. In the past history books they were also called the Caribs and Arawak - a distinction based by some anthropologists on language families, but in history the friendly or submissive Indians were termed "Arawak", and the more resistant "Caribs". For decades, perhaps centuries, the Taino were described as numerous, numbering in the millions on the main islands alone. On the bigger islands they formed several states, with a high degree of civilization. The official history says that they were wiped out by the Spanish within 10 years of Columbus' arrival, and they were the first Native Americans he met. What the Spanish did to them makes for heartbreaking reading, and they also endured the first wave of smallpox and other imported diseases. Within a decade of conquest, they were so reduced in number that African slaves were imported as slave labour.
The notion of Native American survival in the Caribbean has been a somewhat romantic pursuit, and much literature focused on the "Caribs" on the Virgin Islands and Dominica.
But now it seems that survival amongst certain families is almost proven, mainly in Puerto Rico, but also in Cuba and some other places.
Nevertheless, the false notion of extinction still prohibits the surviving Taino from getting a proper reserve, land rights or recognition. Some academics remain skeptical, so I'd like to ask: are the Taino extinct or not?
The "extinct people" dance:
Well they certainly seem enthusiastic about things:

[edit on 30-5-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 07:59 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I'd like to think that they are not extinct (I at least hope not).

The Dominican Republic has a special lure for me. I have been there several times and they reference the Taino in several of their histories.
There are also a few place there that have Taino rock art.

Surely the island-hopping Taino's can't be completely wiped out, since they spanned such a large area in the Caribbean.

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 08:31 PM
reply to post by Chamberf=6

The rock art and "zemi' sculptures are testiment to their high degree of sophistication. The latest discoveries of underwater stone structures pointing to a possible "Atlantean" type civilization would most likely link to them.
History claims that by 1492 the smaller islands and communities were under attack by tribes from the mainland, and there seems to have been movement to and fro, which makes genetic testing difficult.
The Spaniards and later colonists also removed entire populations from the small islands and distributed them as forced labor.
Several people from that region probably have some Taino ancestry, and the "black Caribs" (Garifuna) retained many of their cultural traits.

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 08:35 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and experience all these cultures that have vanished. There seem to be so many "lost" groups in the "New World".

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 08:48 PM
reply to post by Chamberf=6

Oh yes, imagine seeing that first encounter between Columbus and the Taino. Ok, they were probably a lot more naked, but I can imagine the music and so forth wasn't that different from the videos above.
And imagine, the entire Caribbean was covered by forest and jungle, teeming with birds, and Columbus likened it to paradise.
There's still some debate on where that meeting of cultures actually occured.
Sad to think, all other conquests, like Cortez's were launched from Hispaniola. The Spanish probably got the info about the Aztecs from the Taino.

PS. For a very sad first part to a horrific conquest (this documentary, mainly of art from the period, is not for the faint-hearted - I remember many of the woodcuts from old books, so the fate of the Taino did make a huge impact in Europe, and it became almost emblemic for what was to follow in the Americas):

[edit on 30-5-2010 by halfoldman]

[edit on 30-5-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 09:16 PM
They're still around. I have a friend that's one. I worked with another.

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 09:22 PM
reply to post by Skid Mark

Tell me more, tell me more...
Don't just say that and leave us in the dark!

How do you know, did they tell you? (Well duh, I suppose they did.)
Where were they from?

[edit on 30-5-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 09:47 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

Well, not quite Taino, but before I head for my bed I thought I'd share this, which is so beautiful:
And the echoes of some amazing , bombastic singing:

[edit on 30-5-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 10:16 PM
Thank you for this thread, these are my people =), yes being Pureto Rican is more then just being born on an the Island of Puerto Rico.

Found a Spiral in reference
with this video

[edit on 30-5-2010 by E†E]

[edit on 30-5-2010 by E†E]

posted on May, 30 2010 @ 10:18 PM
Tainos are alive and living well.
My Hubby is of Taino decent. In fact he has a Taino membership card from the United Confederation of Taino People. It's kind of like a feather card for Native Americans.

[edit on 30-5-2010 by blue_fish]

posted on Jun, 1 2010 @ 12:02 PM
reply to post by E†E

Thank you very much for linking to this fascinating clip on the debate.
I've indeed seen other examples of "neo-tribal" peoples and sometimes vicious debates about their resurgence.
The debate becomes especially nasty when different factions claim sole ancestry over another mixed lineage, as in Tasmania, and even with the Khoi (hottentot) revival here in South Africa.
Some of the comments below the video are really nasty, especailly since in the case of the Taino there are no major claims of chieftanship or power politics (as far as I can see).
Of course from an academic point of view it is all quite strange, because in the 1990s Native American survival in the Caribbean focused on tiny groups of Caribs, and the few "pure Caribs" were considered highly endangered.
One thing I wouldn't agree with is precious archeological evidence being handed back for destruction, especially cremation (as happened in Tasmania, although no evidence exists that the historic Aborigines practiced burning their dead).

I wonder though, is there still a Taino language?
That issue seems to be avoided?

[edit on 1-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 03:14 PM
A Race/Tribe can never go extinct. They get assimilated into other race/tribes.
Only the Identity gets extinct.

Similarly, the Taino got assimilated into other races creating mestizo and creole cultures.

posted on Jun, 2 2010 @ 09:24 PM
reply to post by coredrill

True, although in the post-colonial world the identity seems to moving towards the indigenous. Previously "white identity" seemed to grant more privileges in society, whereas now tribes have access to land rights and in the US, apparently highly lucrative casino rights. So it seems that people naturally follow identities based on economic and social advantage. Steve Jones describes in his book "In the Blood" how the Pequot tribe was reborn from about two dozen people to several hundred members with the Indian Gambling Act.
In the case of the Taino though it certainly appears like direct and "pure" ancestral links can be proven in some places, like Puerto Rico. It seems that people were conned out of their culture for a long time, by displacing Indian peoples as Meztiso. The same would be true of the Cape Khoisan and the Rapa Nui on Easter Island. In cases like this it is the culture rather than the genes that were lost, and there are real cases for land rights.
It can become complicated when surrounding populations have some ancestry that is indigenous too, although they may then be excluded from any "special" native rights. For example, when the Khomani San (Bushmen) in South Africa received land rights, it proved very difficult to decide which families should be included, since many have family ties to the local "coloured" communities.
Genes with observable looks certainly help, and so does language, but it seems by US models what counts more is a surviving form of tribal authority. So there are some very mixed peoples who are recognized and reap benefits, and some very direct descendants who are not. It is often unfair, and based on very dated information and imposed notions of "authority".

[edit on 2-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 7 2010 @ 10:02 PM
They had some study where it showed a huge percentage of Puertoricans are of Taino blood, which apparently came as a shock. Even though a new study says that most Puertoricans identify themselves as white, it was brought up that many Puertoricans dont have the same understanding of white as it stands in America. Puertorico would be very hard to pick out whos taino, whos white, and whos black, because they have such a strong culture that physical differences dont matter, racism isnt as common as other places, its a true melting pot with culture as the sole identifier to what they are, and what they want to be (unlike Argentina, a very white Puertorican wont trace and be proud about being white colored from France, they would just prefer to be Puertorican). Note, this isnt true for everyone of course, this is my observation as someone who is puertorican and who goes to the island every 2 years.

I have a great grandmother who was full Taino. My mom told me there were people who still lived in hutts and didnt follow the christian belief, and were titled as witches by the community (obviously a spanish inherited passing of christian beliefs and segregation).

But the taino culture does live on. Its in our food, in the name of our towns, we call ourselves "Boricua", as well as other traces to Taino culture. I have cousins who have more Taino features than white.

I always found my heritage odd. I have white skin, so that means in my blood I could have been the spanish conquistador that my last latin american history class helped me hate (I had great grand parents who were straight from spain, and even france?), yet still have small differences in my facial structure that shows a minor hint to my taino side (which means they confuse me for italian or greek at times). So, in a way, in my blood i was the conqueror and the conquered, I cant watch a Taino video without seeking some sort of compassion for my people, only to realize that I have more white features than Taino, that I could have very well been among those men who did those crimes and who just so happened to have jump the bones of a Taino. So, as you can see, even the educated among us would rather be happy with just being Puertorican.

posted on Jun, 7 2010 @ 10:23 PM
reply to post by ammocase

More fascinating examples of Taino survival, long after most academic history taught they were "extinct".
What I gather then is that people would embrace Taino culture as a shared heritage, but land-rights and recognition for specific groups of Taino as indigenous peoples is not widely supported?

posted on Jun, 7 2010 @ 10:51 PM
reply to post by halfoldman

I cant speak for all Puertoricans, especially the politics of the Island since I was born and raised in New York, and its not something I can observe or form an opionion on without reading some article that would be based on someone elses opionion anyway.

But I would imagine they will never acknowledge them as Taino, so they dont give them free land. Most of these Tainos have spanish last names, and speak the spanish language perfect (they could argue that the spanish last name was forced on them, and they couldnt keep their original name though) but it seems the Taino culture isnt perserved 100 percent. And it wouldnt be fair to many Puertoricans on the island. My sister looks more Taino than I do, so does my dad, so does that mean me and my mom lose our lands? Puertorico is different than America, you dont see many culture rubbing against each other, or racism toward darker skinned ricans (who by the way, African Americans have claimed that they deny their Afro roots, because again, the culture of PR is so strong there isnt much of a divide, I have pasty white legs, but the dark skinned Tito Trinidad and the Taino faced Cotto feel like my brothers and I am proud of them and dont see them as different from me, and that goes for many ricans), there is less of a divide than America. You are just puertorican, and whenever I see these Taino videos, I swear I see my cousin Carlos and my uncle Angel in them dancing around, lol. So, personally speaking ... well typing, they look like to me, and my family, like a bunch of Puertoricans dancing around, who just decided to divide themselves and seperate themselves from the culture of puertorico.

If you want to see a puertorican with Taino features in modern times, google Miguel Cotto, the boxer who won a recent belt.

Its interesting when you compare PR to the USA. They both have the white conquerors, the indians that were dominated, and the Africans that were slaved, all in the same place (many americans actually have native american blood, same as Taino in ricans). Difference is, a small island didnt have a huge divide in culture and their way of living, there is no black or white like in America. For some people, this is the America that they want but cant have. So, maybe due to this, people claiming full Taino and seperating themselves, seems a little odd to be taken serious.

posted on Jun, 7 2010 @ 11:01 PM
But... I do remember reading a Taino website that says they escaped to the mountains of PR when the Spanish came (which I read in history was possible). And that their skin is lighter due to the high mountains that blocked the sun, as again, they claim is the reason why they arent so dark. They do claim Taino is in everyone, which they are right.

Anyways, as far as appearance, I see Taino features in my face, and in my sisters, and in my uncles. if my skin was darker, and some of my features more pronouced, I can join that circle. To ricans, Taino is not dead, it was the spanish who made these claims, they are in many of us. This just goes to prove how lies in history can echo even in the face of.... well... our faces... with all the taino features attached.

posted on Jun, 7 2010 @ 11:47 PM
reply to post by ammocase

According to slavery laws (as far as I can recall from History 101) there was the law of the octogoon, or being one-eighth "black" or sometimes "Indian" to be enslaved. That law of 1/8th (I think it's one "dark" or native grandparent) then got taken by eugenics to determine race, and to breed out "undesireable races", at least where they were the minority to whites. So the aim in Australia and other white colonies was to breed out the aborigines by making them 1/8 or below. However, as the political tide turned people with one grandparent had to be considered "native", and the "octogoon law" was used in reverse.
So in a lot of postcolonial states having one-eighth ancestry is enough to be considered indigenous.
Latin America has always been a bit of an enigma here.
Some say it is because the Catholics placed little importance on race (and the Latin European races were already seen as mixed with the Moors and Sephardic peoples by the Anglo-Saxons). Catholicism incorporated local beliefs and cultures, while Protestants in the US were more set on "purity", which led to segregation. Others say that the first settlers were families in Anglo countries, or white women were brought to them.
The conquistadors were single men who mostly took local women as wives, and many more concubines. Brazil had very brutal slavery (and African slaves were meant to be replaced and not bred locally, unlike the US south) and historians argue it is because the Portuguese landowners came as single men, and never brought the "civilizing influence" of wives and families from Europe.
Whatever the case, Catholic Latin America is essentially still overridingly, genetically "Indian America" - whereas in Protestant countries today (Australia, New Zealand, much of North America) laws are quite clear-cut on who is native, and who is not (although not everybody is happy with those laws).
So in a sense, the Taino are reclaiming an identity that might be granted in other post-colonial spheres.
On the other hand, perhaps there are genetic tests these days that could prove that some are "pure" Taino. I'm not sure that would make any difference?

PS. Quite strange, in the books on Carib survival in the early 20th century both the pics and comments refer to the light skin of the Carib, and some have even likened them to the Inuit, rather than Amazonian peoples (although that's typical, and rather fanciful armchair anthropology of that time).

As far as culture goes, considering the deliberate genocides against native people, whether they were segregated or forcefully assimilated, there is probably not a single group that retains all of its pre-contact culture.
In fact there is no group that retains pre-Industrial, let alone pre-Christian or Roman culture, even in Europe. Culture is dynamic and we all construct it as we go along.

[edit on 8-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 12:58 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

Interesting site on Amerindians in the Caribbean:
Quite fascinating how some historians regarded the Ciboney, Caribs and Tainos as distinct peoples, while others claimed those "related differences" were imposed.
The Carib peoples had to deal with the stigma of cannibalism, and there was a huge debate in their community about participating in the second "Pirates of the Caribbean" film as stereotypes.

[edit on 8-6-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jun, 8 2010 @ 05:25 PM
In an open system like the Caribbean, there must have been survivors. Extinction only occurs when a walled city is surrounded by Romans, Mongols, or like ilk. When the Mongols went into Kiev and killed everyone, there were a very few survivors.

[edit on 8-6-2010 by Lazarus Short]

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