History books and encyclopedias are meant to help educate all of us. Still, there are times when information is false or omitted, such as the existence of the Taíno being deleted from records, rendering them extinct before 1802.
It was said initially that the Taíno extinction happened due to the horrible conditions in the sugarcane fields and gold mines and the infectious diseases the Spanish settlers brought. The first smallpox outbreak occurred between December 1518 and January 1519, which wiped out 90% of the Indians who had not died from the working conditions.
Indeed, the population had eventually decreased to under 500 Taíno natives by 1548. However, Taíno Natives did begin to appear throughout Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic around 1840.
In 1565 there was a census that showed only 200 Taíno living throughout the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Taíno were declared officially extinct as there were no records of this Native community existing in the Caribbean past 1802. Even while Indians continued to emerge in the census surveys, marriage certificates, wills, and health records throughout the Colonial era and beyond, few historians have given these data a close, careful analysis.
No one mentioned that many of our predecessors fled into the mountains, which is how they survived. However, there isn't much you can do to alter an account, especially of human existence, once the information has made its way to paper. After all, it was Columbus who had written that there were no Indians left in the Caribbean, and this is documented throughout every encyclopedia.
Columbus had committed paper genocide and made all Taíno Natives disappear on paper. Every researcher has followed one story that a conqueror made up without analysis. Throughout Puerto Rico, there are 2,300 pure Indians recorded in the 1787 census but none in the 1802 census.
However, upon recent DNA investigations, it was discovered that Native American mitochondrial DNA existed in 23% to 30% of Dominicans, 33% of Cubans, and a whopping 61% of Puerto Ricans.
Then, in 2016 DNA was extracted from the tooth of a skull that was discovered in the Bahamas. The Danish biologist found Taíno DNA within this sample. When compared to the DNA taken previously, it was found that nearly all 61% of Puerto Ricans matched the Taíno DNA, rendering proof that the Taíno are not extinct.
Claiming Back The Taíno Existence
Many academicians have begun to identify as Taíno in today’s world. Their goal has been to rewrite history by contesting the established conclusions of Christopher Columbus, as well as other explorers. This has been successful, as some of the literature has been corrected.
Many people have also begun challenging the census data. For example, the only census options in Latin America were white, black, Hispanic, or mixed. There was no option for the Indian race. However, the Taíno tribe wasn't wiped out, and they were the ones who formed their own island countries.
The True Taíno Population During Columbus' Conquest
During Columbus' debut in 1492, he said there were no more Natives, which people have assumed as accurate. However, that couldn't be more false! There were five Taíno regions and chiefdoms throughout Hispaniola, and each area had an appointed Cacique (chief). Some of the most significant Taíno population concentrations were thought to have over 3,000 people!
In Cuba, there were over 29 chiefdoms. The Spanish colonized these indigenous communities, who kept their original names. For example, Baracoa, Bayamo, Batabanó, and Camagüey still exist.
The Taíno were traditional rivals of the nearby Carib tribes, another South American-born people who primarily inhabited the Lesser Antilles. Many studies have been done on the interaction between the two groups. Due to Carib attacks, which resulted in women being captured in raids and many Carib women speaking Taíno, the Taíno tribe was, for much of the 15th century, pushed to the north in the Caribbean and then out of what is today South America.
The Taíno Today
Growing awareness of Native Americans' historical, social, and genetic legacy is spreading throughout the Caribbean. People, communities, and organizations are declaring their Native ancestry and self-identifying as Taíno in growing numbers.
The Taíno movement has evolved over the last thirty years. This movement contests the widespread assumption that Native peoples in the Greater Antilles went extinct not long after Europeans arrived. In the racially and culturally diverse civilizations of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and other parts of the Caribbean, it is encouraging a revival of Indigenous identity.
It’s nearly impossible to rewrite history. However, it is possible to correct it. There is so much information on this Native tribe at the Taíno Museum in Haiti, which boasts over 5,000 pre-Columbian artifacts. It may seem overwhelming as Haiti may be so far away, but all you have to do is take a cruise from the Port of New York to Haiti!
You can even cut the hassle of figuring out your Port of NY transportation by hiring a chauffeur service that can transport anywhere from 1 to 55 people. After all, nothing should make you miss this opportunity! This is the chance for you to do your part, to assist the Taíno in taking back their existence, and to help grow awareness that genocide happens both violently and quietly.