Sunday, November 27, 2011
The Taíno in the Caribbean
The Taíno have a special place in Caribbean culture. On the one hand, it has been common to consider the Taíno–an original people of the Caribbean, to be “lost.” On the other, the Taíno are considered one of the great contributors of Latin-Caribbean culture and to the establishment of a new indigenous element in that region. See, w.g., Larry Catá Backer, From Hatuey to Che: Indigenous Cuba Without Indians and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (March, 27 2009). American Indian Law Review, Vol. 33, 2009.
(From Robert M. Poole, “What Became of the Taíno?,” Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2011; Photographs by Maggie Steber. (“Taíno leader Francisco “Panchito” Ramírez Rojas offers a prayer to the sea near Baracoa on Cuba’s eastern coast. “))
The Taíno raise issues of nationality, race, culture and the taxonomy of ethno-racial classifications that were perhaps more useful to a seventeenth century slave holding society in need of easy sorting devices than to a modern society. The United Confederation of Taíno People, for example, seeks to reconstitute Taíno, as something more than a memory.
A recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine might be worth reading. Robert M. Poole, “What Became of the Taíno?: The Indians who greeted Columbus were long believed to have died out. But a journalist’s search for their descendants turned up surprising results,” Smithsonian Magazine, Oct. 2011. For more, see, Resurgence of Taíno People in the Caribbean.