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Purpose of this Pathfinder:
This is an introductory guide on the history and enduring legacy of the TaÍno, an indigenous people of the Caribbean. It contains a variety of resources that provide general background knowledge of the TaÍno people, and is suitable for adults interested in conducting research or learning more about its history and culture. This pathfinder is also a great research tool for people of Caribbean descent interesting in learning more about their cultural roots. The geographical focus of this pathfinder is Puerto Rico.
"We want the world to know that the Taíno people were not exterminated. We played an important role in the formation of our island nations. For us, learning this story is like finding a long lost relative, a piece of yourself that you knew nothing about."
-JORGE BARACUTEI ESTEVEZ, "Meet the survivors of a ‘paper genocide’", National Geographic
Who were the Taíno?
Taíno Wikipedia Entry
The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), Jamaica, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Taíno were the first New World peoples encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. They spoke the Taíno language, a division of the Arawakan language group. Many Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans have Taíno mtDNA, showing they are descendants through the direct female lines.
Some groups of people currently identify as Taíno, most notably among Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans, both on the islands and on the United States mainland. Some scholars, such as Jalil Sued Badillo, an ethnohistorian at the University of Puerto Rico, assert that although the official Spanish histories speak of the disappearance of the Taíno as an ethnic identification, many survivors left descendants – usually by intermarrying with other ethnic groups. Recent research revealed a high percentage of mixed ancestry in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Map created by Smithsonian Exhibits, 2017
Amanda was born in New York City and is of Puerto Rican (50%) and Dominican (50%) descent. Her genetic makeup is approximately 60% Southern Iberian, 25% Western Sub-Saharan African, 10% Indigenous American, and 5% mixed Italian/Ashkenazie Jewish. This mestizaje is reflective of the racial and cultural mixture that resulted from colonialismo in the Caribbean.
Image: This is a beaded acrylic painting of the Taino goddess Atabey, by Amanda Dorval (the creator of this pathfinder).