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One way of looking at the diverse nations of the Caribbean, is to view it as rooted in two ethnic groups: The Arawak (from aruaco the eaters of yuca meal the name given to them by the Caribs) and the Carib (in Arawak myth the children of the rotten anaconda). The Arawak may be subdivided into two groups the main land Arawak, and the Island Arawak or Taino. If one considers the high Taino to be limited to island Arawak who resided in Puerto-Rico, then the indigenous Taíno nations were found in Cuba, the Lucaya of the Bahamas, Jamaica, and to a lesser extent from Haiti and Quisqueya (approximately the Dominican Republic) can be referred to as neo-Taíno nations.

Neo-Taíno nations


Ciboney (or Siboney) from Cuba.


Ciguayo from ‘Quisqueya’ (now the Dominican Republic [1]) circa 1500 AD this was the kingdom Cacigazgo of Cacique Guacangarí. Language and customs differed from high Taíno who lived on the eastern part of the same island of Hispaniola.


Lucaya were from what was Bimini and now are islands of the Bahamas. Also lived in the small Jardines de la Reina islands south and close to Cuba from where they raided the main island of Cuba. Cuban neo-Taíno leader Cacique Bayamo and Spanish Conquistador Diego Velaquez united to drive them out.


Macorix, also from Quisquaya and now the Dominican Republic. They used a language aid mutually unintelligible with Taíno, requiring bilingual abilities which may have been related to the Ciguayo tongue.[2]


Guanahatabey, at the time of the Spanish conquest, were found only in the most western tip of Cuba, from where that peninsula gets its name. Their style of living was apparently much simpler than that of the Siboney; however, they could have been refugees with a degraded lifestyle due to pressures caused by the intrusions of the latter.


The captured neo-Taina women held by the Carib, who spoke Eyeri, a language similar to Taíno;.[3] The Adult Carib spoke the Carib language and used a variant of Carib for trade and ceremony.[4] It is possible to speculate, that because the Carib stole women from the neo-Taino nations and incorporated them into their culture. The Carib advance from the South American mainland through the minor Antilles, never resulted in permanent settlements of Caribs, since they were being assimilated in this fashion by their captured neo-Taina women. It is said that Hatuey, the first known Cuban Island rebel was part Carib.

Further reading

Albury, Paul 1975 The Story of the Bahamas. MacMillan Education Limited, London and Basingstoke. p. 19 “After the first screams of despair, terror took such sole possession of the Lucayan’s mind and body that it robbed him of the ability to defend himself. He became a jellied mass of sweating, trembling, helpless flesh. Men, women, and children were bound with ropes, stacked in the cane and taken to Carib land. There the males were mutilated, tortured and finally eaten.”

Alonso José Ramón 2004 (accessed 11/7/2005). Panorama histórico-crítico sobre el estudio del arte rupestre de Punta del Este, Cuba.

Alvarez Chanca, Diego. La Carta del Doctor Chanca, que escribió a la Ciudad de Sevilla. Collección de los viages y descubrimientos. Martin Fernández de Navarrete. Madrid, 1825 Atl atl? “Los desta isla pelean con unas varas agudas, las cuales tiran con unas tiranderas como las que tiran los mochachos las varillas en Castilla, con las cuales tiran muy lejos asaz certero. ”

Álvarez Conde, José 1956. Arqueología Indocubana. Junta Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología Impresores Úcar, García, S. A. Havana.

Álvarez Nazario, Manuel 1996. Arqueología Lingüística. Estudios modernos dirigidos al rescate y reconstrucción del arahuaco taíno. Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Arciniegas, Germán (editor) 1999. Historiadores de las Indias. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes. Editorial Océano de México S.A.

Arrom, Jose Juan 2000 “Estudios de Lexicologia Antillana.” Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Azcárate Rosell, Rafael 1937. Historia de los Indios de Cuba. Editorial Tropical, Havana.

Barreiro, José 1989. Indians in Cuba. Cultural Survival Quarterly 13 (3) 56-60.

Barreiro, José 1990 A Note on Tainos: Whither Progress? Northeast Indian Quarterly Fall, 1990, pp. 66–77.

Barreiro, José 2005 In Cuba the cry was for water. Indian Country Today part one October 13, part two October 20, 2005. (accessed October 25, 2005)

Bercht, Fatima Estrellita Brodsky, John Alan Farmer, Dicey Taylor, (eds) 1997. Taino: Pre-Columbian Art and Culture from the Caribbean. Museo Del Barrio Monacelli Press, New York.

Biarakú (a Taino Cultural Interest Group) 1999. 2. Taino Sun Symbols Taíno Forum #25,

Biarakú (a Taino Cultural Interest Group) 2003 Taíno Short Dictionary

Beltran, Juan. 1924. Bojeo de Cuba por Sebastian de O’Campo. El Universal, Havana p. 9 paragraph 3 "Vista de los Azules y aun tal vez vagamente presentada al misterioso reflejo de los lambentes, que andando los días había de servir de base a la poética y sentimental Luz de Yara..."

Black, Clinton V. 1965. History of Jamaica. 3rd edition Collins Clear Type Press, London and Glasgow.

Breton, Raymond 1665. Dictionnaire caraïbe-français (El caribe insular del siglo XVII Tratado sobre la lengua y la cultura de los Callínago) Translated to Spanish by Duna Troiani CELIA-CNRS / París ( Centro de estudios de las lenguas indígenas de América, Centre national de la recherche scientifique.) Link found at

Bueno, Salvador (ed.) 2003. Cuban Leyends (SeigfriedKaden illustrator, Christine R. Ayorinde translator). Markus Weiner Publishers, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

Carrada, Alfred 2003 (Accessed 11/5/2005) Dictionary of the Taino language

de las Casas, Bartolomé (circa 1474-1566, 1995 reprinting). "Historia de las Indias" Cultura Economica, Mexico City (Casas vol. 2, p. 521-522).

Castellanos, Juan de. 1874 Elegia VI. Elegías de varones ilustres de Indias. Madrid: M. Rivadeneyra, pp. 14–17.

Castellanos Garcia, Gerardo 1927. "Tierras y Glorias de Oriente (Calixto Garcia Iñiguez)" Editorial Hermes Havana p. 155.

Cienfuegos page (sampled September 9, 2004) Leyendas de Cienfuegos, Las Mulatas.

Cohen, J. M (editor and translator) 1969. The Four Voyages of Christopher Columbus. Being His Own Log-Book, Letters and Dispatches. Penguin Books, London, New York and Victoria Australia. Pages195-196 “He therefore went to the island of Guadalupe, anchored there and sent boats ashore well armed. But, before they arrived, a number of women came out of the woods carrying bows and arrows, and with feathers on their heads, apparently resolved to defend the island……to northern islands…When the ships came very close to shore, they saw many Indian men coming out on to the beach with bows and arrows, which they shot at our men with great daring and great shouts. But they shot in vain, for their arrows fell short… The houses were square not round like on the islands, and in one of them a human arm was found cooking in a stew pot.”

Coll y Toste, Cayetano 1972. Vocabulario indo-antillano. In: Clásicos de Puerto Rico segunda edición, Ediciones Latinoamericanas. Found at:

de Cora, Maria Manuela 1972. Kuai-Mare. Mitos Aborígenes de Venezuela. Monte Avila Editores Caracas.

Crespo, George 1993. How the Sea Began. A Taino Myth Retold and Illustrated. Clarion Books, New York.

Curet L.A. 2002 The Chief Is Dead, Long Live… Who? Descent and Succession in the Protohistoric Chiefdoms of the Greater Antilles. Ethnohistory 49(2)259-280.

Dacal Moure, Ramon, Manuel Rivero De La Calle, Daniel H. Sandweiss 1996 Art and Archaeology of Pre-Columbian Cuba (Pitt Latin American Series) University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburg.

DeSola, C. Ralph 1932. Fishing with the fisherman fish in West Indian waters. Bull. N.Y. Zool. Soc. 35(3) 74-92.

Drummond, Lee. 1981 "The serpent's children: semiotics of cultural genesis in Arawak and Trobriand myth." - American ethnologist (Washington) 8 (3): 633-660. “Drummond tells us in his study of Arawak myth (1981), the action of celebrating the myth of Arawak origins actually creates the distinction between the Arawak and the Carib. It renders the Arawak people real.”

Erdman, D.S. 1983. Nombres vulgares de peces de Puerto Rico. Common names of fishes in Puerto Rico CODREMAR. Inf. Téc. 3(2): 1-44 (not yet obtained).

Estefanía, Carlos Manuel 2005 Así nació Cuba In: Cuba Nuestra digital (accessed 11/5/2005)

D’ Estéfano Pisani, Miguel A. 1943. La Delincuencia de los Indios de Cuba. Jesus Montero (Editor), La Habana. (Note: this book shows a strong biased against the Tainos, and yet it provides useful insights into Taino word usage)

Fajardo, Juan Cristobal Nápoles (known as Cucalambé 1829 - 1862?). Cucalambé (Décimas Cubanas. Selección de Rumores del Hórmigo) Ediciones Universal Miami 2nd Edition 1999.

Fernández de Oviedo, Gonzalo (República Dominicana, Puerto Rico, Cuba, 1478-1557). Libro doceno. Primera Parte. Historia General y Natural de las Indias. Segundo libro. Primera Parte. Historia General y Natural de las Indias. Fergus, Claudius 2003. The 'Carib' Work Stones of Chateaubelair: curio or calendar system? St Vincent and the Grenadines Country Conference Pre-Prints University of the West Indies. St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Figueroa, Ivonne 2004 Taínos El Boricua. Edited by Barbara Yañez, Assistant WebSite Editor accessed 2/15/04

Florida Fish and Wild Life Commission (Division of Marine Fisheries) 2002 Land Crabs (Cardisoma guanhumi). September 2002

Gautier Benítez, José. Romance. El Progreso (Periódico), 24 de agosto de 1873. p. 3.

Gomez de la Maza y Jimenez, Manuel and Juan Tomas Roig y Mesa 1914. Flora de Cuba (Datos para su estudio) Rambla, Bouza y Cia, Havana.

Gonzalez, Francisco J. 1996 Taino-Maya Contacts. Taino-L Taino Forum The retrospective history of the Native Caribbean World History Archives Hartford Web Publishing

Grondine, E.P. (accessed 11/5/2005) Going into the water: A survey of impact events and the coastal peoples of south-east North America, the Caribbean, and Central America

Guanikeyu, Cacique Peter. circa 1999. Taino Words. The Taino InterTribal Council

Guitar, Lynne (2002). Documentando el mito de la extinción de la cultura Taína. KACIKE: Revista de la historia y antropología de los indígenas del Caribe Revista electrónica, Edición Especial, Lynne Guitar, redactora. Disponible en: Accessed 05/11/2005 Gulf States Maine Fisheries Commission 2003 Cairina moschata Linnaeus,

Granberry, Julian, and Gary Vescelius 2004 Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles University Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, ISBN 081735123X

Haslip-Viera, Gabriel (Editor) 2001 Taíno Revival: Critical Perspectives on Puerto Rican Identity and Cultural Politics. Markus Wiener Publishers, Princeton N.J. ISBN 1558762590

Herbold, Stacey. Jamaican Patois and the Power of Language in Reggae Music The only evidence of the Arawak dialect in Jamaica today is a few loan words, place names, food, natural objects, and events (hurricane) (Lalla and D’Costa, 1990). Xaymaca is actually an Arawak word meaning "island of springs", which is where the name Jamaica is derived from (Pryce, 1997). It is possible that the first contact of the Arawaks and the Spaniards may have led to an early pidgin or bilingualism among the first generation of mixed blood.”

Hernández Aquino, Luis. 1993. Diccionario de voces indígenas de Puerto Rico. Tercera edición, Editorial Cultural, Esmaco, Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.

Hill, Jonathan D. and Fernando Santos-Granero (eds.). 2002. Comparative Arawakan Histories. Rethinking Language Family and Cultural Area in Amazonia. University of Illinois Press, Urbana and Chicago.

Jiménez, Mariano II and Mariano G. Jiménez 2003 El Güije. Cuentos de Antaño

Johnson, Kim (accessed 5/3/2005) The story of the 'Caribs and Arawaks'

López de Gómara, Francisco. Primera Parte. La historia general de las Indias. Historiadores primitivos de Indias. Enrique de Vedia, ed. Madrid: Imprenta de M. Ribadeneyra, 1877.

Maciques Sánchez, Esteban 2004. El arte rupestre del Caribe insular: estilo y cronología in Rupestreweb,

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Nápoles Fajardo, Juan Cristobal (known as Cucalambé 1829 - 1862?). Cucalambé (Décimas Cubanas. Selección de Rumores del Hórmigo) Ediciones Universal Miami 2nd Edition1999.

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Puerto Rico, Commonwealth. 1998 Reglamento de Pesca de Puerto Rico Departamento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales. Salvador Salas Quintana (Secretario). Rivas, Anthony T. 2000 Enigmas of Cuban Spanish Proteus, Newsletter of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators Vol. IX, No. 3 Summer 2000 “While lacking conclusive proof, some linguists believe that the marked intonation pattern exhibited by some natives of the former Oriente province originates in Arawak, a language spoken by the indigenous Taíno people, who survived for a limited time just in this province.”

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Ross, Ann H. 2004 Cranial evidence of pre-contact multiple population expansions in the Caribbean Caribbean Journal of Science. 40(3). 2004. 291-298. “The most recognized Caribbean population dispersal hypothesis is a direct jump from South America followed by dispersal into the Lesser Antilles and westward. This evidence primarily comes from the archaeological record, as skeletal material is scarce in the Caribbean due to generally poor preservation. This study evaluated the direct jump hypothesis along with other possible migration routes using cranial landmark data. A study of three-dimensional facial shape variation among pre-Contact Taino groups from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Hispaniola, and pre-Contact groups from Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Florida was conducted. Cuban Tainos differed from other Caribbean Taino groups, suggesting a dissimilar ancestry. No significant difference between the Caribbean Taino (excluding Cuba) groups and the South American groups was observed, a result that was consistent with the archaeological record for dispersal from South America into the Lesser Antilles. Cuba was also very distinct from the Florida series, a finding that contradicts hypotheses of possible migrations across the Straits of Florida. The differentiation of the Cuban Tainos from the rest of the American and Caribbean series suggests another source of population influx.”

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  1. Wilson, 1990
  2. Wilson, 1990
  3. Breton, 1665
  4. Wilson, 1990; Rouse, 1992