Taino Indians

A brief history and description of the pre-Columbian Taino Indians.

The Taino Indians are from the area of the Bahamas and Greater and lesser Antilles. These Indians were probably originated from South Americans. However, the origin of the Taino Indians is not known for sure. There are different theories out there but they have not been proven. The Taino were sea bearing Indians. They were enemies with their neighbors the Carib Indians.

In 1492, when Columbus first arrived in the area, there were five kingdoms of Taino Indians. These kingdoms were led by separate cheiftans called Cacique. The largest population around this time was probably around 3,000 Taino Indians.

The introduction of the Spanish people took its toll on the Taino Indians by the 18th century. Diseases and the process of assimilation imposed by the Spanish decreased the population of Taino people. The cultures mixed as Spanish settlers, who did not had not brought any Spanish women, took Taino wives.

The Taino Indians contained two classes of people in their society. The Naborias were the commoners and the Nitainos were the nobles. There were also chiefs known as Caciques. Chiefs could be femal or male. The Caciques were advised by a priest or healer known as bohiques. The bohiques were very important in decision making because they could speak to the gods.

The Taino Indians gathered their food but would also occasional hunt or fish. They wore their hair long in back with bangs in the front. They may also wear paint, shells, or gold jewelry. The men's clothing would sometimes include short skirts. The women wore a similar skirt but only after they were married.

The Taino Indians were known to practice polygamy. Having two or three spouses was common among men and would sometimes occur among women as well. The Caciques would sometimes marry up to 30 partners.

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