2006-11-06 04:38:42 UTC
language of PortoRico. We would like to revive a language that was once
spoken all throughout PortoRico by the great Tainos. Taino was spoken
PortoRico BEFORE Spanish That Spanish is now the official language of
PortoRico, and not Taino, is not fair. We demand change now! Taino the
official language of PortoRico!
from "The Tainos, the people who welcomed Columbus", by Francine
Jacobs, copyright 1992
Though the admiral had directed that the Tainos be treated kindly and
with respect, he had turned loose an army of hungry soldiers. The
Spaniards swept across the once tranquil plains like a swarm of
locusts, leaving ruin and famine in their path. Taino villages were
sacked, and the little food stored in their huts was taken. The
oppressed Tainos fled their villages, abandoned their carefully
cultivated conucos and became refugees in their own land.
The Spanish depended upon the Indians to supply their food, but many
Tainos had fled their homes and conucos and there was hunger on the
island. The Tainos suffered most; an estimated 50,000 of them would
perish before year's end. The ancient Taino civilization and the simple
farming economy on which it depended were being destroyed by the
Margarite, insulted by criticism of the conduct of his troops, left
Hispaniola and sailed for Spain. His soldiers, abandoned by their
commander, now became renegades and continued to harass and to
terrorize the Indians in the central districts. The rampage went on,
unabated, into 1495. The tormented Indians continued to flee this
brutality; they hid, starving in the rugged countryside.....
....There were many Indian captives from the recent battle. Instead of
releasing them, he planned to ship the Taino prisoners in bondage to
Spain. There, in the slave market of Seville, they would fetch profits
to pay the expenses of his enterprise.
So some 1,600 luckless Taino captives were rounded up and taken to
the port at Isabela. Only 500 of the captives, however, could be jammed
into the dark, dank holds of the four caravels returning to Spain. So
"the best males and females", like prize cattle, were selected for
shipment. Others were held as slaves to the colonists in Isabela.
The Indians taken aboard the Spanish vessels fared miserably,
huddled naked in the dark, smelly depths of the ships without warmth or
adequate sanitation. Almost half of them perished and were thrown
overboard during the stormy crossing. Those who survived to reach Spain
were in such poor condition that most soon died afterward.
The Tainos in the central districts were now completely dispirited,
and Columbus moved to take cruel advantage of them. He imposed a severe
tax upon every Indian male 14 years of age or older living in Cibao and
the Vega. Every 3 months, or 4 times a year, each man was required to
provide a quantity of gold dust, sufficient to fill a small copper bell
or be put to death.
The Tainos suffered horribly under the tribute. They found
themselves in a terrible trap. On the one hand, the Indians faced
starvation. On the other hand, they faced death if they failed to
provide the required tax. So, many Tainos gave up everything and fled
to the mountains. Homeless in their own land, they were hunted down
like animals by the Spaniards. Numbers of Indians decided to take their
own lives rather than submit to the white man's tyranny. They committed
suicide, deliberately drinking raw, poisonous cassava juice. Those who
tried to resist the oppressors were tortured and killed. Archeological
and historical evidence leads experts today to believe that the Taino
population of Hispaniola was about 1 million when Columbus first
arrived in 1492. By 1496, a third of these native people had perished.
In March or 1496, Columbus returned to Spain and left Bartolome behind
in charge of the colony. Months later, a letter from the Admiral
arrived, advising the Adelantado that a religious controversy in Spain
about the enslavement of the Indians had been resolved. It was decided
that making slaves ot the Tainos was acceptable only if the Indians
were taken as prisoners of war. In other words, it was necessary only
to accuse the Tainos of fighting back in order to deprive them of their
So now it became a deliberate policy of the colonists to incite the
Indians to resist mistreatment in order to arrest and condemn them to
slavery. 300 Tainos were immediately accused and convicted of
rebellious or warlike acts by the Adelantado and promptly shipped off
to Spain to be sold into lifetime slavery.
So Bartolome returned with fresh forces and attacked the Macorix anew,
waging war for 3 months, until the end, he had subdued them and
600 Macorix were also taken captive. Now Columbus had prisoners of
war to send to Spain. Pleased to have valuable slaves to ship home, the
Admiral loaded the captives aboard the two ships that sailed for Spain
in October 1498.
By 1548, less than 500 Tainos of pure blood remained on Hispaniola....
Although mestizo children, the offspring of Spanish and Indian parents
lived on Hispaniola from 1493 onward, the genes of West Indians today
are overwhelmingly of African and European origin.
The mineral and agricultural wealth sought by the Spanish conquerors
did not exist in the islands. The riches of the West Indies were their
people, the Tainos, and they were destroyed. There are no longer Tainos
planting manioc, no conucos, no joyous areytos and no proud caciques to
greet current visitors. The Tainos have been a forgotten people, a bit
of history encased in a museum, their story untold.