views updated


Taínos is the name given to a group of people Columbus encountered at first landfall in the Caribbean. Also known as Island Arawak, they are believed to have migrated from South America between 200 bce and 1200 ce, and shared the islands of the Caribbean with the Ciboney and Carib peoples at the time of the Spanish incursion. Mainly agriculturalists, some aided the Spanish in procuring food and shelter. Their numbers were decimated within a century by illness, malnutrition, overwork, and social collapse precipitated by Spanish colonization of their islands. Knowledge of this group is from the early Spanish chronicles, archaeologists, and linguists. Today, many Caribbean people, in particular inhabitants of Puerto Rico, can claim Taíno ancestry. Interest in Taíno history and culture continues to increase as Taíno descendants organize and seek recognition.

See alsoColumbus, Christopher .


Louis A. Pérez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution (1988), esp. pp. 16-20.

Antonio M. Stevens Arroyo, Cave of the Jagua: The Mythological World of the Taínos (1988).

Franklin W. Knight, The Caribbean, the Genesis of a Fragmented Nationalism, 2d ed. (1990), esp. pp. 7-23.

Samuel M. Wilson, Hispaniola: Caribbean Chiefdoms in the Age of Columbus (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Robiou Lamarche, Sebastián. Taínos y caribes: Las culturas aborígenes antillanas. San Juan, Puerto Rico: Editorial Punto y Coma, 2003.

Moscoso, Francisco. Tribu y clases en el Caribe antiguo. San Pedro de Macorís, República Dominicana: Universidad Central del Este, 1986.

                                          Joyce E. Naylon