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Where did they come from?

The Tainos' ancestors are said to be descended from the Arawakian tribe in Amazonia and the people of the Orinocco Valley in Venezuela. The Tainos headed north until they reached their final habitation. Although the first people to encounter Columbus were the Tainos of San Salvador, Dominican Republic, they also thrived throughout the rest of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and parts of South Florida. Below, you will find some links to their homelands as well as some interesting articles about their initial encounters with Columbus.

For more Taino Info...

Taino FAQ
Here you will find frequently asked questions and answers.
Examining the Reputation of Columbus
This Jack Weathersby article offers a new point of view on his coming to the New World.
Lost City of the People Who Greeted Columbus Found
Interesting article discusses new Taino findings in the D.R.
Vivid travel sight shows maps and also has interesting history on the Taino people.


The word "Taino" means "good" or "noble" and it's rightfully so because no Spaniard ever saw these Indians fighting among themselves. They were a peaceful and generous people. At the end of the fifteenth century, they were divided into five tribes and on the verge of modern civilization and a centralized government. Their numbers have been estimated to be about 250,000 at that time. "Discovered" by Colombus in 1492, they taught him the ways of farming such crops as yuca and corn. Columbus stayed for only a year though, and when he left there were 39 Spaniards that remained behind with hopes of starting a settlement. However, fights began to break out among the Spaniards. They took on three or four Indian wives each, forcibly. After several months, the Tainos grew tired of the harsh treatment. Their "cacique" (chief) Coronabo attacked the settlement and killed the remaining Spaniards. Columbus returned the following spring and was shocked to find the settlement empty and burned. The new governor Nicholas de Ovando decided to take revenge. He arranged for Anacoana, the Indian princess-widow of Coronabo, to cook a meal for over 80 Indian caciques. However, when the chiefs had gathered within the dining hall preparing to feast, the Spaniards burned the place to the ground. Those who did not perish in the fire were later tortured to death. Thus began a tense relationship between the two peoples. It was at about this same time when the Indians were forced to work on the Spanish plantations. Some chose to abandon their villages and burn their crops, hoping to escape the torture. But their intentions backfired, and they were left without shelter and food. Mass suicide broke out, and the remaining Indian population, several years later, perished due to smallpox. Columbus and the Spaniards had all but wiped out the entire Taino population.