Spaniards enslaving the Native Americans. Throughout his years in the New World, Columbus enacted policies of forced labor in which natives were put to work for the sake of profits. Later, Columbus sent thousands of peaceful Taino “Indians” from the island of Hispaniola to Spain to be sold. Many died en route.
Most Puerto Ricans know, or think they know, their ethnic and racial history: a blending of Taino (Indian), Spanish and African. According to the study funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, 61 percent of all Puerto Ricans have Amerindian mitochondrial DNA, 27 percent have African and 12 percent Caucasian.
In Hispaniola — what is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic — Columbus encountered the Lucayans’ cousins, the Taíno. There Columbus built a fort where he left a few dozen of his crew, killed two people, took more hostages and sailed back to Spain.
The Taino were easily conquered by the Spaniards beginning in 1493. Enslavement, starvation, and disease reduced them to a few thousand by 1520 and to near extinction by 1550. Those who survived mixed with Spaniards, Africans, and others.
Half a millennium before Columbus “discovered” America, those Viking feet may have been the first European ones to ever have touched North American soil. Exploration was a family business for the expedition’s leader, Leif Eriksson (variations of his last name include Erickson, Ericson, Erikson, Ericsson and Eiriksson ).
Columbus often thought the native peoples he met had no religion.
As a result, Puerto Rican bloodlines and culture evolved through a mixing of the Spanish, African, and indigenous Taíno and Carib Indian races that shared the island. Today, many Puerto Rican towns retain their Taíno names, such as Utuado, Mayagüez and Caguas.
Recent DNA sample studies have concluded that the three largest components of the Puerto Rican genetic profile are in fact indigenous Taino, European, and African with an estimated 62 per cent of the population having a indigenous female ancestor. Afro- Puerto Ricans constitute the largest minority group.
The Taíno were an Arawak people who were the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida. At the time of European contact in the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Puerto Rico.
European artist’s depiction of Christopher Columbus trading with the Taíno on his first voyage to the “New World,” from the illustrated edition of Columbus’ 1493 letter to Gabriel Sanchez, treasurer general of the kingdom of Aragon.
When the Europeans arrived, carrying germs which thrived in dense, semi-urban populations, the indigenous people of the Americas were effectively doomed. They had never experienced smallpox, measles or flu before, and the viruses tore through the continent, killing an estimated 90% of Native Americans.
A small number of mainland Arawak survive in South America. Most (more than 15,000) live in Guyana, where they represent about one-third of the Native American population. Smaller groups are found in Suriname, French Guiana, and Venezuela.
Mass suicide began among the Arawaks; infants were killed to save them from the Spaniards. As Zinn puts it: “In two years, through murder, mutilation, or suicide, half of the 250,000 Indians on Haiti were dead.” Within a century-and-a-half, none of the original Arawaks or their descendants were left on the island.
The original inhabitants of Jamaica are believed to be the Arawaks, also called Tainos. They came from South America 2,500 years ago and named the island Xaymaca, which meant ““land of wood and water”. The Arawaks were a mild and simple people by nature.