Are the Taínos Extinct or Alive?

After traveling by canoe through South America, our aboriginal Indians decided to settle down in the mountainous regions of the island, finding a paradise in the beautiful peninsula they called Borinkén, meaning the land of God. The first inhabitants of Puerto Rico were descendants of the Arawak tribe; developing in the 13th century into the Taíno culture. Even though they lived in a community of harmony, cooperation, and respect, they had to protect themselves from the Indian Caribs, who were extremely violent.

The Taínos were highly intelligent, spiritual and resourceful, making a living as farmers and fisherman. To communicate with their ancestors and Yocahú, (the god of good), they carved on the rocks hieroglyphs, whose meanings are still a mystery.  They believed in life after death; therefore, besides burying their dead ones with food and water, they would also place a cemí, (a figurine they crafted resembling their God) to protect them in their next journey.

Upon the discovery of Borinkén, Christopher Columbus thought they were very noble and hospitable. Due to their generous nature, the Taínos welcomed the Spaniards to their land with open arms because they believed the colonists were immortal beings. However, the Spaniards abused them because they believed the Indians were inferior; forcing them to do mining work without providing food.

Even though history claims that our ancestors disappeared by the end of the sixteen centuries, a recent study has proven wrong this historical fact. A professor of genetics from the University of Puerto Rico, Juan Carlos Martínez Cruzado was able to conduct an analysis, testing about 300 Puerto Ricans to find out that distinctive pieces of Taíno DNA were found in the modern Puerto Rican. For that matter, this investigation indicates that instead of the race Taíno being extinct, our ancestors evolved into a contemporary Boricua.

The tyranny of the Spaniards during the colonization caused the Taíno tribe to disappear quickly. However, the Puerto Rican heritage lives in the immortal spirit of our Indians who were very advanced spiritually. In my opinion, each Puerto Rican is gifted with intelligence and spiritual resources, like our aboriginal ancestors were.

I wonder how could these primitive beings, known as the Taíno tribe  become so spiritually advanced? Even though history states they were antecedents from the Arawak Indians; where did they come from? Why the Spaniards thought they were inferior? And most important, as a modern Boricua, what are you presently doing to honor your legacy? As a proud Puerto Rican, I feel very lucky to have Taíno blood and hope to become a great catalyst to serve my beautiful native land.

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