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Pre-Columbian History of the Caribbean Indigenous People Essay

Both indigenous groups, Tainos and Siboneys migrated to the Caribbean region. The first indigenous group to migrate to the Caribbean was the Siboneys. Although their origin has been debated, the common perception is that they came from either the southern top of modern day Florida or Mexico. It is estimated that around 500 B. C. they settled in the Greater Antilles region of the Caribbean. This region includes the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica. The Taino migration occurred approximately around the same time as the Siboneys.

Their migration started from the South American mainland, most notably the area between Venezuela and Colombia to the area known as the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. This area included islands such as Trinidad and the Virgin Islands. The Taino utilized canoes to travel between each island during their migration. The canoes were made out of tree trunks and measured approximately 25 meters in length. Each canoe had a travel capacity of approximately 50 people. The main reason for the Taino migration was increased agitation and threats from the Carib indigenous people from the same region in South America.

The Caribs were fierce in the their pursuit of the Taino and followed them up into the Lesser Antilles. Culturally, both the Taino and Siboney differed greatly. The Siboneys communed in small societies. Some would argue that they were culturally unsophisticated. They did not make any complex tools, just wood, stone and shells. The Siboney’s also settled by the riverside since they did not practice any form of agriculture. Their diet consisted of easily attainable animals such as fish and reptiles. They also ate wild fruits that were native to the islands.

Conversely, the Taino were more advanced than their northern neighbor the Siboneys. The Taino had a complex society that consisted of settlements of as much as 500 inhabitants. They also contained a social structure for each settlement that consisted of a chief known as a cacique, a tier of elders who represented various families of each settlement, women and children. The Taino designated tasks to its members according to their position. Men cleared uninhabited areas of land and fished. Women were in charge of crop cultivation and child rearing.

Unlike the Siboneys, the Taino mastered the art of farming. They farmed various crops such as yucca, guava and sweet potatoes. They also hunted various small game around the islands. The Taino also mastered clay pottery. Lastly, the Taino exercised their religious beliefs regularly. They believed in Gods that they called Zemis. The Caicique’s job was to carry out religious ceremonies by nasally ingesting a hallucinogenic mixture of tobacco and crushed sea shells through a long pipe called a cohoba. This snuff allowed the caciques to communicate with their Gods.

Unlike the Siboneys, the Taino were a highly advanced society. They played a sophisticated team game called “Batey”. This game can be considered as the precursor to modern day soccer. Specially designed ball courts were created for Batey. In addition, The Taino also created jewelry and ornaments in which both men and women wore to Festivals and other celebratory events. In conclusion, the Taino and Siboney indigenous people both migrated to the Caribbean region. They both make up the genealogical and cultural starting point for all individuals who hail from the Caribbean region.


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