Cultural Changes In Hispaniola After The Arrival Of Christopher Columbus

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Cultural Changes in Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus

Cultural Changes in Hispaniola after the arrival of Christopher Columbus

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus landed on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, he thought he had reached the East Indies and, therefore, defined the Indian inhabitants of the island. Despite the error has remained in general use the term to describe the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Although we generally prefer the Spanish term indigenous to describe the inhabitants of Central and South America, here they are united with others under the single name of Indians, which of course has the same origin. Christopher Columbus arrival to the Caribbean island changed the entire culture of Hispaniola and the Caribbean island. Many things started changing and have changed completely (Knight, 2008).

Pre-Columbian History

At the time of the arrival of the Europeans in 1492, various indigenous groups existed in the Caribbean: Taino Arawaks, Ciboneys, Ciguayos, and Caribs. Their population is estimated to have been no more than three-quarters of a million. The Tainos, which constituted the largest group, were of Arawak origin and inhabited the islands of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. An agricultural rather than a warrior society, they cultivated manioc, sweet potatoes, corn, sago, and cotton. They also engaged in hunting, gathering, and fishing (Bennett, 2009)

On Hispaniola, the most densely populated island, the Tainos were organized into five cacicazgos (chiefdoms): Marién, Magua, Maguana, Jaragua, and Higuey. Every chiefdom was governed by its respective cacique (chief). In the social hierarchy, the cacique occupied the most important place, followed by the nobles or nitainos and the shamans or behiques, the common folk or Taino, and the naborias, servants of the nobility. They gathered in villas grouped around a central plaza called a batey. The houses were called bohios and the larger ones caneys. Their religion was polytheistic and animistic. Their principal god was Yocaju-Bagua-Maorocoti, protector of the manioc harvest. Huracan was another important god. The Tainos celebrated rites of passage, in which they held celebrations accompanied by music and dances called areitos. Of special importance was the cohoba festival, in which the behique and the cacique inhaled a hallucinogenic powder called cohoba, with which they entered a trance state and were able to converse with the dead and transmit messages from the cemis, or gods.

Other ethnic groups in the region were the Ciboneys, the Ciguayos, and the Caribs. The Ciboneys were an ethnic group that inhabited eastern Cuba and southwestern Hispaniola. They were hunter-gatherer nomads and did not have a political organization like that of the Tainos. The Ciguayos inhabited the northeastern coast of Hispaniola, and their culture was similar to that of the Tainos, except that they had adopted the custom of war. They spoke a language of Arawak origin and were possibly a Taino-Carib hybrid, due to Carib incursions into the eastern side of the island. The Caribs inhabited the islands of the Lesser ...
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