Song of the Taino

front cover image for song of the taino showing taino petroglyphFew peo­ple seem to be aware of this, but the great­est geno­cide in the his­to­ry of our plan­et began in 1493 when Colum­bus returned to the Caribbean in search of rich­es for the Span­ish Crown. In a sin­gle gen­er­a­tion the mil­lions of Tain­os who inhab­it­ed the Greater Antilles and neigh­bor­ing islands were all but wiped out, and as the Euro­pean con­querors spread over North and South Amer­i­ca oth­er native peo­ples met a sim­i­lar fate, see­ing their civ­i­liza­tions sub­ju­gat­ed and their peo­ple dec­i­mat­ed through war­fare, slav­ery, and dis­ease. There are times when for­get­ting is a bless­ing of Prov­i­dence but some things should nev­er be for­got­ten. The more I learned about the Taino peo­ple, the more I real­ized that they deserved to have their voice heard, to have their place in the gallery of voic­es that make up our human history—both the tragedy and pain of their demise and the rich­es of their cul­tur­al her­itage. To go back in time over five hun­dred years to res­ur­rect a large­ly for­got­ten sto­ry was an enor­mous chal­lenge, one that required a great deal of research and what­ev­er pow­ers of imag­i­na­tion I could sum­mon, but it was a deeply reward­ing chal­lenge on many lev­els. The title comes from the Taino are­ito, a long cer­e­mo­ni­al song, both his­tor­i­cal and mytho­log­i­cal in con­tent, that their shamans and chiefs would per­form dur­ing reli­gious fes­ti­vals, there­by pre­serv­ing and cel­e­brat­ing the cul­tur­al mem­o­ry of their peo­ple. Theirs is a trag­ic sto­ry but it is also one of hope and cel­e­bra­tion, for the spir­it of the Taino remains alive in the Caribbean and that should be cel­e­brat­ed for as long as human beings live in these islands.

Book Descrip­tion:

For many cen­turies the islands of Haiti and Borikén had been home to the Taino peo­ple, the peace-lov­ing inhab­i­tants of the Greater Antilles whose care­free soci­ety led Colum­bus to believe that he had stum­bled across the earth­ly par­adise that stirred the imag­i­na­tion of most fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry Euro­peans — until he and the Span­ish con­quis­ta­dors ini­ti­at­ed the most ter­ri­ble geno­cide our plan­et has ever wit­nessed. This is the sto­ry of the epic encounter between two alien civ­i­liza­tions in the lands that the Span­ish renamed Españo­la and Puer­to Rico, between a unique cul­ture that would soon van­ish from the earth—though its lega­cy lives on through­out the Caribbean—and a cru­sad­ing nation whose lust for gold and mis­sion­ary zeal brought the fires of hell to a new world whose cul­tures and tra­di­tions were old as its own.

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