The Caribbean 1492

1. How did Columbus describe Taino society?

Columbus described the Taino as a gentle people who spoke a beautiful language and presided over beautiful estates.  We also learned that the Taino were enmeshed in a complex trade and political network that linked many of the Caribbean islands. Large canoes carried people (as many as 200) and cargoes throughout this network. Warehouses stored trade goods. A political hierarchy also had developed in this region.  Among the leaders was Guacanagari.  


2. Describe the Taino's migration to Hispaniola.  When?  From where?

The Taino and other Caribbean peoples migrated into the Caribbean from northeastern South America as early as 500 BC, 2000 years before the arrival of Columbus. 


3.  What was the population of the Caribbean at Contact? At least 1 million. Las Casas said the Taino’s population was 2 million.


4. What was the purpose of Columbus’ return voyage? He sought mineral wealth (gold and silver) and converts to Christianity.


5. Who was Bartolome Las Casas?  Summarize his description of the conquest of Hispaniola.

Las Casas came as a conquistador and became a priest who took on the responsibility, and later the official title, of Protector of the Indies.  He was the first Spaniard to write descriptions of the Spaniards’ brutal treatment of indigenous peoples in the Americas and the high mortalities that they experienced at the hands of the Spaniards.  


By 1496 Taino population reduced by 2/3.


6. Summarize the life and significance of Enrique. Enrique was a Taino of royal lineage who led the first successful long-term war of resistance against the Spaniards. He utilized the isolation of Hispaniola’s rugged interior mountains to provide refuge against Spanish attacks and led guerilla attacks from these areas over more than a decade. His model of guerilla warfare was repeated throughout the Americas throughout the colonial and post-colonial period.



Encomienda? What was that? The encomienda was a grant of land and labor made by the Spanish king to conquistadors.  Conquistadors received large tracts of land in the Caribbean and mainland America, which included the indigenous peoples who lived on those tracts.  Conquistadors were supposed to teach and convert the indigenous peoples in return for their labor. The system was abusive and led to the concentration of large amounts of Latin American lands into the hands of a relatively small elite population.  That imbalanced situation persists to the present.


7. What was the Taino population by 1600? 0