Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 1 October, 2011

Condensed by Native Village

The Taino were the first Indigenous peoples to greet the Spanish in 1492. The name Taíno was given by Columbus when the men greeted him saying "Taíno, Taíno".  Taino means "We are good, noble."
Columbus thought that Taíno was the name of the people.

Dr. Juan Martinez Cruzado is a geneticist at the Univ. of Puerto Rico. Cruzado designed an island-wide DNA survey of Puerto Ricans. The study showed:

 Nuclear DNA (nDNA)
The genetic material in a gene's nucleus.
Inherited equally from father and mother)

27% of Puerto Ricans have African nDNA
 12% have Caucasian nDNA

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Inherited only from one's mother.
 It never blends or changes through time or through generations.

61% of Puerto Ricans have Amerindian mtDNA

"In other words a majority of Puerto Ricans have Taino blood," Cruzado said. " ... the people were not extinguished. The people were assimilated into a new colonial order and became mixed. ...That's what Puerto Ricans are: Indians mixed with Africans and Spaniards."

He added that 200 years ago, Taino culture was very strong.  A study in those times would show that 80% had Indian heritage. In fact, Tainos appear in a military census from the 1790s. They had been considered extinct until the 2,000 Indians were found living in a northwestern mountain region.

"These were Indians who the Spanish had placed on the tiny island of Mona (just off the western coast of Puerto Rico) who survived in isolation and then were brought over," Cruzado said. 

Visit the website for the
Concilio Taíno Guatu-Ma-cu A Borikén

Martinez Cruzado noted that customs and history have been handed down through oral tradition.  Even today, many Taino use their own medicinal plants and farming methods.  This is especially true of the areas once known as Indieras, or Indian Zones.

Dr. Cruzado's study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.


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