The Taíno were an indigenous people of the Caribbean. At the time of European contact in the late fifteenth century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of CubaHispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), JamaicaPuerto RicoThe Bahamas and the northern Lesser Antilles. The Taíno were the first New World peoples to be encountered by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage. They spoke the Taíno language, an Arawakan language. 

At the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms in Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chief), to whom tribute was paid. The Taíno name for Hispaniola was Ayiti (“land of high mountains”), which is the source of the name Haiti. Cuba was divided into 29 chiefdoms, many of which have given their name to modern cities, including HavanaBatabanóCamagüeyBaracoa, and BayamoTaíno communities ranged from small settlements to larger centers of up to 3,000 people. They may have numbered 2 million at the time of contact, and almost 3 million at the end of the 15th century. Columbus was surprised by the civility of the Taíno people. Columbus stated, “They will give all that they do possess for anything that is given to them, exchanging things even for bits of broken crockery,” he noted upon meeting them in the Bahamas in 1492. “They were very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces….They do not carry arms or know them….They should be good servants.” 

At the time of Columbus’s arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms in Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chief), to whom tribute was paid. The Taíno name for Hispaniola was Ayiti (“land of high mountains”), which is the source of the name Haiti. Cuba was divided into 29 chiefdoms, many of which have given their name to modern cities, including HavanaBatabanóCamagüeyBaracoa, and BayamoTaíno communities ranged from small settlements to larger centers of up to 3,000 people. They may have numbered 2 million at the time of contact, and almost 3 million at the end of the 15th century. Columbus was surprised by the civility of the Taíno people. Columbus stated, “They will give all that they do possess for anything that is given to them, exchanging things even for bits of broken crockery,” he noted upon meeting them in the Bahamas in 1492. “They were very well built, with very handsome bodies and very good faces….They do not carry arms or know them….They should be good servants.” 

The voice of The National Museum of the American Indian, Jorge Estevez said once: “It shows that the true story (of Taino’s) is one of assimilation, certainly, but not total extinction,”. He emphasized that Taino culture is very much still present and he has suggested that by labeling the region’s people as “extinct,” we will never understand that this is part of the real Caribbean’s present, customs and folklore. 

In order to see whether there were any remaining members of Taino populations or not, a special team from National Geographic sent Scientists to detect the presence of genetic material in living populations and they are still testing to check results in the future. Let’s remember that extinction of an ethnic group occurs when you have each member of this particular group die without the opportunity to pass his/her genetics to future generations. This was not the case and all real Caribbean’s have that Taino blood from their ancestors. 

The quoted scientists have previously obtained tests and results from an ancient tooth that was found in a 1,000-year-old female skeleton in the Caribbean islands of the Bahamas and this team compared her genome sequence to existing datasets of modern-day indigenous populations and they found the ancient DNA had origins from Taino genes, and that they were normally most common in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. 

Nowadays, the Taino culture has influenced local music in the Caribbean, traditional dishes fish based and the beauty of its citizens. Even though this civilization has been tremendously affected by the colonization of the Americas, this is just a proof that Caribbean ancestors were completely engaged to reproduce their rich culture, and this is something that locals feel completely proud of.