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Jamaica/Xaymaca: Before the arrival of enslaved African peoples

(Culture, Identity, History, Memory)
It is believed that around 800 CE the Taíno people (also known as Arawak) were the first inhabitants of the island and therefore the first to experience the violence of European colonialism/terrorism on the island.
The Taíno people named the island 'Xaymaca' meaning "land of wood and water", Taínos were very skilled at fishing, agriculture, hunting and making canoes among other things.
The Taíno Indians lived in theocratic kingdoms governed by the chiefs or caciques of each yucayeque / village. Their society was divided into two classes: naborias (working class) and nitaínos (nobles).
Though the kingdoms were governed by men, the Taíno had a matrilineal system of kinship, descent & inheritance; women were the head and heirs of the family. It is believed that Taíno women wore their hair in bangs & adorned themselves in gold jewelry, paint, and/or shells.
It is also thought that newly married couples lived in the houses of their maternal uncles (who were more important than their fathers) and that some Taínos also practised polygamy.
Studies suggest that there were no large animals native to the Caribbean, & so the Taínos captured & ate small animals, such as hutias other mammals, earthworms, lizards and birds.
They also harvested crops such as corn and cassava.
They were a beautiful indigenous people with a rich culture, language & sense of community.

Though some survived, the 15/16th century marks what many scholars have called the Genocide of the Taínos by the Spanish.
The Taínos were the first peoples to be encountered, not "discovered", by Christopher Columbus during his 1492 voyage to the "New World."
The Taínos could not have been "discovered" as they were home while Columbus and his men were *lost* at sea.
The Spanish had hoped to find gold and exotic spices when they landed in the Caribbean in 1492, but there was little gold and the spices were unfamiliar. Columbus then turned his attention to a different kind of 'commodity': the Taíno people.
The Taínos were tasked to provide gold routinely. If they failed their hands were chopped off causing them to bleed to death. Harsh treatment in the gold mines, sugarcane fields, & the unbridled diseases that arrived with the Spanish, caused the population to rapidly decline.
The Taíno were declared extinct shortly after 1565 when a census showed just 200 living in the Caribbean and then none alive in 1802. Though some are thought to have survived (& still exist today)
Jamaica and the Caribbean at large is a space brutally victimised twice by colonial violence and colonial rule. A space which was desecrated & place which legitimised the practice of violence of two groups of people.
We remember Xaymaca/Jamaica land we love, and the Taínos.
Out of many, one people 🇯🇲
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