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(Source Needed)[edit]

Is there a source for current modern Arawak populations?? Grason1129 (talk) 23:43, 8 October 2008 (UTC)

(unstated topic)[edit]

Columbus writes in his diary, "As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts."

I do not think anyone doubts the consequences of the conquest for the Arawak. I do have one objection to the way this article opens, however. I suspect that descendants of the Arawak today, and the Arawak of 600 years ago, would object to their being portrayed first and foremost as victims.
I suggest reorganizing this article not to change any content, but to make it more chronological. Start with where the Arawak lived at the time of contact, and then whatever we know about their culture. Only then describe the conquest, genocide, etc. Slrubenstein


IS there any reason this in not a redirect to taino? Rich Farmbrough 01:15, 7 Nov 2004 (UTC)

No - Taino is a term specific to the more highly cultured groups in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola; the Bahamian and Cubans are often considered distinct, while some of the tribes in Trinidad were considered Arawak. Modern scholarship suggests that the distinction between Arawak and Carib may not be all that reasonable.

Even with regards to the Greater Antillean people, Taino is a somewhat uncertain term - it appears that the term meant "good people" and was used to distinguish them from the "bad" Caribs. But anyone who was hostile to the Spanish was "Carib". So Arawak has currency for the less developed societies in the Greater Antilles, and collectively for Lucayo, Taino and Lesser Antillean/Trinidadian people in the Caribbean. Of course it is also a widespread language family in South America Guettarda 15:14, 19 Nov 2004 (UTC)

"the distinction between Arawak and Carib may not be all that reasonable"

Except that there are completely unrelated Arawakan and Carib language families, in use today in South America.

The only question is whether everyone that the Taino and/or Spanish called a "Carib" really was a member of the Carib ethnolinguistic family, or only some of them were.


In the introduction to Comparative Arawakan Histories (ed. Jonathan D. Hill and Fernando Santos-Granero, 2002, University of Illinois Press; ISBN 0-252-02758-2) they include the show the Taino of the Greater Antilles, the Karipuna of the Lesser Antilles, the Nepoya, Suppoya and Yao of Trinidad and the Lokono of the Guianas as Arawakan people, but the Kariña of the Orinoco valley and the Warao of the Orinoco delta as non-Arawaks (however, the Yao are later referred to as Carib-speaking). Taino is thus only a single entity among the many Arawak entities of the Caribbean Santos-Granero (in the same volume, Chapter titled The Arawkan Matrix: Ethos, Language and History in Native South America) states:

The Spanish recognized two large groups in the Caribbean region: a number of highly sophisticated hierarchical chiefdoms sharing many cultural traits, which occupied most of the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands, and the northern portion of the Lesser Antilles (Leeward Islands), which generally but not always welcomed the Spanish peacefully; and a number of smaller and less complex groups, which occupied the southern portion of the Lesser Antilles (Windward Islands), who shunned contact with foreigners or firmly opposed their presence.

and then

The diverse peoples belonging to the first category - the Boriqua, Lucayas, and other islanders - came to be known collectively as the Taíno in 1836 (Whitehead 1995a, 92). In 1871 Daniel G. Britton deonstrated that theirs was an Arawakan language - similar to that of the Lokono or mainland Arawaks - and for this reason decided to call them Island Arawaks (Rouse 1992, 5).
Santos-Granero describes the "classic Taino" (of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola and eastern Cuba; the most sophisticated group) and the "western Taino" (of Jamaica, the Bahamas and Cuba) as being more peaceful and developed than the "eastern Taino" (of the Virgin Islands and the northern Lesser Antilles) who had to contend with Carib raids; the eastern Taino as reported to have taken slaves, war captives and have practised cannibalism, as did the Lokono.

They and other sources go on to discuss the different theories of origin of the "Island Caribs" - it seems that the old theory of Carib replacement has been largely supplanted by theories of reticulate origins, in which Carib-speaking immigrants from South America either conquered the islands and killed the men but kept the women as wives, or that they simply immigrated in and intermingled with the previous Arawak-speakers of the Lesser Antilles (sometimes referred to as Igneri, to distingish them from the Arawak-speakers of the Greater Antilles and South America). The "Island Caribs" (Kalinago) appear to have spoken an Arawakan language among the women and children, but that the men spoke a Carib language or pidgin. Neil Whitehead (same book, Chapter titled: Arawak Linguistic and Cultural Identity through Time: Contact, Colonialism and Creolization) states that Douglas Taylor (1946) "gives the orthgraphic form ni'tinao (formal friend [ws] or progenitor [ws/ms])" for Taino, while Raymond Breton (1665, 1666) "giv[es] the form ne'tegnon and nitino/neteno (husband's father, husband's mother, or daughter's husband [ws])" (ws = woman speaking, ms = man speaking). However, he states that guatiao is the older term - used by Columbus for the "tractable" natives; aruaca was first used for the Lokono - derived from the word aru, manioc flour, their primary item of trade. The word Taíno was coined by Constantine Rafinesque in 1836 in his book The American Nations; or, Outlines of Their General History, Ancient and Modern.

Additional info:

Shirley McGinnis (1997) in Ideographic Expression in the Precolumbian Caribbean (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin) stated that:

On the 23rd of December...Columbus discovered that the name nitayno meant important person.

also, during the second voyage, Dr. Chanca of Seville wrote (about people when they landed in Gaudeloupe):

When a boat came to land to speak with them, they said to them tayno, tayno, which means good.

Guettarda 21:14, 12 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Is is safe to assume that yuca is meant, rather than yucca? — Pekinensis 20:25, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)

yes. Guettarda 23:56, 18 Jun 2005 (UTC)


Tagged this article to be cleaned up due to a lack of divisions and some necessary information such as populations (before eradication).

Surviving Taino Mixed Language?[edit]

"Most scholars believe that of the Ciboney, Taino and Carib, only the Carib survive today. Although some groups have claimed to be descendants of the Taino, this is academically viewed as highly unlikely."

Compare Ethnologue :

"Members of the ethnic group now speak Spanish, or a Spanish-Taino mixed language, not understood by Spanish speakers. They estimate the present language to be 55% Taino and 45% Spanish."


Even if this isn't a redirect, might it not be a good idea to merge the Taino and Arawak articles? This article seems to draw a lot of information from the larger Taino article and the Taino are supposed to be the smaller group, not the larger group. Bold text

New Assessment Criteria for Ethnic Groups articles[edit]


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Log Entry[edit]

"Columbus, in his log, noted: "They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned . . . they do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance . . .. Their spears are made of cane . . . they would make fine servants . . .. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.""

why is this quote in the "population decline" section, it should be moved. Amirman 06:54, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
also in "lies my teacher told me" by james W. Loewen, he writes that smallpox isn't a big reason for the population decline because it wasn't introduced to the island until 1506, 13 years after the spanish started butchering them for fun, packing them onto slave ships, and forcing them to starve as they mined for gold. Amirman 06:54, 12 March 2007 (UTC)

On what date was this log entry made? What is the log entry in it's original Spanish? Where can I inspect this log entry?

If I do not receive an answer within one week, this passage will be deleted.

No, Howard Zinn is not an acceptable source. -- 23:51, 22 October 2006 (UTC)

Hiya (IP address), I found 8 ghits on Google scholar in two seconds, half of which seem to trace back to the (apparently) despised Zinn. Others come from books. Since you have proposed to delete the section, I would suggest that the burden is on you to track down the original source of the book quotes etc. [Disclaimer: I don't care about Zinn and I didn't add that section to the article. I'm just saying...]
Thanks! --Ling.Nut 00:25, 23 October 2006 (UTC)
The only material I was able to find on Google Scholar that did not cite Zinn was a title called _Strengths of First Nations Peoples_. This is from pages 3 and 4:
In 1493, Christopher Columbus, on his second voyage to the “new world,” used the generosity, kindness, cooperation, and peacefulness of the Arawaks against them. When the Arawaks first encountered Columbus, they ran to greet him and his sailors, bringing them food and gifts. In his journal he wrote, “They...brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned...They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance...They would make fine servants...With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want” (Akwesane Notes, 1972, p. 22)
"Akwesane Notes" is apparently some small publication, a "progressive newspaper published by and for Native Americans", according to a Google search (which also suggests "Akwesasne Notes" as a search term. Since "progressive" often means 'lying socialist scum', I am extremely disinclined to believe this source. Suffice it to say, Howard Zinn gives no source for his quote in _A People's History_, though he seems to mention "Akwesasne Notes" in the bibliography. In any case, the quote should be regarded as extremely dubious, and in my opinion, is not fit for inclusion.
Hi again (IP Address),
Of course I'll take your word for all of the above, as per Wikipedia:Assume good faith. So I personally will not object to its removal. Others may; that is another matter.
I only have one favor to ask. Since you seem to have a strong interest in the Arawak article, and since you plan to subtract from it, would you consider repaying the article for its loss by building it up (hopefully considerably) with tons of well-sourced info? This is merely a humble request, of course.--Ling.Nut 21:22, 31 October 2006 (UTC)

I have found different versions of this log entry, one of which is neatly quoted on Wikipedia here.

This one is from here:

That they might feel great friendship for us {he says} and because I knew they were a people who would better be freed and converted to our Holy Faith by love than by force,--I gave them some red caps and some glass beads which they placed around their necks, and many other things of small value with which they were greatly pleased, and were so friendly to us that it was wonderful. They afterwards came swimming to the two ships where we were, and bringing us parrots and cotton thread wound in balls and spears and many other things, and they traded them with us for other things which we gave them, such as small glass beads and hawk's bells. Finally they took everything and willingly gave what things they had. Further, it appeared to me that they were a very poor people, in everything. They all go naked as their mothers gave them birth, and the women also, although I only saw one of the latter who was very young, and all those whom I saw were young men, none more than thirty years of age. They were very well built with very handsome bodies, and very good faces. Their hair was almost as coarse as horses' tails and short, and they wear it over the eyebrows, except a small quantity behind, which they wear long and never cut. Some paint themselves blackish, and they are of the colour of the inhabitants of the Canaries, neither black nor white, and some paint themselves white, some red, some whatever colour they find: and some paint their faces, some all the body, some only the eyes, and some only the nose. They do not carry arms nor know what they are, because I showed them swords and they took them by the edge and ignorantly cut themselves. They have no iron: their spears are sticks without iron, and some of them have a fish's tooth at the end and others have other things. They are all generally of good height, of pleasing appearance and well built: I saw some who had indications of wounds on their bodies, and I asked them by signs if it was that, and they showed me that other people came there from other islands near by and wished to capture them and they defended themselves: and I believed and believe, that they come here from the continental land to take them captive. They must be good servants and intelligent, as I see that they very quickly say all that is said to them, and I believe that they would easily become Christians, as it appeared to me that they had no sect. If it please our Lord, at the time of my departure, I will take six, of them from here to your Highnesses that they may learn to speak. I saw no beast of any kind except parrots on this island.

And this one is from here:

As I saw that they were very friendly to us, and perceived that they could be much more easily converted to our holy faith by gentle means than by force, I presented them with some red caps, and strings of beads to wear upon the neck, and many other trifles of small value, wherewith they were much delighted, and became wonderfully attached to us. Afterwards they came swimming to the boats, bringing parrots, balls of cotton thread, javelins, and many other things which they exchanged for articles we gave them, such as glass beads, and hawk's bells; which trade was carried on with the utmost good will. But they seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people. They all go completely naked, even the women, though I saw but one girl. All whom I saw were young, not above thirty years of age, well made, with fine shapes and faces; their hair short, and coarse like that of a horse's tail, combed toward the forehead, except a small portion which they suffer to hang down behind, and never cut. Some paint themselves with black, which makes them appear like those of the Canaries, neither black nor white; others with white, others with red, and others with such colors as they can find. Some paint the face, and some the whole body; others only the eyes, and others the nose. Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. They are all of a good size and stature, and handsomely formed. I saw some with scars of wounds upon their bodies, and demanded by signs the of them; they answered me in the same way, that there came people from the other islands in the neighborhood who endeavored to make prisoners of them, and they defended themselves. I thought then, and still believe, that these were from the continent. It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion. They very quickly learn such words as are spoken to them. If it please our Lord, I intend at my return to carry home six of them to your Highnesses, that they may learn our language. I saw no beasts in the island, nor any sort of animals except parrots.

His words are not quite as sinister as "Akwesane Notes" and Howard Zinn led us to believe. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 2006-11-05.

  • You have piqued my interest in this particular quote, and it would be interesting to see a much more authoritative source. But as I said before, I see no reason not to accept the sources you have. I also hope you'll find many articles to contribute new information to -- hopefully including this one!
  • Best Regards --Ling.Nut 18:46, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

You might try The Diario of Christopher Columbus's First Voyage to America: Transcribed and Translated into English, With Notes And A Concordance Of The Spanish, edited by Oliver Dunn and James E. Kelley, Jr. This was published by the University of Oklahoma Press at Norman in 1989. As far as I know it is a print text only and copyright protected. With the exception of the last sentence fragment, the quote in question seems to me to be extracted from various parts of Columbus' log entry for October 11, 1492. The last sentence fragment, though, comes, I believe, from his entry on October 14th. The Dunn and Kelley translation which includes the Spanish on the left and the English on the right appears to be the most authoritative transcription and translation thus far of las Casas' version of Columbus' Diario.

This is my first contribution to Wiki and I hope this helps. Let me know if I neglected to follow important conventions. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk

I have all of CC's translated logs, some maps, and some various other effects related to him. The main portion of the quote is correct, that of the hospitality of the arawaks when CC arrived; however, the rest is laced with things I cannot find or grossly taken out of context. This distortion should easily be seen, as the old version says "they had no weapons" followed by "their spears were made of cane". Arawaks definitely had weapons, which they used to subject and nearly kill off the more peaceful shell culture based Ciboney.Ernham 15:48, 3 February 2007 (UTC)


Tonight's POV edits[edit]

Please reference tonight's diff's to see the POV unsourced statements introduced into the article. Ronbo76 04:15, 8 February 2007 (UTC)


Does anyone have any maps showing the location of the Arawaks i believe they were located on the Islands of the Carrabean (sorry spelling) would be nice if we had some maps, i have looked but cant find any usable ones....

the arawaks painted there face because of spirtual and magical reasons. they believed that if they put these paintings on there face it would keep mosiqutos and evil spirts away —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:02, 1 November 2008 (UTC)

Columbus and population decline[edit]

The Taino and other Arawak, as the article clearly states, were spread throughout the Caribbean and the Spanish Main. However brutal Columbus' behavior during his brief reign on Hispaniola, it clearly could not cause Arawak population decline throughout this whole region, only a tiny part of which he ever controlled. It is also anachronistic to blame Columbus for the encomienda system introduced long after his removal as governor. I have consequently edited the population decline section.Pirate Dan (talk) 22:14, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Under 'Survivors'[edit]

Please reference the Wiki thread for the Island of Roatan, Honduras. It should be cited as a surviving population.

extent of "peoples"[edit]

Should this article be about the Taino etc. in the Caribbean, or about all of the peoples who speak Arawakan languages? Are the latter an ethnicity at all, or are they only linked by linguists and those following linguistic classifications? Maybe restrict the article to a single ethnicity [can we define it? speakers of Ta-Arawak languages, maybe?], but note that the term is ofter used broadly, and move to Arawak people? — kwami (talk) 09:41, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

(Second Paragraph needs work)[edit]

The second paragraph is very difficult to understand in its current form. If possible, please re-write. (talk) 10:48, 6 July 2012 (UTC)

Article scope[edit]

Similar to our articles on the Carib peoples (ie, Kalina people and Island Caribs), this article is very confused. Currently, it mostly discusses Arawaks in the Caribbean, meaning it largely just duplicates Taíno, which in its modern definition simply covers the Arawaks of the Caribbean. There is basically no information here (or anywhere) on the South American Arawaks, or Lokono. Further, the name "Arawak peoples" implies it covers several groups, instead of just one group or related groups. I haven't heard the term "Arawak" used to describe all speakers of Arawakan languages. As such, we have:

  • Arawak peoples, which has an unclear focus and mostly contains information on the island Arawaks or Taíno
  • Taíno, a somewhat better article on the island Arawaks
  • No article on the specific group in South American that self-identifies as Arawak or Lokono
  • Arawakan languages, the language family that includes, but isn't limited to, languages spoken by peoples known as "Arawak"
  • Arawak language, the Arawakan language specifically spoken by the Arawak/Lokono and not by other peoples in South American or the Caribeean
  • Taíno language, the Arawakan language of the Taíno
  • An inadequate dab page at Arawak (disambiguation)

As such, I propose we do the following:

I'll get started on this now.--Cúchullain t/c 17:16, 16 June 2014 (UTC)

Done. I've rewritten this article as an overview of peoples called "Arawak" in sources I could find. The sources I consulted only discussed the mainland Arawak or Lokono and the Taíno, though they don't seem to have been more closely related than some other Arawakan-speaking groups. Most of the Taíno material was already better presented at that article, so I just removed it, and now material on the mainland group is at Lokono.--Cúchullain t/c 12:08, 17 June 2014 (UTC)

History edits[edit]

As of now, the history section makes references to Columbus' involvement in Arawak decline but leaves out a lot of crucial facts. This is not to say that he caused the decline throughout the entire region the Arawak natives inhabited, but he did directly cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the Caribbean. Also, the history section says that "at some point, the Arawak natives just magically appeared in the Caribbean." Can somebody please add some information regarding the inhabitation of Xaymaca (Jamaica) and the spreading of Arawak natives into the rest of the Caribbean? Also, can somebody add some names to the "Arawak People" section? Here are some places to start:

  • "Taino." Race and N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
  • "Arawak | People." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
  • "Pre-Columbian Hispaniola - Arawak/Taino Indians." Pre-Columbian Hispaniola - Arawak/Taino Indians. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.
  • "Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress." Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
  • "Exploring the Early Americas: Columbus and the Taíno." Columbus and the Taíno. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2015.
  • "The History of Jamaica." Jamaica Information Service. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.

Evan.j.miranda (talk) 00:24, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Arawak/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Comment(s)Press [show] to view →
Alright, this is an OK start to an article. There needs to be citations throughout from reliable scholarly sources. This subject is of high importance, therefore. Efforts within the "Caribbean Portal" need to concentrate on this issue. Next, the article did not mention any dates that the Arawaks inhabited the Caribbean. This is needed to convey some sense of chronology. Lastly, I had to edit a portion of this article only a few minutes ago that read, "Jamaal is a survivor too!" Probably a test of Wikipedia's editing skills or maybe even a practical joke. We need to work on editing, researching, and further improving this small, uninformative article. It needs to delve into a more intelligent realm. If someone were to read this article, I don't even know if they would come away learning anything. I think I learned more about the Arawaks from Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of the United States, a book that dealt mostly with the struggles and interests of Americans. Unfortunately I specialize in European History (1700s), therefore I am not an expert on this subject. However, somebody (a Caribbean Studies professor/major, a Latin American historian, or even an American Studies expert) might be able to go into more depth than this article. Blackteebox (talk) 02:44, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Last edited at 20:11, 16 June 2014 (UTC). Substituted at 08:09, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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