Impact of Spanish Culture on Taino-Indians

Tainos are a sub-group of the Indians that may not be known to many people but whose story is quite interesting. This group is said to have originated from the Orinoco Delta’s Arawak tribes. They largely settled in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Haiti (Poole, 2011). The Taino are particularly remembered for inventing words such as canoe, tobacco, hurricane, barbecue, and hammock (Poole, 2011). Like most other communities, the Taino had a rich culture: they invented pepper gas that was used in warfare, built canoes that could accommodate over 100 people, and carved amazing images using shell, bone, and stone. The Taino culture continued flourishing until they came into contact with the Europeans (Poole, 2011).

The arrival of Europeans had a huge impact on the Taino. Precisely, it was the coming of Christopher Columbus in 1942 that marked the beginning of the end of the Taino culture. Poole (2011, para.5) documents the events that took place following Columbus arrival. For example, it only took two years for Columbus to establish a colony in Haiti. A short while later, Spaniards took Taino men from the villages, engaging them in their colonial plantations and goldmines. As a result, it was difficult for the Taino to continue farming the beans, yucca, maize and sweet potatoes that they had survived on for centuries. Subsequently, starvation and diseases became common among the Tainos. In the words of Ciment and Radzilowski (2015, p.106), the Taino-Indians “suffered near-total destruction largely from Spanish-borne diseases”. It is also reported that some Tainos chose to commit suicide rather than bear the harsh treatment by the Spanish colonialists. Others decided to flee to remote areas where the colonialists could not reach. More importantly, intermarriage between Taino women and Spanish men resulted into a new group that had Creole characteristics (Poole, 2011).

In summary, therefore, the Spanish are to blame for the erosion of the rich and jnique Taino culture. By marrying Taino women and forcing Taino men to work on their plantations and subjecting them to disease, the Spanish colonialists interrupted the Taino heritage, causing extermination of the group.


Ciment, J. & Radzilowski, J. (2015). American immigration: an encyclopedia of political, social, and cultural change. Routledge.

Poole, R. M. (2011). What became of the Taino? Smithsonian Magazine.

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