Jatibonicu History

By Chief Guanikeyu

The Taino mestizo people living in the mountainous regions of the Caribbean Islands faced economic hardship. Because they were by tradition farmers, Taino workers from the Islands and from Florida entered into contracts with farmers in southern New Jersey to supply agricultural labor in the production of vegetables.

This settlement took place in the 1930s and marks the beginning of the Jatibonicu tribe of southern New Jersey. It was not until November 24th, 1993, that the first Taino Tribal Council came to order in the State of New Jersey under the leadership of its founding father, Peter Guanikeyu Torres. This Taino Tribe originated in the mountain yucayeke (village) of Jatibonicu - the village of Great Chief Orocobix of the district of Jatibonicu, which today covers the cities of Orocovis, Barranquitas and Aibonito on the Island of Boriken (Puerto Rico).

Our southern New Jersey Taino State Tribe has its own Taino Tribal Council and is an associate member of the New Jersey Coalition of American Indians. "We are not, nor are we so bigoted as to have ever claimed to be the Taino Indigenous Nation of the Caribbean and Florida, but just another small humble branch of the same old Sacred Cojobana tree".

Chief Guanikeyu
November 24, 1993

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