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Date: Wed, 26 May 1999 01:00:52 -0400
Sender: Taino-L Taino interest forum <TAINO-L@MAELSTROM.STJOHNS.EDU>
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Subject: TAINO-L Digest - 19 May 1999 to 25 May 1999 (#1999-65)

Date: Tue, 25 May 1999 12:48:00 -0400
From: Juan Antonio Perez <japerez@DANDY.NET>
Subject: The Taino Culture of Puerto Rico

The Taino Culture of Puerto Rico

http://www.doitnow.com/~smd/taino.htm, [25 May 1999]

The Taino Culture evolved from an ancient tribal culture that had colonized Puerto Rico about 8,000 years ago. The Taino Culture began about 2,500 years ago. They developed a specialized relationship with this island. They cultivated Yucca and had a long special squezing basket technique to extract the cyanide poison, powder the extracted pulp in wooden mortars and store it for weeks. They also developed a large special basket to sink on the coral reefs to catch fish. They knew how to follow the terns and other sea birds that fished for small schools of fish that were hearded by the numerous tuna. An even easier catch was the large conch shells that grazed on the shallow beds of sea grass. Huge middens of shells surround the island. At spectacularly beautiful Phosphorescent Bay, bioluminescence was used to catch fish. Leatherback turtle eggs were a seasonal delicacy, as were the forest crabs who ventured from the sea after the rains into the forests for fruit.

The numerous limestone caves on portions of this geologically complex island were used for sacred rituals and perhaps shelter from the huricanes, a word coined by the Taino. The Tiano had a special relationship with the sky, sea, earth, forest and the underworld along the lines of the Mayans. The less rich environment of the islands also lacked the corn and other specialties of the Mayans. The Taino are now know to have built quite large stone ceremonial centers, but no pyramids as in Central America.

They also used halucinogenic drugs, but from different sources than the Central Americans, which revered the Tree of Life, mushrooms, olilioqui and other plants. The Taino's sacred drugs were probably brought along from South America, where the South Americans are still known to practice similar ancient sacred rituals. Unfortunately, the Taino numbering almost a million, were almost completely genocided by the Spanish within fifty years and little trace remains of their old native culture and villages.

The Tainos still exist on several Caribbean Islands and in Florida, and have courageously preserved much of their cultural and tribal practices. Please see the links below we just recieved from our friends there to the new Taino pages. They have done a great job.

The sacred secrets were not revealed to Columbus even when they were tortured and slaughtered. Acheologists believe they have found the site where Columbus landed and several larger cultural centers. Columbus' crew returned to Europe with most of the Taino's plant foods, but ironically, they wouldn't have made it back if they had found their sacred tree and abused it. Their secrets remained lost for five hundred years, but are now being revealed and shared.

The island now has three National Parks that preserve three different forests along the highlands of the island, and several other small parks. Hopefully, further destruction of the island's forests by coffee orchards and other developments will be limited, and the archeological remnants of the lost Taino Culture will be preserved in these beautiful highlands. The secrets and spirits of the Taino persist in ancient highland caves, while eagles soar over the forests over-looking the sprawling cities of the lowlands of Puerto Rico. Someday these secrets and spirits will return to our consciousness, and if we listen this time, we will find a sacred treasure more valuable than Columbus could have ever imagined. The sacred Tree of Knowledge that the Taino used to communicate with the spirits of their ancestors and the Great Spirit. We have a lot to learn before we can re-enter the Garden of Eden known in such great detail and held in such great reverance by these ancient American Cultures.