Who were the Native Americans of Hispaniola and Where did the Arawak tribes come from?

Native Americans of Hispaniola were Arawak, members of a Native American language group still found in South America. They were sometimes known as the Taino; the Ciboney were a related people.

At the time of Columbus, Arawak tribes lived in the Bahamas and throughout the Greater Antilles. The Arawak of the West Indies were farmers and fishers. Spanish discoverers described them as generous, handsome people of great hospitality, slow to use their cane spears. Unfortunately for them, some of them wore ornaments of gold.

The Spanish had a burning desire for gold, which in Europe was a currency that could buy anything, banquets, castles, armies. To the Arawak, it was just a decorative metal. The Spanish also wanted slaves, and saw nothing wrong in enslaving the Arawak.

In those days, most Christian Europeans felt no strong need to treat non-Christians as human, particularly when they were considered “savages” because of their premodern ways of living.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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