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Felt-tip Faerie

Xiomara’s Tale


Xiomara tells the chilling story of the mass suicide due the onset of Cortes’ landing there. Here is the research to support her story:

Spaniards and Taínos

Chief Agüeybana greeting Juan Ponce de León
Columbus and his crew, landing on an island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492 were the first Europeans to encounter the Taíno people. Columbus wrote:
They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will..they took great delight in pleasing us..They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal..Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ..They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.[25]
At this time, the neighbors of the Taínos were the Guanahatabeys in the western tip of Cuba, and the Island-Caribs in the Lesser Antilles from Guadaloupe to Grenada. The Taínos called the island Guanahaní which Columbus renamed as San Salvador (Spanish for “Holy Savior”). It was Columbus who called the Taíno “Indians”, an identification that has grown to encompass all the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A group of Taíno people accompanied Columbus on his return voyage back to Spain.[26]
Early population estimates of Hispaniola, probably the most populous island inhabited by Taínos, range from 100,000 to 1,000,000 people. The maximum estimates for Jamaica and Puerto Rico, the most densely populated islands after Hispaniola, are 600,000 people.[27] The Dominican priest Bartolomé de Las Casas wrote (1561) in his multivolume History of the Indies: [28]
There were 60,000 people living on this island [when I arrived in 1508], including the Indians; so that from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this?
Researchers today doubt Las Casas’s figures for the pre-contact levels of the Taíno population, considering them an exaggeration. For example, Anderson Córdova estimates a maximum of 500,000 people inhabiting the island.[29] The Taíno population estimates range all over, from a few hundred thousand up to 8,000,000. [30] They were not immune to Old World diseases, notably smallpox.[31] Many of them were worked to death in the mines and fields, put to death in harsh put-downs of revolts or committed suicide (throwing themselves out of the cliffs or consuming manioc leaves) to escape their cruel new masters. La Casas wrote that the Spaniards:
“made bets as to who would slit a man in two, or cut off his head at one blow; or they opened up his bowels. They tore the babes from their mothers breast by their feet, and dashed their heads against the rocks…they spitted the bodies of other babes, together with their mothers and all who were before them, on their swords….and by thirteens, in honor and reverance for our Redeemer and the twelve Apostles they put wood underneath and, with fire, they burned the Indians alive”[32]
Some academics have suggested that the numbers the population had shrunk to 60,000 and by 1531 to 3,000 in Hispanola. In thirty years, between 80% and 90% of the population died.[33][34] Because of the increased number of people (Spanish) on the island, there was a higher demand for food from the Taíno method of plantation which was being converted to Spanish methods. Because so many Taíno were put into slavery, they had little time for community affairs, and the supply of food became so low in 1495 and 1496 that famine occurred and combined with diseases like smallpox to which the Taíno had no immunity to. This took a staggering death toll. By 1507 their numbers had shrunk to 60,000. By 1531 the number was down to 600.[35] Scholars now believe that, among the various contributing factors, epidemic disease was the overwhelming cause of the population decline of the American natives.[36][37][38]
On Columbus’ second voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taínos in Hispaniola. Each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking twenty five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not observed, the Taínos had their hands cut off and were left to bleed to death.[39] This also gave way to a service requirement called encomienda. Under this system, Taínos were required to work for a Spanish land owner for most of the year, which left little time to tend to their own community affairs.
In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico, such as Agüeybaná, Urayoán, Guarionex, and Orocobix, allied with the Caribs and tried to oust the Spaniards. The revolt was pacified by the forces of Governor Juan Ponce de León. Hatuey, a Taíno chieftain who had fled from Hispaniola to Cuba with 400 natives in order to unite the Cuban natives, was burned at the stake on February 2, 1512. In Hispaniola, a Taíno chieftain named Enriquillo mobilized over 3,000 remaining Taíno in a successful rebellion in the 1530s. These Taíno were accorded land and a charter from the royal administration.
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