Ancient History/Americas/Ancient Cuba

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The archeological record and evidence from mitochondrial DNA studies indicate that Cuba and the Antilles have been inhabited by peoples ancestral to the indigenous inhabitants for at least several thousand years. Some studies ascribe a role to these original inhabitants in the disappearance of the islands' megafauna, including condors , giant owls and eventually groundsloths.

Before 1492, Cuba was populated by at least two distinct indigenous peoples: Taíno and Ciboney (or Siboney) (some consider these populations to be neo-Taíno nations). These two groups were prehistoric cultures in a time period during which humans created tools from stone, yet they were familiar with gold (caona) and copper alloys (guanín) Copper Age. The Taíno agriculturalist and the Ciboney were a self-sufficient society, although their development was not limited to fishing and hunting, farming and production of wooden structures. Taínos and Ciboney took part in similar customs and beliefs, one being the sacred ritual practiced using, often nasally inhaled, narcotized tobacco vapors and particulates called cohoba, is known in English as smoking.

The Taino (Island Arawak) were part of a cultural group commonly called the Arawak, which extends far into South America. The wide diffusion of this culture is witnessed even today by names of places in the New World; for example localities or rivers called Guama (the Taino name for Lonchocarpus domingens, a leguminous tree, the designation of a chief (as in Guamá a famous Taino who fought the Spanish) are found in Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil.

The Arawaks incorporated readily into the successive invading groups and acculturated almost to the point of disappearance. Residues of their poetry, songs, sculpture, and art are found today throughout the major Antilles. The Arawak and other such cultural groups are responsible for the development of perhaps 60% of crops in common use today and some major industrial materials such as rubber. The Europeans were shown by the Native Cubans how to nurture tobacco and consume it in the form of cigars.

Approximately 16 to 60,000, Bartolome de las Casas estimated 200,000, natives belonging to the Taino and Ciboney nations inhabited Cuba before colonization. The Native Cuban Indian population, including the Ciboney and the Taíno, were forced in to reservations during the Spanish subjugation of the island of Cuba. Many Natives were put in reservations. One famous reservation was known as Guanabacoa, today a suburb of Havana. Many indigenous Cuban Indians died due to the brutality of Spanish conquistadores and the diseases they brought with them, such as the measles and smallpox, which were previously unknown to Indians. On the other hand the introduction of smoking and most probably syphilis into Europe as a result of this contact caused uncounted deaths in Europe [1]. Shakespeare's character Caliban is taken by many to represent a Caribbean Shaman. Sir Walter Raleigh's execution is said witnessed by his Caribbean servant. By 1550, many tribes were eradicated. Many of the Conquistadors intermarried with Native Cuban Indians. Their children were called mestizos, but the Native Cubans called them Guajiro, which translates as "one of us". Today, the descendants are maintaining their heritage.

The Taíno agriculturalist and the Ciboney were a self-sufficient society, although their development was not limited to fishing and hunting, farming and production of wooden structures. Taínos and Ciboney took part in similar customs and beliefs, one being the sacred ritual practiced using, often nasally inhaled, narcotized tobacco vapors and particulates called cohoba, is known in English as smoking.

The Taino (Island Arawak) were part of a cultural group commonly called the Arawak, which extends far into South America. The wide diffusion of this culture is witnessed even today by names of places in the New World; for example localities or rivers called Guama (the Taino name for Lonchocarpus domingens, a leguminous tree, the designation of a chief (as in Guamá a famous Taino who fought the Spanish) are found in Cuba, Venezuela and Brazil.

The Arawaks incorporated readily into the successive invading groups and acculturated almost to the point of disappearance. Residues of their poetry, songs, sculpture, and art are found today throughout the major Antilles. The Arawak and other such cultural groups are responsible for the development of perhaps 60% of crops in common use today and some major industrial materials such as rubber. The Europeans were shown by the Native Cubans how to nurture tobacco and consume it in the form of cigars.

Approximately 16 to 60,000, Bartolome de las Casas estimated 200,000, natives belonging to the Taino and Ciboney nations inhabited Cuba before colonization. The Native Cuban Indian population, including the Ciboney and the Taíno, were forced in to reservations during the Spanish subjugation of the island of Cuba. Many Natives were put in reservations. One famous reservation was known as Guanabacoa, today a suburb of Havana. Many indigenous Cuban Indians died due to the brutality of Spanish conquistadores and the diseases they brought with them, such as the measles and smallpox, which were previously unknown to Indians. On the other hand the introduction of smoking and most probably syphilis into Europe as a result of this contact caused uncounted deaths in Europe[2]. Shakespeare's character Caliban is taken by many to represent a Caribbean shaman. Sir Walter Raleigh's execution is said witnessed by his Caribbean servant. By 1550, many tribes were eradicated. Many of the Conquistadors intermarried with Native Cuban Indians. Their children were called mestizos, but the Native Cubans called them Guajiro, which translates as "one of us". Today, the descendants are maintaining their heritage.


  1. ^ Duarte, X?? (1989). Unknown Title. Unknown Publisher. ISBN Unknown. 
  2. ^ Duarte, X?? (1989). Unknown Title. Unknown Publisher. ISBN Unknown.