• The RiverWinds

Who are the Arawak Taino Indians?

Updated: Jul 28, 2019

Arawak Taino Kacike Areito (July 26, 2014)

This was a beautiful day for family, friends and the extended Arawak Taino community. We set up a booth to share and educate our Arawak Taino people from the island of Boriken (Puerto Rico) and other islands about their indigenous history. The day was filled with music, laughter, and joy. The smells of the indigenous food of the islands like pasteles and tostones lingered in the air while Jibaro music from the mountains permeated the air.

There were booths with artisans selling handmade items like guiros, Jibaro straw hats, and almost anything that a Puerto Rican flag can be printed onto. In the afternoon we prepared for the public ceremony for the making of a Kacike. Kacike in the First Nations Taino language means Chief. On this day I was appointed "Kacike" and Laralyn a "Tekina" (Chief and Ambassador) by the Principal Chief and Head Clan Mother.

Kacike (Chief) is an appointed position by the Clan Mothers and Principal Chief of our tribal nation and the ceremony is done in public for the community to witness and approve as well. Once appointed the title remains for life as well as the duties and responsibilities that go with it. in accordance with the traditional ways of our people, a Kacike is a servant of the people.  

Duties include taking care of veterans and their families within in our communities. Making sure that our warriors are not in need and that they know what services are available to them, as well as assisting, in going over paperwork for benefits or other veteran services. We also represent one of many voices of the Taino people who are diverse in every spectrum of beliefs and political associations. We are a unique people that have survived to this day and we are no longer hiding who we are and who our ancestors were.

We try to walk a sacred a sacred path according to Yah Yah's guidance in our lives. No matter the path; we are all Guake-teke in this journey. We bless the elders who have worked hard and endured before us, blessing the next generation with their wisdom, dedication, and love.

Who are The People of First Contact?

Taino Elder Sending Out A Prayer Over The Sea - Smithsonian Article Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United States and is one of many islands where Arawak "Taino" Native American Indians have survived. It is important to understand that Puerto Rican is not a race, it is a nationality. Our island has a diverse ethnic make up of people from China, Jews, Russians, Spanish, African, Native, French and many others who make up the fabric of daily Puerto Rican life. The Taino are the Tribe of First Contact and the ones who "discovered" Columbus wandering lost in the ocean in 1492.

We are also the first to be called "Indian" Many of our ancestors took refuge from the Spanish in the deep mountain rain forests of our homeland of Boriken and from there have flourished. The town nestled highest in our rain forest mountains is called Hayuya - officially named "The Indigenous Capital of Puerto Rico" and is a place that you don't want to miss when you visit our homeland. Every year there is a gathering of Taino natives celebrating our living culture, songs, and dances that is open to the public.

We Are Still Here, The Taino Still Live!

Sending up prayers with Tabacu


Recent archaeological evidence has uncovered Arawak Taino villages as far north as Sweetwater near present-day Atlanta, Ga and also Ocmulgee Mound Complex in Macon, Ga. Ocmulgee was the largest trade center in the southeast .  over 100 years after its accidental discovery during the Civil War Ocmulgee is now under the watchful eye of the Muskogee Creek Nation overseeing the preservation of the still intact 40ft tall temple mound, funeral, and ceremonial mounds, trading post, and a few other ancient structures. Studies estimate that approximately 40,000 indigenous people were living and trading with other tribes who would come from the four directions to gather news, trade, shop, discuss politics, business, and the latest news. 

Nestled within this large ceremonial living complex was a small community of Taino identified by the archaeological remains of the Bohio, the thatched roof dwellings that the Arawak Taino were known for constructing. Our ancestors were masters of the sea, trading and warfare. We are related to all the original, Arawak speaking, tribes located in Bimini (The Land of Many Lakes) also known as Florida. The Smithsonian did an incredible article on the Taino and our legacy that lives on to this day. 

Genocide By Paper Cuts

Each year brings new discoveries to the studious descendants of the Taino. There are many scholars of our history, language and cultural traditions focusing on preserving aspects of our First Nations heritage but the road has been long and bumpy in the efforts to be heard as indigenous people. Fighting decades of education that has written our tribe out of existence the evidence continues to be found that our people were not decimated by the Spaniards.  United States Government records and documents from the 19th through 20th century clearly reveal that the Taino still existed into modern day times.

Chief Joseph RiverWind's great-uncle's WWII Draft Card - Race: INDIO A deep wound in the collective history of Native America is the forced assimilation boarding schools. These schools were designed to completely strip away the culture, traditions, and language of indigenous children that were torn from their families and forced into these institutions where many died. Children were rounded up from every tribe which included Taino Indian children. That's right! There were Puerto Rican Taino children in the infamous Carlisle Indian School. The Carlisle Indian School was an educational institution created by General Richard Henry Pratt and backed by the U.S. government with a brutal history of abuse, murder and cultural genocide against First Nations children.