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date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article discusses the Taínos—the native people who occupied the Great Antilles during the Spanish invasion. They were originally called Island Arawaks because they spoke an Arawak language, but the name Taíno was generally adopted in the 1980s to avoid confusion with the Arawaks of South America. The discussion notes that Taíno culture has been reconstructed in four ways. First, the Taínos presented an exotic culture to the Spanish invaders, and there are several extensive descriptions of their practices recorded by the Spanish. Second, “prehistorians” have employed an evolutionary framework to chart their development and establish culture-area boundaries. Third, archaeologists have documented and excavated Taíno settlements to obtain an understanding of their practices in more specific contexts. Finally, nativist movements currently are redefining Taíno to meet modern political agendas.

Keywords: Spanish invasion, Taínos, Great Antilles, Island Arawaks, archaeology

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