Man in shorts standing amid palm trees

Tony Castanha traces survival of the Puerto Rico indigenous people

Tony Castanha grew up in Hawaiʻi, eating Chinese food and aware of his mixed blood, which also includes Portuguese and English ancestors. He studied in Seattle, lived in Europe and taught in Japan.

Long active in the Hawaiian movement, he wrote his University of Hawaiʻi master’s thesis on the effects of Hawaiian sovereignty on the non-native population.

But it is the Jíbaro blood of the Puerto Rican immigrants on his mother’s side of the family that called to him. Aware of his cultural identity and prompted by curiosity about that island’s experience with colonialism, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa ethnic studies instructor turned his eyes to the Caribbean.

The Jíbaro, or Boricua, are the indigenous peoples, the “Indians,” encountered by Columbus on Borikén, the native name for Puerto Rico. Subjected to colonialism, they were considered virtually extinct as a people by the mid-16th century, and the refrain has been made over and over.

Castanha refutes that notion in his new book, The Myth of Indigenous Caribbean Extinction: Continuity and Reclamation in Borikén (Puerto Rico). “Whole communities of Jíbaro people survive today,” he said.

cover of book The Myth of Indigenous Caribbean Extinction: Continuity and Reclamation in Boriken (Puerto Rico)

The myth of Boricua extinction results from history written through colonial eyes, he explained. Castanha used ethnographical data, turning to family histories gone “underground” and accounts gathered from artisans, academics, activists, cultural practitioners, elders, campesino farmers, curanderos (healers) and espiritistas (shamans).

The book, which draws on his research as a UH Mānoa doctoral student in political science, documents five centuries of remarkable resistance and cultural continuity.

“I look at the cultural continuity of people in Puerto Rico,” he said. People practice old traditions in agriculture—such as planting by the moon, mixing different plants and planting in mounds—as well as spiritual practices and use of medicinal plants. Indian words persist in the names of places, foods and plants, and Indian accents prevail in many Spanish words spoken.

“I’ve made many trips to Puerto Rico. I feel a strong cultural connection—I’m mesmerized,” he said. “I don’t deny my other backgrounds, they just don’t touch me like my Native American background.”

In Puerto Rico, as in Hawaiʻi, there is a resurgence of native culture, he observed. The indigenous Jíbaro provide the root culture in Borikén.

Puerto Ricans in Hawaiʻi

The colonial experience of Puerto Rico and Hawaiʻi isn’t just an academic comparison. After the great San Ciriaco hurricane and famine, more than 5,000 Jíbaro were brought to Hawaiʻi as laborers for the sugar plantations via 11 voyages at the turn of the 20th century—after the Portuguese, Japanese and Okinawans and before the Koreans and Filipinos.

Oʻahu’s Hawaiʻi Plantation Village includes a Puerto Rican camp, although it doesn’t identify the indigenous nature of the immigrants, Castanha said.

Most of those who survived the trip across the North American continent and Pacific Ocean stayed. The community, much closer in the 1930s and 1940s, has largely dispersed now, although the oldest and largest cultural association, the United Puerto Rican Association of Hawaiʻi, still exists and large populations remain in areas on Maui and the Big Island.

“A lot has been lost in terms of knowledge about the homeland,” Castanha said, but the culture persists in dances with Jíbaro music, foods that people cook and the mannerisms of the people.

He hopes his book will serve as an educational tool in understanding the past 500 years. He plans to have it translated into Spanish.

“I believe it’s an important subject, partially because Puerto Rico is still a colonial possession of the United States. This is not a kind of ‘revisionist’ history I’m telling. Lives are still at stake.”

More on the book

Visit the Palgrave Macmillan website.

This Post Has 124 Comments
  1. I’m Puerto Rican and also a UH Manoa student and just wanted to point out that the indigenous people of Puerto Rico are not the “jíbaros” but the “taínos”. “Jíbaros” are the people who live in the mountains, the country side, a bit secluded. The “taínos” are, in fact, extinct, although you can still see their physical characteristics on a lot of the population. The “jíbaros” do exist and are still keeping our traditions alive but there aren’t too many and most of them are old people. Puerto Ricans use the term “jíbaro” nowadays, when referring to someone who’s shy and inexperienced.

    1. Sister Kidys Medina the Jibaro is synonymous with Taino and no the Taino are not extinct DNA has already proven that check your facts. The fact that any trate of the Taino still exist is proof enough. As I always say, y tu abuela donde esta? You are, we are what they are. To deny any part of our hereritage is to deny who and what we are as a people. The Taino is alive and doing well just take a look and you’ll find us. Take care waitiao may the spirits of our ancestors bless you and all of your loved ones, Tau!
      Tomas Baibramael Gonzalez

      1. Tomas,iread your posting with great interest!i am
        aware of Taino pride en los Boicuas.i am totally
        ignorant on the matter,besides i left PR in 53!
        i have posted the following;
        own a book published in 1977 by Luis Hernandez
        Aquino. “Diccionario De Voces Indigenas de Puerto
        Rico”.A profesor at the University of Puerto Rico the rest of titles are to long for me to write here. are you familiar with the book? where the
        latest vocabullary coming and if there are new dictionaries published? i have no idea why dad
        Had the dic.mentioned above. my main interest the
        history Of PR in general.

        1. Pedro, para mas informacion sobre palabras Taino te refiero al siguiente link.

          Creo que te va a interesar. Esparte de parte de “Clásicos de Puerto Rico segunda edición, editor, Ediciones Latinoamericanas, 1972” fueron compllados por el historiador puertorriqueño Dr. Cayetano Coll Y Toste de la “Real Academia de la Historia”. El autor es el Dr Cayetano Coll y Toste (1850-1930), un hombre muy querido y respetado en su rama.

      2. Tomas, obviamente no me referia al DNA porque demas se ha comprobado que somos una mezcla de Tainos, negro africano y españoles, ese es el puertorriqueño asi que en ese aspecto estas correcto, la sangre taina no esta extinta. Nunca he negado lo que soy, naci y me crie en Yabucoa, la mitad de mi familia es jibara y la otra afroantillana, simplemente expuse mi opinion con respcto a la manera despectiva con que se usa el termino “jibaro” en Puerto Rico, no digo que esta bien y habemos muchos que lo usamos con orgullo.

      3. well hello my taino brother i am proud to see a lot of us do know some what but not enough which we all should know about are coltura y raza to be honest i would like to read more about what you have to say by the way my taino name was given to me by my grandparent bojote pitre be safe my brother

    2. Kidys…you should ask your grandparents how they were call…jibaro will be the only word you will hear or indian…
      In fact your right the TAinos are extinct, since they never existed, they are extinct…it was the Jibaro, us that truly exist…
      Maybe if you study somexis native history you would learn that the colonial world will always put the traditional names as something that is wrong, or stupid, so it is very irresponsible to accept the mistake of thinking that jibaro refers to inexperience people…

      1. Pluma, I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. We study our history throughout elementary, middle, and high school, even college plus as I stated before, my family are half jibaros and half anfroantillano. Tainos DID exist, as our friend Tomas and other pointed out (DNA & physical traits, words we still use in our language, centros ceremoniales, etc). Jibaro is not even a colonial term and I was referring to nowadays in PR, yes, we ALL know what jibaros really are but it is used (and I dont condone this) as a derogatory term a lot of times.

        1. Jibaro comes from Iberia which means colony of Spain or Portugal! Geesh no one reads or does research! Ibaro, Iberia or the Iberian peninsula which is Spain! Geesh and no we are not extinct! The Spaniards took many Tainos to Vieques and La Isla Mona two islands off the coast and brought them back also they took Tainos to Hawaii as well! The ones that returned got mixed with Sub Sahara Africans and whites from Spain but we absorbed the DNA as new studies indicate we have 60% Taino MTDNA so no way we are extinct just mixed! Ask any Native American and they will tell you-you are what your mother is, remember the Spaniards killed or tried to kill off the men and RAPED the females!

          1. Your incorrect as the term Jibaro mean (People or men of the Forest) was a term used by the full blood Taino people to refer to the Mestizo mixed blood Tainos who had mixed with the white Spanish European people, up in the Hill country (Mountains) of Puerto Rico. It was the Taino themselves whom begain or started calling the mixed bloods Tainos as the Jibaro and then later the term Jibaro in the 1800s was carry on by the descendants of the modern day Puerto Rican people today have refer to the mountain people of Puerto Rico.

          2. Omg the colonizers were brilliant, look even now by their teaching methods they have us doing their work of separation of ourselves for them. what are we looking for here? People, Dna, a connection, our past, but you are fighting over names..A rose by any other name will still look, smell and be or grow the same….we cannot test names, they will change, let us use what is obvious facts, DNA, People, when we establish this then we may fight over which name we will assign…now for correctness research this…what did our ancestors call themselves before the colonizers came and gave their preferred names…Caribs, Tainos, Arawaks,etc, its time to be more aware.

    3. Im Puertorican living in PR and your statement is not correct, the jibaro is the farmer who was brouhgt to the island from the Canary islands because of the similarity of the rugged terrain both places have mountains and some spaniards couldnt deal with it, the Tainos escaped to the mountains so the Jibaros interacted with them creating the pool gene of the Boricua almost 33% have Taino blood as an Interamerican University study found, and it makes sense, the Tainos are alive and theres a huge chance that they are doing it even inside you and in your kids.

    4. Dear Friends, I would like to clarify and point out that the word or term Jiba-ro with its meaning of “Men of the Forest” is of a linguistic Taino origin and was simply a new world term in the 1500s or name that was given by the Tainos to any Taino children who were mixed blooded, Spanish European and Taino American Indian. These “mestizo Taino people” are the same people living in the central mountain hill country of Puerto Rico. It appears that the children of Spanish European whom later would become the Puerto Ricans and whom also would become the future writers and historians started a new trend of referring to the Jibaro as the humble hill people as campesinos. It is without question that the Taino of the past never became extinct but simply mutated into “El Jibaro del Campo” retaining the original values, cultural patters and philosophy of the life and the old Taino way of living.

    5. The term jibaro is not synonymous with Taino. The Tainos were the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. The jibaro, as KydisMedina wrote are the Europeans (mostly Spanish) immigrants that took to the mountains in Puerto Rico. Jibaro= campesino (country man, farmer). And their traditions may include some Taino rituals, but they were founded primarily on their European traditions (again, mostly Spanish)perhaps adopting some traces of the Taino people and then later the African people that were brought by the Spanish to repopulate the decimated Taino workforce. The Tainos per se, were decimated in Puerto Rico not too long after the Spanish came (within 200 years?), thus the influx of African slaves that were brought later to address the labor shortage. To use jibaro and Taino interchangeably is wrong.

    6. You are wrong my brother new studies found that Puerto Ricans carry 60% Taino mtdna, so no way, we are NOT extinct that is a myth and you need to do your research! We absorbed the white and sub Sahara African mix! But still carry Taino blood! The myth was part of the big lie told to us by Spaniards! ASK any Native American and they will tell you-you are what your mother is! Remember the white man came to the island killed the men but raped the women! Some may have more Caucasian blood line or Sub Sahara Afican blood line but very few. Yo soy Boricua de corazon-I am a Taino!

  2. The Jibaros are not the indigenous people of Puerto Rico; they were called T A I N O. “Jibaros” are my abuelos people that lived in the mountains or worked with the crops they used the iconic pava hat and had jibaro music Puerto Rico’s folk music instruments like el cuatro etc…

    The error could have been made by the person who wrote this article not the author.

    ps The TAINO lives!

    1. i grew up and lived in Puerto Rico thru
      my first year at the university there.
      i have read that 64% of the women on the
      island have certain physical features (theeth)
      formation found on the native Tainos.
      A website,”Puerto Rico en Breve” is an excellent
      on historical facts about the island.
      i am 77 and the text books we used were in english
      including the our history!

    2. Invocations to you all…
      I like with much respect to correct that the native people of this island are called the Jibaros that comes from our ancestor word Cachibalo…I stand firm to this because I have made many investigations noting oral history on P.R. around the islands, in mountains…I have interview many native that have never gone down from the mountains and they called themselves JIBAROS , only the people that have read books or have had any experience with the academic panorama use the word taino…I have also investigate academical researchers and books written by antropologist and arqueologist…
      I have proof of all that I say…but, let me tell you also that the modern world created colonial strategies that has change our name from Jibaro to Taino with the only intention to declare that we dont exist…The taino word is just a nominal name in terms of archeological time

      1. Pluma, I do not remember ever hearing the word “Cachibalo? What does it mean? Where does it come from? I have looked around for some definition and can not find one even though I have seen it in reference to some video. If at all possible and if you can, could you please give some links as to where I can find this information? Thanks

    3. Gracias, esto se ha convertido en un campo de batalla con personas qu dan una opinion irresponsable, especialmente cuando ni siquiera han vivido o estudiado en PR.

      1. Hola Kidys Medina, quiero decirte que estoy muy de acuerdo contigo. Yo naci y fui criada en Puerto Rico, y he vivido aqui toda mi vida (todavia sigo viviendo en la isla). Originalmente soy de las montañas de Cayey, y me crie en el campo, osea, soy Jibara, pero hace poco me mude al area metro de San Juan para poder estudiar en la Universidad de Puerto Rico de Rio piedras. Yo, que se lo que es ser “Jibaro” puedo decir que ese termino no esta ligado a ser “Taino” o “Indio”. Entiendo perfectamente que la cultura Taina esta muy presente en las personas de nuestra isla y en nuestra sangre, al igual que la africana y la española…pero no se puede decir que los “Jibaros” viven un estilo de vida “Taino”. Ambos estilos de vida son muy diferentes.

        Los Tainos eran politeístas, y los Jibaros son mayormente catolicos, y algunos creen en la santeria y en el espiritismo que son creencias desarrolladas por los Africanos. Tambien, los Tainos vivian en comunidades en donde un Cacique dirigia a la tribu. Tambien la mayoria de los Tainos siempre estaban completamente desnudos, con escepcion de las mujeres casadas que tenian “la nagua” que era una falda que las cubria. Los Jibaros no estan desnudos con sus partes privadas expuestas brincandoles por todos lados. Los Jibaros viven como cualquier otra familia…la unica diferencia es que viven una vida mas rustica y simple. En mi niñez, yo iba con mi Familia a “Wall mart” a hacer compra, e iba a K mart para comprar ropa o otros productos de necesidad. No ibamos tan seguido como otras familias “modernizadas” que vivian en la ciudad, pero aun asi mi familia y yo conociamos estos lugares. Por favor, les pido a todos que antes de hablar, investiguen bien por que si no se puede caer en ignorancia….

        1. Esta es una buena historia sobre su familia, hay solamente un problema sobre su comentarios y es que esta muy general hablar sobre un pueblo sin tomar en consideración que usted y su familia no son ni pueden hablar por el pueblo de Puerto Rico. Hay diversos elementos étnicos, raciales y culturales en el Puerto Rico del hoy. Primeramente yo nací de familias de sangre mestiza Jibara Boricua Taina y de mescla del blanco Español en la cuna de mi nacimiento en el pueblo “Corazón” de la isla llamado Orocovis, Puerto Rico. Mis Abuelos siempre nos han dicho que el uso de la palabra Jibaro o Jibara es puramente de origen indígena y un mestizaje del Indio Taino. Sobre sus pasado estudios académicos en la UPR, le puedo dejar saber que los académico o intelectuales o los Blanquitos criollos Puertorriqueños que son los hijos de los Españoles del hoy han llevado una campaña de promover muchas mentiras sobre el origen de la palabra y gente Jibara o Jibaro del campo o de la Cordillera montañosa Central de Puerto Rico, y siempre pintando a nuestra cultura Jibara Taina con un falso origen de España. Por último es muy claro por el uso mi nombre Guanikeyu (Pájaro Noble de la Tierra Blanca) y de mi título hereditario de Cacique del Gran Alto del Jatibonicu que soy Anciano y un líder del Movimiento Indio Taino de Boriken establecido en el año del 1968 en la isla de Puerto Rico. Que tenga un buen Dia y que Dios te bendiga.

  3. As a Boricua & graduate of Univ. of Hawaii (Manoa 1969) I can confirm that the Taino indian were exterminated during the Spanish colony. As a matter of fact, the Spaniards had to import African slaves to replace the Tainos working the land. The “Jibaro” was and is all those borne inland (away from the coast) that worked the land. Just as the two previous comments explain. And if you are from San Juan or Ponce then anybody else is a Jibaro.

    1. I agree with much of what you said. Except that the Taino’s were all exterminated. My daughters, Great Grandmother (she was born in 1922), gave birth to all her children in a Bohio (by choice), behind their house in Utuado. I belive it still stands to this day, the proof is in the DNA, studies have been done. Also they imported slaves because the Tiano’s would rather die than be a slave. When I lived in Puerto Rico, I was a Jibaro, and prode of it.

      1. Swizz, been born in a “Bohio” does not make you a Taino. All it says is that your parents were “Jibaros Puertorriqueños”. The type that has “La Mancha de Platano”, nothing more. My family is from Barrio Cedro Arriba in Naranjito and most of them did live in “bohios”, so I think I know what a Jibaro is and is not. I can accept that there is still some residual of the TAINO blood because of the crossing of Spaniard and African blood with the Taino indians but not to the degree of 20-30%. As I have mentioned before, my father told me that we had some Taino indian blood that I have calculated to be in the 1/16 to 1/8, most likly in the 1/16 ratio. My mother side was puere Spaniards. I am 74.

  4. as a mater of fact my father was an artist also and we
    visited Don Ramon at his studio in cayey.that was a long
    time ago.
    i was born and raised in san juan, just in front of
    the fortress of san cristobal on norzagaray st.
    i am in no way disputing your knowledge of Puerto Rican
    history. at my age i have seen more jibaros that you
    can imagine. i finished only one yr at the turns
    out that i enjoy Puerto Rican history than when i was
    in school!where are you from in PR?
    Puerto Rico en breve: historia, cultura y genealogía. History, Culture …of PR.Check this site!

    1. I was born in Cayey (on the first floor of Ramon Frade’s house (he and his wife (Doa Reparada lived upstairs) and raise in Rio Piedras through my High School (Republica de Colombia Class 55). Ramon Frade was my godfather and myself and my brother were used as model for some of his paintings. Today I am 74, I lived in Naranjito and visited my grandfathe many time in his house in Cedro Arriba, Naranjito where we did mingled with the real Jibaro. To go to his house was a couple of weeks of planning the trip since they had to send horses the “la Linea” if the had any available. Otherwise we had to walk which would have taken us some 3 hours to get to their house.

  5. Just for clarification, there were numerous reasons for writing the book. It also dispels the idea that “Taino” was used as a term of self-ascription. The word in this context is a nineteenth century anthropological invention coming from the periphery, not from inside the communities. The term does not survive in family histories, at least before this time. The Jíbaro are the true “Indian” people of Puerto Rico according to their own accounts, adapting over the centuries to many changes. Similar to how the term “Kanaka” became disparagingly used to depict the indigenous peoples (the Kanaka Maoli) of Hawai’i, so too were the Jíbaro at one time shamed and stereotypically seen as “backward,” “primitive,” “uncultured,” etc. Many people in primarily rural and mountain regions take pride in their culture and still identify by this native name, just as they did before the European arrival. Recent research further reveals that about 61 percent of the population on the island tests positive for Amerindian mitochondrial DNA (from the female line only). These are the Jíbaro Indian descendants, still there, not frozen in time, practicing their native culture in their subtle unassuming ways. However reading the book may be more convincing of this as it seeks to rebut long entrenched myths.

    1. This is getting to be an interesting discussion.
      evidently you never expected native Puerto Ricans
      to read your assertions. where is all you write
      about coming from?

    2. Dear Mr. Castanha you should go back and look at the history of the Caribbean to learn a bit more about the Caribe and Taino Indians. The Caribe from Dominica Island (still with a reservation on the island) ant the Taino in Puerto Rico. By the way the name “Indian” came because Christopher Columbus was “looking” for India the country and its silk and spices and when he found land the natural thing was to call its inhabitants indians. Yes there were and in a limited amount there still some Taino blood in Puertorricans but ever generation it looses its place in our DNA. I myself have about one 1/18 to 1/8 Taino blood for what my father told me. The history of Puerto Rico is been taught in Puerto Rico with a book written by someone by the name of Escarano or something to that effect. I will look it up and let you know. But you are wrong on your claim of the Jibaro as original inhabitants of the island. Maybe you are tranporting the Jibaro Indian from Ecuador-Peru-Brazill Amazone to Puerto Rico and this never did happened.

    3. Guakia Taino Yahabo- We the Taino People are still here no matter what anyone else says. Mr. Castanha your research is correct and there are thousands of us still here who carry on the Taino language, custom, traditions, areitos and more. Please feel free to contact me at any time for more information or just to link up with other fellow Taino’s. Taino ti and many blessings as you walk this road of discovery.

    4. Thank you Tony for clarifying this…I like to add that the modern world can deal with us the native in books and history but not alive…so that is why modern history has invented the name Taino for our people and burry our truly name Jibaro…how history has dissapeare us is not a mystery…historian just change our name to a fake name creating an abyss in our existence…through our truly name Jibaro we can proof that we have never dissapear…
      ‘ Cause Im here, Im alive, Im resisting the historical genocide….

    5. Mr Castanha, following mmy own recomendation o you, I went back and loook for more information on the word TAINO. well acording to Cayetano Caoll y Toste this is what he wrote;

      “Tayno – Bueno . Dice el doctor Chanca: “E llegóndose alguna barca a tierra a hablar con ellos, dicióndoles tayno, tayno , que quiere decir bueno .” Bachlller y Morales aplica este nombre a los indo-antlllanos, en general, para oponerio al de Caribe. Los caribes insulates procedían de los caribes del Continente; y los otros indígenas, anteriores a los caribes en la ocupación del Archipiélago antlllano, venían de los Aruacas de Tierra Firme; por lo tanto, lo natural y lógico es llamaries los Aruacas insulates; y al determinarlos decir haitíanos, quisqueyanos, ciguayos, boriquefios, siboneyes, xamayquinos, etcetera, según la isla.”

      In another writing here I do mention about the “Boricua and Boriquen” names also from his writing. As you can see we all learn something new every day no matter how old we are.

      1. Hi Jorge this is Pedro, your info is correct and
        i have read the same. i am begining to wonder
        were these other people are getting their information from on this matter. there are so
        many resources in PR for those that would want to research about our history. as always i am in
        agreement with you.

        1. Back in 72 Rafael Hernandez Colon was elected Governor and he started the “Nationalization” for the Puertorricans when he started calling the Parks, Newspapers, Radio etc National meaning the island. until them everything was understood to be “insular” but not “National”. The Taino studies were accelerated and by the the 1979 Caribbean Games we even had invented Taino dances that were presented during the inauguration of the games. Since those days there has been many interesting discoveries and “inventions”. I assume many of these people are basing their information on the findings during these time and without going back in history to analyze what they are talking about. If you see many of those writing here are going by what they were told an many were not even born and/or raise on the island. some of them are pure Boricuas by blood but many I am sure are xxxricans. Nothing wrong with that but their culture, puer Boricuas by blood or not is different from the culture of those born and raise on the islans and that is a fact.

  6. Although I have never heard the term “jibaro” used to refer to the culture, Boriken or a derivative like Boricua would more accurately describe the indigenous people of Puerto Rico. We say Taino today after Colombus. Story goes that they introduced themselves as “Taino” or “good and noble” people and so the term stuck. However they identified themselves by the name of their land, Boriken being Puerto Rico, Cubanakan for Cuba, etc. Jibaro, an indigenous word, persists as the term for the peasant class that took to the mountains, but also with many “taino” fleeing to the mountains to escape the yoke of colonialism and enslavement much of their bloodline continues in these areas, down to the moon-based agricultural practices that persist and even in elements of jibaro music like the use of the guiro and the maraca, indigenous instruments used by the original people of Boriken. To use the term “jibaro” to refer to “shy/ inexperienced” people or as was used in other communities where I grew up in Brooklyn as the equivalent of “hick” here in the states is to perpetuate the racism that is prevalent throughout the Americas that would still choose to portray indigenous people as inferior, incapable, etc.
    As for extinct, I prefer to use the term for the animal kingdom where a species of animal ceases to exist. But if mitochondrial DNA studies have proven that more than 60% of Puerto Rico’s population possesses Native blood then we are just a product of the racial intermixing that came after the Conquest in 1493, the arrival of the Spanish and of Africans. Lastly the cultural evidence is overwhelming.

    1. I forgot to mention that I greatly appreciate the references of the historical links between Hawaii and Puerto Rico as a result of the US conquest of each in 1898. More needs to be done about the links, commonalities and overlaps between these two communities.

    2. Not been Puertorrican, born and raise ion the island it is understandable to inject “racism” to the calling someone a Jibaro. Puertorricans are very proud to be called a Jibaro for your information. You have been mixing your US mainland culture to that of the ones in Puerto Rico. Two (2) cultures totally different. This is a mistake made by most descendent of Puertorrican parents or those young Puertorricans that were brought by their parents to the mainland and grew up here. For your information the phrase of “llevas la Mancha de Platano” is one use by us to identify ourself as Puertorricans and it is use as a tribute to the Jibaro that worked the land producing plantains. This is not to say that there is no discrimination on the island but it is nor even a tenth of what is here on the mainland. One love expression used very much on the island is to call your love one “negrito or negrita mio(a)” and nobody get offended by it.

  7. my parents along with my uncles when to Hawaii in 1920 with a group of 20 thousand Puerto Rican to work and in 1900 a group of 20 thou. had gone to Hawaii before them, my parent and my uncle were one of the few to return to P.R. i was station in Pear Harbor for over a year and met many Hawaiian Puerto Rican i was at the Puerto Rican Association on School St. about a mile from the base most of them don’t speak Spanish but they sing Puerto Rican music in spanish and eat arroz con gandules and pasteles for Chrismas. i would like to make a correction about the article the jibaros were the European people from the Canary Island, Corsica and Sicily brought to Puerto Rico by the Spanish Gov. who were given free land to farm in the interior of P.R. to replace the Taino who ran away to the mountain when the Spanish try to slave them. Puerto Rico was not a Colony of Spain it was province with representative in the Spanish Court and Spain never traffic slave they brought Catholic priest to Christianize the Taino and make them slave. my mother was Spanish decent and my father was Taino i’m a member of the Borinquen Tribe, 96% of P.Rican have European blood and about 46% have Taino blood so about have of the P.Rican population have Taino blood not African blood, the English were the one that traded slave from Africa was for the most part and to some extend the French an the Dutch. pa Que sepa

    1. I think you should check you history again. The Spanish did bring blacks to replace the Tainos working the land. Yes the English and Dutch brought blacks to the Caribbean but the Spaniards did as well.

  8. Peace

    1. the term jibaro applies to two distinct groups of peoples: a. distinct ethnic group in Venezuela/Brazil regions. b. a person from the country side in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, that may have had some native blood or not.
    2. The native or indigenous people of Puerto Rico were the Taino people. While there are no pure blood Tainos left, mixed blood descendants abound.

    1. 1) The Jibaro Indian is from the jungles of Peru. Ecuador, Brazil primarily. The Jibaro in Puerto Rico is call anyone that lived inland and worked the land.
      2) as you say the indigenous people of Puerto Rico ware the Taino Indian which were related to the Arawak Indian. Today the is some, but very diluted DNA of the Taino Indian in many Boricuas. I was told by my father that I was 1/8 to 1/16 Taino indian and I am 74 years old. So make your calculation and look at the dilution of the blood.

      All we know of the Taino is what Bartolome de las Casas and others of that period wrote. First hand information died with the last Taino.

  9. I’m Boricua but was born and raised in the states. As a historian I have researched a lot about my people, so I can understand the controversy that comes from this subject. I’m not going to comment much on this part because enough has been said. This article however has brought back good memories. I’m full Puerto Rican but half of my ancestors were Spaniards and half were Taino. My dad used to tell how he would go to his grandmother’s house in Jayuya (a town in the mountains). She was what he called an “India” and she would be chewing tobacco on the porch while he and his brothers would run around the house. One time she spit out the tobacco juice and it landed on my dad’s hand. He complained about it and she told him it was his fault for being in the way of her spit. Lol! Puerto Rican mothers and grandmothers were usually so rude and aggressive. She was also a santera, a woman who practiced Santeria. My uncles would stay over her house on some occasions and at night they would hear really loud footsteps above them. They would enquire about the footsteps the next morning and their abuela would say it was just her “Indio” spirit friend that would hang around the house and protect her every night. Remembering those freaky and funny stories always makes me want to visit. I hope I can go next summer.

    1. Santeria is an Afro culture-religion not Taino. the indians they did have “medicime man” but did not practice Santeria. Santeria comes from working with the “Santos=Saints” of the Catholic church.

    2. Wow, you guys are intense. I never said Santeria was a Taino custom, I said that is what my great-grandmother practiced. Because of African cultures brought to the island, African beliefs and customs as well as European, mixed with the practices of the natives (as has happened all over the Americas) and created many of the cultural practices on the island today. I was just remembering the stories my father told me, and wasn’t here to lecture people about what is right or wrong. As a historian, I could sit here and waste my time doing that, but I’m not going to. Es una pena que en vez de tener una buena conversacion y discusion sobre la historia de nuestra bella isla, estamos teniendo una competencia de quien conoce a Puerto Rico mejor. Disfrutemos nuestra mezcla de etnicidades que nos hace uniqos. Si la palabra es Taino o Jibaro, parece que eso depende de a quien le preguntes. Yo estoy agradecida que por lo menos todavia hay gente como Castanha que toman tiempo para estudiar e investigar el pasado y estan orgullosos de tener sangre Taina/Jibara.
      For those of you who have been confused by the bickering about the genetics of the people of Puerto Rico, here is an article about the studies conducted by Dr. Juan Martinez Cruzado and published in 2003.

      Good luck to all, and if you are Puerto Rican, don’t rub it in other people’s faces because then they’ll never get to appreciate the beauty and wonder of our island, our culture, and our people.

      1. Ms Negron, as our friend Pedro states, we Boricuas are intense in just about we do. From my part I can tell you that growing up on the island an having family and lived in the mountains of Naranjito-Corozal-Barranquitas we (I) did learn a lot of what we are talking here. Naranjito in the 40’s and even early 50’s was a place where the Jibaro came to town on horses with the “banastas” full of bananas and other staples to sell, Tabaco was produce and there was no asphalt other than the main road though town. Our “history” classes were based on an English book by a guy by the name Miller if I recall correctly. The only book used for many years on the island. I lived in Najarnjito during the Don Pedro Albizu Campo attempt revolution in 1952 where they attack the police station. I do write here when I see something that I believe to be wrong, I do try to be polite and respectful. I believe that it is our right and duty to try to enlighten those decedent Boricuas that were born or raise on the US mainland (xxxricans). I believe we all learn something new every day no matter how old we are and throughout the years to look up different sources even or when something is said that do not match what I think I know. I just do not like those people that I consider to be over enthusiastic about anything and try to pass it on as “true and the only truth” or when some “xxxricans” talk as if they were more Boricuas than those that where born and raise on the island. That there is some Taino blood still around in Puerto Rico, of course there is but that many of the things we are discovering today are as they were back in the 15-1600, please. To many historians invent or project things from written records and/or hearsay so it is important to read more than one historian to learn what could be true. I try, if at all possible, to the horses mouth to learn and make my opinion on the subject.

        Sorry for this long and kind of jumping all around on subjects. As our friend Pedro did say we are intense!!!

      2. Tau Wei waitiao Yarizel,
        Greetings from the Big Apple sister Yarizel, I’m sitting here reading and enjoying the postings on Jibaros and Taino. some doing research coming up with conclusions on whom and what is right and wrong according to the sources they come up with to prove a point. It’s all good it bring to the fore front the continuing saga of the Taino survival. Until the Taino resurgence movement of 1998. The Taino was dead and buried, extinct and to some who are in total denial, it never happened! Go figure. It was through the will of Yaya and the grace of Atabex that our women continued giving birth to the Taino, the good, the noble people. We as a people continue to live and thrive stronger than ever. Finally the Taino has taken its rightful place and no longer ignored, denied! but not ignored.
        I had occasion to visited Cuba in 1999 and celebrated the survival of the Taino in Cuba. With Don Fernando, a local Cacike from the mountains of Guantanamo and his people who were brought down from the mountains to participate in an Areito in their honor in Santiago de Cuba. Even Fidel Castro has lay claim to being Taino. You brought this memory back to me with the question about Santeria and the Taino. We celebrated the whole day singing, dancing and eating. Exchanging gifts and trading our regalia and feathers with one another. That night at the stroke of midnight, los Santeros started celebrating with a Bembe of all Bembes. I was allowed to participate with some of the drummers and low and behold who was there dancing and fully participating in el Bembe? The Taino hand in hand with the Santeros. Just as the Africans had to convert to Catholicism in order to serve. So did the Taino within Santeria. No big thing just survival mi gente!
        I hope the discussion continues and that more articles and books are presented and introduced to the readers so that they may educate themselves about the Taino del Caribe. Ahiahud waitiao, han han katu.

        1. Tomas…Taino resurgence of 1998? There was no Taino resurgence in 1998. Perhaps you got your dates mixed up since the Taino movement was resurging back in the 70s with the Taino Jatibonicu tribes resurgence work.

          1. The big push from the Alegria group on behave of the Taino culture was in the 70’s to the point that they had a bid program during the 1979 Pan American Games in San Juan. It was something new even for Puertorricans.

  10. Muy buenas! Ms Negron, by bringing in Santeria we are
    going into a different subject, Santeria roots
    are African and as you know you will find similar
    practices in the Caribbean and any place in Latin
    Amerca that slaves were brought to.

  11. Just wanted to point this out…because it annoys the hell out of me when this word is used improperly… Boricua means woman in Taino so for a man to use it is a little eeehhhhhh… but back on the topic yes the Tainos and the Caribes are both indigenous peoples that stem from the Arawaks which were thought to have migrated from Central America and spread all over the Carribean. Very rich history great to see people still have an interest in other cultures!

    1. Boricua DOESNT mean woman in Taino- The Taino language is linguistically related to Arawak. The word Boricua means – Person of the House of the Great/Valiant Chief. Woman in the Taino language is Inaru- dont post wrong information up here that will mislead people.

      1. Boricua means a person from BORIKEN, BORIQUEN, BORINQUEN, in other words, Puerto Rico. BORIKEN is what the Taino indian called the island whn Christopher Columbus landed on the island.

        1. Going over the writing above as to “. . .Boricua means woman in Taino. . .”. You know, this person “Anonymous”. must be regular gringo or a xxxrican (newyorican, Chicagorican” etc that has not learn that just because ending in an “a” does no mean that is feminine. Unlike English, Spanish has that unique virtue that can be masculine when it ends on an “o”, can be feminine if it end on an “a”, or can be both it all depends on what it is. This is one of little things that many non native Spanish speakers do not know or understand. And why I have always said that just because you are a descendent of Puertorrican (one or two parents) and specially if you did not grew up on the island you are not a Boricua / Puertorrican (con mancha de platano). However that does not mean not to be proud of your ancestry. You are a proud Newyorican or whatever “rican” and proud of your ancestry like Italians, Germans or others are proud of theirs.

          1. OK that’s it I have had just about enough.
            Just because your family did not have problems of poverty etc. that led them to migrate from PR to the U.S. mainland and have to raise their kids in NY does not mean you are any better or “purer” than any other person of Puerto Rican ancestry walking this earth.

            I was born in Brooklyn NY. I also have been entrenched in my culture since I was a toddler by my father who was indeed born and raised on the island. When I was 6 years old and the people here in the U.S. began to racially attack me because I was different his immediate response was to begin teaching me everything he knew about Puerto Rican history, language, culture, etc. He started me reading all kinds of books on Puerto Rican leaders. At the age of 12 I wrote a huge term paper all about history including the FACT that the Spaniards lied and stopped counting the indigenous population and said they were extinct when they were not.

            As a result of my father’s influence I went on to pursue an Ivy League college degree. My major was Latin American and Caribbean Studies. I read every book … everything I could get my hands on about Puerto Rico. ALL the books being cited here on this discussion so far I have read from Bartolome de las Casas all the way to that article about the geneticist who discovered that over 60% of the island born Puerto Ricans have indigenous mitochondrial DNA coming from one specific native (taino) group via their mother’s side.

            There are many mainland born people of Puerto Rican descent who holler Boricua and do not know what that means and that is not their fault. There are also people born and raised on the Island who frankly were lied to.

            I am very proud of my history. My only two regrets are that I only physically visited there twice and that I was unable to go study at UPR when I was slated to do so due to financial and other issues. The books read at UPR are the same ones I read here… in English and in Spanish.

            I am not going to debate history with anyone here although I am in many respects qualified to do so. As I said I have been studying Puerto Rican history culture politics religion and even the music /ethnomusicology from the age of 6 all the way through the present day. However your comments about who is a “real” Puerto Rican or “pure blooded” Puerto Rican needed to be addressed. My father is now back living in PR on land his family has been on since before the U.S. occupation. I do not claim any rights to anything on that island and have no desire to take anything away from those born and raised there. But my birth on the mainland U.S. does not make my claim of being of Puerto Rican descent any less valuable than yours. I will educate any person of Puerto Rican descent who is mistaken about what that means and goes about acting the fool and trying to say that foolish behavior is inherently Puerto Rican. Anyone. And it is not inherently Puerto Rican to tell family (figurative family or real family) that because their circumstances led them to the U.S. mainland they are no longer Puerto Rican and neither are their kids. Puerto Ricans are loving open people who have strong family values to the point where your cousin is like your sibling and your best friend from childhood is your kid’s “comadre” or second mom. My family who has been there on the island for centuries did not disown me or call me “less pure” because I was born in the U.S. so who are you to tell me I have no right to my own heritage? Or that because I am a so called Nuyorican that makes me some kind of cultural mongrel?

            And while I am at it TAINO TI. I agree that there are many people out there claiming to be descendants of the Native people of the island when they are actually wannabes celebrating a revisionist history HOWEVER there are many people that sat up in those mountains for centuries quietly teaching their children the truth. Which is that the Spaniards most assuredly did not completely wipe out the original inhabitants of the island. There may not be pureblooded people left … true… but to say they were exterminated has been disproven and needs to be corrected in the history books. I note that other “native american” and “indigenous” groups in the U.S. and other Latin American countries give you tribal membership and certain entitlements and the right to call yourself “indian” if you have in some cases up to 1/64 documented ancestry. So if there is someone on here who is truthfully saying they have proof they are 1/16 indigenous then how can that same person declare no Tainos/Boricuas are left… sir you ARE one!

        2. Something additional on Boricua . . .Please check Cayetano Coll y Toste writings. You will find the following . . . “Boriquen – Nombre indígena de la isla de Puerto Rico. Asi está anotado en el mapa de Juan de la Cosa (1500), y en el mapa de Martin Waldeemüller (1508) conocido con el nombre de Tabula Terrae Novae; y así aparece en las obras de Oviedo (1535) y Las Casas (1550)” So, Boricua means someone from Boriquen, Boriken, Borinquen = Puerto Rico.

      2. AmaHura you are totally correct!
        as i mention in another post i have a
        “A Diccionario de Voces Indigenas de PR”
        and you are right!!

    2. I own a book published in 1977 by Luis Hernandez
      Aquino. “Diccionario De Voces Indigenas de Puerto
      Rico”.A profesor at the University of Puerto Rico the
      rest of titles are to long for me to write here.
      his definition and i quote from this book.
      “BORICUA”. Adjetivo gentilicio,refirendose a una persona o cosa de Boriquen.(V.Boriquen,Borinqueño)

  12. El término “jíbaro” se usa en Puerto Rico para referirse al campesino empobresido, desnutrido y analfabeto. También se ha usado despectivamente para indicar ignorancia, atraso y falta de inteligencia. El concepto se usa en Cuba como “guajiro”. Ni en Puerto Rico ni en Cuba los términos jíbaro o guajiro se refieren a la población aborigen. Tanto en Cuba como en Puerto Rico se reconoce el importante componente Taino en la cultura y biología de ambos pueblos.

    1. La primera definicion de Jibaro que das arriba FUE correcta hace años atras. Vuelvo y os refiero a la pintura de Don Ramon Frade “El Pan Nuestro” para que vean a este Jibaro de antaño Hoy dia nuestro Jibaro a mejorado muchisimo y no tiene nada de analfabeto o de desnutrido, empobresido, quizas pero muchos son mas ricos que tu y yo. Aunque todavia usan su “uuhu”. Si llamar a alguien Jibaro puede ser en forma despectiva pero tambien puede ser honrroso. Hoy dia se usa en ambas formas.

    2. Nelson,su comentario lo encontre interesante!yo
      sali de PR en el 53.pues no se la situacion presente
      del campesino de hoy.
      “El término “jíbaro” se usa en Puerto Rico para referirse al campesino empobresido, desnutrido y analfabeto”.
      esto mas me recuerda a los tiempos antes de los 50.
      si ud.vive en la isla hoy quien sabe la situacion sea diferente.

  13. I was taught as a child in PR coming from NY that Boriken meant “the land of the great chief” however my family had a diferent take on the name for them (coming from my great-great-grandmother Dona Salvadora, half Taina, half Spanish [Canary Islander} it actually meant “the garden of the Son of The Chief” because a house was artificial and the land was a garden. I always felt that this romantic interpretation was closer to the way that Tainos saw the land they lived in. As for identity, my family had ancestors from all over, Africa, Canary Islands, South America (Venezuela in particular) and other islands in the caribe. Part of the problem of identity is who says who you are.

  14. Oh, please just get over it. This constant rehashing of old grievances is beyond tiresome. It’s one thing to take a scholarly look at the past, but all too often in academia today, it’s used as a cudgel against the “evil white men” who visited untold calamities on indigenous peoples. Would any of you care to go back to the old ways of human sacrifice and cannibalism? I didn’t think so.
    God Bless America

  15. I am a 58 year old Boricua born and raised in Arecibo Puerto Rico. The Jibaro name is of Amirindian origin which is why the same word is used in Ecuador and other parts of South America. In Cuba it is used to define a wild Dog living in the bush or mountains. This connection to being wild and living away from the towns may have a relationship to why the Jibaros called themselves as folk from the mountains. The Jibaros people is where most of the Taino culture and blood survived in relative isolation until the 1900s. Photos taken in the 1940s show the indian faces of many of these ancestors. They may not have been full blood indians but they lived in Bohios, ate in ditas and drank from Jatakas. They spoke a Spanish mixed with Taino words that are still used to this day and identified as Jibaro and Boricuas neto, meaning original Boricuas. The town people used the word as an insult much the same as indio is still used as an insult in Central and South America. However the Jibaro cultivated a pride in their identification. With the building of roads and television the culture has been more watered down but many people still identify as Jibaro with pride. The author is making the point that the indigenous culture and blood remained the strongest with the Jibaro which in my understanding is true. The extinction myth has been pushed by academia and politicians but science and dna studies are showing that the offical story is not correct. According to the 2010 census 20,000 individuals identify as Native Inigenous currently in PR. 62% is of Native background on the mother’s side, but further autosomal studies show a tri-racial people up to 80% with an average of indian blood of 15 to 20%. Average in a population of 4 million means thousands who have more than 20 to 30%. Many of these identify currently as Taino and certainly have a right to do so because of ancestry and cultural continuation via the Jibaro culture that survived strongly until the 1950s. In the USA and Puerto Rico is part of the USA regardless of personal feelings to the contrary, persons of much less blood quantum are recognized as indians. This identification based on family and ancestral oral history is defended by the UN as a human right. This book goes agaist the grain but is in total accord with what the Jibaro themselves say about our indian ancestry and culture.

  16. your last sentence shows you are ignorant about
    the history of the caribbean in general and specially
    Puerto Rico. What is your problem? Cannibalism? in
    Puerto Rico? where did you go to school? Go back and
    read all posts and check what is the argument all about!
    God Bless America!!
    I served this country for 27Yrs!!! in the military!!
    Yes, God Bless America!!

  17. Listen, if you want to call yourself Taino, go ahead. There is nothing wrong with being proud of you ancestry. Now, been 20% to 30% Taino blood I just do not see it. Not with all the mixing that has gone on in Puerto Rico. As I said before I am 74 years old and my father did tell me that we (my brother and me) were 1/16 Taino blood. To have 20% Taino blood means that by the late 30’s early 40′ there were pure 100% Taino blood in Puerto Rico. I don’t think so.

    It is interesting how some people try to make thing fit their idea of the truth base on older writings. This without thinking that one word means one thing in one country and the same word means something totally different, and sometimes nasty in another.

    Just like the initial; Puerto Rico’s history books was written by Americans, now written by Puertorricans and you find many differences how they interpret their sources to make history look from their own point of view. The same is happening here in the US Mainland in the history books. So please take all these books about history from anywhere with a grain of salt and always look for other books that might clarify what really happened.

    1. Thank you Mr Rivera. That’s excatly what I meant when I first posted the whole “tainos are extinct”,(obviously not counting the DNA argument here). Hay tanta mezcla de razas en nuestra Isla que es dificil creer que todavia haya puros tainos. Yo seguire describiendome como boricua de pura cepa.

    2. Dear Sir,
      Your explanation of how the blood quantum waters down each generation, is correct but only if the persons in questions kept mating outside of their own race, with each generation. But it seems this was not the case. If two mix bloods with the same blood quantum marry or reproduce, the blood quantum would stay the same for the children. Most people today have no concept of the isolation Puerto Rico suffered up till the early 1800s. Even after the American take over they only found about 60 miles of paved road on the whole island. It was not until the 1920’s that the goverment began to build roads in the interior of the island.
      According to Martinez Cruzado if we had done his DNA studies 200 years ago the results would have been higher than 62% of the population, he says it would have been around 80%. The mestizo and Zambo population could have held a very high Taino blood quantum because of marrying within their own communities until the mid 1800s when the population rose highly due to European immigrents with the Celula de Gracias. The average quantum today is 15% an 1/8th is 12 and a half % so the average Puerto Rican is over an 1/8th. You doubt the 20 and over % yet you can go on line just by typing Taino genes or Taino DNA and you will access studies which show samples of many who got 20 to 23 and more in their DNA test results. Now that said I personally do not hold that one is Taino descendant based on quantum. For me it is not enough to have the blood. It’s the heart and the spirit. I took the test and tested my father’s mother because I wanted to prove to myself the oral tradition.

      1. Absolutlty Domingo, In fact it is also fact that 2 people of mixed blood having child can accually add dna together and if they each are 20% of a race their offspring can come out 40% that race and this is definate fact! I was born in the US my mother was of full european american decent and my father whom I never met was of Puerto Rican decent whom I never met! People question my race my whole life Im black Im white Im Indian Im Mixed. I finally took a dna test last year and the results came that I am estimated as 22% Sub saharan African, 5% indigenous American, 2% east asian, and 71% European. Since I now for fact my mother was 100% European I had to have gotten the rest from my father and who knows what exactly his dna mix was but for sure he had at least as much or African, Indigenous American, and East Asian. In the documents I recieved said after testing thousands in PR the average came out to close to 50% european, 40% African, 8% Indigenous American, and 2% East asian. But Im sure without a doubt there are some that way more heavily on Indigenous dna. I have seen this with my own eyes I konw some that claim to be and look it(though they also are obviously part African and maybe a small amount of European). If 2 peolple are 50% Indigenous they in reality could have a child that comes out close to 100% Indigenous and show no dna of another kind. This means it is still possible to meat a full blooded indigenous PR. DNA is amazing. Much love to all of Puerto Ricans.

        1. Now, that is very interesting. Two 50% Taino blood can produce a 100% Taino kid. Like they used to say in Puerto Rico . . . “Encabuya y vuenve y tira” . . . what happens to the “other” 50%? I just disappear by magic?

          Listen, I believe that in addition to “blood” you need the CULTURE to be anything. Yes you can have some blood and your ancestors were Taino BUT the so call culture of the Tainos has not been there in CENTURIES. What we know of the Taino culture is what was written by historians of the times and interpreted by other historians. So very very slim.

          Today we ridicule a lady for calling herself American Indian when she has 1/32 Am Indian blood. I ask HOW MUCH % of blood should you have to call yourself Am Indian or Taino, or anything???

          1. Jorge I agree Id say at least 1/4 but this cant really be judged by dna either because dna collects in a person at the time from both parents and if they are different races it could go either way could be small percent of one and large percent of a the other. But in general it usualy comes out to be close to half each maybe waying a little heavy one way or the other.

            I have learned a lot from you and others here thanks for they history! One Love!

          2. someone that is less than 1/8 of a race is most likely not to have any dna of that race! Being that most Puerto Ricans are of multi-racial descent their offspring could come out a variety of ways!

  18. “Whole communities of Jíbaro people survive today”

    This reminds me of a recent article in Smithsonian where they looked at indigenous people from Cuba and the Caribbean and found similar examples of native culture being alive and incorporated into today’s civilization.

    1. Que puedo decir! Me gusto el video y me a puesto
      sentimental.this must be shown to all others that
      are participants in this forum.I knew Disdier, he
      was amember of the PR Air National Guard as the same
      time i was! Also on that day in 1952 i was getting ready to go to school! then the attack at “La Fortaleza” was announced. Como pasa el tiempo, verdad?


    2. That song is beautiful-Merry Christmas! The ‘intense’ comment broke me up! I’m reading all this great blog with- you got it- INTENSITY! My parents are Boricuas and I’m born in NYC-One item I’ve found interesting is how on Columbus’ writings the people of the Boriken Island are described as beautiful, both female and male. That they smiled when they spoke and the sound of their speech he likened to music. That the men were handsome and no hair on their beautifully formed chests. The women very beautiful as well. Beautiful full hair they kept cropped short. I do enjoy reading blogs like this where my people can debate yet relate at the same time! Yes, I have some stories, too. But this research is entertaining enough for me! I’m fascinated by our people. I know I have to be called newyorican or something – I’d prefer it be something like “Puertorican +”. We are so stereo-typed all the time and meanwhile our community is very deep! My Mom worked and kept us kids at home, not the streets! We’re bi-lingual and inherently twice as nice and I even studied French just for a hoot! Will get back to reading this fine blog and keep up the good word. The more aspects to our story the better! Thanks for all your thoughts and links and references.

      1. que tal Awilda this is Pedro!
        check for a site “” algo asi.
        it has lots of historical data about PR.
        GOOGLE it. by the way my daughters were born
        in California and they are?? Japaricans!
        my wife is Japanese!

        1. Of my three kids, two are Hawaiirican, the other one was born in PR but primarly was raise primarily in the mainland, FL, AZ, CA . . . so what do I call him USArican o Amerirican? You know we are ALL AMERICANS with Puertorrican ancestry. However, there is nothing wrong if you want to call yourself a Puertorrican just be proud of you culture from where ever you grew up at.

          By the way I just posted my Xmas face for this year on my Facebook page.


        2. Encantada, como mi Isla Borinquena, Pedro. Thankyou for the web info. This blog gives me quite a ride! I couldn’t stop reading the comments yesterday. Following the latest comments as well and linked on the Gran Combo for my grand finale! Posted that on Face-Book! You’re daughters must be exotic looking-That’s the beauty of the Puertorican Blend! All my 52 years I have China Chino Negro Negra India Indio Cano Canita Blanca la Triguena Charon Chuito Sabatche-Man, it’s endless! I love the nick-names! We really are Blessed and come a long way. Tagged affectionately. I wasn’t given a nick-name, except my Tio Lito called me Awildita! Oh,Dear! My siblings do. All I know is after dinner Mami formally addressed me as “AWILDA MARIA!!!! Te llaman los trastes!!!” I just remembered what my nick-name was. Whenever I cried they called me “MANTEQUILLA”!!! Anyway, this blog is like being with family. Thoroughly enjoying all the comments and info.
          Colombus wrote in his journal that Taínos had beautiful, tall, slender bodies. Their color was dark or olive, and they wore short haircuts with a long hank at the back of the head. They were clean-shaven and hairless. The islands were densely populated. According to Cristóbal Colón, the Taíno tongue was “gentle, the sweetest in the world, always with a laugh.”
          Along these lines is what I’m searching. Found out why I’m always sweeping! They kept the indoors immaculate!


      2. Awilda,por ahi viene la parranda!!! tried to find
        you in facebook y nada! there are other Awildas. estoy cofundido.hope you have checked out the web site with lots of historical facts about la Isla
        del Encanto.I am also in facebook.Awilda i grew up in Old San Juan. i enjoy reading about our history.

        Pedro L. Trujillo Lora

        1. Pedro! How refreshing! That’s the first time anyone said there are a lot of Awildas! Usually noone ever even met an Awilda unless they’re in Boriken! Wow!I’m on Myspace as well as I’m looking for some family members including my Tio Lito! I’m still laughing at what you said! I forgot to mention that I had indeed found that web site. I added it to my favorites as with other web sites offered so helpfully on this blog. Estoy bota en Long Island…My pic on FB has my daughter and Granddaughter with me. I know where you grew up as I read on this blog. You make me more interested in keeping up with all the comments! I’m very happy to have happened across it and is why I subscribed to it. I know you were up front citing your trying to get your facts together and are honestly accumulating your historical data. I too, am being objective in my quest and have specific queries regarding our beautiful and noble ancesters.

  19. Pedro, what years were you in the PRANG? Yo estuve en ella por un par de años y fui a Sampson Air Base a tomar el entrenamiento basico del Air Force el verano del 1955 (esta fue el primer grupo que participo en este programa del AF) Si tienes SKYPE me consigues ahi como “riveraja”.

  20. was there almost 2yrs left in 53 just before going to NYC.
    finished AF basic Tng in early 54 and retired in 80!
    estoy en calif. @ the PRANG i was assigned to the
    motor pool.droe the convoys to Roosevelt Roads.
    a lo mejor nos vimos en Isla Grande?

  21. My own DNA test comes as 20% Taino which is almost a quarter. A few years ago most people were saying there was no Taino blood left. Or if there was it was so watered down that at most it would be in the 5% area. Well now we know that 80% of the population has some Taino dna. That the average (mid-point)is 15% which means that out of a population of four million there are thousands with over a 30% blood quantum. Latest news is the discovery of mounds in Utuado that may indicate tainos still living separatly into the late 1780s. Let’s wait and see.Everyday more and more evidence is appearing to show that the Taino contribution to our culture and population is as important as the European and African elements.

  22. Those of you reading all of these comments and wondering, “will the real Puerto Ricans stand up” will be dissapointed. Most of these points of view are as Puerto Rican as they come. They represent the tremendous diversity of perspectives that characterize us as a people. I would urge all of us to continue sharing information in the spirit of helping one another discover new sources, rather than as a way to prove how correct we are. In the end, to most US inhabitants we are undistinguishable from Mexicans, Cubans and other Latinos. They don’t even know or care where our island is! So celebrate the courageous affirmation that is to identify as Rican in the mainland or Hawaii, applaud those who regale us their personal memory of how a term has been used, say thank you to those who take the trouble to cite sources, appreciate how islanders have defended the culture despite more than a hundred years of occupation, and above all realize that the author of this book, no matter how right or wrong, was on a sincere quest for his cultural roots.
    Que, ¿que ahora van a hacer como Monsanto, a sacarle una patente a la puertorriqueñidad? Dichosos debian sentirse que hayan jovenes y viejos interesados en sus raices culturales, y con gentileza y amor podrian contribuir lo que saben con un poquito mas de humildad para no asustar a aquellos que todavia se encuentran al principio de su busqueda. ¡Caso cerrado!

    1. I do agree with most of what you say and as our friend Pedro said “Very well said . . . Muy bien dicho . . .”. However . . .

      You say that “. . . to most US inhabitants we are indistinguishable from Mexicans, Cubans and other Latinos. . . .”, and you are right. And that is the problem with our nation. We, Boricuas, are different from Mexicans as Mexicans are different from Cubans as Cubans are different Argentinians or from any other Latin country. The only thing we have in common is our language and that our ancestors primarily come from Spain.

      It is like saying the Italians are the same as Germans, French or English. Or that a New Yorker is the same as a Texan or a Kentuckian. Yes they are Americans but that is all.

      We all live in the same continent but our roots, in most cases, and most important aour culture are totally different. Which is my point ans issue when I run into people like Chicago’s Representative Gutierrez that try to pass himself as a Puertorrican. He born and raise in Chicago and his culture is that of others in Chicago not San Sebastian or Jayuya or even San Juan.

      Listen you should be proud of your ancestry. But do not try to speak for me, do not try to represent me with your Chicagorican or xxxrican culture. Our culture is totally different. Yes, your parents did teach you about Puerto Rico as they remember their life was but you grew up in the streets of Chicago, or any other US city a totally different culture from Jayuya or San Sebastian or even San Juan streets.

      Listen lets be proud of our ancestry but lets call things as they are not as we would like them to be. Al Pan Pan y Al Vino Vino.

      1. Don Jorge I have lived more time in the island than in the states. If I write in English it is for the benefit of those you attempt to put down with your intolerant words. You write as if it was possible or important to separate “pure” island resident Puerto Ricans from those who have embraced that part of their heritage while living in the mainland. It is not. In fact, these artificial separations what are much more harmful, because they perpetuate the myth of cultural purity. There is no such thing. Now, if what you want to state is that living in the island is a completely different experience from that of living in the states, I don’t disagree. Once out of the island, most Puerto Ricans realize that the distinctions you make do not matter to those who benefit from our squabbles.
        Tranquilizese que yo hasta estoy de acuerdo conque el uso del termino jibaro en el libro no es la forma en que yo lo hubiera usado. Pero considero la atencion al tema un logro importante en un mundo donde los libros sobre el tema, escritos en ingles, son pocos. Y esto viene de alguien que tiene a ” El Jibaro” de Manuel Alonso en su biblioteca.

        1. Rebeca, you have taken wrong what I have written. I do not “. . .attempt to put down. . .” anyone. I just like to make clear that just because you were born on the mainland or even on the island, and grew up in one of the many cities of the US mainland, you can talk about Puerto Rico as if your know what you are talking about. Just because of what your parents were able to tell you about the island does not make you an expert.

          I have lived and studied in Argentina and Hawaii but you do not see me talking about these two places as an expert. I might argue on what I did learn on these two places but I am always open to be corrected because my culture is totally different as those that were born and raise in these places. If you were born in New York and went to Texas or California when you were one, two or three years old and grew up in these states do you call yourself a New Yorker or Californian? Of course not. I have nothing against been proud of your ancestry. Be proud of it but know where you are FROM and be proud of that too, that is what you are and not what you might want to be. I have two daughters and I know they are very proud of their Puertorrican ancestry but they both were born and raise in Hawaii. They both have visited Puerto Rico but you do not see them talking as experts on Puerto Rico way of life. They are very proud of been Hawaiian, even if they do not have Hawaiian blood (only Irish-Scotish and Boricua blood). And I am very proud of them for what they are as I know they are also proud of their Boricua blood.

  23. With all due respect to all… As far as I am concerned; in order to be extinct a species (a class of individuals having common charactoristics or qualities)must be totally gone. If this is the case then common sense dictates that since we share these common charatoristics or qualities, of the Taino, including Taino blood, the TAINO IS NOT EXTINCT. To say that the Taino is extinct is to say that YOU and I are extinct and we all know that this is NOT the case. I am Puertoriqueno, I am Boricua, I am Africano, I am European and I AM SO VERY VERY PROUD TO BE TAINO!!!! ALIVE AND WELL!!!

  24. Aloha,
    Mahalo to all the contributing voices and your stance of existence. Hawaii and their academic community are just a speck of a segment of Hawaiian cultural history. Sadly, in a tightly held group and rules to live by in an academic group-community they are limited to the Anglo-Saxon versions of definition. An objective and bias outlook disperses in the wind much talk of non existence so that one’s contention exist. A clean ground stance for voice and publications. What is most interesting and I must admit that as a native Hawaiian residing in a community that is 50% plus bloodquantum set forth by US congress one cannot speak by UH Manoa law. To read the comments it was delightful! So many comments in so short a time. Speak up and let the academic community know that they are culturally insensitive when defining their parameters. My Hawaiian sovereignty voices tears apart the very fabric of our ancestors voices in their publication of absolute.

    1. Aloha! The History books in general must be revised and not leave people with more questions than answers. There is an enormous amount of rich informationdi irresposibly disgarded because somebody decided that a culture is not worth in-depth exploration.

      1. You are absolutely correct Awilda. The main problem is that today many historians are trying to change history as it did happened so we have to be very critical when we see incorrections. An I am not talking of very old history. today politically correct historians are changing what did happened during the time of President Reagan in the 80’s and this is just an example of the problem.

  25. This is Awesome!!!! I for one love all this and am interested in learning MORE!!! I believe that Taino is in my blood!!! My grandfather to me looks Indian himself but that is neither here nor there.. I want more info on Taino’s someone please direct me… I want to know if Taino’s were the foundation of my Puerto Rican heritage than i want to know about them :) Thank You in advance Mi Gente :)

  26. One of my learned friends sent me, at my request, the following information concerning the extensive discussion on this site.

    Sincerely your Arawak, Taino, jibaro, Boriqua, Puerto (Porto) Rican, JerseyRican, Negrito friend

    Jose Delgado


    Ok long response but it is an interesting issue.

    What Taino Revival Groups are Missing

    It is not wise to argue that Puerto Rican are Tainos because there is a strong presence of Amerindian DNA on the Puerto Rican’s genetic pool DNA. This is similar to argue that we are just Africans or that- as many Puerto Ricans like to believe- that we are Europeans. DNA itself doesn’t make a people- culture, language, religion and a common history does. Because of this Puerto Ricans can- if they chose to do so- adhere to any of the specific groups’ heritage above mentioned; or to the simplistic notion of the Racial Triad. But the fact remains- and I’m not paying homage to the Racial Triad myth- that what we know as Puerto Ricans nowadays is the result of Amerindian, European, African, and Asian DNA plus the cultural mixing and the exchanging of disease, crops, and animals. And on top of that one has to add the influence of institution in shaping a peoples’ character or national identities (schools, military, etc…)

    I don’t know why these are breakings news since it is well known the impact that Amerindian culture had on modern French, Spanish, English and Portuguese language as well as the Americas’ crops that feed European demographic revolution. Moreover it is taken as the norm now that the Conquistadors and colonists had to adapt to the new environments in many ways- and for that they copied agricultural techniques(monton de yucca) and habits (sleeping in hammocks) from the natives of the Americas.

    So, especially in the Caribbean what we see is a complex hybridity- genetic , botanical, and cultural- but with the institutions of Europe becoming hegemonic- even if altered to fit new environments.

    The DNA Evidence

    After the creation of the Commonwealth, public-funded archeological excavations tried to recover the Pre-Columbian past. These efforts have continued and in present day they include DNA testing to find the percentage of native blood in the Island’s population. Dr. Juan Martinez Cruzado, a geneticist from the University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, conducted a DNA survey for this purpose. According to the study funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, 61 percent of all Puerto Ricans have Amerindian mitochondrial DNA, 27 percent have African and 12 percent Caucasian. (Nuclear DNA, or the genetic material present in a gene’s nucleus, is inherited in equal parts from one’s father and mother. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited only from one’s mother and does not change or blend with other materials over time.) According to Martinez Cruzado’s study a majority of Puerto Ricans have native blood. Moreover, there is further evidence that Taínos were not extinguished in the 1600s. After 200 years of absence from official head-counts, a 2,000 people Taíno community appeared living in a north-western mountain region in a military census from the 1790s. See, Martínez Cruzado, Juan C. “The Use of Mitochondrial DNA to Discover Pre-Columbian Migrations to the Caribbean: Results for Puerto Rico and Expectations for the Dominican Republic.” In KACIKE: Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology. Available from

    Puerto Rican Indians at Carlyle Indian Industrial school?

    Under the motto “Kill the Indian save the Man” Captain Richard Henry Pratt opened the first Indian Industrial School in Carlisle Pennsylvania Indian School in 1879. Schools following this model multiplied throughout the United States until the early 1910s. Imagined as a social experiment its main purpose was to assimilate and acculturate young Native Americans. In essence, by distancing them from their communities, the program sought to uproot the students’ “Indianess” and create a new man out of the Indian.

    After the United States took over Puerto Rico in 1898, natives of the Island were sent to these schools. The “Porto Rican Indians”, a group of sixty-plus Puerto Rican youngsters were sent to Carlisle Indian industrial boarding school. A small group of men were the architects of the idea to send Puerto Rican children to the Carlisle, Tuskegee and Hampton Industrial Schools. Richard Henry Pratt, John Eaton, and Nelson Miles knew each other well. They had in common their service in the Civil War and Indian Wars, and were in charge of Indian Scout Units, as well as Buffalo Soldier Units. Pratt convinced leaders of the U.S. government of the worthiness of his social experiment with the children of Indian chiefs. Eaton became the first Secretary of Education of Puerto Rico and was intellectually responsible for the plan to Americanize the Puerto Ricans using Pratt’s approach.

    The way the idea was sold to the Puerto Rican families who agreed to send their children to the school made them believed that Carlisle was a type of university. In fact those sent to Carlisle belonged to educated elite. Ill-treated even while in route to the schools, the students wrote letter complaining that they were being treated as “Indians despite [them]selves”. Those who could, sent their children to other schools, and Pratt himself sent some of the students to regular schools. However, though maltreated the majority of the “Porto Rican Indians” sent to Carlisle stayed in the school and finish their courses.

    See, Sonia M. Rosa-Vélez, ¿Qué pasó con los becados? La saga de los estudiantes puertorriqueños en la Escuela Industrial para Indios de Carlisle (Innedited Essay) Author’s Library; and, Sonia M. Rosa-Vélez, The Puerto Ricans at Carlisle Indian School: An Experiment in Americanization Through Education. (Inedited Essay) Author’s Library; and, Sonia M. Rosa-Vélez, Acquiring the American Spirit: Americanization Through Education and the Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Government Minority Boarding Schools, 1899-1930, (Inedited Essay) Author’s Library

    (Hint hint, they were not Indians but were threated as such since the US Army- in charge of these schools and of Pureto Rico- only knew how to deal with Indians)

    The jíbaro and Boricua question

    The word jíbaro did not become common usage until the 18OOs. And at that point was more associated with the Puerto Rican peasantry. Here you have to be careful because many of the writings come from newly arrived Europeans who disdained the racial mixing that occurred in the island in the previous 2 centuries. That mixing included freed and escaped slaves, Euroepans and of course natives. Much later (20th century) jíbaro came to refer to the “White” peasantry due mostly to Nationalist writings- and later on as part of early works from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriquena. (Remmeber ever seing a jibaro portrayed as Black?- well, many were mostly Black.)

    And Boricua? Yes, it may refer to the people who met Columbus in 1943- who were not the original inhabitants of the island. But it is a bad stretch to assume that because Boricua has reached its apotheosis in Puerto Rican culture and national discourse and iconography that that makes Tainos of Puerto Ricans. Boricua also mutate to Borinqueno and even to Borinqueneer. Deciding to use any of these labels doesn’t make you so (in the sense of making you a Taino) and to use that as proof of the continuous existence of Tainos a sa social entity is a miss reading of history.



    1. Harry you wrote that “The word Jibaro did not become common usage until the 1800s”. It would be more correct to say that the written word did not appear until the 1800s. This does not mean that the word was not used. Europeans and their descendants found the Jibaro as not being worthy to even write about much less study. The first book written on the Jibaros was written in the 1830s and the author clearly states about the Jibaros, that their dances and their customs were mostly a blend of the indigenous and european customs.I grew up with Jibaro grandparents and was involved in many of their cultural expressions. As an adult I sought to study my African roots. After years of study with Afro-Cuban elders, I can say that there really is very little of Africa in the Jibaro culture. These Afro-Cubans still spoke a Yoruba dialect as well as bakongo. Even to how one eats at a dinner table was ritual and more refined then I’ve seen before.

    2. Sorry but to say that the Jibaros were mostly Black means you got your imformation from a book. Anyone who goes to Utuado , Jajuya, Maricao etc. will see indian faces all over. Yes these people are mixed but the indian componant is still there and strong. Further dna studies are showing that on average the Indian quantum and the African quantum are neck and neck. However this is not a competition of Indian vesus African. This book and Taino awarness are about giving due recognition to the indian contribution which is just as important as the European and African contributions. No body seems to object when a Puerto Rican of predominant European background identifies as Black, because of their one eighth or one drop connection. Yet it becomes disturbing to some when the same person calls themselves Taino with the same ammount of Taino background. There is a double standard here. The issue is that many are still using European values of race and judging others who because of their family culture are using a more inclusive value system such as the African and indigenous Taino. It is not my intention to convert anyone. Cada loco con su tema. My purpose is to at least point to the logic behind the Taino awareness movement.

      1. I agree Domingo. My family is from Caguana where Parque De Indios was discovered. That area was tobacco and coffee land. My family Gerena and Muniz I have traced to that area from the late 1800’s. I am 58 years old and have researched
        my family back to the US Colonization. I hope to find my Spain roots. In fact I went to Spain last year and visited the town of Gerena but upon meeting with the local historian did not find any evidence of my family name in the archives. My search continues and each visit to Puerto Rico gives me more motivation. I will be going to Hawaii this year and hope to meet some Boricua’s there as well.

  27. The Xíbaro Nation
    by Tato Torres
     ☩ ☆ ☠
    xíbaro-ximarrón… jíbaro
    jíbaro, xíbaro, gíbaro, xívaro, gívaro, jívaro…
    xí, jí, gí, etc. n. 1. mountain folk of the island of Puerto Rico; a term used to describe a Puerto Rican peasant; anyone from the countryside. 2.word of indigenous origin; applied originally to one of the numerous groups or nations in which the caribes (Island Caribs) were divided; the Jíbaro nation was characterized by its mountainous habits. (Salvador Brau). 3. Indians (Natives) who escaped into the hills to avoid forced servitude under Spanish colonial rule. (Sued Badillo)  4. (Sp. orthography) jíbaro forest man, i.e. native, term with which Spanish sailors identified the natives, or mountain people in Central and South America. 5. racial classification applied to crosses between Blacks and natives in Spanish Colonial System, (in Brazil) local term of Tupi origin applied to various crosses between Blacks and natives. 6. (in Ecuador & Peru) Jíbaro, Jívaro, Xívaro, Chíwaro: North West Amazonian ethno-linguistic family group (i.e., Shuara, Shuar) with long history of survival and defense against outsiders and a reputation as fierceness warriors in battle, who engage in guerilla tactics and headhunting.
    cimarrón, jimarrón, ximarrónón,ón,ón, n. 1. maroon: slaves of African origin who escaped seeking freedom away from the dominion of their masters. 2. escaped from domestication.  3. applied to domestic animals, which escape and turn wild. 4. fugitive, escaped, risen, brave.
    xímaran, jímaran xí.ma.ran, jí.ma.ran, n. 1. word of indigenous origin, arrow fired from the bow.2. escaped from the dominion of man. 3. fugitive, escaped, risen, brave. 4.applied to domestic animals, which escape and turn wild and also to men, first indigenous and later Africans who escaped seeking freedom away from the dominion of the master.
    The word jíbaro (modern spelling in Puerto Rico) represents today what is generally understood to be the “true and genuine Puerto Rican.” The Puerto Rican jíbaros were originally the “mountain folk” of Puerto Rico, and the term jíbaro, does still refer to peasants or to anyone from the countryside, The term jíbaro, most probably developed from an indigenous word (xímaran/jímaran) ; meaning, an arrow fired from the bow, which is no longer under the archer’s control, or escaped from the dominion of man and an escaped fugitive. The word jíbaro has been applied to domestic animals, which escape and turn “wild”, and also applied to men, first indigenous and later Africans who escaped seeking freedom away from the dominion of the colonial masters. The term jíbaro is also applied to plants in their wild, natural or undomesticated state, which suggests that jíbaro refers to the act of existing independently and not just to the act of escaping from dominion.
    The terms Jíbaro, Jívaro, Xívaro and Chíwaro (in Ecuador & Peru) are applied to a North West Amazonian language family group (i.e.,Shuara, Shuar) with a long history of survival and defense against outsiders and a reputation as fierceness warriors who engage in guerilla tactics and headhunting.
    The word jíbaro is a term closely related to maroon, derived from the Spanishcimarrón The word cimarrón also derives from the same indigenous word (xímara/jímaran) and as jíbaro, was first used to identify fugitive “Indians” (natives) who had escaped from the encomiendas, which were grants of land and people given to ensure subordination of the conquered populations and the use of their labor by the Spanish colonizers and as a means to reward Spanish subjects for services rendered to the crown. The word jíbaro was later also used to Black slaves who escaped seeking freedom away from the dominion of their masters. It also means escaped from domestication or undomesticated. By 1530 rural slaves who escaped from plantations towards to the forest were calledcimarrones, but domestic slaves who escaped from one village or another, were called “runaways”. The term cimarrón was not only applied to the slaves that actually escaped, but also to their descendants who inhabited cimarróncommunities. Like the word jíbaro, it was also applied to domestic animals, which escape and turn wild.
     On June 2nd of 1820, the work titled “Coplas del Jíbaro”, were published in the newspaper El Investigador. In 1835 “xíbaro” surfaces in French and American documents. In 1849, Dr. Manuel Alonzo, published his book, “El Gíbaro.” For Puerto Ricans, the word jíbaro, generally refers to mountain folk of the island of Puerto Rico. It is a term used to describe a Puerto Rican peasant or anyone from the countryside. It is also a word, which was apparently originally applied to one of the numerous groups or “nations” in which the Caribes (Caribs) were divided; the Jíbaro nation was supposedly characterized by its mountainous habits (Salvador Brau). It was also applied to Indians who escaped into the hills to avoid forced servitude under Spanish colonial rule (Sued Badillo).
    The word jíbaro and its many variations (xíbaro, gíbaro, xívaro, gívaro, jívaro, etc.) can be said to mean “forest man”. It was the term with which Spanish sailors identified the natives, or “mountain people” in Central and South America, those they had not yet conquered. It was also a racial classification applied to crosses between Blacks and Natives in the Spanish colonial system. In Brazil it is still a local term of Tupi origin applied to various crosses between Africans and Natives.
    To say jíbaro in Puerto Rico is to refer to the most “native” or “national” identity of the Puerto Rican people, that which is genuinely Puerto Rican. From the late sixteenth century until present times, “native” or “national” culture in Puerto Rico has carried the imprint of, not only the European culture imposed by Spanish and US colonization, but also strong and significant traces of Native and African cultural elements. Most “native” or “national” cultural manifestations of Puerto Ricans have fallen within the wider framework of Criollo or in specific, Jíbaro civilization, without disregarding the influences of the non-Hispanic Caribbean.Up to about the second half of the 19th century, the mountainous central range of the island, known as the Cordillera Central, was an agricultural settlement. Its settlers, pioneers of the indigenous population and a strong and significant presence of numerous imported Africans, along with the those of Mediterranean and Peninsular descent, slowly developed the foundations of what is recognizable today as the distinct culture and folklore of the region. The traits of the “native” population, the Africans, and later that of the European settlers and immigrants during the mid-19th century greatly influenced Puerto Rican customs and traditions to eventually form what can be described as the jíbaro (mountain folk) culture characteristic of the region.
    Some of the most important aspects of these people’s way of life were projected directly on the daily lives and the social and cultural expressions of the population of this area. For various circumstances, the inhabitants of this area were until quite recently, subjected to an extreme geographical and social isolation. This allowed for the preservation and development of cultural traditions with respective regional peculiarities. The Puerto Rican Cordillera Central (Central Mountain Range) was once a thick wooded area with few and far between roads. In the past, it was actually easier to travel from one side of the island to the other by boat than to travel across the mountains. This isolated the jíbaros as they developed their distinct identity.
    Traditionally a jíbaro was a “mountain folk” (like the American hillbilly), someone from the mountains, el campo (the countryside) or la altura (the hights) in Puerto Rico. A jíbaro was the campesino, with a strong oral tradition of knowledge and wisdom. Some traits traditionally associated with jíbaros are honesty, bravery, hospitality, self-sufficiency, stubbornness, and pride. A jíbaro also knows how to live of the land. A jíbaro, is a jíbaro, regardless of where he is. Whether living in the mountains of Puerto Rico, in Old San Juan or in El Barrio, NYC. The important thing is that he lives in a “jíbaro”state of mind and existence, uncompromised to that, which is not to his/her community’s best interest. The “jíbaro” isn’t limited to any of the particular racial or ethnic roots, which make up the Puerto Rican; it is the jíbaro’s beliefs, philosophy and way of life, which make him a true “jíbaro”. Yes, thejíbaros originated or developed as a particular identity generally associated with the central mountain range of the island of Puerto Rico, and you can take the jíbaro out of the monte, but you cannot take the monte out of the jíbaro. 
    organic, n. 1. characteristic of, pertaining to living organisms. 2. growing and developing in the manner of living organisms.
    collectivism, n. 1. 
    the political principle of centralized social and
    economic control, esp. of all means of production. communalismcommunalism, n. 1. a system of government whereby each commune is virtually an independent state. 2. the principles or practices of communal ownership. 3
    . strong allegiance to one’s own ethnic group rather than to a society as a whole.
    commune, n., v. 1. any community organized for local interests. 2. the government or citizens of a commune. 3. a close knit community of people who share common interests. 4. a place for group living and sharing of work and production. 5. to converse or talk together intimately. 6. interchange of ideas or sentiments. 7. to partake of the Eucharist [back formation from COMMUNION].
    One of the crucial problems faced by Puerto Ricans is our ignorance of our own traditional (jíbaro) concepts of life and community. The lack of knowledge about the jíbaro way of life confronts our nation with the inability to act in its own interest since we generally ignore these traditional social patterns and value systems. The imposition of capitalist colonial systems has practically erased from our collective memory our original concepts of identity and community. As described by most old jíbaro folks, an “original” jíbaro community could have been made up of anywhere from 50 up to maybe even 100 or more inhabitants. There was not a single policeman, no jail, no secret agents, and no law enforcement officials. Doors remained unlocked; strangers were always welcome and immediately noticed, and everyone felt responsible towards everybody else in the community. If a community member suffered, the whole community as a whole suffered.
    These jíbaro communities were communalistic, i.e., each community self-determined their own social, political, economic and leadership organization. The leadership in these communities was organic; there was a minimum dependence between different community segments and no real private ownership of the land or the means of production. Each local community was relatively independent. The social divisions of the jíbaro community were basically as follows; the immediate family first, then the community, and finally the association of communities, habitually scattered, but uniting or collaborating in case of need. The immediate family was the smallest but most important institution in jíbaro social and organizational structure. It was within the family where basic cultural education was carried out: language, social relationships, general knowledge of the environment, community history and social values in general. These communities were democratically run by a process in which decisions were made collectively by the members of the community. They stood together to defend their community against common threats and any quarrel among them was considered as a community affair. Jíbaro acquired the means of their livelihood collectively. The inhabitants worked together to grow food on land that was used by all but “owned” by none. They worked hand in hand with other members of their community to ensure their own welfare and prosperity. They all worked for one another and piled up the outcomes of their activities. That is to say, each person worked to provide some of the means and made them available for all. Then all individuals gathered the outcome of their activities in proportion with their activity and social status, in accordance with their positions and the extent of their endeavor. All the members of the society got their share of the means and use it to manage their own personal lives. My father often uses a popular saying, which he learned from his father:
    “Cumple con tus deberes y disfrutaras de tus derechos”. 
    ‘Comply with your duties, and you will enjoy your privileges’.-Eugenio María de Hostos
    A productive community or society is an organization, a structured system, or closely integrated group of human beings living in companionship with each other within a community. This community provides them with protection, continuity, security, and collective identity. It is held together by mutual dependence and exhibits division of tasks. This is the way in which the jíbaro communities functioned up until the 19th century or so.
    If you ask any jíbaro elder about the foundation of the jíbaro way of life, they will tell you that it was “asistencia-mutua” (mutual-assistance/mutual-aid). Mutual-aid is a feature of the greatest importance for the maintenance of life, the preservation of any group, and its further evolution. Mutual aid (which leads to mutual confidence, the first condition for courage) combined with individual initiative (the first condition for intellectual progress) is infinitely more important and productive than mutual struggle.
    Throughout history, mutual-aid societies have emerged from humanity’s struggle for survival, but as a social and even biological expression of a universal pattern of organization. These values were reflected in the village society, which was the predominant form ofjíbaro social organization up through the 19th century. Jíbaros where people of common origins or with mutual social bonds, grouped together to provide for they’re collective needs and for their mutual defense, support and justice without imposing on the individual or family. A mutual-aid community or society can be described as a tribe, a clan, a community, a nation, etc., which provides protection, continuity, security, and collective identity to its members. It is held together by mutual dependence and it exhibits delegation of labor or tasks. It is a beneficial association (at least to its members) in which human beings prosper collectively. At the same time it organizes and gives meaning to the life of the each individual member. It is the natural state and highest level of Human interaction. A mutual-aid society is a collective identity, which provides stability, and meaning within the context of a fragmented culture that has lost its sense of community.
    community. n. 1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and have a common cultural and historical heritage.2. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests. 3. Ecol. a population of organisms occupying a given area. 4. joint possession, enjoyment, liability, etc.: community of property. 5. similar character; agreement: community of interests. 6. the community, the public; society.
    In a true jíbaro community, every elder was your father or mother, every peer was your brother or sister, and every child was your son or daughter. The difference between modern society and others is community or lack there of. Industrialization, globalization and consumerism have utterly destroyed the natural tribal or communal environment and have isolated modern humans. Modern societies have turned away from the effective processes of initiation, from the importance of family, tribe and nation. We are an uprooted population without home, land or fellowship. Without a functional collective identity, our relationships to family and community have become disposable in the pursuit of a materialistic “higher standard of living”. Humans are social beings, it is in our human nature to coexist socially. It is an inherent drive or characteristic of human beings in their natural state of existence. Now, when was the last time you observed humans in their natural state of existence? Could you even if you wanted to? Any organism, which is obligated to exist outside of its natural state, it is in captivity. It is either in a state of bondage, servitude, imprisonment, or incarceration, not a “jíbaro”. And being in any of these states of existence one certainly cannot experience happiness (welfare and prosperity). These conditions also imply a forced isolation from other organisms. Isolation is not just being alone, it means being separated from others. The more isolated you are, the less power you have, and the more captive you become. As mutual-aid societies, jíbaro communities, promoted unity, they brought and kept individuals together. The modern ideal of individualism serves the opposite function.
    As a self perceived jíbaro, I believe in organic collectivism or communalism, I reject the capitalist system for it is disconnected from the most basic necessities of the masses, it dehumanizes material property and lumps the people into uniform masses doomed to desperation. Consumerism and the obsession with money drives people away from all spiritual foundations of life, creating at the same time mayor differences between those who have and those who don’t have. On a national level, Capitalism is a system whereby the work of the majority of the people produces the wealth for a minority of individuals who own the means of production. On an international level, capitalism is a system by which the world’s developing nations provide the work and raw materials for the benefit of the wealthy minority. In other words, the slavery of human by human is the basic foundation of capitalism and the cause of its expansion throughout the world.
    I do not believe in a struggle between classes, for it is through mutual-aid and harmonious coexistence that a sovereign family, community, and nation are built. In the same way, I reject the Marxist/Leninist/Maoist concept of Communism, for it establishes a materialistic sense of human existence, which clashes, with a spiritual vision of Humanity. That “Communism” is a system that intends to control the wealth and the land of a nation in the name of the “state,” pretending equality among its citizens. I cannot accept a doctrine, which inherently rejects my deepest spiritual beliefs, such as the principle of individual freedom we are all created with. We should strive instead for higher values, superior to material interests, and create a sense of collaboration with a common mission.
    Both Capitalism and Communism are equally imperialistic systems. But “organic collectivism” or “communalism” is a system whereby the material resources of terrestrial life, belong not only to individuals or to the state, but to the essential fundamental community and all of its members, be they poor, rich, scholars or simple, young and old. With all having full access to the material resources of the community. This is a system in which the “leaders” or heads of the community are symbols or representatives of the community and where the true authority belongs to the people of the society entirely. It is not my intention to idealize the jíbaro way of life and portray it as a utopian world. In any society, as in all of life, the activities of individuals are linked with those of others, since everyone wants to benefit from the results of these activities; violence, inconvenience and conflict of interests are inevitable elements of this complex relationship of constant contact and interaction. It is needles to say that material benefits are normally the source of all kinds of differences, animosities, and loss of sincerity and respect.
    I am not an Anarchist either, since I believe that in order to maintain harmony among people, a society requires a series of regulations, the observance of which prevents disturbance and chaos. But the effectiveness of these regulations is based on the social, moral and spiritual values they are founded upon. And it is the jíbaro values of self, family and community, which I want to bring to our attention as an alternative to the dysfunctional system of modern materialistic values, which has been imposed on us as a people.
    Our Consecrated Teacher (El Maestro) , Don Pedro Albizu Campos (yes!, I am indeed a Nationalist) taught us that humans are free by their very nature. Which means we are subject to rights and, as individuals subject to rights, we are free to form families, and with other families develop a society. And that society constitutes a community; a Transpersonal Other or Collective Self. With other communities, we build a free nation, which has its own identity or personality within the world we inhabit. That is the Law of social Nature, the living expression of the Truth! All nations are ultimately the product of not just centuries, but millennia of tradition and evolution, a continuum of the legacy of their ancestors. Many of us have been disconnected from these traditions and societies through the process of enslavement. But the Light continues to shine attracting the lost members of our great family back home.  
    na,tion, n. 1. a body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to process a government peculiarly its own. 2. the territory or country itself. 3. an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages.  
    The Puerto Rican Nation may be in an “embryonic stage”, in it’s earliest levels of development, but it is none-the-less a nation. As a nation, we are entitled to certain “unalienable rights.” We have the right to a private identity of our own. The right to inhabit our own private physical space that will act as our protective shell, and in which we can remain as an uncompromised and absolute personality. Social orientation and the protection of others are essential in preserving these privileges. Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality are vital attributes of a sovereign nation, and without these, there is no security, no rest, no play, and no reward for one’s efforts in life. A free and sovereign nation is the result of solidarity for the needs of fellow community members, cooperation and mutual support to overcome mutual obstacles, defend against mutual adversaries and create a society in which all who cooperate mutually benefit.  
    sol.i.dar.i.ty, n. union or fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, as between members of a group. 
    Unity is the most important element of a free and sovereign nation. Common history, traditions and regulations are the boundaries, which define a national society. They are the common denominators or the particular culture of a nation, its collective identity or consciousness. The various expressions of these are the indicators by which members of a society are identified. As boundaries and common denominators, they are the bonds that safely hold the society together. Every society has the need for a series of common traditions and regulations, which are at least respected and understood by most of its members. In the history of Humanity, never has a free and sovereign nation evolved without possessing common rites, traditions and regulations.
    unity, n. 1. the state of being one single being; oneness. 2. the state of being combined with others to form a greater whole. 3. the state of being a complete or harmonious combination of elements. 4. complete accord among persons regarding attitudes, opinions, intentions, etc. 5. harmony among the parts or elements, producing a single major effect.
    A nation has an organizing force or energy, which organizes or coordinates its existence based on a common or collective goal, its survival and prosperity so that in this manner it may carry out its mission in this world. By definition, this national organizing force is that of nationalism. One of the key elements of nationalism is fraternity. “Fraternity is great and is capable of much.” The Human drive to come together in groups, which give meaning and purpose to each individual as well as to the group as whole is a socio-biological urge which acts for the preservation of the individual, of the group and of the species.
    fraternity, n. 1
    . a group of persons associated by or as by fraternal
    ties.  2. any group of persons having common purposes, interests, etc.  3. an organization of laymen for religious or charitable purposes.  4. the quality of being brotherly; brotherhood: liberty, equality, and fraternity, brotherly union, as for mutual-aid.  5. 
    the relation between brothers.
    *If two make peace between them in the same house, they will say to the mountain: “move,” and the mountain shall move.  
    This Human drive to come together in groups expresses itself as an automatic expression to protect the organism. It may be described as current or flow of energy, a subliminal up-rush to emphasize spiritual intent. It creates a sense of individual and collective identity and purpose, which reinforces and protects the social unit against submergence. It is the jíbaro’s urge to survive in Liberty, Happiness and Prosperity. National Identity is a result of this force of Nature.
    *”What thou shall hear in thy ear proclaim to other ears from your rooftops. For no one kindles a lamp and sets it under a bushel-basket nor puts it in a hidden place, but rather it is placed upon the lamp-stand so that everyone who comes in and goes out will see its light. ”
    *  – from The Gospel According to Thomas

    Soy Jíbaro Borinqueño
    Y le puedo asegurar
    que ni aquí ni en ningún lugar
    yo tengo ni amo ni dueño
    Yo trabajo con empeño
    Señores, ese es mi oficio
    Ese es mi fín y mi inicio
    De nadie yo seré esclavo
    pues soy de clavo pasa’o
    con Valor y Sacrificio 
    Luz y Progreso
    Amor y Caridad
    Paz y Justicia 
    ☩ ☆ ☠

  28. Thank you Tony for sharing I will be respingo your book, as a Puerto Rican I identify with you 100 . I am a Taina mixed with African and Spanush and no one can take that away from me or from us my brother

  29. I think the author is right about how he is using the term but clearly the guy who wrote the article is confused.

  30. Very interesting article. I do want to clarify that the majority of the people who were “recruited” to Hawaii were actual Jibaros of Puerto Rico. They were illiterate poor people who lived in the areas where sugar cane was cultivated in the island. The U.S. literally brought their “outsourced workers” to Hawaii. This is a sad example of the abuse of colonialism of the era. My assumption is that “History” was lost (story telling)throughout the passing generations of the families who stayed in Hawaii.(Reasons for this stay is a possible theme for another article.) The truth is that the original inhabitants of the island were Tainos and yes Taino DNA is alive and well in the Puerto Rican community. However, there are varying degrees depending on where the family originated in P.R. The “Jibaros” are those who lived in the mountainous areas of P.R. They are a mixture of those who immigrated from the Canary islands and indigenous/African descendants. Again, depending on degrees in DNA. They were very poor; but proud. Today, Puerto Ricans say “Soy Boricua or Jibaro Soy celebrating their diverse heritage. I am delighted to know, that those of Puerto Rican descent in Hawaii are now trying to learn about this part of their culture. Kudos to all!

  31. BTW, I think there are some here who are not getting what Jorge Rivera (not me, ;-), yo soy Rivé, no Rivera) is saying which is 100% accurate.

    1) The Tainos were the indigenous people of Puerto Rico that Christopher Columbus mistakenly called Indians. Fray Bartolome de las Casas, Spanish Historian of that era documented it all. First hand account –nothing to refute here.
    2) Jibaro and Taino (at least in Puerto Rico) are not the same thing. Jibaros are the European peasants (not just Spanish) that took to the mountains and work as farmers. They were/are mostly white Europeans. of course, over time, interbreeding occurred, first with Tainos, then with African slaves.

    I’m not arguing whether there are Tainos left or not. I’m pretty sure there are no 100% Tainos left. What I am saying, and Jorge Rivera has also said on various postings is that Jibaro and Taino are not the same people, and should not be used interchangeably.


  32. As a reference, please see, “History of Puerto Rico” by Fernando Picó. This is the book we used when I studied PR history in high school in Puerto Rico.

  33. I cannot believe you are calling Puerto Rican’s immigrants. Puerto Rican’s are US CITIZENS! Research should of been done before writing this article. This needs to be fixed ASAP!

  34. Puerto Ricans are not immigrants we are North American citizens don’t pretend you don’t know. Stop your hatred and envy toward us.

  35. This thread is illuminating and a little sad.

    I traced my diasporic roots to find that my grandparents were the last of several generations born and raised in PR…my earliest ancestral records were slave records. My grandmother left as a young woman when she was pregnant with my Dad so he could be born here. Only to return with him shortly after. My mother also lived in between both places for much of her life. I spent summers in PR but, was discouraged from speaking Spanish and was told I was white even though my Dad had an afro. The conditions that our families sought to improve by leaving, only followed us when we got here. No assimilation helped. In my 30s, I’m left with no parents, no language, no culture and a storm of painful memories related to their oppression.

    There is a grief that comes when you are displaced in this way; Colonialism 101.

    I’m reading this thread and noticing so much hubris. There are the stateside Diasporicans who readily embrace the colonial oppression of the US to gain acceptance. There are the elitist Puerto Ricans who will not accept the Diasporicans and cling so desperately to self determination that they cannot see the faces of their own brothers. There are the nationalists who don the pava and romanticize about jibaros or tainos or Spaniards the way whites here tell you they are 1/10th Cherokee or that they descended from the Mayflower…completely dismissing the ways colonialism has ravaged customs, displaced families and mixed these alleged pure bloodlines. You can bend research to fit the thesis you like, but there is a racial division on the island the way there is a racial division in the US. There is a legacy of brokenness.

    It’s convenient to talk about imagined histories while slavery & occupation slips into erasure. The FSA paid a visit to PR using the same methods it used to document the dust bowl to fund the New Deal. What better way to sell the government’s bidding than to proliferate the ideology of the farmer on the eve of the first gubernatorial election that would determine PR’s commonwealth status? Later, the Jibaro icon was used by the PPD party to welcome capitalist expansion to the island with Operation Bootstrap. Now, all over the US, you see a resurgence of Taino-ism that points to an insular identity politic that doesn’t help the financial/health crises that is swallowing everyone whole.

    These are symbols of pride. But, pride is bi***. If history has taught us anything, it’s that we need to organize. The division is what keeps us oppressed.

  36. Ok, I’m Puerto Rican, and this is NOT true. First of all, Jíbaro was just the poorer Puerto Rican farmers that consisted of criollos and blacks during the 19th century, at no point it referred to the indigenous people in Puerto Rico, that’s what we call Taino, and they weren’t a thing by the 19th century (not fully anyway). You see that around 60% of Puerto Rican have Amerindian ancestry, but the percentage of it is rather low, around 12-15% in fact, it’s safe to say that there weren’t full blooded Tainos by the 19th century (nor a Taino culture) the Puerto Rican culture isn’t Amerindian, it’s an entirely new identity, one that has features from Spain, Africa and of course Amerindian (though that’s the weakest one, really), Puerto Ricans aren’t Taino, nor are they African or Spaniard: They’re Puerto Rican. And ours is a culture that despict as much from all of these groups, so I don’t get why people here are trying to pretend to be native american while not knowing anything of Taino culture, tradition or religion (in fact, most of our tradition come from Africans and Spaniards), so personally, I think it’s an insult to native americans (the real ones) when other Puerto Ricans refer to themselves as that, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

    Now, I don’t have a problem with honoring our Taino roots, but I disapprove of how it tries to undervalue our entirely culture claiming it all for Tainos while giving the Spaniards SOME credit (the worse ones by that) and almost entirely no credit to the Africans despite their immerse contribution to the culture when the Taino roots tend to be the smallest one in our culture. It’s better to acknowledge that the identity of Puerto Ricans is a new one, it’s NOT the same as Taino, not the same as African, and sure as hell not the same as the Spanish culture, it’s an different one on its own, and the sooner people recognize that, the better.

  37. “The Jíbaro, or Boricua, are the indigenous peoples, the “Indians,” encountered by Columbus…”, WRONG!

    The “Jíbaro” is and has been the inland people those that worked the land as to the “city” people. Yoy want to see the real “Jíbaro” of the 30’s, 40’s and even the 50’s, please look up “El Pan Nuestro” a Ramón Frade painting. Our native indians the one that Columbus found and welcome him to the island of BORIKEN were the TAINO Indian.

    There has been some DNA studies that claim that there are some Taino DNA in Boricuas or Puerto Ricans today. As to what they claim that percentage is I think is too high. However there NO FULL BLODED Taino today in PR. As to the Taino culture all we have what has been passed by word of mouth since the 1500’s to today with all the filtering during all those years since. Written there was not much. Bartolomé de las Casas has been the primary source as to the Taino Culture. That culture has never been taught in school ans much of what they call today as been taino are invented based on what the historians have written.

    Our culture TODAY is primarily base on Spanish, African and American influence.

    I am a Univ of Hawaii Graduate Class of 1969

  38. As a puerto Rican born on the native came to New york at age of one a white blues eyes sometime rejected by my people as gringo growing up in Public housing Latinos & blacks came from a family with various surnames as Malave Pavon Azzuqua Hernandez Velasquez O rellano has always been curious deeply interested in history of Puerto Rico ancestry. Would have never known of Puerto Ricans in Hawaii if it wasn’t for a conversation with a older Puerto Rican man.That was the beginning of my desire to discover information of my people. Your research and studies has impress me thank you continue the good work

  39. The first wave of Puerto Rican was in 1900 when 20k Puerto Ricans went to Hawaii to wok in the pineapple fields then again in 1920 my parents was going but change their minds and went to Tampa to work in the cigars factories instead I was station in Hawaii and met many puerto Rican Hawaiians I also used to visit the puerto rican association and on charisma they play puerto rican music in spanish but they don’t speak spanish, as far as the Taino indians in puerto rico came from Florida the Seminole indians in Florida are Apache indians that were round up in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and taken to the Everglade in Florida, the Taino Indians speak the same dialect the Arawak Indians most of the Arawak used to live in Florida there are still some Arawak tribes in the border of Mississippi and Alabama.

    by the US Army

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