The Redware people were followed by the Arawakan-speaking Taino, who arrived in jamaica around 800 AD. They eventually settled throughout the island . Their economy, based on fishing and the cultivation of corn (maize) and cassava, sustained as many as 60,000 people in villages led by caciques (chieftains).
Taino Tribal Living
The Taino brought from South America a system of raising Yuca known as “Conuco.”
To add nutrients to the soil, the Taino burned local bushes and trees and heaped the ash into large mounds, into which they then planted yuca cuttings.
Most Taino lived in large circular buildings (bohios), constructed with wooden poles, woven straw, and palm leaves.
The Taino spoke an Arowakan language and did not have writing. Some of the words used by them, such as barbacoa (“barbecue”), hamaca (“hammock”), kanoa (“canoe”), tabaco (“tobacco”), yuca, batata(“sweet potato”), and juracan (“hurricane”), have been incorporated into Spanish and English.
The History books tell us this tribe is extinct and no longer have any survivors. However, whilst researching this amazing tribe, I came across an article in “The Gleaner” proving this really not to be the case. Here is the following exert:
“Tainos are alive and well throughout Jamaica – just that many people do not know.” She said people are more concerned with other issues than those of identity. “The Government knows that we exist, and I know that the Government knows that there are Taino people in St Elizabeth,” she said.
She being Dr Erica Neeganagwedgin, a professor at the Centre for World Indigenous Knowledge and Research, Athabasca University in Canada, where she has been living for more than 25 years.