If you are not familiar with the Taino Indians, you are not alone. In fact, even some of the modern day Tainos are unaware of their heritage. The U.S. Government says they are extinct as a people, but it is simply not true. That is quite a statement being that population estimates from 1492 was approximately 8 million. Today you would know them as Latinos, a Spanish speaking person of Latin American descent.
The Arawak people of South America began migrating and scattering themselves along the Caribbean islands about 1500 years ago. The islands we now know as Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola, the Bahamas, Bimini, and Jamaica to name a few were packed full of the multitude of Arawak tribes. The majority of these people called themselves Taino, which stood for "the good people" in their language. It was common for the different groups to intermarry extensively to strengthen ties amongst themselves.
The Taino Indians have always had a beautiful culture. Like all of the Indian tribes of their day, they believed in a divine presence that they called Yocahu, and it was part of their everyday lives to worship and give thanks to Yocahu. They had special reverence for nature, which they called Atabey; they had respect for all living things. The Taino Indians had a social order that provided the leaders and guidelines by which they all lived. They hunted, fished, cultivated vegetables and grains and ate the abundant fruits provided by nature. They were a clever people whom had everything they needed to survive and knew how to use it.
Tribal ceremonies were held for births, deaths, marriages, during harvest times, and for naming and coming of age. The Taino Indians had very little use for clothing due to the tropic heat, but upon reaching puberty both males and females would wear a small woven loincloth. Puberty was also the time at which they were considered old enough to be married.