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Description[edit | edit source]
Native inhabitants of the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands who gave us the root words for hurricane, tobacco, potato, canoe, barbeque, hammock, and yucca. They were a matrilineal people, and the first that Columbus came into contact with in 1492. Though numbering the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, throughout the Caribbean, the Taino fell victim to slavery and disease, and their population declined rapidly as a result. Spanish accounts paint them as a peaceful people compared to their Carib neighbours to the south. Their dugout canoes, which were often nearly as long as Columbus' ships, ferried traders between islands. Recent genetic studies show that roughly half of Puerto Ricans have Taino maternal descent.