You are currently viewing Paper Genocide Wiped Out the Taino People But We Are Still Here, We Never Left – Nico Pengin

Paper Genocide Wiped Out the Taino People But We Are Still Here, We Never Left – Nico Pengin

Is history not pathetic? It portrays Christopher Columbus as the person who discovered an already inhabited Caribbean. That sounds funny because the narrative needs to change. It is the Caribbean people that discovered Columbus. lol. Was he not sailing aimlessly at sea when he landed on an island with generous people? The generosity of the Caribbean people became their undoing. They were too nice and look what happened and history has gone on to glorify Columbus. Weird.

It is even weirder, that in many schools in America, students can quickly point out Christopher Columbus as the guy that discovered America. Still, very few know about the Taino people. Students know Columbus’s name, but none can mention the first people on the island where Columbus landed. That is how the curriculum rendered millions of people invisible.  Even to myself and I am from there.

The myth of Taino extinction. Narrates that due to harsh treatment and the diseases that arrived with the Spanish. The population declined quickly. The 1565 Census showed that only two hundred Indians were left on Hispaniola Island (Haiti and Dominican Republic). The census reports add that after 1802, there were no Indians left in the Caribbean. No more Taino. On paper.

Paper genocide is the act of making a people disappear on paper. Comparison of the 1787 and 1802 census raises eyebrows. There were 2300 pure Indians in Puerto Rico in the 1787 census, but none was listed on the next census in 1802. So Columbus called the Taino people Indian. Not a single Indian existed in the Caribbean shortly after his arrival.  Paper genocide has it all. No matter one’s physical appearance may be. Or how hard they try to assert themselves, they are considered extinct.


DNA studies have shown that people. In the Caribbean. Possess Native American mitochondrial DNA. 61 percent of all Puerto Ricans, 23 to 30 percent of Dominicans, and 33 percent of Cubans. Those figures for people who should supposedly be extinct!  

The internet contains a lot of information. Information not taught in the school curriculum. With the information, we are writing ourselves back into history.

Many young scholars identify as Taino people. They are out to ask unasked questions and questioning the existing answers. Some books also no longer refer to the Taino people as extinct. 

Also, the census records over the years were outright faulty. For a long time. The census papers. Did not provide the people from Latin America with the option to mark that they were Indian. The only options were only Hispanic, white, black, or a mixture. When the Indian option got included in the Puerto Rican census. 33,000 people identified as Indian.  The identities of the Taino people have always been hidden in plain sight.

The Taino people never went extinct. We were there during the formation of our island nations, playing important roles. Most of our oral traditions, language, and spirituality is all indigenous. Many games, like batey are also indigenous. Finding such great stories is like coming to contact with a long-lost relative.  We should write more about our history so that people will study and understand where we are coming from. 

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