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The Tainos
The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus


Ancient Borinquen
Taino:
Pre-Columbian Art
and Culture from
the Caribbean
Ancient Borinquen:
Archaeology and
Ethnohistory of Native
Puerto Rico
The Indigenous
People of
the Caribbean
An Account of the
Antiquities of the
Indians: Chronicles
of the New World
Encounter


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THE TAINO CACIQUE MAJAGUA

Dr. Fray Mario Rodríguez León, O.P.

Translated by Ann Shevlin

(c) CopyRight - Prohibido copiar, reproducir

El cacique Majagua




HE TERRITORY that makes up present-day Bayamón was part of one of the Taino villages (yucayeques) on the island of Borinquen (Puerto Rico).

Although the number of Indians who inhabited the region is unknown, it was probably not very high. The villages were always built near flowing water.

The Taino Indians were Arawaks who originated in South America. They were men and women of low stature, bronze-colored skin, almond-shaped eyes, prominent cheekbones and black hair.

In each village there was a chief (cacique) who was the highest authority for the region. In turn, these chiefs, while autonomous in their villages, rendered obedience to a supreme chief named Agueybana.

Taino society was divided into three main social groups: the caciques (chiefs) and the nitaynos (elders and warriors), the bohiques(priests), and the naborias, who made up the majority of the population at the base of the societal pyramid.(1)

Although the true origin of the name of Bayamón is unknown, it is possible that it was the name of a chief who has not yet been determined. Dr. Cayetano Coll y Toste considered Bayamon to be the seat of the chief Majagua. [See Bayamón coat of arms, at right; read about Bayamón Coat of Arms].

According to the above-mentioned historian, in 1510:

...the conuco (garden) of 8,000 hills of yuca and
sweet potato belonging to the cacique Majagua
is sold in public auction by Juan Ponce de León:
one hundred pesos to Juan Cerón, and to Marcos
de Andón y Garci Troche, to take care of the
expenditures of the incipient colony of Borinquen.
. (2)

Bayamón writer Dr. Walter Murray Chiesa is the person who has done the most study of the figure of chief Majagua and is his greatest promoter. (3)
Presently there is a school in Bayamón that carries the name of Cacique Majagua.

______
NOTES:
1. Gómez Acevedo, Labor y Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois: Culturas indígenas de Puerto Rico. Samarán, Madrid, 1975, pp. 61-71.
2. Coll y Toste, Cayetano: Prehistoria de Puerto Rico, Bilbao, 1969, p. 23.
3. Autor del hermoso cuento taíno Otoquí. Don Walter Murray Chiesa constituye uno de los valores intelectuales de Bayamón y un ferviente defensor de la artesanía puertorriqueña.

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* Learn more about the Taínos. Read: Books about the Tainos.

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