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Outstanding film on the Taino by the government of Puerto Rico

Outstanding film on the Taino by the government of Puerto Rico


This is the best television documentary I have ever seen on the Taino.  It is an extremely high quality, two hour “prime time” program that not only provides a complete discussion of Taino cultural history, but also challenges the myth created by 19th century academicians in the United States, which announced that the Taino were extinct. The program is bilingual with English subtitles.

The University of Puerto Rico carried out a comprehensive genetic testing program throughout the island and found that the majority of Puertoricans carry the DNA test markers of the Taino and another, as yet unidentified, indigenous American people.  The original assumption was that the other tribe was the Caribs, but further testing revealed that the other DNA did not seem to be Arawak.   Current theories are pointing toward the Southeastern United States as the origin of the other large indigenous population . . . either through Pre-Hispanic migration or the transportation of Native American slaves from Charleston to plantations in Puerto Rico.  This remains a mystery.

If you have Southeastern indigenous ancestry (from any of the tribes, including the Cherokees) the chances are very high that you have some Arawak ancestry.  As I mentioned in a recent article, the word Tennessee is the Anglicization of the Creek word, which means “Descendants of the Taino.”   There is a Taino hilltop shrine and dance ground in Sweetwater Creek State Park in Southwest Metro Atlanta . . . very close to Six Flags Over Georgia.

This film is best watched as an evening alternative to “Duck Dynasty” or “Ancient Alien Astronauts.”  It is not something that you can glance at a couple of minutes and then move on to answering emails.  Note that the Taino also wore shell gorgets like the Southeastern Indians!



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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history. Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.



    Thank you so much for the wonderful work you do. I am of Puerto Rican ancestry (residing in Florida) and my geneological research has hit many brick walls. I have been keeping up with the most recent research from the island and it makes sense to me that, on an island where for hundreds of years most of the white inhabitants were men there would have been substantial interbreeding with native women. This part of our history has been totally whitewashed. Genocide is not something European-Americans care to remember. I am currently awaiting DNA test results from both my parents and I strongly suspect a Taino connection.

    On a related topic: What does the continued existence of the Taino bloodline mean for U.S. Indian Affairs policies? In P.R., there is a strong political movement to assert autonomy (whether via “enhanced” Commonwealth status, statehood or independence) and the glorified myth of the Taino is embraced as a form of patriotism against “los yanquis” dictating affairs from Washington, DC.

    Lastly, I would like to offer my services to you as a volunteer translator (not sure what else my skill set would be useful for) to assist research into old Spanish documents and the like, assuming you could use the help. Please email me, if interested.

    • Miguel,

      It is our opinion that the Taino descendants in Puerto Rico should receive the same federal and territorial recognition as indigenous peoples in the continental United States. This is especially true, because we have proven that the Taino were in the Southeastern United States also.

      Where you can really help us is finding anything you can that accurately describes Taino art and cultural history in Puerto Rico. We would be delighted if you would like to translate it, but several of us can read Spanish. There is much more information out there than can be found on the web. We are particularly interested in comparing Taino artistic and pottery traditions with what has been found in the Southeastern USA. I will send you our email address.


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