Observations of an Invisible Woman

Jamaican Arawak History

Indigenous Jamaican


One of the four large islands of the Caribbean, Xaymaca a.k.a Jamaica, is roughly the size of Connecticut. The island is well known for its rich-tasting Blue Mountain coffee and its bauxite mining and aluminum processing industries.

As early as 600 A.D., Jamaica was settled by Arawaks, indigenous Natives, who called the island Xaymaca. In 1494 Columbus stole the island for Spain and in 1509, Juan de Esquivel began transporting Jamaican Arawaks to Hispaniola, a.k.a Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as slaves.

From Columbus’ Journal:

Saturday, 13 October 1492:

They brought us sticks of the cotton thread and parrots and other little things which it would be tedious to list, and exchanged everything for whatever we offered them. I kept my eyes open and tried to find out if there was any gold, and I saw that some of them had a little piece hanging from a hole in their nose. I gathered from their signs that if one goes south, or around the south side of the island, there is a king with great jars full of it, enormous amounts. I tried to persuade them to go there, But I saw that the idea was not to their liking… 

Sunday, 14 October 1492:

 …These people have little knowledge of fighting, as Your Majesties will see from the seven I have had captured to take away with us so as to teach them our language and return them, unless Your Majesties’ orders are that they all be taken to Spain or held captive on the island itself, for with fifty men one could keep the whole population in subjection and make them do whatever one wanted.

[They are] Used to heat of the rain forest, Arawak families lived without clothes. Arawak men had never done gardening or work around home. They only hunted fish, and let the women do the rest. Even women expecting babies, or with little ones in their care, worked in cassava patches while men sat in hammocks under the shade. When asked if they wanted to get married did not seem in a hurry. The Indians kept themselves cleaner than the Europeans. Believing that sweat weakens the body, they bathed frequently throughout the day.

In their houses—thatched shelters without walls—they sat on clean sand, and they treated one another very politely. Young people called their parents and others of that age “honoured ones.” Older people called all young men “handsome ones” and it took them a while to learn the European titles for women, girls and children, and how to use them. Even though the Arawaks did not have an exact word for humility, they well knew the attitude. One should not look another person in the face while speaking “like a dog,” they believed. Rather, one should rise so that others might sit and count it a privilege to give. Arawak hospitality always involved eating and drinking together and even drank of fermented cassava, held frequent love feasts, and fought at their festivals. — A Pilgrim, Heinrich Beutel

The villagers showed great interest in teaching and no sooner had they learned how to read, then they began to hold classes for the rest and also began helping the pilgrims translate scriptures. The Arawaks, however, had no concept of right and wrong in the European sense, and only dimly comprehended concepts such as worship and faith, but they knew what disobedience meant. They lived according to rigid ethics of their own, something the Europeans realized they could learn from.

Arawaks knew that Yuca (cassava) was a staple food and grew it with minimal care in the tropical climate. They also grew corn, unusual for Caribbean islanders. The women did all the agricultural and craft work at home, whereas the men were generally the warriors. These indigenous peoples invented the hammock (the name derives from the Taíno term hamaca) which the Spaniards used to improve the sanitary conditions of their ships while sleeping.

In repayment for their kindness, the early settlers committed genocide against the Arawaks by ways of small pox, slavery, lynchings, rapes and syphilis.

Today, many islanders such as Puerto Ricans, Surinamese, Venezuela, Guyana and Colombians can claim Arawak ancestry.

This post is dedicated to my brother, a descendant of the noble and peaceful Arawak tribe.

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35 thoughts on “Jamaican Arawak History

  1. mary burrell on said:

    Why the hell do we even recognize Christopher Columbus Day? He was nothing but a thieving greedy savage himself. All we were taught in school was Nina, The Pinta and the Santa Maria. That’s what i remember for middle school social studies. These nobel people shared their bounty, and were hospitable to them. And what did these savage european beast do? Spread their disease and death. And enslaved them. So tragic. Thanks You sister for today’s teaching I so greatly appreciate this. I will even do more to learn on my own.

  2. mary burrell on said:

    *from middle school* forgive the typos above.

  3. Miss Mary:

    My brother sparked a great conversation on our Aboriginal history so I did my own research and was shocked to find that we were slaughtered and lynched by Europeans in our own land!
    I also never knew that the hammock was our creation.

    This new knowledge was very sobering indeed.

    I’m even more determined than ever to see justice in the name of our people.

  4. mary burrell on said:

    Doesn’t this kind of go with one of Abagond’s posting about whites pirating words and inventions and claiming them as there own? What do you think?

  5. Miss Mary

    Europeans came to the new world smelly, hungry, desperate and disease ridden. They took everything from the indigenous peoples of the world, put a white face on it and claimed it as their own.

    If not for our ancestors giving the world the alphabet and the number “0” the entire system known as mathematics, astronomy and language would not exist. Of course they never own up to it.

  6. This is but further/farther evidence of the need to separate ourselves. These “people” proven themselves disagreeable with life.

    I thank you Truthbetold for the education today. I knew nothing of these people and I suspect that was the intention. I also know that most southern Blacks like myself have deep roots in the islands and I to am proud of that and you.

    Thank you very kindly Sista.

  7. Thank you Cari.

  8. My pleasure. When my brother suggested our history, I knew of some of it but not all. I was shocked to learn of our Aboriginal roots and what was done to us. Many blacks living in the U.S. have Aboriginal ancestors that were wiped off the face of the earth by these “people.”

  9. most welcome, thank you

    sent you invite to be author @ group if you like. no pressure if no, or contribute when you feel like it … dogmageo@gmail.com

    have no idea where invites go when sent to wordpress id, seems to the wind at times

  10. Thank you…I’ll check my email.

  11. thank you much … blessings 🙂

  12. ynotme on said:


    Thanks for the education…This is a great history lesson for all black folks, especially for some of the so-called Hispanics, who are trying very hard to distance themselves from their aboriginal ancestors.

  13. Most welcome.

  14. Mickey on said:

    Thank you, Sister Truth, for this bit of history. It is good to be educated on things like this no matter how ugly they are. After all, information is power. And if you control the information, you control the world.

    Do you know about the Namibia genocide against the Herero & Namaqua people by the Nazis? It was the precursor to the other genocide that we know as the Holocaust. I have a number of links and there is even a Youtube video on it if you

  15. Hi Mickey.

    No, I don’t know about the Naminia genocide but would love to learn about it. Any links would be great.

  16. Mickey on said:
  17. Mickey on said:

    In case there are problems with watching the video on the other link:

  18. Thanks Mickey!

    I’ll watch and get back to you.

  19. Mickey

    Thanks for the amazing videos. Very sad indeed.

  20. Tyrone on said:


    Why is this country still celebrating Columbus Day? Can white folk please answer that question? Negress, american indians in this hemisphere are at a tipping point, they’re gonna reclaim what was stolen from them, or, remain a footnote in history according to white folk.


  21. Kushite Prince on said:

    Great upload Sister Truth! I became familiar with the Arawak history about 15 years ago when I was doing some research. Here’s a very good video I think you might like.

  22. Tyrone:

    My ancestors are working on that as we speak.

  23. Thanks Your Highness! More people need to see this.

  24. Tyrone on said:


    Every action has an opposite reaction. White males wanted to remake the planet in their own image, and the opposite of that is taking place today. America and Europe are being taken over by those they enslaved and colonized…Karma! Brown skin is the norm, white is the exception. Whiteness won’t last over the long haul, which is why black and brown have to be kept on the bottom.


  25. Kushite Prince on said:

    You’re welcome. It’s very educational.

  26. thelia hardind on said:

    sorry those who had died

  27. thelia hardind on said:

    god bless you

  28. diaryofanegress on said:

    Thank you same to you.

  29. No sight of Usain Bolt in them pictures

  30. Great post. As a woman of Afro Caribbean descent, well I am of Jamaican descent, I know about Arawak Indian history in Jamaica and find it rather intriguing.

    ”Every action has an opposite reaction. White males wanted to remake the planet in their own image, and the opposite of that is taking place today. America and Europe are being taken over by those they enslaved and colonized…Karma! Brown skin is the norm, white is the exception. Whiteness won’t last over the long haul, which is why black and brown have to be kept on the bottom”

    Exactly, us Black and brown people outnumber Whites in this planet 2 to 1. Whites know this and that is why they their hardest to keep us down. They know that if us Black and Brown people had power, we could take them off of their pedestal. Besides we are genetically more dominant in them anyways and they know that too.

  31. Exactly, many if not most Hispanics want to be White so badly to fit into this racist White AmeriKKKlan society. Trust me, White AmeriKKKlans will give them a rude awakening and tell them that they aren’t White.

    I don’t hate Hispanics, in fact, I find them an extension of the Black race aka a subgroup of the Black race since many of them are mixed with Black. I think they should realize that racist White AmeriKKKlan society sees them as Spics AND EMBRACE their beautiful culture. And embrace the fact that they are a mixture of Black, Indigneous Indian and Spanish conquistadors.

  32. mydanni1 on said:

    Wow!! Given all the racial injustice towards Indian, Black, and Hispanic people in America, by white people, I’m not even shocked anymore. So sad that one race of people is a plague to EVERY other race on the planet. I don’t think there is 1 country that has not been negatively impacted by Europeans in some form or fashion…not one!

  33. @ mydanni

    That’s including white nations as well. They kill their own kind.

  34. How on earth did one race of people gain such powers and dominance over the rest of races to treat them as insignificant? back-ayard.com

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