Inhabitants of the islands once called Quisqueya / Kiskeya (Dominican Republic) and Borinquen / Borikén (Puerto Rico) are the people Columbus encountered in the Caribbean. Some scholars contend these indigenous populations — often referred to under the umbrella term “Taíno”— ceased to exist just decades after Europeans arrived. Others have chronicled Taíno legacies in contemporary Latino Caribbean culture asserting the presence of descendant populations today.
In this exchange, Antonio Curet a curator of Caribbean archaeology, tells us what an object in the National Museum of the American Indian collection reveals about the rituals and beliefs of the indigenous inhabitants of Quisqueya. L. Stephen Velasquez a curator of Latino history with the National Museum of American History, similarly looks to devotional objects in the museum’s collection that reflect the religious, racial, and regional identities of their Puerto Rican users. Finally, the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Latino Studies curator, Ariana Curtis, unpacks how slavery and colonialism shaped these identities and how Caribbean Latinos foster new connections to their Taíno ancestors.
Read more: at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture