The word Taino meant "men of the good," and from most indications the
Tainos were good. Coupled to the lush and hospitable islands over
millennium, and a half, the indigenous people of "La Taina" developed
a culture where the human personality was gentle. Among the Taino at
the time of contact, by all accounts, generosity and kindness were
dominant values. Among the Taino peoples, as with most indigenous
lifeways, the physical culture was geared toward a sustainable
interaction with the natural surroundings. The Taino's culture has
been designated as "primitive" by western scholarship, yet it
prescribed a lifeway that strove to feed all the people, and a
spirituality that respected, in ceremony most of their main animal
and food sources, as well as the natural forces like climate, season
and weather. The Taino lived respectfully in a bountiful place and so
their nature was bountiful. (Jane 1930)

The naked people Columbus first sighted lived in an island world of
rainforests and tropical weather, and adventure and fishing legends
at sea. Theirs was a land of generous abundance by global terms. They
could build a dwelling from a single tree (the Royal Palm) and from
several others (gommier, ceiba), a canoe that could carry more than
one hundred people.

The houses (bohios) were (and are today among Dominican and Cuban
Cuajiros) made of palm tree, trunk and thatch lashed together in a
rectangle or sometimes a circle pattern. The islands still have
millions of royal and other useful palm trees, from which bohios by
the hundreds of thousands could be built. The wood of the Royal Palm
is still today considered the most resistant to tropical rot, lasting
untreated as long as ninety years. 1

The Tainos lived in the shadows of a diverse forest so biologically
remarkable as to be almost unimaginable to us, and, indeed, the
biological transformation of their world was so complete in the
intervening centuries that we may never again know how the land or
the life of the land appeared in detail. What we do know is that
their world would appear to us, as it did to the Spanish of the
fifteenth century, as a tropical paradise. It was not heaven on
earth, but it was one of those places that was reasonably close.

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