The Taino were a sea-going people and took pride in their courage on
the high ocean as well as their skill in finding their way around
their world. They visited one another constantly. Columbus was often
astonished at finding lone Indian fishermen sailing in the open ocean
as he made his way among the islands. Once, a canoe of Taino men
followed him from island to island until one of their relatives, held
captive on Columbus's flagship, jumped over the side to be spirited

Among Tainos, the women and some of the men harvested corn, nuts,
cassava, and other roots. They appear to have practiced a rotation
method in their agriculture. As in the practice of many other
American Indigenous eco-systemic peoples, the first shoots of
important crops, such as the yucca, beans and corn were appreciated
in ceremony, and there are stories about their origins. Boys hunted
fowl from flocks that "darkened the sun," according to Columbus, and
the men forded rivers and braved ocean to hunt and fish for the
abundant, tree-going jutia, the succulent manati, giant sea turtles
and countless species of other fish, turtles and shellfish. Around
every bohio, Columbus wrote, there were flocks of tame ducks
(yaguasa), which the people roasted and ate. (Cassa 1974)

Father Bartolomé de las Casas, the Spanish friar who arrived on
Columbus's heels and lived to denounce the Spanish cruelty toward
Indians into the next century, wrote (exaggeratedly but impressively)
about "vineyards that ran for three hundred leagues," game birds
taken by the tens of thousands," great circular fields of yucca and
greater stores of cassava bread, dried fish, corn fields and vast
gardens of sweet yams. Tainos along the coasts of Española and
southern Cuba kept large circular corrals made of reeds which they
filled with fish and turtles by the thousands. In parts of Puerto
Rico and Cuba, Jivaro and Cuajiro fishermen used this method into the
1950s. The early Taino and Ciboney of Cuba were observed catching
fish and turtles by way of a remora (suction fish) tied by the tail.
(Fernandez Mendez, Eugenio, Los Corrales de Pesca Indigenas de Puerto
Rico, Revista del Instituto de Cultura Puertoriqueña, Oct. 1960).

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