How Many Indians Died in Hispaniola after the Arrival of Christopher Columbus?

During his second trip to the New World, Christopher Columbus established a colony on the island of Hispaniola. He encountered the Taino natives living there, nearly 250,000 strong. Columbus found these indigenous Arawak Indians to be a generous, sturdy and inventive people who were skilled at farming. Columbus took charge of their lives, enslaving the Taino to work in gold mines and later on plantations, all to benefit the European colonists.

The Taino population quickly died off; 90% succumbed to the new infectious diseases. The natives had no immunity to European diseases, including smallpox, and entire communities were wiped out. If these new strains of deadly sickness did not get them, the harsh enslavement of the Spanish almost certainly would. From an estimated initial population of 250,000 in 1492, only 14,000 Tainos remained in 1517.

More about the Taino Indians:

  • By the late 15th century, the creative Taino had developed pepper gas for warfare, built oceangoing canoes large enough for 100 paddlers and played games with a ball made of rubber.

  • The Taino never developed a written language and didn't appear to be religious. They made beautiful pottery, wove intricate belts from dyed cotton and carved wood, stone, shell and bone.

  • Marriage laws were non-existent. Men and women were free to leave their mates as they pleased, without jealousy or anger.

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More Info: A People’s History of the United States

Discuss this Article

Post 1

The true extent of suffering and death of indigenous peoples by colonists globally,will never truly be measured. They raped and pillaged vast expanses of foreign lands out of greed, with no remorse,or reparations to speak of. Some kind of sophisticated societies indeed, off the backs of others in history.

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