“Taino: Arawak Indians of the island of Hispaniola in the Caribbean Sea. They also inhabited Puerto Rico and the eastern tip of Cuba. The grew cassava and corn, hunted birds and small animals, and fished. They were skillful at working stone and wood. Their society consisted of three tiers—nobles, commoners, and slaves—and they were ruled by hereditary chiefs and subchiefs. Their religious beliefs centered on a hierarchy of nature spirits and ancestors. They became extinct within 100 years of the Spanish conquest.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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