When Worlds Collided: Native Peoples of the Caribbean and Florida in the Early Colonial Period
t was an extraordinary moment in history. From their home on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani, Lucayan Indians looked east toward the rising sun where three large floating houses with wings had appeared on the horizon and gradually approached. To the people of the Americas, as well as those of Spain, France, England, and the other countries of the eastern hemisphere, the arrival of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María off modern San Salvador Island in 1492 signaled the start of a new world. Over the next 500+ years European colonialism would bring conflict, accommodation, and change to the Americas as cultures on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean participated in the great Columbian exchange.
The 1492 route of Christopher Columbus across the Atlantic Ocean had taken him to the Bahama Islands, home to the indigenous Lucayan Indians. The Lucayans were one of a large number of groups today known collectively as the Taino Indians, a people who spoke Arawakan languages (the reason the Tainos sometimes are called Arawaks). Taino groups, each a society headed by a hereditary chief (what anthropologists call chiefdoms), inhabited most of the Greater Antilles and the Bahamas.
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