Cacicazgos of the Caribbean

Tribe v. Chiefdoms

Pre-contact Taino people did not live in tribes. Our ancestors lived in connected villages each under a head Cacike which in turn were under a grand Kacike who ruled the Chiefdom. While tribes are composed of closely related nuclear and extended family units, Chiefdom are not necessarily made up of related peoples. While certainly speaking a general language helps bind the villages together, it is not necessary. In a sense Chiefdoms are confederacies of different villages or tribal units. While tribes may tend to be nomadic, Villages are in situ,

Taino peoples lived in Chiefdoms.  The inhabitants of these chiefdoms undoubtedly had individual village names for themselves as well as a collective name for all the peoples of their chiefdoms.

Americans, for example, live in towns and cities. These towns have individual names. These towns are located in 50 States which in turn have individual names.  

A Taino Chiefdom was like a country and the individual villages were like states. While this is a very simplistic way of explaining the Taino structure, it helps in understanding how our society was structured.  While we Identify as Taino, we recognize that this name is an all-encompassing name for the myriad of Arawakan speaking peoples who lived on our islands.

Below are pictures of Taino chiefdoms in the Greater Antilles


Cacicazgos of Boriken
Cacicazgos of Kiskeya/Haiti
Cacicazgo of Xamaica/ Yamaye Photo by Fred Kennedy author of HUAREO-Story of a Jamaican Cacique
Cacicazgos of Cuba