The Lucayans, A Brief Introduction

The Lucayans are believed to have entered The Bahamas between 600 and 800 AD. They might have come in through Hispaniola and into the Turks and Caicos, or into Inagua. Another possibility is the from Ragged Island to Long Island and then into the Turks and Caicos. The Lucayans are a subgroup of the Taino or Arawaks, who mostly lived in the Greater Antilles.

Society

The societies of the Lucayans were much smaller than their Taino or Arawak counterparts, with settlements consisting of 10 to 15 huts and close to the shore for easy fishing. The villages usually only had one cacique, or leader, who was responsible for religious ceremonies, leading the group, and settle disputes and food distribution. Labor was divided among the genders. Men would hunt, fish, make war while women would farm, prepare food and take care of the children. Each bohio, their house, had its own furniture and utensils, with hammocks for beds. These bohios had a conical shape, with rounded walls and a roof made of thatched palmetto. A single massive tree anchored the bohio, providing support for the structure.

Farming and Fishing

While the men went out to fish, usually for conch or turtle, women were usually the ones farming. They practiced conuco farming or mound farming, using bat faeces and urine as fertilizer. They grew cassava, corn, cohiba (tobacco) and yuca, along with apples, guavas and papayas. For game, they hunted iguana, hutia or agouti (a kind of rabbit), snakes, altos (a bark-less dog) and other land creatures. Bread was made from cassava and corn along with a common dish called the pepper pot.

Activities

The Lucayans commonly played a game called batos, a mix of football and volleyball, held Arias, dances usually held during festivals and at night, and Arieto, singing and dancing. They also drank a kind of beer made from the poisonous cassava juice.

Appearance

According to Columbus, the Lucayan people were slender and tall, having straight and course hair that was short in the front. While young, the children would have their foreheads slowly flattened. Their bodies were “well formed” and were constantly painted with various patterns and colors to ward off both insects and evil spirits.

Fate

As much as the current discussion of the people of the Caribbean revolves around being killed by the incoming Europeans, the vast majority of people living in the Western World died due to Small Pox and other diseases. However, many Lucayans were still killed via over work, suicide, infanticide, malnutrition or starvation and even execution such as being burned at the stake.

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