The Calls of the Taino By: Ashely Diaz

The Calls of the Taino


Shaking of hand crafted maracas(1)

The bang of drums with goat skin(2)

The curls of tongue that cry out to the sun(3)

Yucayeques(4), the forest that never sleeps

Caring for its children that weep

Living on the fish that swim in the surface

Sacrificing its life for purpose.(5)

Young children digging the ground for cassava(6)

Rushing to play batu’ (7)

before they all had to participate in the areytos.(8)

Welcome, they are here.

They met pale faces and called them friend,(9)

Only for the friend to drive a dagger into their spines.

On our knees staring at the coqui (10), wondering

How could we be deceived?

Tears fell as our ancestors were killed

Alongside our stories and tales.

Souls deteriorated from the sound of infant cries ceasing from death.

Manhoods torn as wives were raped and bore mixed aliens.

There was much, and then few.

Seeing a pale face was more common than a familiar one.

It all started with the wrong friend,

And now we dance in the forest, sleep in the waters and hide in the coconuts

Death was bitter, but the maraca still shakes a night in Coyaba.(11)

(1) /(2): Music was an important custom to the Taino tribe based in Puerto Rico, they would hand craft maracas and drums.

Photo derived from

(3): According to, Tainos were deeply religious and worshipped many gods and spirits. Above the gods there were two supreme beings, one male and one female. Gods were represented by elements and other materials.

Photo derived from Ken Chitwood.

(4) Yucayeques were small villages based in the rainforest.

Photo derived from Pinterest.

(5)/(6): Tainos often lived off of fishing and the gathering of the cassava root.

Photo derived from

(7):Batu’ was a ball game played by Tainos. The game was played by two teams where players would use their hips to exchange the ball.

Photo derived from

(8): Areytos was a religious song and dance performed by Tainos.

Photo derived from

(9): Tainos were conquered and slaughtered by the Spanish Conquistadors led by Columbus.

Photos origin unknown.

(10):Coquis are frogs based in Puerto Rico, and had great significance to the Tainos. According to culture, “there is legend that there was a beautiful goddess who fell in love with Coquí, the chief’s son. When he went out to fish, she would make sure that he came back with a big catch, and he would sing praises to her. One evening, she came to him in the form of a Taíno maiden, and they fell in love. She told Coquí that she would come back the next evening at moonrise, but the next evening came, and with it came the evil Juracán. The sky blackened and his winds howled and the goddess tried to protect her lover, but Juracán snatched him away and she never saw him again. She did not know how she could go on without her beautiful Coquí, so she created this tiny frog that will forever call for him: “Co-kee! Co-kee!”

Photo derived from

(11) Coyaba is the Tainos idea of heaven, which is a place of peace and eternal rest.

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