Haiti's many caves, were spiritual centers for the Taino people. Later they served as places of resistance for people fighting against the many oppressors in Hatien history.
When the Spanish arrived in
what is now Haiti, the people who greeted them said, “Taino”
This was the word for
peace. Christopher Columbus would go on
to name the people the Taino’s. The
“Taino” were the indigenous people of present day Haiti, Dominican Republic and
The Taino saw their beautiful
islands as sacred, living things. In a
short time, disease, slavery and murder would reduce their numbers to near
extinction. An agricultural society with
permanent villages, an ordered government and a great love for their spirits or
zemis, were nearly destroyed.
I like to say almost because
I believe that the spirit and wisdom lives on in the mountains and the
people. Haiti is mostly composed of
metamorphic rock; soft, coral Caribbean limestone made over millions of years
from decaying sea animals. This
geological past created thousands of small caves, waterfalls and sinkholes. These caves became spiritual retreats, burial
places and the home to Haiti’s beautiful petroglyphs that offer us a window
into the Taino’s magical past.
|Sacred water in Haiti|
They were places of
resistance. For the Taino and then for
the Africans who escaped slavery and fought a revolution. The caves served as places for the Taino and
Africans to share their knowledge of survival and resistance. Deep in the mountains and forests were the
caves that hid the dedicated resisters of the world’s first successful slave
|These are in Spanish because the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were also home of the Taino.|
How sweet is the baby?