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Guainía History

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Guainía (Guaynia) is the name of an indigenous Taíno territory that traditionally stretched along the southern coastal area of Borikén (Puerto Rico) extending to the interior of the island in pre-Columbian times. Comprising many villages - each retaining their own local leadership - Guainía was the largest of all the indigenous territories encountered on the island when Columbus arrived off its coast in 1493. 

The principal Kasike (Chieftain/leader) of this territory was Agüeibaná (Agueybana) the elder, a powerful orator who was documented as being the most politically influential indigenous leader on the island. His home iukaieke (yucayeque/village) was said to lie close to the rio/river Guaynia. Many historians claim that the site of this village is located in the area of the municipality of Guayanilla while others claim it was in Guanica. The entire traditional territory however historically covered all or parts of present-day localities such as Cabo Rojo, Hormigueros, Lajas, San German, Sabana Grande, Guanica, Yauco, Guayanilla, Adjuntas, Peñuelas, Ponce, Juana Diaz, Villalba, Santa Isabel, Coamo, and Salinas.

Beyond Borikén, Guainía or Guaynia as an Arawakan language term extended across the islands, and as far as South America. For example, the was a region called Guainía in Cuba recorded among the Taíno of that island. The Organization for Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC), which represents 56 indigenous nationalities from six departments includes Guaynia. In the Orinoco region of Venezuela, a river known commonly as “el rio negro” was traditionally known by the Lokono Arawaks of Venezuela as Guaynia. The Lokono are cultural, linguistic, and biological relations to the Taíno. 

Today, Tribal affiliation is open to all Taíno Tribal Nation Citizens regardless of home origin. Persons of Arawak and Carib ancestry are also welcome to enroll within the Citizen Registry of the Iukaieke Guainia Taino Tribe or within the Taino Population Census and Inter-Tribal Registry of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP).

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