Dating customs of puerto rico
When the Spanish European settlers first came in 1508, since there is no reliable documentation, anthropologists estimate their numbers to have been between 20,000 and 50,000, but maltreatment, disease, flight, and unsuccessful rebellion had diminished their number to 4,000 by 1515; in 1544 a bishop counted only 60, but these too were soon lost.
At their arrival the Spaniards expected the Taíno Indians to acknowledge the sovereignty of the king of Spain by payment of gold tribute, to work and supply provisions of food and to observe Christian ways.
There was no aristocracy of lineage, nor were their titles other than those given to individuals to distinguish their services to the clan.
Fierce, warlike, sadistic, and adept at using poison-tipped arrows, they raided Taíno settlements for slaves (especially females) and bodies for the completion of their rites of cannibalism.
Some ethnologists argue that the preeminence of the Taínos, shaken by the attacks of the Caribs, was already jeopardized by the time of the Spanish occupation.
Taíno Indians believed that being in the good graces of their zemis protected them from disease, hurricanes, or disaster in war.
They therefore served cassava (manioc) bread as well as beverages and tobacco to their zemis as propitiatory offerings.