Using radiocarbon dating, human presence on the island of Hispaniola has been traced as far back as 4,000 B.C. Those early inhabitants are believed to be linked to the Arawakan People of modern-day Venezuela where several thousand of their descendants, the Lokono, still live and continue their traditions.
Scientific and archeological research has shown that Taínos migrated to the Chiefdom of Jaragua (roughly the same region as Cabaret in modern Haiti), around 3,630 B.C. Over thousands of years on the island, the Taíno consolidated a culture that featured agriculture, trade, inter-tribal marriages, and a peaceful life philosophy.
The Taíno had at least two names for the island now known as Hispaniola: Ayti (Haiti) meaning "MounTaínous Land", and Kiskeya, meaning "Mother of all Lands" - adopted by the Dominican Republic as Quisqueya.
At the time of European conquest, the island of Hispaniola was shared amongst the now advanced Taíno civilization, separated into five tribal regions of chiefdoms:
Northwest of the island (close to modern-day Port-de-Paix, Cap-Haïtien). The head chief (Taíno: cacique) was Guacanagarix, famous for receiving Columbus and his men peacefully after they were shipwrecked.
Northeast of the Island (where modern-day Puerto Plata and Samaná are located). The head chief (Taíno: cacique) of the Maguá was called Guarionex.
On the Southeast coast of Hispaniola (where you’ll find modern-day Punta Cana, La Romana and Santo Domingo), the Higuey chiefdom was governed by cacique Cayacoa.
In the South-central region of the Island (home to Santiago, Río San Juan and Bahoruco), Maguana was ruled by cacique Caonabo. After Caonabo’s death, his wife Anacaona took over as leader of her people.
Located on the SouthWest part of the Island (Port-au-Prince; Jacmel), ruled by the Head Chief of Cacique Bohechio, the brother of Anacaona. Other prominent warrior Taínos were Enriquillo, Hatuey, and Lemba.