Three races, one culture

Three races, one culture

Who are Puerto Ricans and where do they come from?

       Every human being is unique and different, but even with these differences, you can notice that there's some similarity between people in a community and they vary from country to country. But if you look closely at Puerto Ricans, you will see that everyone is different, even people from the same family differ from each other on many occasions.  We're very diverse but we share many traditions and customs that we have inherited from our ancestors and that are characteristic of Puerto Rico, as well as the love and respect for our country. 

       Boricuas are the result of the mixture of three ethnic groups that have lived on our island throughout history. The Taíno Indians, the Spanish, and the black Africans contributed their physical traits, traditions, beliefs and ways of life, which is why the Puerto Rican culture is rich and varied. Next we will be talking about the legacy of our Indian, Spanish and African ancestors.

Taíno Heritage
     When the Spanish arrived on the island, more than 500 years ago, the Taíno Indians already lived in Borikén, which means the "land of the haughty Lord".  Before the Taínos, there were other Indian peoples that inhabited the island, and all of them are also part of our indigenous roots.
       The first settlers of the Greater Antilles were the Archaic Indians, who lived in small family groups and fed on seeds, wild fruits and animals that they hunted and fished. They did not know agriculture and made stone tools and moved frequently from one place to another in search of game, that is, they were semi-nomadic. Few of their remains have been found in Puerto Rico, and many things about them are unknown, such as where they came from. But they may have taken routes from the coast of Venezuela, Central America, or Florida.
       The Saladoid Indians were a group of Arawak origin that migrated from the northwestern region of South America to the coast of what is now Venezuela and Guyana. More than two thousand years ago, they moved from there to the Antilles, reaching Puerto Rico. Archaeological remains have been found, such as amulets and fragments of clay idols, which lead us to suppose that religion was an important part of their culture, but their social and religious organization is not well known.
        The Ostionoid Indians are also part of the Aruaca culture and populated the island later. Like the Saladoids, they were farmers and cultivated cassava, although they ate oysters, clams, snails, and fish. Their pottery was simpler, and they frequently used carved stone to make their amulets, ornaments, or idols.
The Taíno Indians, for their part, are our closest indigenous ancestors and their culture is the most important of the indigenous legacy. The Taíno Indians used to be of medium height, with copper-colored skin and thick, straight, black hair. They had a flattened nose, high cheekbones, and fairly full lips. They used to go naked, and they smeared colored pigment on their skin. They knew agriculture, hunting and fishing.

Spanish Heritage
        In 1492 Christopher Columbus, on behalf of the Spanish Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, embarked with a group of sailors in three caravels, named Pinta, Niña and Santa María. The idea of this trip was to find a route to reach Asia by crossing the Atlantic Ocean, but on his trip he reached lands hitherto unknown to Europeans: the Americas. He explored some islands, like Cuba and la Españolaand returned to Spain.  In 1493, Columbus undertook his second voyage, this time with a fleet of 17 ships, which transported more than 1,000 people: farmers, artisans, nobles and religious. They also brought seeds, plants, animals and tools necessary to till the land. The first voyage was for exploration and discovery, the second voyage was for colonization: all these people wanted to settle in the lands that Columbus had found.
        On November 3, 1493, the ships reached the Lesser Antilles, and continued sailing towards other smaller islands, until November 19, 1493, when they landed on our beaches. Columbus took possession of the island in the name of the kings of Spain, and baptized it with the name of San Juan Bautista. They explored the lands of Borikén, settled in what is now San Juan and dedicated themselves to exploiting gold and land, making conucos, small crops, with indigenous labor. For years the Taínos defended themselves and revolutionized but the weapons and technologies of the Spaniards were superior to theirs, which reduced the indigenous population. Many of them took refuge on the nearest islands, although they were also under Spanish rule, while others died from mistreatment or disease. The remaining indigenous people ended up accepting the Catholic religion, which was imposed, and the Spanish way of life, mixing with the latter and the Africans who inhabited the island.
      The Spaniards, in general, were physically more or less light-skinned, with a sharp nose and thin lips. The changes in the diet, customs, clothing, traditions and entertainment, architecture, music, musical instruments, the development of agriculture and livestock, and the introduction of unknown animals in P.R., such as the horse, are part of the legacy of the Spaniards on our land.

African Heritage
      Finally, our third ethnic root comes from the black Africans who were forcibly uprooted from their families and their villages, sold and brought as slaves to sustain the island's economy, since the indigenous labor force was radically reduced for various reasons.  People from different tribes, ethnic groups and states, each with their own histories and traditions, brought in subhuman conditions on slave ships, where they suffered difficult situations, such as hunger, violence or disease. Those who managed to survive the trip arrived in Puerto Rico, where they were forced to work in the mines, farms and construction sites or in the houses of the Spanish masters.
     Although they came from different areas of Africa, their physical features were similar, dark skin and eyes, thick, kinky black hair, full lips, and high cheekbones. Their religious customs were based on divination practices and magic, with which they tried to know the future and gain strength against evil, using amulets. They produced valuable bronze and ceramic sculptures, made fabrics, and worked with iron, wood, and ivory. Music was an important element in the life of slaves, as well as dancing and singing, since it was a way of expressing themselves and communicating messages.

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