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Of Cannibals and Kings

Primal Anthropology in the Americas

Neil L. Whitehead

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2011

Latin American Originals

Of Cannibals and Kings

Primal Anthropology in the Americas

Neil L. Whitehead

“As the primal text of Europe’s encounter with America, Ramón Pané’s Antiquities of the Indies is of unparalleled importance for understanding both the native culture of the Caribbean at the time of contact and the ways in which Europeans tried to make sense of it. This authoritative edition finally gives us a satisfactory English translation and contextualizes Pané by placing his text alongside other key documents of the time, several of them previously untranslated. Most significantly, the collection is introduced by Neil Whitehead’s magisterial survey of the politics of this founding moment of anthropological discourse. Of Cannibals and Kings is now an essential text for understanding America.”

 

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Of Cannibals and Kings collects the very earliest accounts of the native peoples of the Americas, including selections from the descriptions of Columbus’s first two voyages; documents reflecting the initial colonial occupation in Haiti, Venezuela, and Guyana; and the first ethnographic account of the Taínos by the missionary Ramón Pané. This primal anthropology directly guided a rapacious discovery of the lands of both wild cannibals and golden kings.
“As the primal text of Europe’s encounter with America, Ramón Pané’s Antiquities of the Indies is of unparalleled importance for understanding both the native culture of the Caribbean at the time of contact and the ways in which Europeans tried to make sense of it. This authoritative edition finally gives us a satisfactory English translation and contextualizes Pané by placing his text alongside other key documents of the time, several of them previously untranslated. Most significantly, the collection is introduced by Neil Whitehead’s magisterial survey of the politics of this founding moment of anthropological discourse. Of Cannibals and Kings is now an essential text for understanding America.”

Neil L. Whitehead is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Contents

List of Illustrations

Preface

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Of Cannibals and Kings

Documents 1a and 1b The Letter, and Extracts from the Journal of Columbus’s First Voyage to America (1492)

Document 2 The Report of Diego Chanca on Columbus’s Second Voyage to America (1494)

Document 3 Writings of Friar Roman on the Antiquities of the Indians, Which He Collected on Request of the Admiral with Diligence, as a Man Who Knows Their Language (ca. 1498)

Document 4 The Deposition of Rodrigo Figueroa on the Islands of the Barbarous Caribes (1520)

Document 5 An Account of the Provinces of the Aruacas by Rodrigo de Navarrete (ca. 1550)

References

Index

Introduction

Of Cannibals and Kings

The Lords who were subject to these Five Kings were innumerable, and I knew a great many of them; all had an immense number of subjects. . . . When the King Guarionex called him one of his vassals would come to serve him with 16,000 warriors.

Bartolomé de Las Casas, The Five Kings of Hispaniola

They say that this cacique claimed that he had talked with Giocauugama, who told him that those who survived him would enjoy their rule for a short time, because dressed people would arrive in their country, who would dominate and kill them, and that they would starve to death. At first they thought that these people had to be the cannibali, but . . . they now believe that these are the admiral and the people that he brings.

—Ramón Pané, The Antiquities of the Indians

The Caribbean generally and the island of Hispaniola specifically is the linchpin, the pivot point where the old world swung into the new world. If you want the transformation point, if you want the ground zero where the Old World died and the New World began, it’s there. . . . The modern world was given rise by what began in the Caribbean.

—Junot Diaz, Newsweek, April 3, 2008

The Caribbean became the initial scene of the encounter between Europe and the Americas on October 12, 1492, as the fleet of Christopher Columbus first sighted land. Columbus went on to explore the northeast coast of Cuba, where he landed on October 28, as well as the northern coast of Hispaniola in December. When one of the three ships ran aground and had to be abandoned, Columbus, with the permission of the native leader Guacanagari, left thirty-nine men behind and founded the settlement of La Navidad in what is now Haiti. The native population of the island the Spanish called Hispaniola, Aiti in the native language, was therefore the first to negotiate the new political and economic realities that the Europeans imposed, as well as to endure the ecological and demographic consequences of that arrival. The consequence of arrival, for European and Amerindian alike, was the advent of a modernity whose ruins we still inhabit. Perhaps, in all its poverty and urban decay, its prophetic reflection of those states of exception that haunt the contemporary imagination, Haiti is in fact the most modern country in the world. For the discovery was indeed of a “new” world, and it was one in which we were the cannibals and they the kings, as had been prophesied.

The title to this volume—Of Cannibals and Kings—thus hints at such an inversion of historically received reality, one I hope is worthy of the phantasmagorical worlds created by Lewis Carroll, who famously employed a similar phrase. But anthropophagy and kingship have been among the earliest and most persistent of modern anthropological issues, as Michel de Montaigne’s famous essays “Of Cannibals” and “Of Coaches” well demonstrate (Montaigne 2007). The chivalric Spanish rescuing of a feminized America from the clutches of cannibal savages was a powerful image in its own day, and we might wonder how far in fact we have traveled from that moment and its symbolism. But its anachronistic aspects were certainly part of the rhetorical claims of the French, Dutch, and English as they sought legal and political access to the fabulously profitable relations of production of war and slavery that had been created in this new and marvelous world. The invention of a “new” world thus presented challenges not just of navigation, logistics, finance, politics, law, and so forth, but also of the self-fashioning of Europe itself. Montaigne’s Essais, not unlike the writings of Bartolomé de Las Casas in the Spanish world, focused on the key issue of who is what—cannibal or king? savage primitive or civilized modern? Caliban or Prospero? Carroll’s Walrus and Carpenter talked of many things, including cabbages and kings, a phrase that O. Henry also used in the title of his now largely forgotten 1904 novel set in Central America. Perhaps with conscious irony, one of the native Carib characters in the novel is called Chanca. As will be seen from the writings of Dr. Chanca, companion to Columbus on his second voyage, it was he who firmly associated through ethnological observations the idea that the ethnic identity of “Carib” necessarily entailed “cannibalism.”

The documents collected here, and in particular the description of Hispaniola by Ramón Pané, thus reflect the inception of those ideas and in so doing provide the basis for the primal anthropology that developed over subsequent centuries. The first descriptions of the Caribbean by Columbus and Chanca, and the description of Hispaniola by Ramón Pané and the deposition of Figueroa, are the key texts through which such ideas were formed and promulgated. The later description of the coast of Guyana by Navarrete then shows how such ideas traveled to the southern continent.

In the islands of the Caribbean the colonial cannibals’ consumption of the native kings was brief and brutal, especially in Hispaniola, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico, where the native population all but disappeared within a few decades. Longer-lasting and more convoluted conflicts occurred in the Lesser Antilles, whose inhabitants offered stout resistance to a succession of colonial powers, as did the native societies of Tierra Firme (the continental mainland). These more extended interactions produced a wide range of novel political and economic responses on the part of the native population. Alongside exterminations and epidemics new political and military formations arose. The ethnopolitical identities referred to by the Spanish as caribe and aruaca were the primary expression of this process in the Caribbean and northeastern South America region (Whitehead 1988, 1995, 2002a). For these reasons, none of the indigenous polities in the islands or the coastal mainland that were extant in 1492 survived unscathed. Even where contacts were not direct, the impact of the Europeans on regional trade and alliance systems was fundamental, inducing change among groups well before they ever encountered the invaders directly. Such a pattern of effect outrunning its cause was also seen in the spread of European epidemic diseases, which not only proved particularly lethal to native populations, but also provoked a rapid and widespread migration away from the epicenters of disease dispersion. Although the virulence of diseases was enhanced by the geographic constraints on island populations, all apparent population loss in the Caribbean and proximate regions of South America cannot be explained by disease; migrations by sea toward the continent were another factor.

Within eight years of Columbus’s first arrival, the Spanish Crown sent a royal governor, Francisco de Bobadilla, to try to stabilize the nascent colony on Hispaniola, where Columbus, his family, and their opponents had all but destroyed the indigenous population in a series of brutal military campaigns against both indigenous opposition and the dissenting Spanish factions (Wilson 1990, 74–110). The critical moment in these events was a large-scale military confrontation in 1495 between the Europeans and the natives of the valley of Maguá (or La Vega Real), the largest and most densely populated native province on the island. Here barely two hundred men faced the combined forces of the principal caciques of Hispaniola, numbering tens of thousands of warriors. However, the military technology and organization of the Europeans, which included armored cavalry, steel weapons, guns, and attack dogs, devastated the native warriors, whose leaders were captured and tortured to death. Out of this destruction the cacique Guarionex emerged to mediate European demands for food, labor, and, above all, gold. By 1497, following on famine and the first outbreaks of epidemic disease, this appeasement ended when Francisco de Roldán induced various caciques, including Guarionex, to support his opposition to the Columbus family. But Bartolomé Columbus forestalled any action by a night attack on Guarionex’s villages to seize the rebel caciques, most of whom were executed. Guarionex himself was allowed to live, but functioned essentially as a tool of the Columbus family until his death by shipwreck en route to Spain in 1502.

By 1500 most of the complex native polities of Hispaniola had ceased to operate, and, following Ponce de Léon’s conquest of Puerto Rico in the early 1500s, the kingdoms of the Greater Antilles had effectively collapsed. The few native survivors of this first decade or so of European occupation were incorporated into the burgeoning colonial settlements of the region, and the need for labor was answered by the importation of black Africans as slaves. What percentage of the aboriginal population either fled the Greater Antilles or died there is open to question, but the overall consequence, as the colonial processes that had unfolded on Hispaniola repeated themselves in Cuba, Jamaica, the Lucayas, and Puerto Rico, was the near-complete disappearance of indigenous societies from the islands. However, in Puerto Rico, which was proximate both physically and culturally to Hispaniola and where Ponce de Léon first led an expedition of reconnaissance in 1508 (CDI 31, 283–87), native resistance on the island itself, though short-lived, was fierce, being supported by caribes (indigenous insurgents) from the smaller islands of Lesser Antilles. In fact, attacks by Amerindians on the Spanish in Puerto Rico continued throughout the sixteenth century as alliances emerged between the Lesser Antilles caribes and the native populations dispersed and driven out by Ponce de Léon’s conquest and other Spanish occupations of the northerly islands. By contrast, little resistance was encountered in the Lucayas, the most northerly of the Caribbean islands, where the population was simply “harvested” by slavers from 1509 to 1512 (CDI 31, 438–39). The emergence of caribes, from the very inception of the European presence in the Caribbean, as an enduring source of resistance to colonial control is thus closely linked to the way in which their characterization as “cannibals,” from the first reports of Columbus up to the present day, was inextricably linked to the self-serving interests of the colonial rule.

Few records have been left concerning the occupation of Jamaica, which was initiated by Diego Columbus and completed by Juan de Esquivel in 1509. Apparently the natives were not evangelized but were put to hard labor in the production of foodstuffs, cloth, and hammocks (Las Casas 1909, bk 2, chap. 56). When the new governor, Francisco de Garay, took over from Esquivel in 1515, the royal factor, Pedro de Mazuelo, complained of the tiny number of natives left on the island, and confidently predicted their total disappearance within a couple of years (CDI 1, 258).

Columbus had surveyed the coast of Cuba during his first voyage, but official interest did not manifest itself again until 1508, when the royal governor of Hispaniola, Nicolás de Ovando, sent Sebastián de Ocampo to circumnavigate the island. Rumors of gold quickly followed (CDI 31, 388). In 1511 a license to occupy Cuba was given to Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, a veteran of the conquest on Hispaniola. Cuéllar assembled three hundred troops on the southwestern peninsula of Hispaniola and was joined on Cuba by troops fresh from the conquest of Jamaica. A further contingent from Hispaniola included the future Amerindian apologist Bartolomé de Las Casas, for whom this military campaign was to prove a critical experience in the formation of his negative views on the European treatment of the native population. With brutal efficiency the two parties of invaders had overrun the island completely by March of the following year (CDI 32, 369–72).

The rapid conquests in these islands of the Greater Antilles contrast strongly with the situation in the Lesser Antilles, which became a refuge not just for native populations, but also for the cimarrónes (escaped black slaves). Puerto Rico emerged as the southern frontier of Spanish settlement in the Caribbean islands, with the Lesser Antilles becoming occupied only in the seventeenth century, not by Spain but by Spain’s imperial rivals, the French, Dutch, and English. During the hiatus, the native populations of the Lesser Antilles were able to take advantage of their position on the main shipping lanes between Europe and America to practice a profitable trade with the European vessels that stopped to replenish their drinking water and supplies after the Atlantic crossing (Hulme and Whitehead 1992, 45–80). Relations with the Spanish were invariably hostile, and the farms and ranches of Puerto Rico were frequently raided by the caribes, who, it was suspected, held not just African and European captives (including the son of the governor of Puerto Rico) but also a vast treasure of gold and silver taken from wrecked and plundered shipping. The issue of the caribes therefore remained a preoccupation of the Puerto Rican colonists, who continued to collect evidence of their lawlessness and “cannibalism” in the hope of persuading the Crown to permit the slaving of the Lesser Antilles (Hulme and Whitehead 1992, 38–44). But Spanish imperial ambition had turned its attention to the wonders of the Incan and Aztec empires, as well as the rich plunder to be had all along the Central American isthmus. The struggle of the Puerto Rican colonists with the caribes little troubled metropolitan Spain until the caribes made alliance with the French, English, and Dutch in the seventeenth century.

The Political Economy of Conquest

The Antillean archipelago was not only the first locale for the violent encounter between Europeans and Amerindians; it was also the first American space to be transformed into “colonies of exploitation” (Sued Badillo 1995). The available gold deposits in the Greater Antilles quickly made them the epicenter of an ever-expanding economic core within the larger Caribbean region. Gold became the driving force behind a dynamic and diversified economic zone that traded in slaves, foodstuffs, pearls, imported goods, cattle, salt, and exotic woods. Columbus’s exaggerated assessment of the region’s worth had become true after all, even if he did not live long enough to see it. The significance of Caribbean gold shipments must be appreciated from the perspective of a European economy that had almost exhausted its supplies of that strategic metal. By 1515 the three islands of Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, and Cuba, in that order of importance, were shipping gold to Spain on a regular basis and so stimulating the peopling and exploration of the wider region. Hispaniola was responsible for half of the total of these shipments. These mining economies typically had only basic technologies and an intermittent food supply with very little capital investment. But because they were supported by abundant, cheap slave labor, which could be replenished by raiding native settlements, and because gold was so important to the Spanish Crown, the supply kept flowing.

Amerindian slavery had begun with Columbus himself as a means to finance his own voyages and the costs of administering the first colony of Hispaniola. In time Columbus was responsible for the enslavement and exportation of some two thousand Amerindians to Spain as war captives. His son Diego was appointed as governor of the Indies just as a serious labor shortage became evident in Hispaniola; as a result, Diego Columbus was responsible for the shaping of the slave policy to be followed.

The slaving was at its most intense between the years 1512 and 1542. Alonso Suazo, writing from Hispaniola in 1518, reported that some fifteen thousand slaves had been captured from the Caribbean islands, producing a chaotic situation with consequences for the whole region. In 1545 the government of Hispaniola admitted to the existence of five thousand Amerindian slaves. Given that Hispaniola and Puerto Rico were the main sugar exporters from America, maintaining this ascendancy for many years, the actual numbers would have been considerably higher (Sued Badillo 1995). Las Casas cited the coastal regions of Venezuela and Trinidad as the principal source of the slave traffic to Hispaniola and to Cuba. The pearl islands, Margarita, Coche, and Cubagua, lying just off the coast of Venezuela, were the main staging ports for this traffic, underlining the significance of the interactions of aruacas (native allies) with the colonists on Margarita, as described by Rodrigo de Navarrete (see Document 5). Indeed, the strength of this alliance in the second half of the sixteenth century may have been a primary reason why most slaves taken to the Caribbean islands in this period came from the Venezuelan littoral and the Atlantic coast south of the Orinoco River. Caribe opposition to both the Spaniards and aruacas needs to be understood in that light, since it made alliance with the aruacas, particularly the Lokono of the Guyanese Atlantic coast region, critical for the slavers. Only in the context of the emergence of the ethnopolitical groupings of caribes and aruacas can the writings of this period, and its historical outcomes, be properly understood (Whitehead 1995). The caribes were initially found throughout the Lesser Antillean islands, like Dominica, and they were always viewed as a source of slaves for the colonial economies. Occasionally slaves taken from the Amazon region are also reported, and the map drawn to accompany Rodrigo de Navarrete’s Relación de las Provincia de los Indios Llaman Aruacas displays the first European knowledge of the fluvial connection of the Amazon and Orinoco watershed. The map text indicates that it was an aruaca, a chief called Jaime, who had communicated this knowledge and led a Spanish expedition into the interior to show them the route.

The role of the aruacas, in conjunction with the Spanish, in displacing existing native groups as well as directing Spanish slaving and raiding against their selected enemies has been obscured by the persistent reference to the “cannibalism” of the caribes; in Spanish writings this occlusion was no doubt partly intentional. The testimony given to the Englishman Lawrence Keymis by one displaced native ruler indicates that the political choice of being aruaca also had its consequences. On the arrival of his fleet off the coast at the Caw River (French Guiana), Keymis writes, at first he could get no one to come aboard, since they thought them to be Spanish. Eventually the cacique Wareo was persuaded, who “declared unto us, that he was lately chased by the Spanish from Moruca, one of the neighbouring rivers to . . . Orenoque: and that having burnt his own houses, and destroyed his fruites and gardens, he had left his countrey and townes to be possessed by the Arwaccas, who are a vagabound nation of Indians, which finding no certaine place of abode of their own, do for the most part serve and follow the Spaniards” (Keymis 1596, 4).

The legal framework laid down by the Spanish Crown allowed for unrestricted slaving of those deemed “cannibals.” This was the reason for The Deposition of Rodrigo Figueroa on the Islands of the Barbarous Caribes (1520; AGI Justicia 47, fols. 1–59, CDI XI:32), which is included in this volume. Figueroa ethnologically mapped regions where caribes might be captured and where guatiaos (defined officially as “domestic and tame and friends of the Christians and subject to the service of their highness”; see also Sued Badillo 2003, 261–62) or aruacas were. The pattern of caribe resistance to the Spanish and their allies the aruaca should be interpreted against this backdrop of legal provision and economic interests. The politics of raiding and slaving among the other native groups, all of whom were faced with rapid and dynamic change, was likewise founded on the way in which the categories of colonial ethnology were being deployed politically. Modern anthropology and history have been slow to appreciate this crucial aspect of primal anthropology in the Caribbean. Columbus’s observations were not the disinterested scientific notes of an “explorer”; he in fact elaborated an ethnographic proposal for enslaving the native population that was intended to defray the cost of future explorations and pay for the administrative burden of the first colony of Hispaniola. This primal anthropological criterion for distinguishing one supposed type of Amerindian from another was then widely propagated during the following years by Columbus’s friends and lobbyists, including Diego Chanca, whose writings are excerpted in this volume. Together they effectively disseminated throughout Europe the notion that cannibal caribes inhabited the Caribbean, as the very place-name suggests. Although this early imagery little benefited Columbus himself, it was eagerly deployed by the colonizers who followed. The first royal decree allowing for the enslavement of the “cannibals” was issued by Queen Isabella in 1503 to encourage new self-financing explorations. As a result, the conquistadores Cristobal Guerra, Alonso de Ojeda, and Amerigo Vespucci, who had lobbied for the reinstatement of slavery, all became involved in commercial expeditions to the Caribbean and Orinoco region.

In 1510 the cacique Agueybana led a native uprising in which over half of the two hundred Spaniards on Puerto Rico were killed. Following reports of caribes being involved, the Crown issued a new decree ordering general war on the caribes and allowing for their unrestricted enslavement. This decree contained the first legal definition of a caribe territory and association of the caribes with the ethnological marker of “cannibalism.” Diego Columbus was primarily responsible for this new delineation of caribe settlements; he advocated widening the caribe frontier to the South American continent. However, his suggestion was eventually rejected by the Spanish Crown, possibly conscious of the hidden agenda behind it. This underlines the extent to which Spanish royal policy was itself severely constrained by the practical ethnologies that the colonists in the field of conquest generated. The eloquent text of an educated historian and priest like Bartolomé de Las Casas was apt to be trumped by the field reports, in the form of judicial documents and routine government correspondence, generated by the firsthand eyewitnesses “at play in the fields of the lord.” The political nature of ethnic and geographical identification is apparent from the fact that Guadeloupe was not included among the new caribe islands, despite being densely populated and despite the fact that Columbus had personally visited it and described the inhabitants as “cannibals.” Guadeloupe had been set aside for private settlement and would have been devastated and left worthless if opened to slaving.

In subsequent years the mining economies plunged the eastern Caribbean and costal Venezuela into near chaos. Slave armadas were organized and sent against different islands, sometimes nearly depopulating them. In the process the Spanish Crown required that the capture of caribes had to have “legal foundations.” In effect, this meant that the governor of Hispaniola was being instructed to supply the Spanish Crown with the cultural information to justify the crude political distinctions promulgated from Spain, just as the early modern “discovery” of witches throughout Europe, which paralleled this “discovery” of cannibals, was an ethnographic exercise partly serviced by the information gathered through systematic torture. Nonetheless, this process produced intellectual debate and political unrest in elite circles of the Spanish Court and church, as did awareness of the growing death rate of the Amerindians in the New World. In response, in 1515 the Crown appointed Francisco de Vallejo to investigate and classify the Amerindians of the mainland to determine who were caribes and who were not, but slavers blocked the inquiry (Otte 1977, 128). In 1519 Judge Antonio de la Gama in Puerto Rico was commissioned to determine the extent of caribe territory, but without result. In later years, as part of the agreement with the Crown to allow missionary personnel into the mainland of South America, Bartolomé de Las Casas was also asked to contribute to this emerging colonial ethnology, and his response is instructive: “If ordered to find out which people and in what provinces human flesh was eaten, then to say: ‘I declare such a province to be eaters of human flesh and those do not want friendship with the Spaniards,’ the result would be the captain with his 120 men would simply make war on them and enslave those taken alive” (Las Casas 1909, bk. 3, 371). Las Casas thus rejected the project that was finally carried out by Rodrigo de Figueroa, at the time a newly appointed justice of Hispaniola and the proud owner of a brand new sugar mill. Figueroa’s final report (1520; translated and published for the first time in this volume) opened the mainland to slave raiding as the labor force of the mining islands was declining rapidly due to epidemics. Put simply, his report meant that almost a quarter of a century after the conquest had begun, the fate of native peoples still hung on the ethnic distinctions founded on behavior favoring or resisting the Spanish conquest.

The Spanish Crown finally decreed a prohibition against Amerindian slavery in the “New Laws” of 1542. However, local slavers, often supported by local politicians, easily got around the legalities, and in 1547 caribes were again declared subject to slaving (Sued Badillo 1978). In this way the Spanish continued to adopt native categories into their distorted ethnologies in order to service the needs of colonial conquest, and Amerindians continued to be actively involved in this process, practically and intellectually. As with Christopher Columbus, identification of caribes always involved information claimed to have been supplied by Amerindians. Certainly the European presence polarized many political allegiances amongst Amerindians, and, as elsewhere in the Caribbean and South America (see also Sued Badillo 2003, 261–62), the conquest could not have proceeded without the active alliance of native armies and political leaders. Amerindians allied to the Spanish were initially termed guatiao. As the southern continent was opened up by slavers, this term was superseded by aruaca due to the increasing political importance to Spanish colonial plans of the “Aruacas” (Arawaks or Lokono in their own language) as described in Navarrete’s Relación (Document 5; AGI Justicia 47). Like caribe, aruaca implied a political and social orientation, ranging from alliance to submissiveness. Guatiaos, and later those termed aruacas, actively participated in ethnic soldiering for the Spanish conquest. Las Casas understood this process very well when he wrote, “caribes, that was the term that the Spanish used to make free people into slaves” (1909, 380). The filter of caribe and guatiao or aruaca therefore dominates the cultural politics of primal anthropology in the vast majority of early materials, beginning with Columbus. Since the politics of representation are mainly evidenced in the ethnologically sparse reports of judges, lawmakers, and other bureaucrats or self-interested parties, the account of Hispaniola and its native peoples written by Ramón Pané, significant in its own right, takes on even greater significance as the last glimpse of the native Caribbean world uninflected by the colonial politics of difference.

The Ethnology of Conquest

In a general context of armed invasion and conquest, the first encounters with the natives of the islands loom largest in the historiography of the region and in the ethnological schema of anthropologies subsequent to the first encounters, both colonial and modern, because the caribe/aruaca distinction was used to ethnologically configure broad swaths of the mainland population, as shown in Figueroa’s deposition (Document 4). Ethnological information was thus crucial to the colonial project. The writings collected in this volume reflect precisely this role of providing anthropological intelligence on populations for purposes of their governance or conquest, and the relationship between such intelligence and military-political ambition has remained fraught right up to the present day. These writings also reflect an increasing codification of subject matter and of the categories through which the native population was understood, which resulted in a key distinction between, perhaps unsurprisingly, tractable and intractable populations, one directly stemming from Columbus’s ethnological distinction between the caribes and the rest of the people of the Caribbean. The selection in this volume of passages from his Letter and extracts from the Journal of his first voyage to America is crucial to appreciating this process of ethnological codification. It will be apparent that in fact the distinction between the caribes and others is far from certain in these writings but continues to gain significance as the Spanish occupation of the Caribbean islands takes hold.

When Christopher Columbus (1451–1506) sailed east from Spain in the late summer of 1492, he hoped to find Asia. Instead his fleet arrived in the Caribbean. On the return voyage Columbus wrote a letter (included in this volume as Document 1a) to Luis de Santángel, clerk to the Spanish sovereigns Ferdinand and Isabella, who had partly financed his voyage. Published in Barcelona in 1493, the Letter, in Latin translation, became the main way through which Columbus’s voyage became known in Europe. It ran to nine editions before the end of 1494 and was published in many cities outside Spain. According to Columbus’s account, at first contact both the Spanish and the indigenous population were cautious but curious; gifts were exchanged and hospitality offered and accepted. The emphasis in the Letter is on the charm of the islands and the variety of their natural resources, especially precious metals. The people are described as naked and timid, lacking weapons, almost infantile. But the Letter also hints at the existence of more threatening people from an island that is “Carib,” whom Columbus suspects of being man-eaters. It is here that the long and vicious association of “Caribs” and “cannibals” has its origin.

Columbus wrote his Journal (Document 1b) on most evenings of that first voyage. He probably intended it for the Spanish monarchs, to whom a copy was later given. However, both the original version and the royal copy were lost, and all that survives is an extended summary made by the Spanish historian Bartolomé de Las Casas, which refers to Columbus as “the Admiral.” Before its loss the journal was used extensively by historians like Las Casas and Peter Martyr d’Anghiera and by Columbus’s brother and biographer, Fernando. Las Casas’s summary was itself mislaid and not published until the middle of the nineteenth century. Its fate was thus not unlike that of Ramón Pané’s account, which was commissioned by Columbus and likewise survived only in various translated and/or redacted forms. Apparent contradictions of fact and interpretation are evident in the Journal, suggesting a text that had not been extensively rewritten.

Diego Alvarez Chanca, a doctor to the Spanish sovereigns, was appointed the surgeon for Columbus’s fleet. During Columbus’s second voyage in 1494, the same voyage on which Ramón Pané arrived in the New World, he wrote his Report to the municipality of Seville, where he was born. Chanca’s account (Document 2) is widely recognized as the principal source for that voyage, and together with Pané’s account it proved an important justification for Columbus’s claims about and actions towards the native population. Although Chanca was not on the first voyage, in describing the progress of the second voyage through the Lesser Antilles he was certainly influenced by Columbus’s own expectations. Chanca was quick to identify human remains, perhaps of funerary origin, as firm evidence of the cannibal propensities of the caribes. Chanca develops this initial distinction with various ethnological observations that ultimately allow him to declare unequivocally that “the way of life of these caribe people is bestial.”

Although quite different from these journals and letters, Ramón Pané’s account of the natives of Hispaniola also had its origin in ethnological delineation as a prelude to conquest. Pané was commissioned by Columbus himself to reside among the native people of Hispaniola and provide a description of their customs and habits. The resulting document, newly translated for this volume (Document 3), has had a very complex history, but is the most extensive eyewitness account we have of the people of Hispaniola, who would disappear soon after the Spanish occupation of the island, either killed by war and disease, absorbed into the emerging colonial society, or fleeing from the epicenter of contact. While “caribes” are continuously mentioned throughout the literature of colonialism in the Caribbean and northern South America, it is only through the earliest accounts, particularly Pané’s, that we have any information at all about the indigenous population of Hispaniola. For this reason Pané’s Antiquities needs a more extensive contextualization than any other of the materials in this volume. It is both more obscure, because of its fraught history of editing and publication, and more illuminating, both because of the ethnographic nature of Pané’s stance as author and because of the simple lack of other sources relating to this time and place.

But before a closer examination of Pané’s account, we should mention the later writings of Rodrigo de Figueroa (1520) and Rodrigo de Navarrete (1550), which also appear in this volume (Documents 4 and 5). Like Pané’s Antiquities, these writings deal with not with caribes but with the aruacas. The term guatiao, although still used by Figueroa, was increasingly restricted to the Caribbean islands alone, and disappeared altogether as the alliance with the aruacas came to dominate Spanish regional policy. Neither term really designates a distinct ethnic population. Rather, they were characterizations based on how such populations were seen in relation to Spanish ambitions. In fact, unlike the population of Hispaniola, which although nominally guatiao had fiercely resisted Spanish colonization, the aruacas emerged in the sixteenth century as firm supporters of the Spanish, even accepting black slaves from them to work aruaca tobacco plantations at the mouth of the Orinoco. In this way there was a rewriting of both the political history of the initial occupation through downplaying resistance on Hispaniola, as well as a continuing policy of political discrimination, deriving from the ethnological frameworks created by Figueroa and Navarrete.

The result has been that those initial observations by Europeans of the native population have become enshrined in the literature concerning the Caribbean region. Unfortunately, much recent scholarship has continued to reproduce these ideas. Part of the purpose of this volume, therefore, is to make evident the way in which early European writing and policy in the Caribbean was a way of re-forming the political and cultural realities of the indigenous population. Consequently, our perceptions of the native Caribbean are heavily prejudiced by the distinction, first made by Columbus, between the fearsome caribes of the Lesser Antilles and the tractable aruaca or guatiao, later known as Taíno, populations of the Greater Antilles and Atlantic coast of the continent. This fallacious distinction was generalized ultimately across the whole of the northern part of the South American continent, with continuing implications for contemporary anthropology (Whitehead 2002a).

Recent scholarship on the native population of the Caribbean has begun to make good that deficiency, but the tenacity of this ethnological dualism partly stems from the historical reason that it was directly adopted into Spanish colonial law, which defined caribes as any and all natives who opposed Spanish occupation in the Caribbean (Hulme and Whitehead 1992; Sued-Badillo 1978; Whitehead 1995). The result was that caribes were discovered on the continent as well as the islands, and the policy of directly enslaving those who could not be brought within the colonial system of repartimiento (a forced redistribution of native lands and peoples) was applied widely. The political orientation of native societies over such issues thus strongly conditioned their political responses to all Europeans. The diplomacy initially exercised toward the caciques of Hispaniola strongly contrasts with the summary military invasions of Puerto Rico, Trinidad, and the Venezuelan littoral, the early hunting grounds for slavers seeking labor to replace the wasted population of the Greater Antilles. Ethnological expectations and definitions became critical political factors, as is shown in the great debate between Bartolomé de Las Casas and Juan Ginés Sepúlveda concerning the humanity, rationality, and governance of the New World population.

These ethnological definitions were also responsive to the unfolding needs of the emergent colonial system. For example, in the case of the caribes it was finally necessary for the Spanish Crown to dispatch a special legal mission, under the licenciado (magistrate) Rodrigo de Figueroa, to make an evaluation as to the caribe nature of the native populations of the Caribbean islands and Venezuelan littoral. Figueroa’s deposition of 1520 indicates that this process was highly political, in that populations were assigned to the caribe category in a way that served the interests of the mine owners, planters, and slavers of Hispaniola and other Spanish enclaves in the region. Figueroa’s classification was therefore only tangentially related to substantive ethnological issues, being obsessed with the practice of cannibalism. This is shown both by the fact that populations that were previously guatiao could become caribe and by Figueroa’s own usage of the term caribe, in which the eating of human flesh is only one, although the most persistent, of the criteria he cites for so classifying a population. Perhaps not surprisingly, neither the judicial report of Figueroa nor the detailed information supplied by Ramón Pané was sufficient to provide adequate support for policy making by the Spanish Crown. Not only were the ethnological judgments of the colonists often self-serving, but the colonial impact itself resulted in the emergence of new political groupings among the native population, reflecting these new political realties of ethnic and ethnological profiling. As the original population of Hispaniola drained away, not only were the colonists forced to turn to the African slave trade for a supply of labor, but they were also, to offset the increasing resistance and depredation from caribes, forced to seek out new alliances among the still little-known peoples of the continent (Whitehead and Alemán 2009).

Preeminent among these new potential allies, and culturally and linguistically related to the peoples of the islands, were the Lokono. Probably the first direct contact between Europeans and the Lokono did not come until the 1530s, when a Spanish fleet under the command of Diego de Ordaz, with orders to explore and settle the Orinoco region, lost one of its vessels off the Atlantic coast south of the Orinoco. Many tales circulated in subsequent years as to what had become of the crew and colonists, including suggestions that they had largely survived the shipwreck and were still living among indigenous groups. Sometime in the 1540s this notion was dramatically confirmed by the appearance of an unnamed morisco in the Spanish settlement of Margarita, center of the Spanish pearl-diving industry off the coast of Venezuela. The morisco claimed to be one of those survivors and to have been living ever since with other Spanish who were rescued by aruacas of the Berbice and Corentyne rivers. This incident is important not only for the historiography of Spanish colonization but also for the likely implication that the aruacas, principally consisting of the Lokono of the Guyana coastal savannas, had consciously developed their knowledge of these strange colonizers through pursuing all kinds of contacts with them. The previously untranslated document of Rodrigo de Navarrete, Relación de las provincias y naciones que los Indios llaman Aruacas, is included here for the important light it sheds on the continuing processes of indigenous response to European colonization and how they were shaped by the fallacious and self-interested ethnological claims initiated by Columbus and elaborated by Figueroa and Navarrete. As will be evident from the Relación, the aruacas were quite aware of the negative imagery surrounding the ethnic ascription caribe, and therefore the need to clearly distance themselves from that ascription. The native population was polarized around the question of how to meet and deal with the European invaders. Some favored appeasement, others confrontation, but no single strategy was successful over time, and actual responses were often highly variable, even within the same village or household.

Navarrette’s Relación was relatively unknown in its day and so was not recruited to the kinds of polemical, juridical, political, and cultural roles that Ramón Pané’s Antiquities was. Moreover, if the Antiquities is the first and only glimpse of an evanescent Taíno, then Navarrette’s Relación is an early glimpse of the birth of a historical relationship between aruacas and a colonial (then national) society that does not disappear but rather increases in significance over time. Contemporary Lokono Arawaks, the historical descendants of the aruacas in Guyana, are keenly aware of their historical legacies, and it transpires that even the Taíno never completely disappeared (see discussion below). Nonetheless, the encounter with Europe was a fundamental disjuncture in native patterns of historical development, and it is the nature of that disjuncture and the new historical trajectories born of that encounter that are reflected in all the materials collected here. Navarrette’s account is of particular importance for the light it sheds on the Lokono and their political and cosmological world. It is far briefer than Pané’s account and, as we are told, written by someone who had never visited those lands. Their inhabitants, however, who had long been supplying food to Margarita, had constantly visited and lived with him. As the hub of the Spanish presence in the region, Margarita had manifest impacts on the native polities as far south as the province of the aruacas (Lokono). Current archaeological research suggests that the Berbice River, mentioned by Navarrete as the heartland of the province, was the location of dense urban-scale populations with vast systems of agricultural fields that would have been directly responsible for the aruacas’ ability to deliver upwards of fifty tons of manioc flour in a single month.

Navarrete stresses that the aruacas wish to have contacts with the “Christians” and that they highly value a political, economic, and military alliance with the Spanish. The state of constant war between aruacas and caribes reported at the opening of his account signals the significance of such an alliance, which is given a further subtle twist when Navarrete suggests that the aruacas were themselves in the process of driving out the caribes, who were the former rulers of the region. Navarrete notes that great war fleets of aruacas were gathered each summer to raid the caribes, underscoring their military capability in contrast to other guatiaos. His discussion of warfare and prisoners taken in battle is also a rhetorical opportunity to reinscribe the motif of cannibalistic caribes, who transculturate their prisoners spiritually through anthropophagic sacrifice, as opposed to the civilizing aruacas, who do so socially through enslavement.

Although Navarrete gives only a crude indication of aruaca cosmology, in contrast to Pané’s rich if opaque account of Taíno ritual and mythology, one interesting detail that does emerge is the impressiveness of their astronomical knowledge. In addition, Navarrete says that an academy of teachers and prophets, the Cemetutu (semitci in modern Lokono), was organized to perpetuate social and cultural memory through the formal performance of histories and their inculcation into the youth in special buildings, or “seminaries” as Navarrete calls them.

Although the Journal and Letter of Columbus, as well as the deposition of Rodrigo Figueroa and the Relación of Rodrigo de Navarrete, are all of special interest, it is Ramón Pané’s Antiquities that is the most remarkable among the texts of conquest. Commissioned by Christopher Columbus in 1494, it represents the first systematic attempt to describe a culture of the Americas. Like Chanca, Pané traveled to the New World on Columbus’s second voyage. He resided first on the north coast of the island of Aiti (Hispaniola) in the province of King Mayobanex and then, in early 1495, moved south to the province of King Guarionex, where he lived for nearly two years. Despite the brevity of the resulting account—about eight thousand words—it is of singular significance to historians and anthropologists of the Caribbean, not just for its ethnographic descriptions of the natives of Aiti, but also for the way in which its many linguistic and textual transformations through the centuries have made it a continuing vehicle for historiographical and ethnological debate. The often bewildering process through which Pané’s text survived is discussed more below, but it is not difficult to see why it should have remained a matter of controversy, given how confusing, if not incoherent, it is. The Antiquities is also an unfinished manuscript, even in its first published form. Added to this is the fact that although it is an attempt at systematic ethnographic representation, it is somewhat enigmatic in its choice of ethnological subject matter. However, the title does tell us much about how Pané conceived of his task, for it is the “antiquity” of the natives that is under implicit comparison with the “modernity” of the conquerors. His very presence in the scenes that he records signals that they belong to a past that is now finished for the peoples of America, supplanted by the future that he represents.

The Antiquities opens with a description of the cosmology of the first beings of the native world, the wanderings of the culture hero Guagugiona, and the creation of women by men. Pané goes on to describe the use of ritual drugs, a cult of idol worship, the vision quest of shamans, and their necromancy, from which vodou may have learned the famed art of zombi making. He also relates information on native attitudes to the Spanish and the prospects for their conversion. Pané himself was certainly aware of the often haphazard nature of his account, which he relates to the character of his informants. In chapter V Pané tells us that “they are not consistent in what they say; nor it is possible to write in an orderly way what they tell.” Even so, apart from this native “inconsistency,” which is perhaps better understood as evidence of cultural variation, Pané creditably acknowledges in the first chapter his own omissions as an ethnographic observer: “Those I am writing about are of the island Hispaniola; that means that I do not know anything of the other islands, since I have never seen them.” He does so again in chapter V: “And since they have neither letters nor writings, they do not know how to tell these stories well, nor can I write them well. Hence I believe that I will put first what should be last, and will put what is last first. But all that I write in this way is narrated by them just as I write it, and thus I note it down as I heard it from the peoples of the country.” Certainly this admission makes Pané’s text problematic from the point of view of contemporary anthropology, but there were also questions as to his linguistic competency in his own time: “This Fray Ramón Pané found out what he could, insofar as he understood the languages. For there were three spoken on this island: he knew only one, however, that of a small province . . . called lower Macorix; and he knew that language only imperfectly. Of the universal language he knew very little, like the rest of the Spaniards, although more than others because no-one . . . knew any of them perfectly except for a sailor . . . called Cristóbal Rodríguez” (Las Casas 1909, bk III, chap. 120). Las Casas adds that “all of this Fray Ramón says he has understood from the Indians. He says some other things that are confused and of little substance, as a simple person who did not speak our Castilian tongue altogether well, since he was a Catalan by birth” (chap. 167). Thus, we can never be quite sure if the confusions and apparent contradictions of the text stem from Pané’s poor grasp of the indigenous language or his lack of facility with Castilian. Further compounding this situation is that his account survives only as a translation into Italian, so the possible shortcomings of the translator, Alfonso de Ulloa, have to be considered as well. However, there are some more positive considerations in evaluating Pané as an ethnographer. In particular, his length of residence in Hispaniola, especially the years he spent in the province of King Guarionex, described in chapter XXV, suggest that whatever his linguistic capacities, he had the opportunity to observe much of daily life and the ritual practices of the ruling families.

Ramón Pané, as a member of the Hieronymite Order, was a hermit, as he states in the opening sentence of his Antiquities, and this may well have suited him for the ethnographic endeavor with which Columbus had charged him. Like hermits, ethnographers consciously remove themselves from the cultural context of “normal” life in order to gain a particular kind of knowledge. A hermit, of course, will live with no social contacts whatsoever, but the limited nature of social contact in a strange culture, the isolation of not speaking the language everyone else speaks, and the physical rigors of unfamiliar diet, climate, and customs at least suggest that one already prepared spiritually for a hermit’s life may well have fared better than others.

It is also significant that the Antiquities was titled in Spanish as a Relación (deposition), which was a legal form of documentation, like the one made by Rodrigo de Figueroa. Although many subsequent versions and reproductions of Pané’s account use this loaded term, it is not possible to say how much Pané or his sponsor Columbus might have meant by it. But it does allow us, rather than blaming the failings of its creator, to appreciate better why the text came to have the form it does, and why what we might see as fatal flaws are in part due to the legal and political role the document came to play. Editing in any way a legally notarized deposition was no less of a suspect practice then than it is today. Paradoxically, the original is now only known through its simulacra, the first of which was the basis for the translation here, and which itself was produced in pursuit of a legal case by Ferdinand Columbus.

Despite its limitations, Ramón Pané’s Antiquities remains the first and only extended description of the myths, rituals, and cosmology of the native people on Hispaniola; those made by Bartolomé de Las Casas and Peter Martyr, despite their criticisms, directly relied on Pané’s efforts. Moreover, since the Antiquities was personally commissioned by Christopher Columbus, it is infused with the aura of that name. Indeed, this close association of the Antiquities with the tribulations of the Columbus family is directly relevant to understanding the form in which the manuscript was published. The Antiquities has survived only in an Italian translation made in 1571 by Alfonso de Ulloa, appearing in chapter 62 of Ferdinand Columbus’s A Life of the Admiral. This version of Pané’s text was incorporated wholesale into Ferdinand Columbus’s biographical apology for his father, which accompanied his legal efforts to regain family possessions and titles on the island of Hispaniola. The apology was too controversial to be published in Spanish; even after Ferdinand’s death it appeared only in this Italian version.

The Antiquities is a compelling and unique document of initial contact with the indigenous population of Hispaniola, which, through exposure to European diseases or flight away from the sites of Spanish settlement, had all but disappeared by the 1530s as colonization of the southern continent picked up pace. The Antiquities was thus by this time already a historical record of a vanished native culture. Indeed, as remarked earlier, the fact that Pané chose the term “antiquities” to use in the title of the work implies that the indigenous culture he describes, while already anachronistic in the face of Spanish conquest, nevertheless may be useful to record. This is consistent with Pané’s role as a missionary evangelist in the territory of King Guarionex. These aspects of Pané’s Antiquities also speak to us in a very contemporary way, for they highlight the connections between the ethnological gaze and colonial desire, between the writing of ethnography and its wider cultural meaning and even policy applications. The need for an ethnographic description of Hispaniola stemmed not from an abstract interest in human variety but from a pragmatic interest in the control and conversion of the native population through domination of its leaders. It is for this reason that Pané focuses so much on the cosmological and ritual practices of the Hispaniolan elite, and hardly at all on the forms of everyday life and subsistence.

Pané’s Antiquities was not the only example of this kind of “official ethnology.” As already mentioned, subsequent to the destruction of the native population of Hispaniola, Spanish investors and adventurers began searching for other sources of labor. The slavery of black Africans, which Las Casas briefly advocated precisely as a means to salvage the indigenous population, eventually provided a solution to this colonial dilemma. Rodrigo de Figueroa was commissioned in 1518 to investigate and discriminate caribe populations throughout the Caribbean and coastal South America. Unrelated to the controversies of the Columbian legacy, Figueroa’s report never achieved the subsequent fame of Pané’s Antiquities, but in a similar fashion it attempted to define and locate political authority, cultural proclivity, and military ability, as a prelude to the conquest and enslavement of those populations. In place of the apparently tractable peoples depicted by Pané as a promising context for the establishment of empire, Figueroa portrays the wider Caribbean and mainland as riven by a fundamental cultural dualism in which the cannibalistic and warlike caribes threaten to overwhelm Spain’s natural allies, the aruaca or guatiaos of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. This portrayal both licenses the legal enslavement of vast numbers of native peoples and, by allusion to the supposed depredations of the caribes, allows the Spanish Crown to evade moral responsibility for the destruction of the Hispaniolan natives. Thus, it is critical that we read Pané’s Antiquities not as an isolated and idiosyncratic work, but rather as a text with a political and cultural background to both its production and dissemination.

The nature of its transmission requires that we critically assess how the Antiquities functioned in the context of demonstrating Columbus family claims to Hispaniola, since it certainly seems as if Ferdinand was intent on marshaling any and all evidence he could for that purpose. The inclusion of this unfinished and often incoherent text in the Life of the Admiral may in turn stem from the way in which that work was hastily fashioned from the legal materials collected for the Columbus family’s legal dispute with the Crown. Ferdinand’s hobby as a collector of books and manuscripts might have led to a catch-all approach to this task, and, as Ferdinand himself notes, Pané’s Antiquities “contains so many fictions that the only sure thing to be learned from it is that the Indians have a certain natural reverence for the after-life and believe in the immortality of the soul” (1992, 153). However, this judgment is misplaced for many reasons, not least because the now-lost Spanish manuscript was also a source for Las Casas’s accounts of the indigenous population in the Apologética historia (chaps. 120, 166–67) and Peter Martyr’s descriptions of the peoples of Hispaniola in De orbo novo decades (1516, dec. 1, chap. 9). The Antiquities’ survival and transmission in various forms occurred not just because of its potential value as an ethnological description, but also because it directly underpins a positive evaluation of the reputation of Christopher Columbus through its allusion to a pristine, almost innocent, moment of encounter between Spain and the Indies, before subsequent colonial despoilers destroyed the natives of Hispaniola. In this way, one may come to see its lapses as a product of this context of production, not simply the ethnographic shortcomings of Pané himself, even if these remains a relevant consideration.

Challenging the linguistic competence of Ramón Pané has been one of the major forms of critique of his account, and to some extent the Antiquities invites this approach since it is full of, even overloaded with, Pané’s versions of native terms. At the same time, the Antiquities’ iconic status as a record of vanished culture entails that the interpretation and usage of those native terms given by Pané, or later variants based on them, have a complex and even politically charged history. For example, the term Taíno, which is currently in vogue to refer to the indigenous population of the western Antilles, centering on Hispaniola, is a purely nineteenth-century invention by the antiquarian C. S. Rafinesque. It derives from the phrase, recorded in the early Spanish documentation, ni-taino, meaning “my-lord.” There is no evidence that this phrase was ever used by native people to designate the ethnic identity of themselves or others, and it does not appear in Pané’s writings. Apparently unnoticed by previous commentators on the Antiquities, perhaps due to an exclusive focus on these linguistic and etymological issues, is that Pané quite clearly states in chapter V, “Hispaniola, which before was called Aiti, and that is how its inhabitants are called [my emphasis]; and that one and other islands are called Bouhi.” The term guatiao, which has evident phonetic connections with both these native terms, Aiti and Bouhi, was generically used to indicate allies or partners and thus describes culturally similar or nonthreatening groups, with the term caribe designating enemies or strangers. As discussed previously, following Figueroa’s report the term aruaca, deriving from the name given to native allies of the Spanish colonists on the northern Venezuelan coast, becomes more prevalent than guatiao, signaling the erasure of the indigenous political systems of Hispaniola and the growing importance of the possibilities for alliance and trade with the vast continent of South America. The key point, then, is that such terms were sociopolitical, not ethnolinguistic, in their reference, as was evident in the discussion of Figueroa’s report above. In that case, we must appreciate that modern usage of these terms—caribe, guatiao, aruaca, Taíno—still bears the weight of past and continuing controversy.

The persistence of such disputes is partly due to the orthography in Pané’s Antiquities, which is so intricate as almost to defy interpretation and which therefore has been the source of many dubious etymologies. Pané transcribed the speech acts of indigenous people over five hundred years ago, not into his natal tongue (Catalan) but into Castilian Spanish. This Spanish version was then translated into Italian for inclusion in a Venetian publication of Ferdinand Columbus’s biography of his father, and the original was lost. All subsequent Spanish editions are therefore themselves translations from Italian, as is the newly translated English-language version presented here. The plethora of native words and names, far richer than in any other contemporary, and many later, accounts, is a key feature of Pané’s Antiquities. To this day, all the word lists of a supposed Taíno language ultimately derive from Ramón Pané’s transcription of over one hundred terms. As a result, much of the scholarship surrounding the Antiquities has focused almost exclusively on making sense of this orthography and its many transformations since 1494. The first English translation, based on the Italian version of Ferdinand Columbus’s work, was made by Edward Gaylord Bourne in 1906, and the only current English-language edition is José Juan Arrom’s version, translated by Susan Griswold, of his 1988 Spanish edition. Thus, no direct translation of the Italian into English has been made for over a century.

Both archaeologists and ethnohistorians, as well as Antilleanist intellectuals, uncritically adopted the term Taíno, overlooking Pané’s clear statement that the proper term was Aiti, and in doing so continued the inventive process begun by Rafinesque in the nineteenth century. As we shall see, this has also had an impact on issues of contemporary cultural resistance and survival throughout the Caribbean. However, the field of anthropological and historical linguistics recently has undergone a shift in theoretical perspectives, such that the basic language classifications of twenty years ago are no longer universally accepted as valid. Instead they are often seen as descriptive of little else than the word lists that were used to construct them. There is now a far greater interest in the careful discrimination of historical speech communities, rather than formal linguistic structures. This change results from the recognition of the linguistic plurality of many Amerindian cultures, not least those on Hispaniola, as Pané’s Antiquities makes perfectly clear. At the same time, the complex nature of the publication and translations of Pané’s Antiquities means that the orthographic analogies by which many have attempted to reconstruct a Taíno language are at best only suggestive, and at worst actually misleading. The hypothetical etymologies that are employed to demonstrate continuities or shared properties with ethnographically recorded languages can therefore create the impression of a speech community that never in fact existed. In the context of Pané’s description of the linguistic situation on Hispaniola in chapter XXV of his work, for example, the differences in speech he notes could have been related to social and political rank or even gender as much as ethnic identity.

This view of linguistic practice and plurality also has profound implications for a notion of unitary Taíno culture, which in turn has importance for Antilleanist intellectuals and for still-surviving indigenous populations of the Antilles. But this importance is a distinct issue from that of the historical and ethnological accuracy of using this term for designating past indigenous populations. A quite considerable historical and anthropological literature has developed in the last few years concerning both the native population of the Caribbean and the history of native society and culture in South America more generally. These new analyses and the kinds of data on which they are based might now be fruitfully used for a broader reading of Pané’s Antiquities and its implicit understandings, as well as the more overt ethnological items with which earlier editions chiefly deal. Moreover, consonant with the current tendency by anthropologists to emphasize individual agency within social and cultural structures, as well as the symbiotic and mimetic nature of social and cultural interchange in the course of colonial encounter, much more can be inferred as to the nature of Pané’s ethnographic experience, its wider implications for a reading of his Antiquities, and the context of other contemporary ethnological writings. Thus, the significance of the materials Pané presents, the forms of representation he chooses, and the argumentation by which they are interpreted necessarily become integral to the textual commentary.

Pané himself certainly shows an admirable degree of that reflexivity and awareness as to how observation is born of expectation as much as experience—a consideration that ethnographers now consider indispensable to their own writings on distant peoples. In point of fact, Pané is ethnographically reflexive on precisely the issue of his lack of a systematic portrayal of native culture, as he is no less frank about missing information that he failed to collect. In this way the text itself may be said to implicitly illustrate the context for Pané’s ethnography. Through a close reading of his Antiquities we also may be able to perceive some of the nuances of the varying political interests and ritual proclivities of the native population. This is particularly so in the passages in chapters XV and XVI that discuss the conversion of King Guarionex. Equally in need of further interpretation and commentary are the descriptions of the cimi (also rendered as zemi in subsequent literature) cult and its attendant ritual, since earlier editions discuss only the putative etymologies and translations of the names of cimis. But the superfluity of names that Pané displays was perhaps designed as much to give his work an ethnographic authority as it was to provide systematic cultural information. The persistent iteration of exotic names thus can be understood as compensating for the other ethnographic “inadequacies” of the text itself. In any case, not all names have a literal meaning, but they are unique descriptors and so need not be considered correct or incorrect.

That earlier emphasis on the cultural significance of the etymology and meaning of cimi names generally precludes consideration of other aspects of the descriptions in Pané’s Antiquities that contemporary historical anthropologists would consider central, such as the elite nature of cimi worship, or the prophecy of the Spaniards’ arrival by the zemi Giocauugama, recounted in chapter XV:

They say that this cacique claimed that he had talked with Giocauugama, who told him that those who would have survived him would enjoy their rule for a short time, because dressed people would arrive in their country, who would dominate and kill them, and that they would starve to death. At first they thought that these people had to be the cannibali, but then they considered that since they [the cannibali] do not do anything else other than grab and run, it had to be other people that the cimi indicated. Hence, they now believe that these are the admiral and the people that he brings.

The identification of the Spanish with the “cannibal caribes” is notable in this passage and ironically reflects the actual outcome of the arrival of the “dressed people,” who did indeed utterly consume the population of Hispaniola. The relative scarcity, which Las Casas emphasizes (1909, 65ff), of cimi worship outside Hispaniola also seems to directly contradict the idea often inferred by commentators on the Antiquities of a unitary, or even very widespread, Taíno culture. Moreover, both Las Casas and particularly Pané indicate that their observations relate rather more to the practices of the rulers than the ruled. Pané writes in chapter XIII, “I have seen parts of this with my own eyes, while of the other things I narrated only what I learned from many, especially the principal men, with whom I practiced more than with others; since they believe these tales more certainly than the others.” In short, the nature of Ramón Pané’s text can be better revealed through a direct historical ethnography of the Taíno themselves, in addition to the kinds of textual commentary and lexical analysis that have otherwise constituted the main forms of critique.

Cosmology and Ritual in the Taíno World

Lacking historical background and uninformative as to the wider networks of indigenous political life, Pané’s information is only a snapshot of the indigenous world on Aiti. As is inevitable in any ethnographic enterprise, Pané’s interests and opportunities were skewed by the social context of his informants. But because his informants were mostly the lords and kings of the provinces he resided in as a guest of Kings Mayobanex and Guarionex, his account gives us significant insight into the cosmology of the indigenous population, particularly the foundational myths of creation and the establishment of political authority and order, topics that would have been of particular relevance for the ruling elite. What kind of “guest” Pané may have been and how his hosts understood his residency cannot be properly reconstructed, but this context certainly commands close attention to the results of that sojourn. Lacking historical background and uninformative as to the wider networks of indigenous political life, Pané’s information is only a snapshot of the indigenous world on Aiti.

Central to this mythic charter for the Taíno political order were the myth-histories of the heroes and divinities Guagugiona and Caracaracol, introduced in chapters IV and X, respectively: “Guagugiona left with the women and went looking for other lands, and he arrived at Matinino, where he immediately left the women, and went to another region called Guanin, and they had left the small children by a creek.” This brief passage, with the benefit of wider reading in Pané’s own text as well as other contemporary sources and subsequent accounts and ethnographies, summates a key principle in the charter. Thus, the first ancestor, Guagugiona, when he left Aiti for Matinino (Martinique), persuaded the women to accompany him, abandoning their husbands but bringing with them their children and a cargo of the drug digo; at Matinino they saw beautiful seashells (cobo). which, following the example of Guagugiona’s brother-in-law, they descended into the sea to admire. Here they were left by Guagugiona, who then returned with the first guanin (gold-copper-alloy objects) and ciba (magic stones, also called takua). In this context the term “caribe” therefore seems to allude to a political, not an ethnic, status, deriving from the mythology of Guagugiona as originator of a political and economic order in which persons are exchanged for things (gold and jade work) with groups living in the southern Antillean islands and the continent. The myth cycle establishes the ideological underpinning of an elite trade in which drugs, seashells (shell necklaces), and persons (women and children) were exchanged for gold and magic stones (takua), the latter significantly being carved mostly in the form of frogs. Matinino, “the island of women,” represents the site of these exchanges, replicating the pattern of exchange that Spanish sources coded as caribe aggression against the people of Aiti (see also Oliver 2009, 157). The connection of Matinino with the Amazon-women myth cycle of the South American continent is reinforced by the origin of the ciba as derived from female water spirits, just as the continental takua were said to be made by the “water mama,” who to this day still supplies the stones for smoothing pottery among the Pomeroon Kariña of coastal Guyana, called caribes in Spanish sources. In this symbolic and mythic context, it is not difficult to see why the caribes of Martinique, Dominica, and Guadeloupe, as a result of their intimate connections of war, marriage, and trade with the people of Aiti, were constructed as consumers of persons, or “cannibals.” In this context, it also becomes possible to understand the otherwise contradictory observation that Caonabo, one of the other principal caciques of Aiti, was himself a caribe according to contemporary sources. This again underlines the point that caribe was a political, as much as cultural or ethnic, designation (see also Oliver 2009, xv).

Given, then, the importance of establishing elite male predominance in the system of extra-island exchanges, the myth of the caracaracol men, and in particular the figure of Dimiuan Caracaracol, inscribes male action as also at the source of gender differentiation. Pané writes in chapter VII

that one day men went washing themselves; . . . they were longing to have some women, . . . without being able to find any news of them, but that day . . . they saw coming down from some trees, lowering down along the branches, a certain shape of person, which were neither men nor women, neither had they masculine or feminine characteristics; which they went to capture; but they escaped, as if they were eels. . . . They called two or three men . . . to go and . . . seek out for each one of them a caracaracol man, because they have coarse hands; so they could hold them tight. . . . And so they brought in four caracaracoli men; said caracaracoli is a disease, like scabies, that makes the body very coarse. After they caught them, they deliberated on how to make them women, since they had neither a male nor female nature.

This the men did: “They went looking for a bird called inriri . . . that makes holes in the trees [woodpecker]. Likewise, they took those women with neither male nor female nature, and tied their hands and feet, and got the aforesaid bird, and tied it to their body, and thinking they were wood beams it started its usual work, pecking and puncturing in the place where it usually happens that the nature of women is. In this way, then, the Indians say they got women, according to what the elders tell.” Pané follows this account with another disclaimer: “Given that I wrote quickly, and I that did not have enough paper, I could not put in the right place what by mistake I moved to another place. But with all this I am not mistaken, because they believe everything as it is written. Let us now return to what we should have put first, namely their opinion on the origin and beginning of the sea.” Pané goes on to relate how, from a monstrous swelling on his back (clearly depicted in figure 1), one of the caracaracol men, Dimiuan, gives birth to a turtle, first creature of the sea, with the help of his “nameless” brothers. The men thus make women with a woodpecker, and then, in an act of ancestral cannibalism, Dimiuan Caracaracol, by eating the first children of these women, establishes the right of men to consume the progeny of women as wives and slaves. Caught in the act, Dimiuan drops a gourd of water and causes the Caribbean Sea to flow into the world. In these mythic realms, then, men, especially lordly men, are constructed as originators of sociality, its inverse cannibalism, and the geographical landscape of the island (see map 1).

Apart from these charters of social origin and masculine control, Pané gives many details and insights into the ritual means through which this order was sustained. In particular, the cimis (which he also calls cimini or cimiches) were powerful idols of stone, wood, or other plant materials that were kept in the possession of the caciques (see figs. 4–6). The text of the Antiquities gives many details about the cimis’ names, proclivities, origins, and so forth. Pané nicely summarizes their variety in chapter XV: “The majority of those of the island of Hispaniola have many cimini of various kinds. Some hold the bones of the father, or of the mother, or of the relatives, or of the forebears; and they are made of stone or wood. And of the two kinds they have many: some that speak, others that make food grow, others that make rain, and others that make winds blow.” It is clear from the text of the Antiquities that such cimi were only contingently realized in these material forms and were a class of spirits that, as in other shamanic complexes in this region, could also be used and dialogued with through the ritual performance of the bohuti (also called buhuitihu in the text). In chapter XXIV Pané gives a very important description of this dialogue and the materialization of the cimi spirit through the making of carved idols. A shaman addresses a tree that has been seen to move its roots: “‘Tell me who you are, and what you are doing here, and what you want from me, and why you sent for me. Tell me if you want that I cut you, or if you want to come with me, and how do you want that I carry you, and I will build you a house with possessions.’ So that tree, or cimiche, made idol, or devil, answers, telling him the form in which he wants to be made. And he cuts it, and makes it in the way he ordered him.”

One dramatic aspect of the ritual performance of the bohuti described by Pané that has hitherto been completely ignored concerns necromancy. Haiti has become notorious for the practice of vodou, and particularly the creation of zombies, or resurrection of the dead. Although it is usually thought to have derived exclusively from African practices brought by the black slaves, there are a number of reasons, beginning with Pané’s text, to suppose that in fact this aspect of vodou necromancy was also strongly informed by contacts with the still-surviving aboriginal population of the island. Just as the name Haiti obviously derives from the native name Aiti, so too do aspects of the zombi ritual derive from vodou. Moreover, the term zombi is no less plausibly derived from the cognate word recorded by Pané as cimini and in other Caribbean languages, such as Karipuna, as cimi or semi, where also the suffix -iba designates the material and fleshly form that spirit beings might adopt. Zemi-iba (spirit of flesh) seems no less likely as the source for this term than the current derivation in Africanist scholarship from the name of a West African deity, one not even associated with resurrection or death cults. Of course, to follow this line of reasoning is to risk committing the same error of etymological obsession that has previously so limited the interpretations made from Pané’s text. It is the startling description of zombi making in chapter XVII of Pané’s text that is the real evidence here:

They take the juice of the leaves and cut the nails and the hair bangs of the dead and they pulverize them with two stones and mix them with the juice of the said herb, and they give it to the dead to drink by the nose or the mouth; and while they do this they ask the dead person if the doctor [bohuti] was the cause of his death. . . . And they ask this several times, until the dead person speaks as if he were alive; in a such way he answers all that they want to know from him, saying that the buhuitihu did not follow the diet, or on that occasion was responsible of his death; and they say that the doctor asks him if he is alive, and how it is that he speaks so clearly; and he answers that he is dead. And having known what they wanted to know, they return him to the grave, from where they took him, to know from him what we just said.

If this were just an isolated report of shamanic resurrection of the dead, it would still have an important bearing on understanding the origins of vodou. But in fact the ability to kill and resurrect is a defining skill of the shaman throughout South America (Whitehead 2002b; Whitehead and Wright 2004). In my ethnographic account of kanaimà (dark shamans) among the Patamuna of Guyana, the power of resurrection, wulukatok in the Patamuna language, is central to shamanic power. As I was told by one informant, “My father was so Amerindian. . . . He no went school, and he could kill and resurrect you in a day!” (Whitehead 2002b, 174). Obviously this is not to deny African influence in magic of zombi making, but it is relevant to note that the zombi maker in Haitian vodou is called the bokor, not the houngan: while the houngan is a priest and associated with genealogy, family magic, and curing, the bokor is an outsider figure, possibly due to the derivation of this role from indigenous shamanic practices. Within Haitian vodou, zombi making is connected with the Bizango ceremony of the Petwa rite, and Baron Samedi, its principal deity, was actually “born” in America, according to vodou practitioners. The Bizango rite itself stems from the earliest slave transportations from Senegal-Gambia, and rebel communities of such slaves, together with refugee indigenes, are clearly recorded on Aiti from the early sixteenth century onwards. This was the fertile context for a melding of African and American shamanic forms, and there were many contacts, even after the supposed disappearance of the indigenous population, between rebel slaves and remnant native groups. The intellectual trend to derive vodou from West Africa comes much later, following the French occupation of Aiti, so it is relevant to note that “Haiti” was the name given by Henri Christophe and the other slave rebels to their new black republic at the end of the eighteenth century. A legacy of war magic and dark shamanism among escaped slaves, stemming from Amerindian modes of spirituality, is also signaled by the fact that the rite that initiated the great slave uprising against the French was the Bwa Kayiman ritual, dedicated to the lord of the forests, realm of the Amerindians.

The wider context for Caribbean necromancy is not only Amazonian shamanism but also of course the Aztec and their Lord of Night and Sorcery, Tezcatlipoca, whose skull-like face is a recurrent motif in ceremonial objects from Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. Even more apparent is the similarity in depictions of the Aztec Lord of the Dead, Mictlantecuhtli, and in representations on cohoba equipment (fig. 2) and cimis (fig. 5), possibly of Machetaurie, Lord of the House of the Dead, mentioned in chapter XII of the Antiquities. Likewise, the “spectacled” figure of Tlaloc, widespread in Central American cultures, is suggested in Caribbean ceremonial objects that have abnormally rounded and outlined eyes (ethnographically associated with shamanic vision), especially on masks, which were a prominent part of Central American as well as Caribbean ceremonial equipment. Indeed, a mask with such “spectacles,” as well as other eyepieces made from shell, are all reported archaeologically as well as in contemporary descriptions.

It is no less suggestive, then, that Dumbala—a snake spirit in vodou—may also be related to indigenous practice in the way in which the bohuti could be resurrected even after being killed and dismembered, specifically by being licked on the face by a swarm of many differently colored snakes commanded by the bohuti, as described in chapter XVIII:

At night they say that many snakes of various kinds come, white, black, and green, and of many other colors, which lick the face and the whole body of the aforesaid doctor, who, as we said, was thought dead and left there; and he stays there two or three nights; and they say that while he stays there, the bones of the legs and arms join again and heal, and that he stands up and walks slowly and goes back home; and those who see him question him, saying, “Were you not dead?” but he answers that the cimini came to help him in the form of snakes.

The exercise of such dramatic and profound spiritual power was also connected to the ruling caciques through the cohoba cult. Pané comments on the cult just once, in chapter XV, speaking about the bohuti: “To purge himself he takes a certain powder called cohoba, inhaling it by the nose, which intoxicates him in such a way that they do not know what they do; and they say many things out of the ordinary, in which they affirm that they talk with the cimini, and that they tell them that the illness came from them.” However, the archaeological artifact assembly and other historical accounts, such as that of Las Casas, all suggest that this was an activity not just of the bohuti but of the caciques as well. Pané’s relative silence on this ritual may be related to his general emphasis on cosmology and spiritual practice rather than the sphere of political order. By the same token, Pané does not mention ball courts or the duho (ceremonial throne) at all, yet these items of material culture, as well as the ritual equipment for the cohoba cult of the caciques, consisting of elaborately decorated trays, pestles, mortars, and vomit spatulas (see fig. 3), are among the key material remains of native culture in the Caribbean (Bercht et al. 1997).

Pané concludes the Antiquities with a sense of the gathering storm of destruction that woul devastate and disperse the native population of Aiti. Having recorded the prophecy of the coming of the “dressed people,” he relates the following incident in chapters XXIV–XXV: “Six men went to the house of prayer, which the catechumens, who were seven, had under guard, and by order of Guarionex they told them to take the images that Fray Roman had left in custody of the aforementioned catechumens and to smash them and tear them apart. . . . As they left the house of prayer, they threw the images on the ground, and they covered them with soil and pissed on them, saying: ‘Now your fruits will be good and large’; and then they buried them in a garden.” Even Guarionex, who had not taken part in the first battle of Vega Real, is by this point clearly more resistant to Spanish dominance. Pané’s own opinion on conversion, given in chapter XXVI, makes evident enough why such resistance was growing even among those initially cooperative with the Spanish:

Truly the island is in great need of people to punish the lords when they deserve it, make them understand the things of the saint Catholic faith, and train them in that. . . .

. . . The first Christian [was] Giauauuariú, in whose house there were seventeen persons, who all became Christians, just by letting them know that there is one God, who made everything and created the sky and the earth, with nothing else being argued or explained; given that, they easily believed. But with the others force and ingenuity are necessary, because not everyone is of the same nature: therefore, if they had a good beginning and a better end, there would be others who would start well and then would laugh at what is taught to them; for them force and punishment are necessary.

So began the conquest of America.

Unending Conquest, Enduring Resistance

The primal visions in these early texts have great significance in the contemporary cultural politics of the Caribbean, as well as in the persistence of the indigenous peoples they try to describe. The tragedy of the European conquest and colonization of the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas would be hard to overstate. But in the case of the peoples of the Caribbean, this has all too often been assumed to entail their complete erasure, physically and culturally, an assumption that has suited the triumphalist historiography that often informs the “heroic” tale of a few “brave and true” Europeans dominating, against the demographic odds, the vast and populous territories of their “New World.” But, as in the still-unfolding history of the aruacas, the figure of the all-conquering European obscures the important histories of continuity and survival of native peoples into the present day. Equally, exculpatory emphasis on the impersonal forces of biology and technology, important though they may have been, neglects the fact that the presence of those biologies and the deployment of those technologies were no less the product of European political decisions than the overt violence of slavery, war, and missionary conversion. Despite the virulence of the epidemics that followed the first contacts in the late fifteenth century, there were still plenty of natives against whom wars of conquest and extermination could be waged well into the late nineteenth century, as occurred in the United States. In point of fact, the peoples of Aiti did not disappear or fade away quietly but have remained a physical presence throughout the Caribbean, even if this has been unacknowledged by successive governments that preferred to assimilate such survivors into the lowest ranks of the new colonial order that emerged during the sixteenth century (Whitehead 1999a).

Political alliance and social interconnection with the cimarrones (rebel black slaves) who were imported to support a plantation economy, as well as migration to the smaller islands and mainland of South America, were important factors in the indigenous history of this region. Equally, the emergence of the caribes as both indomitable opponents and vital collaborators in the colonial design of the region encompassed refugee groups from Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. Recognition of this legacy in the idea of nationhood has occurred only recently, but Pané’s text has been a vehicle for recovering the importance of native peoples for an Antilleanist historiography of the Caribbean in which, if not fully incorporated as political actors, indigenous people nonetheless loom large as necessary progenitors of Caribbean modernity. Although I have commented above on the indigenous legacies present within vodou and the related mainland practice of obeah strictly as they relate to Pané’s text, such legacies within Afro-American cultures have recently begun to be more clearly recognized as a widespread component of American history.

More generally, the way in which the Antiquities has captured the imagination of so many is reflected in its continuing relevance to the cultural revival of the Taíno nation and the establishment of the indigenist presence in modern Caribbean society. This process becomes materially and ideologically evident through the production of the idea of the “Taíno” as an aesthetic commodity and as a source of political assertion. As an aesthetic commodity, the term Taíno and recreated images of Taíno persons circulate widely in the Caribbean, particularly in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, as well as among immigrant communities in the United States. More central to cultural revival has been the formation of a Taíno nation with its own flag, leadership, and promotion of cultural events to re-enact and rehearse “Taíno” culture:

We the Taíno People and Nation have been involved in the serious and difficult task of restoration and implementation of the diverse aspects of our culture and heritage.

For the past 17 years our main work has been to bring the People together; reconnecting individuals and families into a People and Nation.

The very concept of “being a People” itself had to be brought back.

As a result of our work the myth of extinction has been shattered; Identity established and the culture and ancestral language revitalized.

In this process, Pané’s text has been a valuable primary source of lexical recovery and suggestions for the re-creation of cultural behavior, as with the zemi (cimi) cult. Inevitably, re-creation of the spiritual order has been less a matter of developing shamanic technique and more an aesthetic engagement with the idea of “Taíno” and indigenous resistance to the Spanish. Heroic portraits of Taíno warriors, modern renderings of zemi carvings, re-enactments of Taíno ceremonies and clothing, and an interest in the preservation of archaeological sites are all expressions of this newfound nationhood. Pané’s text is at one and the same time idiosyncratic, partial, credulous, and cynical, but in the end it is all that remains of that first moment of violent encounter between the Spanish war fleets and the peoples of Aiti and other islands. This structural position in the architecture of history in the Americas means that Pané’s text will always overcome its shortcomings as history or anthropology and will always be closely studied and commented on, even as our interests in what it may tell us constantly change in conjunction with the shifting cultural agendas and historiographical desires of the day. In a similar way, the documents of Columbus, Chanca, Figueroa, and Navarrete collected here function to establish the counterposed ethnological and political categories of caribe and aruaca (although the much wider story that Rodrigo de Navarrete shows us, of how not only aruacas but also caribes went on to be “discovered” throughout northern South America, is beyond the scope of this volume). By the pairing of these extracts with Pané’s account the emergence of these ethnological and cultural categories can be better understood, as can the political persistence of caribes and aruacas, who represent historical responses to the challenges of interacting with a growing Atlantic world. Such processes are over five hundred years old and so have produced ethnic sentiments that express these original categories of conquest. The Caribs in Dominica, Honduras, and Belize who represent the descendants of those first caribes thus take pride in their resistant and rebellious history and now see the charge of cannibalism as a source of grim satisfaction, not shame. Of course there is a much wider story told through the documents of Columbus, Chanca, Figueroa, Pané, and Navarrete presented here. Columbus and Chanca firmly inscribe the category of caribe and the connection to supposed cannibalism, which, the text of Figueroa shows us, was deployed with deadly effect in the subsequent colonization of the Caribbean. The text of Pané, like that of Navarrete, is oriented to what were perceived as potentially more tractable elements of the native population. In later writings aruacas and caribes were “discovered” and described throughout northern South America, but the primal anthropology of Fray Ramón Pané’s Antiquities and the other writings presented here were the foundation for the baleful work of conquest and colonialism that underpinned the relentless invention of our new, modern world.