"Jose Barreiro's novel, Taíno, tells the first story of conquest through Native eyes. Painfully and painstakingly, Barreiro opens the Taíno Caribbean world, with a clear view of the early invasion led by Columbus, and of Caribbean Indigenous struggles to survive"
– Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth
José Barreiro is Scholar Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution. He retired as research and program director at the National Museum of the American Indian. He is a novelist, essayist, and activist of nearly four decades on American Indigenous hemispheric themes. Barreiro is a member of the Taíno Nation of the Antilles.
about the book
The story of what really happened when Columbus arrived in the “New World,” as told by the Taíno people who were impacted.
In 1532, an elderly Taíno man named Guaikán sits down to write his story—an in-depth account of what happened when Columbus landed on Caribbean shores in 1492. As a boy, Guaikán was adopted by Columbus, uniquely positioning him to tell the story of Columbus’s “discovery,” directing our gaze where it rightfully belongs—on the Indigenous people for whom this land had long been home.
Revised and updated by author José Barreiro (himself a descendant of the Taíno people) with new information and a new introduction, this richly imagined novel updates Guaikán’s carefully crafted narrative, chronicling what happened to the Taíno people when Columbus arrived and how their lives and culture were ruptured. Through Guaikán’s story, Barreiro penetrates the veil that still clouds the “discovery” of the Americas and in turn gives readers a much-needed glimpse into what really happened in 1492 and its continued impact on our world today.