By William F. Keegan
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Extra resources for The People Who Discovered Columbus: The Prehistory of the Bahamas (Florida Museum of Natural History: Ripley P. Bullen Series)
He recognized that Las Casas had never observed the Guanahatabeyes, and that the assertion of Las Casas that they lived in caves "must not be taken as in complete harmony with reality" (1935:22). Furthermore, because reports of the Guanahatabeyes were not based on firsthand observations Loven reasoned that they must have been provided by the Tainos (1935:4): "The information obtained from the Cuban Tainos about the general cultural standpoint of this race, does not harmonize with their proper characteristics as established by the conclusions to which Cosculluela and Harrington came, through their excavations of the Cuban dwellingsites. " Finally, Loven concluded that, notwithstanding local traditions of "Wild Indians" killing the cattle of the seventeenthcentury colonists and other reports as late as the midnineteenth century, it had not been established that "primitive people still lived in the most western part of Cuba at the time of the Conquest'' (1935:4). Within seven years the reasoned opinions of Loven were replaced by a less critical attitude. In the report of his investigations of the "Ciboney Culture of Cayo Redondo, Cuba," Cornelius Osgood (1942:50) stated: "Traditionally there lived in Cuba a primitive people distinguished in language and culture from the Arawak and Carib who dominated the West Indies in the time of the Spanish conquistadors. Apparently many of them had been made slaves or had been put into an inferior caste when the Arawaks moved into the east of Cuba, but those in the extreme west remained as before and in early historic times came to be known as the Page 6 Guanahacabibes or Ciboney, a group of semimythical cave dwellers, who were finally shot down like predatory animals for killing the cattle which wandered away from the early haciendas. There can be little doubt that the dwellers on Cayo Redondo belonged to this same group of Ciboney. " The cultural synthesis that has served as the basis of most studies in West Indian prehistory is Rouse's (1948) contribution to the Handbook of South American Indians. Rouse reported that the Ciboney were the original inhabitants of the West Indies, as indicated by their peripheral position during historic times; that it was commonly assumed that they originated in Florida; that most sites were coastal shell heaps; and that their cultural characteristics were best understood in apposition to the Tainos. In other words, they were nonagricultural hunterfishergatherers who lived in caves or used windbreaks in the open, wore breechcloths or girdles made of vegetable fiber, did not deform their foreheads, lacked pottery, lived in small social groups, held property in common, and possessed a nonTaino religion. In Rouse's (1948) report it was assumed that the Ciboney survived in western Cuba until contact, and that isolated groups of Ciboneylike Indians also survived until contact on the Guaicayarima peninsula in southwestern Haiti. The Haitian Ciboney were first reported by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo prior to his arrival on Hispaniola.