Ciboney people

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The Ciboney were pre-Columbian indigenous inhabitants of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea.[1] The name Ciboney derives from the Taíno language, in which it means "cave dwellers"; evidence has shown that a number of the Ciboney people lived in caves at some time.[1]


Over the years, many theories have been brought forth as to how the Ciboney people arrived to the Caribbean. Many of these theories have a weak foundation due to insufficient evidence. It is explained in the book Liberties Lost: Caribbean Indigenous Societies and Slave Systems (2004), "The most popular view now is that the Ciboney were from pre-farming cultures that entered the Antilles from South America, not as one ethnic group, but as waves of different migrants over a very long period of time."[2] Study of genetic specimens seems to support this South American origin, and possibly Central American, as well.[3]

When the Europeans arrived, the Ciboney had already been driven by their powerful Taíno neighbors to western Hispaniola (Haiti) and western Cuba.[1] The Ciboney of Cuba and Hispaniola were culturally different from each other; those of Cuba went by the name Guanajatabey. Within a century after European contact, the Ciboney were extinct.[citation needed]

The Ciboney languages are unattested apart from a single word of Guanajatabey.


  1. ^ a b c Encyclopædia Britannica Online, Ciboney. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 03, 2010.
  2. ^ Excerpt (pdf)[dead link], Beckles, Hilary McD., and Shepherd, Verene A. "The Indigenous Caribbean People." Liberties Lost: The Indigenous Caribbean and Slave Systems. Cambridge UP, 2004. 5. Print.
  3. ^ Lalueza-Fox, C.; Gilbert, M.T.P.; Martinez-Fuentes, A.J.; Calafell, F.; Bertranpetit, J. (June 2003). "Mitochondrial DNA from pre-Columbian Ciboneys from Cuba and the prehistoric colonization of the Caribbean". American Journal of Physical Anthropology (Wiley-Liss, Inc.) 121 (2): 97(12). doi:10.1002/ajpa.10236. Retrieved 12 March 2011. 


Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 3, p. 313: "Ciboney" and p. 773: "Cuba (History)". Chicago, 1989.