The Jaragua Massacre of 1503, was ordered by the Spanish governor of Santo Domingo, Nicolás de Ovando, after a Thanksgiving celebration held in the village of Yaguana in Jaragua of the cacica Anacaona. Although the festival ended up as a massacre, it is regarded as the first Thanksgiving of the New World.
The Taíno sociopolitical structure was organized under five polities or cacicazgos: Marién, governed by Guacanagaríx; Maguá was dominated by the cacique Guarionex; Caonabo ruled in Maguana; in Higüey, Cayacoa; and Jaragua fell under the might of Bohechío. After Bohechío’s death, his sister, the widow of Caonabo, the cacica Anacaona, emerged as the successor. She was reputed to have been a most efficient administrator, and the most beautiful and highly respected woman on the island. Nevertheless, she witnessed the merciless slaughter of her people at the orders of Spanish governor Nicolás de Ovando. This first act of cruelty has gone down in historical records as the Jaragua Massacre. Imprisoned, Queen Anacaona answered with these verses:
“It is not honorable to kill; nor can honor propitiate the tragedy. Let us open a bridge of love, so that across it even our enemies may walk and leave for posterity their footprints.”