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Vida y viajes de Cristóbal Colón-1852-Honores Tributados à la Reina Anacaona.png
Yaguana, Jaragua, present-day Léogâne, Haiti
Diedc. 1504

Anacaona (1474–1504) was a Taíno cacique (chief), born in Yaguana (present day Léogâne, Haiti).[1] into a family of chiefs, and sister of Bohechío, chief of Xaragua.[1] She succeeded her brother Bohechio as chief of the Xaragua after his death.[2] Under Anacaona's rule, the Spaniard settlers and Xaragua people coexisted and intermarried.[3]

In 1503, during his visit to Yaguana, governor of the island Nicolas Ovando suspected an insurrection among the present Taino chiefs including Anacaona.[2] Ovando gave the order for the chiefs to be captured and burned, and Anacaona was arrested and hanged.[2]

Early Life and Family[edit]

Anacaona was born in Yaguana, the capital of Xaragua (present day Léogâne, Haiti)[4] in 1474. Her name was derived from the Taíno words ana, meaning 'flower', and caona, meaning 'gold, golden.'[citation needed] Anacaona's brother Bohechío was a local chieftain.

Anacaona was married with Caonabo, the chieftain of Maguana.[5] Together they had one daughter, Higuemota.[5] In 1493, Caonabo was arrested for ordering the destruction of La Navidad (a Spanish settlement) and its people.[5] He was shipped to Spain and died in a shipwreck during the journey.[6] When Caonabo was captured, Anacaona returned to Yaguana and served as an advisor to her brother, chief Bohechio.[2] After Bohechio's death, Anacoana served as cacique until her execution in 1503.[2]

Bartholomew Columbus, brother of Christopher Columbus, after founding the city of Santo Domingo in 1498, went with his troops to Xaragua in order to subdue Bohechío and extend to his territory a tribute in gold.[citation needed] However, Bohechío, advised by Anacaona, decided to recognize the sovereignty of the Catholic Monarchs instead of fight, and commit to pay the tribute with products as cotton, bread, corn, fish and other products. Bartholomew accepted this proposal being entertained with parties and food as were the tasty iguanas, and had to charter a caravel to be able to transport the products offered.[citation needed]

A map of Hispaniola depicting the five Taíno cacicazgos (chiefdoms) at the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival. The chiefdom of Marién is in the northwest, Jaragua is in the southwest, Maguana is in the center, Maguá is in the northeast, and Higüey is in the southeast.
The five cacicazgos (chiefdoms) of Hispaniola at the time of Christopher Columbus's arrival

Arrest and death[edit]

Massacre of the queen and her subjects, by Joos van Winghe, published in 1598 in the Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias written by Bartolomé de las Casas.

In the fall of 1503, governor of Nicolas Ovando and his party of 300 traveled on foot to Xaragua.[7] They were received in a lavish ceremony by Anacaona, her nobles, and several Taino chiefs.[7]

While the Taino presented the reception as a welcoming gesture, the Spanish who were present characterized it as an elaborate distraction.[3][6] Ovando’s party was under the impression that Anacoana and the present Taino chiefs were planning an insurrection.[6] Ovanda lured the chiefs into a caney (large hut) for a Spanish tournament and gave the signal for the Spaniards to seize and bind the caciques.[7] The caciques were burned in the caney, while other Taino of lower rank were slaughtered outside. Anacaona was arrested and hanged. [2][3]

According to historian Troy S. Floyd, the accounts of these events remain uncertain for many reasons.[3] Even though the separate accounts made it seem as though it was a perfectly segregated fight between the Taino and the Spaniards, the two groups had coexisted and intermarried for six years prior.[3] It is unclear why the Spaniards intermarried with the Taino would let them fall for the trap.[3] Additionally, fifty Spaniards were killed which is a high number of casualties, if the events truly occurred split down ethnic lines.[3] Finally, the Xaragua caciques were respected as some of the most intelligent on the island, and it is unlikely that they could be lured into a hut if they were planning their own revolt.[3][7]

Legacy and influence[edit]

Anacaona was also a poet and composer, and is accordingly memorialized in contemporary art and literature across the Caribbean. Currently (2020) the tallest building in the Hispanola, Torre Anacaona 27, is named after Cacique Anacaona.[8] The salsa song Anacaona by Cheo Feliciano popularizes her story.[9]


  • The Royal Diaries series, Anacaona: Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490 by Edwidge Danticat[10]
  • La Reine Taíno d'Ayiti" by Maryse N. Roumain, PhD. [11]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Shriver, Cameron (2017). "Native American Almanac: More Than 5,000 Years of the Cultures and Histories of Indigenous People Yvonne Wakim Dennis, Arlene Hirschfelder, and Shannon Rothenberger Flynnby". Great Plains Quarterly. 37 (3): 242–243. doi:10.1353/gpq.2017.0044. ISSN 2333-5092.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Las Casas, Bartolome (1552). A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Floyd, Troy (1973). The Columbus Dynasty in the Caribbean, 1492-1526. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. pp. 61–63.
  4. ^ Hall, Michael R. (2012). Historical Dictionary of Haiti. Scarecrow Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780810878105.
  5. ^ a b c Hoeg, Jerry (2015-09-02). "Manuel de Jesús Galván's Enriquillo: A novel look at the environment of marriage in the first colony". Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies. 40 (3): 385–393. doi:10.1080/08263663.2015.1090709. ISSN 0826-3663.
  6. ^ a b c Las Casas, Bartolome (1552). A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.
  7. ^ a b c d Clayton, Lawrence A. Bartolomé de las Casas : a biography. Cambridge. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-139-51846-8. OCLC 796803875.
  8. ^ Tallest buildings in the Dominican Republic. Emporis. Accessed 1 February 2020.
  9. ^ Anacaona: Cheo Feliciano. Accessed 1 February 2020.
  10. ^ Danticat, Edwidge, 1969- (2005). Anacaona, Golden Flower. Scholastic. ISBN 0-439-49906-2. OCLC 55671862.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  11. ^ Roumain, Maryse Noël (August 2012). Anacaona, Ayiti's Taino queen = Anacaona, la reine Taino d'Ayiti. Obina, Donnie,, Fiève, Michèle Jessica. [Montréal]. ISBN 978-1-4669-5199-0. OCLC 853575206.
  12. ^ Ansy & Yole Derose - Anakaona, retrieved 2019-12-15
  13. ^ Cheo Feliciano - Anacaona, retrieved 2019-12-15



External links[edit]

  • The Louverture Project: Anacaona
  • Songs (salsa) about Anacaona (Cheo Feliciano and the Fania All Stars): Anacaona
  • anacaona the golden flower book