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Reconsidering The Guanahatabey Of Western Cuba
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Proceedings of the Twenty-First Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology
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Proceedings of the 21st Congress of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology
The International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) ( Sponsor )
A. Brooke Persons ( Author, Primary )
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Caribbean Area ( lcsh )
Indians of the West Indies -- Antiquities -- Congresses
West Indies -- Antiquities -- Congresses
Caribbean Area -- Antiquities -- Congresses
Indians of the West Indies -- Antiquities
West Indies.
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Produced for IACA by Cultural Resource Solutions ; [Kelley Scudder, editor ; Daniel Hughes, assistant editor]

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243 _________________________________________________________________________________ RECONSIDERING THE GUANAHATABEY OF WESTERN CUBA A. Brooke Persons _________________________________________________________________________________Native Cuban peoples at the time of European contact are well represented in ethnohistoric accounts and in archaeological investigations. The existence of the Guanahatabeys, purported hunter-gatherers in the westernmost region of Cuba, has irresponsible interpretation of the archaeological record. A brief re-examination of the ethnohistoric, archaeological, distribution of late prehistoric Ceramic-Age sites supports the conclusion that ceramic-using peoples did not occupy westernmost Cuba at the time of contact, despite other evidence that the region was inhabited. Las poblaciones nativas de Cuba en la poca de contacto europeo estn bien representadas en las versiones etnohistricas _________________________________________________________________________________ Introduction validity is a necessary enterprise. One case in which the relationship between the archaeological record and the ethnohistoric accounts has been called into question is that of the Guanahatabey, purported of inaccurate Spanish documentation and an inappropriate reliance on the ethnohistoric accounts by archaeological data, suggesting that it is too early to close the book on the preagroalfarero peoples that inhabited western Cuba. The Ethnonym: “Guanahatabey” In Caribbean archaeology, specialists often refer to linguistic families, ethnic groups, and models or characteristics and utilizing them imprudently dilutes archaeological interpretation. When Chapter:25


244 within a debate, the interchangeable nature of linguistic families, archaeological units, and ethnonyms seems even more inappropriate. In order to avoid unnecessary imprecision, the names of ethnonyms and linguistic families should be more carefully invoked and archaeological units should be designated domain should be avoided. of Pichardo (1945) and Cosculluela (1946) equate to the Ciboney of Harrington (1921) and Osgood archaeological record. According to ethnohistoric documents, however, the ethnic Ciboney were ceramic agriculturalists, presenting a contradiction in the nomenclature (Las Casas 1951). As utilized nonagricultural, nonceramic, hunter-gatherers inhabiting western Cuba at the time of contact. refers to an encounter during ColumbusÂ’ 2nd voyage in which his Lucayan interpreter could not communicate with a man in the Cabo San Antonio region of western Cuba, presumably due to a language barrier. The second reference is contained in a 1514 letter to the King in which Diego living like savages at the Cape of Cuba. He goes on to state that they have no relation with other Ethnohistory and Linguistics Although the ethnohistoric accounts should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt, neither should than his companions, leading him presumably into modern-day Pinar del Rio (Wright 1916) (see misplaced. There is a possibility that an archival search would yield information. Discounting similar accounts as retellings of VelazquezÂ’s letter is also unwise because similarity does not necessarily the scattered 17th century references referring to groups living in western Cuba who speak a different language (Documentos inditos) are of utmost importance. A recent linguistic analysis of the Pre-Columbian Antilles by Granberry and Vescelius (2004) Ciguayo, Guanahatabey, Classic Tano, Kaliphuna or Eyeri, and Karina Carib. Since written accounts Other Cubans have assumed that the Guanahatabey language was simply non-Arawakan (Pichardo 1945) or that all Cuban natives spoke Arawakan languages (Cosculluela 1946, Valds 2004).


245 ormation gleaned from the ethnohistoric accounts and the presence of non-Arawakan toponyms in Cuba. Typical Arawakan toponyms are named in reference to a central point or place. In contrast, Waroid toponyms instead refer modern-day Warao speakers. Waroid-like toponyms have been found in western Cuba. Additionally, some morphemes of the toponyms may have possible correlates in modern-day Warao spoken in the Orinoco River Delta (Granberry and Vescelius 2004). These two speech communities can be loosely correlated to, respectively, the Western Tano and the a Waroid component, making it a dialect of Classic Tano in the true sense of the word. Based on of Guantanamo. or responded to their migration in some way. They could have been forced into marginal positions as the migration advanced or assimilated into Arawakan speech communities. Both of these situations Cuba (Granberry and Vescelius 2004). These should have archaeological correlates. Archaeological Correlates Granberry and Vescelius suggest that Ortoiroid peoples speaking a Waroid language were pushed further into the Greater Antilles by migrating Saladoid peoples. Although the OrtoiroidCasimiroid frontier occurred across the Mona Passage and direct interaction with Ortoiroid peoples is not evidenced in Cuba, the artifactual similarity between Cuban Archaic-Age cultures and Ortoiroid peoples has not gone unnoticed. In their treatment of this issue, Cuban archaeologists have considered Archaic-Age cultures, but which tradition or traditions is debated. Migrants carrying an Ortoiroidon similarities in the shell industry in the forms of gubias, picks, points, and plates, a Manicuaroid Additionally, based on the presence of gubia-like tools, the possibility of a Florida connection has been promoted but is considered entirely implausible in this paper. Attempts to link the historic Guanahatabey with archaeological cultures have been numerous but less than fruitful since their material culture was never described. Their archaeological association immediately preceding culture or whether they are considered to be the remnant population of CubaÂ’s including the Ciboney aspect Cayo Redondo and the Ciboney aspect Guayabo Blanco, which are both encompassed within the Redondan Casimiroid subseries under RouseÂ’s systematics (Rouse 1992). According to the systematics utilized by Cuban archaeologists, the Guanahatabey have most recently been associated with the preagroalfarero Cultural Variant Guanahacabibes, belonging to the


246 pescadores-recolectores 1990 and is just now being productively applied to archaeological investigation, allowing time-space is moving towards a s Distributional Data The Archaeological Census of Cuba completed in 1995, resulted in a sample of 975 archaeological sites throughout the island and provided the data analyzed here. Archaeological investigation has continued and thus this sample is slightly outdated, but the 1995 census may represent a substantial amount of the prehistoric archaeology conducted in Cuba. Radiocarbon dates in Pinar del Rio range from around 1050 BC (Dacal 1970; Tabio y Rey 1984) to a slightly sketchy date of 1300 AD (Granberry and Vescelius 2004), possibly placing preagroalfarero peoples in Cuba within 200 years of contact. More sites will have to be reliably dated wasn’t subject to the rapid Spanish settlement seen in other areas. Aligning the historic Guanahatabey with an archaeological culture is, for the moment, implausible, although a number of statements can be made about the preagroalfarero peoples and their presence in western Cuba. First, there are preagroalfarero sites through the island but there is a clear concentration in western Cuba, especially in Pinar del Rio (see Figure 2). This is not due to a survey bias, as evidenced by comparing the number of preagroalfarero sites in each municipality to the total number of sites in the province. These concentrations are found in coastal municipalities, but the sites themselves are typically located further inland and are often in or near caves. Other areas like the Holguin province also have high concentrations, but their numbers are not comparable to the high density of sites in Pinar del Rio (see Figure 3). Secondly, the distribution of preagroalfarero sites differs from the distribution of agroalfarero sites, which are found from the Habana province to the eastern tip. The important factor is that no agroalfarero to be areas of concentration around present-day Cienfuegos, Banes, and Santiago (see Figure 4). Again, agroalfarero sites and the same concentrations appear when comparing the number of agroalfarero sites in each municipality with the total number of sites in the province, controlling for a survey bias (see Figure 5). The conceptual map of the so-called “Neolithic” or agricultural societies (Domngez et. al 1994) can be compared with the map showing the actual distribution of agroalfarero sites (see Figure 6). Although the pathways are not as clear, the various areas of concentration are mirrored. Summary and Conclusion Agricultural peoples never made it to Pinar del Rio, in spite of the large number of sites known in the region. In fact, 32% of the sites catalogued in the archaeological census are preagroalfarero sites the region (Garca 1930), but the fact remains that no agroalfarero sites have been found and thus this are cave sites, providing better preservation conditions, but a fair amount are open-air and thus we must look to other causes. Two different models could account for the disproportionately high number of sites in Pinar del Rio: either a very large preagroalfarero period of occupation. The radiocarbon dates span a substantial 2,350 years, but deciding this is beyond


247 the scope of this presentation. In sum, South American migrants speaking a Waroid language migrated to or were forced Cubans based on shell assemblages, but a combination or an Ortoiroid connection is not considered impossible. Based on the linguistic analysis, the ethnic Guanahatabey would have been the historical remnants of this migration. And while some Waroid communities may have been pushed further into the Greater Antilles, having little or no contact with the migrating Saladoid peoples, closer groups distribution of preagroalfarer o and agroalfarero sites. The Guanahatabey cannot be aligned with a preagroalfarero peoples whose survival into the Contact era is more than likely. As further research in Cuba more clearly outlines the various preagroalfarero cultural variants and as their chronologies become more reliably established, perhaps the demographic nature of preagroalfarero peoples will be understood. Linguistic evidence and a strong preagroalfarero presence in Pinar del Rio at least can assure that the legacy of the Guanahatabey is more than inaccurate Spanish documentation or he contact-era. References Cited Alonso, Enrique Alonso 1995 Fundamentos Para La Historia del Guanahatabey de Cuba. Editorial Academia, Cuba. 1994Comunidades Aborgenes de Cuba. In Historia de Cuba, La Colonia: Evolucin Socioeconmica y Formacin Naciona, edited by Mara del Carmen Barcia,Gloria Garca, y Eduardo Torres-Cuevas, pp. 5–57. Editora Politica, La Habana. Coleccin de Documentso Inditos 1984–86 mayor parte, del Real Archivo de Indias. Bajo la Direccin de D. Joaqun F. Pacheco Lus Torres de Mendoza. Imprenta de Manuel B. de Quirs, Madrid. Cosculluela, J. A. 1946 Prehistoric Cultures of Cuba. 12:10–18. Dacal Moure, Ramon Serie Espeolgica y Carsolgica No 12. 1980 De los Ciboneyes del Padre Las Casas a los Ciboneyes de 1966. Revista Universidad de la Habana 211:6–42. Garca Valds, Pedro 1930 Academia de la Historia de Cuba, Cuba. Granberry, Julian, and Gary S. Vescelius 2004 Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.


248 Guarch, Delmonte Jos 1 973Ensayo de Reconstruccin Ethno-histrica del Tano de Cuba. Serie Arqueolgica, No. 4. 1990Estructura para Las Comunidades Aborgenes de Cuba. Ediciones Holgun, Cuba. Harrington, Mark R. 1921Cuba before Columbus. Volumes 1 and 2. Heye Foundation, New York. Keegan, William F. Antiquity 63:373–379 Las Casas, Bartolom de 1951 Historia de las Indias Osgood, Cornelius 1942 The Ciboney Culture of Cayo Redondo, Cuba Yale University Publications in Anthropology, No. 25. Pichardo Moya, Felipe 1945 Caverna, Costa, y Meseta La Habana. Rouse, Irving 1992 The Tainos Yale University Press, New Haven. Tabo, Ernesto E., and Estrella Rey 1951Culturas Ms Primitivas de Cuba Precolombinoa. 13-14 1984 Prehistoria de Cuba Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, Havana. Tabo Palma, Ernesto, Jose M. Guarch, and Lourdes Dominguez 1978Antigedad del Hombre Preagroalfarero Temprano en Cuba. Editorial Oriente, Cuba. Valds Bernal, Sergio 2004Visin Lingstica del Caribe Insular Precolombino. Catauro 3:159–177 Wright, Irene A. Octagon Books, New York


249 Figure 1: Map of Cuba, Pinar del Rio province Highlighted Figure 2: Frequency of Preagroalfarero sites by Municipality


250 Figure 3: Ratio of Number of Preagroalfarero sites in Municipality to the Total Number of Sites in the Province Figure 4: Frequency of Agroalfarero sites by Municipality


251 Figure 5: Ratio of Number of Agroalfarero sites in Municipality to the Total Number of Sites in the Province Figure 6: Conceptual Map of Neolithic Communities Image borrowed from: Historia de Cuba, La Colonia: evolucin socioeconmica y formacin nacional, Copyright 1994, Editorial Politica.