Anacaona

Anacaona

The Golden Flower

Also known as: Anakaona

Origin: Taino

When Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere in 1492, the island now called Hispaniola, encompassing modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic, was inhabited by the Taino. It was divided into five departments or kingdoms, each ruled by its own king, or cacique. Anacaona was a Taino queen born in Yaguana (now Léogâne, Haiti), capital of Xaragua, the most densely populated and prosperous Taino kingdom.

Her brother was Béhéchio, King of Xaragua. Her husband, Caonabo, King of Maguana (now San Juan de la Maguana in the Dominican Republic), was kidnapped by Columbus’ soldiers along with other Taino leaders and shipped off to Spain in 1493, but he never arrived. According to legend, the Tainos sank their ship as an act of resistance.

After her husband was abducted, Anacaona returned to Xaragua. She was a strong, charismatic leader; her brother apparently deferred to her. She ruled as a queen. When a new Spanish governor, Nicholas Ovandó, arrived with approximately 2,500 troops in 1502, Xaragua was the only unconquered Taino kingdom left on Hispaniola.

Ovandó requested a meeting with Anacaona. She prepared a reception for him and his entourage. It was a trap: during the reception, Ovandó gave a signal and his men attacked. Eighty Taino leaders were killed. Although initially spared, Anacaona was eventually captured and tortured. In September 1503, she was brought to Santo Domingo and hung, with her body left exposed as a message to her people.

In happier times, Anacaona composed songs and narrative poems and is herself the subject of a romantic poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. She is considered the spirit of indigenous resistance to invasion and may be petitioned as such.

Anacaona may lie beneath the mask of the Metresa, Anaisa Pyé.

See also: Anaisa Pyé

From the Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by :Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.

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