At that time Cuba was populated by at least two distinct indigenous peoples: Taíno and Ciboney (or Siboney). Both groups were prehistoric neolithic, perhaps copper age, cultures. Some scholars consider it important to distinguish the Taíno from the neo-Taíno nations of Cuba, the Lucaya of the Bahamas, Jamaica, and to a lesser extent from Haiti and Quisqueya (approximately the Dominican Republic), since the neo-Taíno had far more diverse cultural input and a greater societal and ethnic heterogeneity than the true high Taíno of Boriquen (Puerto Rico). Most of pre-Colombian inhabitants of Cuba, including the Siboney, can in first approximation be classified under the general group of neo-Taíno. The Taíno were skilled farmers and the Ciboney were a hunter-gatherer society with supplemental farming. Taínos and Ciboney took part in similar customs and beliefs, one being the sacred ritual practiced using tobacco called cohoba, known in English as smoking.
The Taínos (Island Arawak) were part of a cultural group commonly called the Arawak, which extends far into South America. Residues of Taíno poetry, songs, sculpture, and art are found today throughout the major Antilles. It is well known that these neo-Taíno had metallurgical skills, and it has been postulated by some e.g. Paul Sidney Martin [, ] that the inhabitants of these islands mined and exported metals such as copper (Martin et al. 1947). The Arawak and other such cultural groups are responsible for the flourishing... [continues]
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