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The Guanahatabey, New Data - New Vistas, Old Conceptualizations Revisited

The Guanahatabey, New Data - New Vistas, Old              
                     Conceptualizations Revisited
    John J. Browne Ayes, Author of Juan Ponce de Leon His New And Revised Genealogy

      The Guanahuatabey were a distinct people and spoke a different language from the classic Taino. Thus, they were different from the Taino racially and probably have their ancestry within a different tribal group that migrated from Central America thousands of years ago. 

     Another thing to consider here is that the Guanatabey came to the Caribbean by sea 8,000 years ago and then a second wave of them came to the islands 4,000 years later. 

     Anthropolical scienists perfer to classify the most ancient Indigenous inhabitants of Puerto Rico with name tags that cause confusion within the general public. Later on in this essay I will elucidate more about how the Guanahatabey got tagged as Ciboney. 

     My mother's and grand mother's MtDNA were tested and as a result, my own MtDNA matched the MtDNA of the Guanahuatabey of western Cuba and what is now the Dominican Republic. These are my oldest ancestors to date. 

Reniel Rodriguez Ramos states in his paper:

From the Guanahatabey to the Archaic of Puerto Rico: The Nonevident Evidence
Reniel Rodríguez Ramos
Universidad de Puerto Rico-Utuado

     "Some of the early Spanish chronicles make reference to the presence of cave dwellers inhabiting the westernmost section of Cuba as well as the Guacayarima Peninsula in southwestern Haiti. These people, who supposedly lived marginal to Taino society, were named the Guanahatabey or Ciboney culture. The different descriptions of those groups shared elements that were later adopted uncritically in the construction of the social and cultural aspects of the so-called archaic culture tradition of Puerto Rico. Although half a millennium later the tendency to assign every aceramic deposit to the Ciboney or Guanahatabey culture has been overcome, most of the notions implicit in these descriptions remain current in the generalized vision of these societies. In this work, I analyze the implications that these early accounts have had on the development of our perception of the archaic culture of Puerto Rico and contrast them against the archaeological data generated thus far, which tend to indicate a much more complex scenario than that originally proposed."

To read the full article as written by Mr. Ramos:

It is interesting to note that Mr. Ramos quotes the work of my cousin, Carlos Ayes Suarez who is an archeologist within his work.

     My oldest ancestors do not have any names, just numbers that were assigned by lab technicians who performed the studies so I have taken the liberty of naming them by their tribal name.

     The Haplo Group of my Ancestors is C.
Their matching sequences:
np 16298C
np 16325C
np 16327T

Lab numbers:

Lab Numbers:
Dominican Republic:

     Base Positions were compared to the Cambridge reference sequence Anderson et al. 1981.

Mitochondrial DNA from Pre-Columbian Ciboneys From Cuba and the Prehistoric Colonization of the Caribbean. C. lalueza-Fox, M.T.P. Gilbert, A.J. Martinez Fuentes, F. Calafell and J. Bertranpetit

MtDNA from Extinct Tainos and the Peopling of the Caribbean.
C. lalueza Fox, F. Luna Calderon, F. Calafell, B. Morera and J. Bertranpetit

     I also want to point out that I also have a family verbal history that informed me that both sides of my mother's family, maternal and paternal, had ancestry within the Indigenous. For some that verbal history is enough. But I wanted definitive proof that my family verbal history was founded upon truth.

     Also know that my discovery and research has arisen out from negative comments stating that we as descendants of the ancient people who populated the Caribbean wouldn't be able to find our ancestors. In the same token I was also informed that I wouldn't be able to find who my Spaniard ancestors were. My research and consequent discoveries and the resultant family trees are my way proving that those who wrote and spoke those negative comments were dead wrong.

     What I am trying to point out is that we all can go back to find our ancestral roots, one way or the other, through genealogy, historical paper trails or through scientific DNA testing we can come to know who our ancestors were.....providing we really set our minds to it.

     In any case, here is the family tree of those bones whose mtDNA were tested. 

Descendants of :
Guanahatabey I PRCID equals Pre Columbian Indigenous Descendants).
The skeletons that were discovered within the cave whose HVR1 mtDNA matched were a family group and shared a common maternal ancestor.

Generation 1

1. Guanahatabey I (PRCID) was born 1990 AD in Canimar, Perico, Cuba and died in Canimar, Perico, Cuba. He married Ciboney Guanajuatabey II (PRCID). She was born 1990 AD in Canimar, Perico, Cave, Cuba and died in Canimar, Perico, Cave, Cuba.
Other events in the life of Ciboney Guanajuatabey I (PRCID)
Burial: in Canimar, Perico, Cave, Cuba

Descendants of Ciboney Guanajuatabey I (PRCID) and Ciboney Guanajuatabey II (PRCID):

i. Guanahatabey I was born 0670 in La Caleta, Dominican Republic and died in La Caleta, Dominican Republic
ii. Guanahatabey II was born 0670 in La Caleta, Dominican Republic and died in La Caleta, Dominican Republic
iii. Guanahatabey III was born 0670 in La Caleta, Dominican Republic and died in La Caleta, Dominican Republic
iv. Guanahatabey IV was born 0670 in La Caleta, Dominican Republic and died in La Caleta, Dominican Republic
v. Guanahatabey V was born 0670 in La Caleta, Dominican Republic and died in La Caleta, Dominican Republic.

Many generations later their sequence match was revealed within my grand mother's mtDNA.
So next in line in the family tree above would be,
vi Juana Maldonado y Maldonado, and her maternal lineage.

The bones that were found in La Caleta were related to one another since they were buried in a group burial. The "family tree" above is a theoretical one. 

One has to take into consideration that the DNA scientists were not able to extract any yDNA from those bone samples, but for some odd reason were able to extract maternal DNA from them.

To date I have not found any scientific papers relative to yDNA and mtDNA from the Ponce dig a few years ago. In the same token Martinez Cruxado has not released the actual sequence numbers from his particular DNA studies performed in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I often wonder why he has not.

In any case, all we have to date are the sequences I have listed above for Haplo Group C from the Guanaatabey tribal group, otherwise known as los arcaicos, the archaics.

Another point of consideration: Despite the many generations of the overwriting of the Indigenous yDNA it is still embedded somewhere deep within our Human Genome. 

Something is amiss within the halls of genetic science regarding our Indigenous heritage. 

I present this argument before you today:

Genetic science has come a very long way since its beginnings. It can tell if some of us have within our ancestral genes sequences that belonged to the Neanderthal people who lived millions of years ago. 

Genetic scientists have bent over backwards to extract genetic material from fossilized Neanderthal assemblages, They also have bent over backwards to test modern humans to search for those Neanderthal sequences and have found them embedded deeply within some of the Neanderthal's descendants today. 

Then why is it those same scientists can not tell us where our Indigenous ancestry is within our genetics and what tribe it arises from specifically???

For those of you who have read my most recent posts on the Guanahatabey and have not followed the URL provided, I have written a summary essay on those papers and am sharing it with you.

I am very excited because I have found papers containing new data on my Indigenous ancestors the Guanahatabey.

As always new archeological digs equal new information updating and filling out their life style with more information revising sixty to seventy years old data.

1: It was surmised before that the Guanahatabey were pure savages, living off the land and hunting as well as fishing were their only means of survival. 

2: It was also thought that the Arawak speaking tribes, the Carib and the Taino were the ones responsible for transporting manioc, cassava and corn to the Caribbean.

3: It was surmised that the Guanahatabey were not into ceramics.

4: It was thought that the Guanahatabey lived in small groups and were nomadic.

New data:

Archaeologists found several middens, piles of garbage that contained ceramics, corn, cassava, manioc and sopapilla in Puerto Rico, Cuba and the Dominican Republic. The Guanahatabey flint working skills were very sophisticated, other middens in other parts of the same places were bereft of ceramics and flint tools. They also found basket work as well as finely ground tools made from shells. Fish hooks, cutting tools, beads and scrapers made from shells. The size of the middens they found were very large as well as the sites they were on This Indicated that the Guanahatabey traveled in large groups and traveled from somewhere else that was more permanent. These sites were temporary camp grounds used for gathering and hunting.

From all the data that was found archaeologists and anthropologists have revised the old data about the Guanahatabey. The old data was based upon the old Spanish accounts from de Oviedo, de Velazquez and de las Casas accounts of the Guanahatabey. The Spanish view was tainted with the old school of thought of people living au naturale, or within the "Golden Age" concept which was based on an subsistence way of living within nature. 

The old accounts relate that when a group of Guanahatabey were contacted by the Spanish they would listen for a bit and then run away into the jungles shunning the Spanish and their interpreters. When one looks at this encounter one sees a very deep wisdom borne out of extreme caution arising from all the negative accounts of how the Spanish had been treating other Indigenous people at the time. 

It is true that the Guanahatabey did speak a dialect that was unintelligable to the Lucayo interpreter at the time. Old archaeological and old anthropological studies were colored by the old Spanish accounts, (Alegria and Rouse) and as a result transfered the old data into their studies and papers. A lot of old sites that might have belonged to the Guanahatabey were lost because of the erroneous presumption that if the sites had ceramics they could not belong to the Guanahatabey who had been classed as an archaic and savage people. Ceramic shards found at those old sites were considered intrusions within the old layer of assemblages.

All this new data has been derived from the new generation of anthropologists and archaeologists who have been looking at sites with new and fresh eyes and out looks. 

Yes, all the new data arising from these new findings have been tried and tested using carbon dating of assemblages as well as DNA testing of vegetal assemblages dug up from the middens. It has been discovered that the corn, manioc and cassava DNA match those of vegetal assemblages found in Central America. Unfortunately the writers of these papers have not pin pointed where in Central America the vegetal and root assemblages DNA match.

So, the new data that is coming out of these studies have been monumental informing us that the Guanahatabey were a founding people who brought corn, manioc and cassava to the Caribbean islands. One can theorize that they also brought with them the concept of the Caribbean Indigenous religous belief in Atabey, Earth Mother and her son Yucahu. 

It is very unfortunate that their language has been lost to us, Perhaps someday a genealogist or a historian researcher will find an old Spanish document that contains the rudimentary elements of the Guanahatabey language.

All this data is important to me because the Guanahatabey are my genetic ancestors via mtDNA.


Carlos Ayes Suarez, Angostura: Un campamiento arcaico tempano del valle Maunatabon, Bo, Florida Afuera, Barceloneta, Puerto Rico.

Raniel Rodriuez Ramos, From the Guanahatabey to the Archaic of Puerto Rico.

Joshua M. Torres, The Social Construction of Community, Polity, and Place in Ancient Puerto Rico (AD 600 – AD 1200.)

Awhile back I have asked that Family Tree DNA change my mtDNA kit status from Taino to Guanahatabey. They never did. Now I am very motivated to begin the process again since I have C. Lalueza Fox's scientific paper and copies of these papers in my possession.

In 2005 - 2006 was the time I was asked to present scientific papers to FTDNA to prove that my mtDNA sequences were derived from the Taino people. As a result of that they were convinced enough to change my mtDNA kit to reflect that ancestry. Today I see that was an error because my mtDNA Haplogroup C does in fact arise from the Guanahatabey, not the Taino who are a part of the Arawak speaking tribes who came up from South America. They, the Taino are a distinct and different tribe from the Guanahatabey people. 

Those persons that are C1, C2 within my Family Tree DNA match pages just might be the descendants of the Taino women who were enslaved by the Spanish.

Diego Velazquez, (John Browne Ayes, Diego Velazquez, Archivo: Archivo General de Indias Signatura: PATRONATO,178,R.1) in a letter dated 1514 to king Ferdinand called the Indigenous people he encountered, Guaniguanico and the others he encountered were specifically named, the Guanajatabibes. These Indians were not named by Velazquez. He was using the names that they called themselves as a tribal people. 

Cosculluela, J.A. in his writing, Prehistoric Cultures of Cuba, 1946,
began questioning the name tag of Ciboney that had been applied to the Guanahatabey. He insisted that the correct name should be Guanahatabey the name used by Velazquez in his letter to the king. Ciboney was incorrect because it had been derived from the Arawak name for stone, ciba. In fact, Frey de las Casas made a specific reference to Taino subgroups that had been enslaved calling them, Ciboney. (Rodriguez Ramos 2014).

What sets the Guanahatabey apart from the Taino people was the Guanahatabey's use of caves and sink holes for shelter and burial, extended burials of specific family members, an absence of cranial deformation, use of hematite, red ochre and artifacts created from flint, shell and conch.


The protien food stuffs of the Guanahatabey were, wild fish, wild pig, snakes, birds, and monkeys. 

The fruits that the Guanahatabey ate are interesting to note here because they included, yellow sapote and Sapopilla trees that had been imported from Mexico and the Caribbean coast of Central America. Also included in the Guanahatabey diet were root stuffs, manioc, maize, and sweet potatoes. 

(Pagan et al, 2005), recently recovered starch grains of the aforementioned cultigens from the root stuffs. All were thought to have been introduced to the Caribbean by Awarak immigrants. The starch grains of cultigens found on edge ground stones and mano assemblages from pre Arawak sites in Puerto Rico dated early as 3200 BP! Other finds in and around caribbean places date back as early as 7,000 BP!
(Newsom 1993)

Ceramic assemblages that were discovered in the Dominican Republic date back to 4110 BP proving that the Guanahatabey made and used pottery way before the arrival of the Taino to the Caribbean islands. In Puerto Rico ceramic pottery designs created by the Guanahatabey show signature design elements that have been replicated consistently within the later Taino Ceramics.(Rodriguez Ramos 2014).

Before it was thought that the Guanahatebey's social structure was simple, that of a hunter gatherer, de Oviedo's writings inform that everything that the Guanahatabey owned and had, no matter what it was, belonged to everyone. (Rodriguez Ramos, 2014).

(Ayes Suarez 1993), In Angostura, he took notice of a marked shift from acquistion from local resources to that of an outside source for raw materials for flaked tool production. This might point to a trade partnership at a regional level between Guanahatabey tribal groups.
Suarez Ayes 1993 also discovered two middens that were set apart from each other in what seemed to be a permanent Guanahatabey settlement. (Not enough data has been gathered regarding post hole discoveries at the site that might have been used for permanent dwellings).

It seems that on those occasions that the Guanahatabey were encountered by Columbus, de Velazquez and las Casas the Guanahatabey might have been using those cave and sink hole places as tempoary encampments during hunting and fishing forays. 

(Rouse, Alegria), theorized that the Guanahatabey might have migrated to the Caribbean islands using crudely constructed rafts. Those theories don't hold up because rafts would not have been able to withstand the rigors of ocean travel. Today the assemblages that comprise flint tools and clam shells that were used as scrapers, burins and hatchets hint at a more complex boat construction processes. The Guanahatabey might have used canoes in their sea travels.

As more sites are being discovered more new data is coming to the forefront about the Guanahatabey's technology, and social - poitical modes. Today's data proves that the Guanahatabey were not so savage afterall.

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