Anacaona also called the Golden Flower, was a Taíno
Taíno people
The Taínos were pre-Columbian inhabitants of the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles. It is thought that the seafaring Taínos are relatives of the Arawak people of South America...

Cacique is a title derived from the Taíno word for the pre-Columbian chiefs or leaders of tribes in the Bahamas, Greater Antilles, and the northern Lesser Antilles...

(chief), sister of Bohechío
Bohechío is a town in the San Juan province of the Dominican Republic.It is located northeast of the km 25 of Azua road - San Juan at a distance of 26.5 km and 43 km from San Juan Province , 205 km from the capital city and 92 km of the Province Azua , nestled between mountains at the foot of the...

, chief of Jaragua, and wife of Caonabo, chief of the nearby territory of Maguana, two of the five highest caciques who ruled the island of Hispaniola when the Spaniard
Spanish people
The Spanish are citizens of the Kingdom of Spain. Within Spain, there are also a number of vigorous nationalisms and regionalisms, reflecting the country's complex history....

s settled there
History of the Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antilles.Successive waves of Arawak migrants, moving northward from the Orinoco delta in South America, settled the islands of the Caribbean. Around AD 600, the Taíno Indians, an Arawak culture,...

 in 1492. She was celebrated as a composer of ballads and narrative poems, called areíto
Areíto is the sixth album by Juan Luis Guerra with his band 4 40. They released it in 1992. The last track on the album, "Naboria daca, mayanimacaná", is sung in Arawak, the language of the taínos.-Track listing:# "Areito"# "El Costo de la Vida"...



She was born in Yaguana (today the town of Léogane
Léogâne is a seaside town in Ouest Department, Haïti. It is located in the eponymous arrondissement, the Léogâne Arrondissement. The port town is located about West of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. The town was at the epicenter of the 12 January 2010 earthquake, and was catastrophically...

, Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

) in 1474. During Christopher Columbus's visit to the chiefdom of Jaragua in the southwest of Hispaniola in late 1496, Anacaona and her brother Bohechío appeared as equal negotiators. On that occasion, described by Bartolomé de las Casas
Bartolomé de Las Casas
Bartolomé de las Casas O.P. was a 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer and Dominican friar. He became the first resident Bishop of Chiapas, and the first officially appointed "Protector of the Indians"...

 in Historia de las Indias, Columbus successfully negotiated for tribute that consisted of food and cotton for the struggling Spanish settlers under his command. The visit is described as having taken place in a friendly atmosphere. Several months later, Columbus arrived with a caravel to collect a part of the tribute. Anacaona and Behechío had sailed briefly aboard the caravel, near today's Port-au-Prince
Port-au-Prince is the capital and largest city of the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The city's population was 704,776 as of the 2003 census, and was officially estimated to have reached 897,859 in 2009....

 in the Gulf of Gonâve
Gulf of Gonâve
The Gulf of Gonâve is a large gulf along the western coast of Haiti. Haiti's capital city, Port-au-Prince, is located on the coast of the gulf. Other cities on the gulf coast include Gonaïves, Saint-Marc, Miragoâne, and Jérémie. Several islands are located in the gulf, the largest being Gonâve...


Anacaona's high status was probably strengthened by elements of matrilineal
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

 descent in the Taíno society, as described by Peter Martyr d'Anghiera
Peter Martyr d'Anghiera
Peter Martyr d'Anghiera was an Italian-born historian of Spain and its discoveries during the Age of Exploration...

. Taíno caciques usually passed inheritance to the eldest children of their sisters. When there were no children of their sisters, they chose amongst those of their brothers, and failing these, they fell back upon their own.

Anacaona had one child, named Higuemota, whose date of death and date of birth are both unknown.

Arrest and Death

Anacaona became chief of Jaragua after her brother's death. Her husband Caonabo, suspected of having organized the attack on La Navidad
La Navidad
La Navidad was a settlement that Christopher Columbus and his men established in present day Haiti in 1492 from the remains of the Spanish ship, the Santa María...

 (Spanish settlement on northern Haiti), was captured by Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda
Alonso de Ojeda was a Spanish navigator, governor and conquistador. His name is sometimes spelled Alonzo and Oxeda.-Early life:...

 and shipped to Spain, dying in a shipwreck during the journey. The Taínos, being ill-treated by the conquerors, revolted, and made a long war against them. During a feast organized by eight regional chieftains to honor Anacaona, who was friendly to the Spaniards, Spanish Governor Nicolás de Ovando
Nicolás de Ovando
Fray Nicolás de Ovando y Cáceres was a Spanish soldier from a noble family and a Knight of the Order of Alcántara. He was Governor of the Indies from 1502 until 1509...

 ordered the meeting house set on fire. He arrested Anacaona and her Taíno noblemen, all of whom, being accused of conspiracy, were executed. While others were shot, Anacaona was executed by hanging. She was twenty-nine years old.

July 26, 2011

According to Edwidge Danticat's novel, Anacaona, Golden Flower, The Royal Diaries, ISBN 0-439-49906-2, Anacaona died in 1503 at the age of twenty-nine years old. See page 159.


Her immortalization in the intertwining histories of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic have resulted in the use of her name for various places in both countries. Many in Haiti claim her as a significant icon in early Haitian history and consequently a primordial founder of their country. Renowned Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat wrote an award-winning novel in dedication to the fallen chief.

External links

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