Some Notes on the Spanish Colonial Period in Hispaniola

Bob Corbett


  1. Tribute. Columbus lied. He found bits of gold. There were/are some traces of gold in Haiti. But, he told the court that there were large amounts. Thus when he came on the second voyage there were expectations of great amounts of gold to be found. The Indians were given a tribute of so much gold that was to be paid to the kind.

  2. When tribute failed then service was substitute. The repartimiento and encomienda systems were enforced.

    P. 24 Chapman: "Under Bobadilla a beginning was made of the system of repartimiento (apportionment), whereby the Indians were divided among the colonists. In theory the main objective of the laws was that the Indians might thereby be Christianized and civilized, but in fact its principal feature was that they were made to serve as slaves in the fields and mines."


  1. As these systems took effect it became clear that other areas of the Americas were to be the source of gold and wealth--Mexico, Peru and so on. However, Hispaniola remained the center of the Spanish world for some time since it was first of all the stop off point on the way to Central and South America, and it became the bread basket to supply the conquistadors.

  2. As the Indians died out they were, at first slowly and then much more quickly replaced by African slaves.

  3. Final note on the demise of the Indians. The entire Taino population died out. But two authors are at pains to point out that the whole blood line could not have died out. Michel Laguerre, a Haitian anthropologist dwells on this point, showing that there was enough time of interaction on a small scale between the African slaves and the last of the Indian slaves that they simply had to be children born of liaisons among them.

    Hanke says: That the Spanish took Indian women as concubines and there was a small population of mestizo children born of these unions.

    However, as other authors point up, there are not only no people left today who are anything near full-blooded Taino's, but there are no remnants of people with noticeable Indian features, and there are virtually no cultural influences from Indian culture on the culture of Haiti.



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Bob Corbett