Queen Anacaona

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Queen Anacaona

In 1474, Queen Anacaona was born in Yaguana, which is now modern day Leogane, Haiti. Yaguana was the capital of Xaragua, a heavily populated kingdom which was also very prosperous. Anacaona means “Golden Flower” in the native Taino language; she was the younger sister of the king of the Xaraguas’, Behechio. In 1494 Christopher Columbus visited the Xaragua kingdom for trade and was met by Anacaona and the king. Anacaona was seen as an equal negotiator with the king. She and her brother were able to successfully and peacefully negotiate trade with the Spaniards. She was held in high regard with her people even before she became queen, her legendary beauty and leadership made her popular and memorable. She would later marry the king of Maguana, Caonabo, which helped expand her influence over the Tiano people of Xaragua and Maguana.

After she married Caonabo he was kidnaped by Christopher Columbus’ troops and deported to Spain, he was accused of leading an attack on La Navidad (a settlement on the northern part of the Island for the Spanish); Caonabo died on the ship sailing to Spain. Meanwhile Queen Anacaona was able to escape death by leaving Maguana and returning to her home in Xaragua. Upon arriving to the Island the Spaniards began to dominate and conquer the Taino people, led by their queen the Tainos stood and fought for their land and their freedom. Xaragua was the only remaining kingdom that the Spanish had not overtaken, but that would soon change. In 1502 Spain shipped a new governor to the Island, Governor Nicholas Ovando. Upon arrival he brought with him 2,500 Spanish troops. In 1502 Governor Ovando requested a meeting with Queen Anacaona, which she kindly accepted.

The meeting evolved into a reception by Anacaona and the noblemen of the Xaragua, during the reception Anacaona and her noblemen were ambushed by the governor and captured. All of the noblemen were killed and Anacaona was taken to Santo Domingo, where she was killed by hanging, at the age of 29. Queen Anacaona was fierce and beautiful, a queen of many talents and a symbol of freedom. She was known for her ballets, poetry, plays and ornaments her royal court often displayed. She was the first known woman to be of significance amongst the Tianos, she stood in solidarity with her people to the death; even after being offered a position as a concubine for the Spanish. Anacaona was amongst the first of the Tianos to fight off the Spanish conquerors when they arrived on the Island of Hispaniola, although she was defeated she will always be remembered as a brave warrior and a champion of freedom. Revered by her people because of her fearless actions, and leadership, she is often thought of as a myth rather than an actual historical person. Queen Anacaona, we proudly, stand on your shoulders.

J.A. Ward.

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