Learning Arawak-The Language of the Indigenous People of Puerto Rico

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

Arawak was the dominant indigenous language of many tribes in the Caribbean and the mainland from Bimini (Florida) to Sabanna (Georgia) and trade villages scattered throughout Amikekia (America). Language defines the culture and world view of a people group. It can recite ancient oral tradition or reveal the understanding of the spiritual realm. The language also reveals the connection between the people and their ancestral land.

Tribal Chairman Porrata-Descendants of PR First Nations

Remnant Words of the Boricua Indians is authored by Dr. Richard Morrow Porrata Ph.D. Dr. Porrata is a Retired Associate Professor. The University of Puerto Rico at Multi-lingual & Cultural Division, Language Instructor. Retired US Army Colonel.

His Highest Degree obtained: Ph.D.

Plus an additional 120 hours of Native American linguistics from the University of Oregon. He served as the former President of the Native American and Alaskan Native Association, Administer for Taino Descendants of Puerto Rico, He is currently the Tribal Chairman of the Descendants of Puerto Rico’s First Nation.

Dr. Porrata is also the author of a few other books about Taino culture, stories, and genealogy that can be purchased on Amazon. Those books are:

1) Taino Genealogy and Revitalization.

2) Chin-korí: "A Taino fairytale written in the Taino language"

A flood of nostalgic sounds brought the words of my ancestors and family to my ears once again. I was reading words in my people's language that I had not heard since I was a child and it was like soothing honey on a tired singer's throat. I was also surprised to find out a word I was called as a kid that I thought meant one thing, was actually quite the opposite.

I got a laugh out of it and another rush of memories of swinging on behuco's, sweeping my grandmother's batey, eating fresh guaiaba from the lush rainforest and hearing everyone call my dad, including me at times Nino, which I now know means Elder or Ancestors.

A few years before my father passed away we sat down and he recited every Arawak Taino word that he could remember. I must find this notebook so that we can contribute the words that we spoke in our family. I would encourage anyone to help by writing words down and sending them as a gift to the collective whole of our people's language preservation and restoration.

In the following video, my dad shares some of his memories of Arawak Taino culture and traditions from his years as a child growing up in the mountains of Boriken in the 20th century.