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The Taino War Chief Who Chose Hell Over Heaven

Kacike Hatuey Taino War Chief
Kacike Hatuey

Kacike Hatuey (Haiti) - Before Sitting Bull or Crazy Horse, before Geronimo, Osceola, or Tecumseh, there was Kacike Hatuey of Guahaba. From the tribe of first contact in 1492, he was one of the first Island Arawak, commonly known as Taino, chiefs to fiercely fight back against enslavement, mass murder, indiscriminate rape, mutilation, and inhumane treatment at the hands of the Conquistadors. He was the first indigenous freedom fighter to lead over 400 warriors in a resistance that lasted over a decade in the little-known Taino wars against Spanish colonization.

The Spaniards' written accounts of Kacike Hatuey and his battles could be considered the first accounts of First Nations in the Caribbean using guerilla warfare tactics. By land, the waríbono (warriors) were highly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, and by sea, they were adept in canoe warfare known as niuché. The Island Arawak Taino warriors knew how to fight and were not devoid of conflict before the Europeans came. Having developed highly sophisticated weapons of war such as longbows, war clubs, and even small gourd grenades filled with highly caustic hot pepper powder, the indigenous people of the greater and lesser Antilles were equipped and trained to defend themselves at all times.

To understand why the native people of the Caribbean fought back so fiercely, we have to realize what they were going through and what they were witnessing that catapulted a normally peace-loving people into a brutal and devastating war that would leave the population of the Taino decimated but not destroyed. Other than oral history passed down within a family, the only other accounts we have are written by men who accompanied the Spaniards in their explorations and conquests. One of these men was a priest named Bartelomé De Las Casas, who would later become a champion for the Taino and fight for their freedom until it was finally granted by the King and Queen of Spain. Here is just a small sample of what he witnessed and reported:

"They laid Wagers among themselves, who should with a Sword at one blow cut, or divide a Man in two; or which of them should decollate or behead a Man, with the greatest dexterity; nay farther, which should sheath his Sword in the Bowels of a Man with the quickest dispatch and expedition. They snatcht young Babes from the Mothers Breasts, and then dasht out the brains of those innocents against the Rocks; others they cast into Rivers scoffing and jeering them, and call’d upon their Bodies when falling with derision, the true testimony of their Cruelty, to come to them, and inhumanely exposing others to their Merciless Swords, together with the Mothers that gave them Life." De Las Casas

If this had not been written in the 16th century, one would think you just read a news report about Hamas and the October 7th massacre in Israel. There is an obvious insidious cycle to this type of horrendous brutality and how it is perpetrated against indigenous people around the world. The sad but historical truth is both world-dominating religions of Islam and Christianity participated, supported, or commanded these types of terror tactics to be used in order to expand imperial and religious power through forced colonial conquest.

Taino fight against the Spaniards
The Taíno Wars-16th-century sketch by Theodor de Bry.

Kacike Hatuey tried to warn as many others as he could and instilled the absolute need for resistance and fighting back throughout many Yucayekeno (villages). Unfortunately, Kacike Hatuey was eventually captured and sentenced to death by being burned alive on the island of Cuba in 1511. He had almost rallied the indigenous people of Cuba when heavily armed Spaniards, including Hernán Cortés, who would later go on to conquer Mexico.

On February 2, 1512, Kacike Hatuey was paraded publicly to the place where he would soon speak his last words. He was tied to a stake with firewood piled around him as the stunned crowd of natives watched their hero and great chief being prepared for death. As Hatuey stood with his strong brown hands tied behind him his steely gaze must have swept over every person that was there. Sentencing was pronounced, and a priest named Bartelome De Las Casas recorded his last words.

"When tied to the stake, the Cacique Hatuey was told by a Franciscan friar who was present . . . something about the God of the Christians and of the articles of Faith. And he was told what he could do in the brief time that remained to him, in order to be saved and go to heaven.

[Kacike Hatuey], thinking a little, asked the religious man if the Spaniards went to heaven. The religious man answered yes... The chief then said without further thought that he did not want to go there but to hell so as not to be where they were and where he would not see such cruel people."

"This is the name and honor that God and our faith have earned." [De Las Casas]


Hatuey burned alive at the stake
The Execution of Kacike Hatuey

I honor Kacike Hatuey’s memory as we watch the world turmoil increase and the nations reel with war. Kacike Hatuey paid a precious price to teach us many things in his last moments. There is so much more to his story and the struggles that he went through that led to these final words.

Personally, I think that Kacike Hatuey is in Sorabey (Paradise Island) and that he is not in the company of the same people who massacred our ancestors. I believe that The Creator judges righteously and without impartiality. Eternity was placed within the hearts of all people, and on that day, Kacike Hatuey was welcomed to the campfires of his ancestors.

Memorial Plaque
"To the memory of Chief Hatuey, unforgettable native, precursor of the Cuban liberty, who offered his life, and glorified his rebellion in the martyrdom of the flames on 2/2/1512. Monuments Delegation of Yara, 1999"

This is a hard lesson to think about from many perspectives because it happened, and it is one of many roots of poisonous trauma that is still being passed on to generations today through our DNA.

The men who carried out these atrocities did not know The Creator, and they did not know the teachings of the Creator's Son. They blindly followed, like occult disciples, the things they were commanded to do in the name of God.

Mathew 7:21-23 "“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

There will be many Christians who are reading this post, and I ask one thing: can you place yourself in this situation? Because every day, you have an opportunity to do so. An opportunity to truly be an accurate reflection of unconditional love in a conditional world. Could things have gone differently for Kacike Hatuey if this had been the approach?

“How does my life, my words, my actions, or my inactions as a self-professing Believer affect the lives of others and how will they percieve the God of Abraham, Issaac, and Jacob and the testimony of Chief CornerStone Yeshua?”


  • Katz, “Feb. 2, 1512: Taíno Leader Hatuey Executed in Cuba.” Zinn Education Project

  • Running Fox, 'The Story of Cacique Hatuey, Cuba's First National Hero', La Voz del Pueblo Taíno (The Voice of the Taíno People) (United Confederation of Taíno People, U.S. Regional Chapter, January 1998)

  • Kennedy, Hugh "Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In" 2008

  • ^ J. A. Sierra. 'The Legend of Hatuey', The History of Cuba (August 2006).

  • ^ Bartolomé de Las Casas, Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies. Translated by Nigel Griffin. (London: Penguin, 1999)

  • ^ Barreiro, Jose "A Note on Taino," in Akwe, Cornell, View From the Shore, Pon Press, 1990

  • Drake, Harold "Violence in Late Antiquity: Perceptions and Practices" 2006

  • ^ "A violent evangelism: the political and religious conquest of the Americas", Luis N. Rivera, Luis Rivera Pagán, Westminster John Knox Press, 1992, p. 260

  • Porrata, Rickard Morrow, Ph.D. "Remnant Words of the Boricua Indian" 2020

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I pray if someone wants to take our lives, that we will be strong and courageous, just like our past brothers, who stand firm and not give up in Yeshua‘s name, 🙏🏽🙌🏽🫡🛐

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