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“Borinquen” means “the land of the brave lord.” It was the name the Taino Indians gave the island of Puerto Rico.


Taino, incidently, was not their real name. It was the name Christopher Columbus gave this indigenous group of Arawak Indians because taino means peace and it was the first word out of their mouths when they saw him in 1492.  Christopher Columbus, by the way, was not his real name—it was Cristóbal Colón.

Cristóbal Colón

The Tainos were serene and the Spanish often called them “Gente de Dios,” which later was shortened to “en Dios,” then “endios,” and finally to “Indians.” Yes, “Indian”—they were called Indians not because they were thought to live in India but because they were children of God. 

The Taino hunted, fished, and gathered in their plentiful island. They slept in hamacas, whose name has survived to mean “hammock.” So has huracán, or hurricane—the god of ferocious winds who the Taino understood no one would ever tame.


“Boricua,” from “Borinquen,” is what Puerto Ricans call each other, particularly on the U.S. mainland. Using the name is a form of bonding, reaffirming ancient roots. 





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