Puerto Ricans are proud to be called “mestizos”. In Latin America, the term stands for a person of mixed race, particularly an offspring between a Spaniard and an American Indian. We carry a third “raza” or race gene, African American.
As part of our proud mestizo culture, you can find several Indian Ceremonial Sites around the island, where you can learn a lot about its American Indian culture, the Taínos. Here are three of the most important sites:
by My Puerto Rico Experience
Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center, Ponce
Located in Ponce, Puerto Rico, Tibes is the oldest Antillian Indian ceremonial complex yet uncovered in Puerto Rico, and the most important in the Caribbean.
In 1975, a flood caused by hurricane Eloisa uncovered some of its topsoil, and a sugar cane worker and farmer from the Toma Vieja section of Tibes in Ponce, named Don Luis Hernández, discovered the remnants of its indigenous cultures. He kept it secret for a year, and in 1976 the Archeological Society of the Southwest learned of his discovery.
Currently, 9 ball fields (bateys), 186 burial sites, and 3 ceremonial plazas have been rediscovered in Tibes, and it is still being studied each year by archeologists for more clues of Puerto Rico’s past civilizations.
For visit hours and more information call: (787) 840-5685, (787) 840-2255.
Cemí Museum, Jayuya
This monument and museum opened in 1989, as homage to the 20 years of the Festival of Jayuya celebration. It’s an architectural piece designed by the Jayuyano Cultural Center, in the shape of a gigantic cemí, an earthly representation of the Taíno deities.
In it you can find archaeological pieces that show the existence of the Taíno culture, such as: Exhibition I.C.P. – a collection of objects from the everyday life of the Indians, a mural exhibition with petroglyph reproductions in ceramic by artist Daisy Morales, monoliths from the UPR’s archeology lab and a photographs’ exhibition of Indian petroglyphs by archaeologist Osvaldo García Goyco.
Open to the public from Monday to Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
For more information call: (787)828-1241.
Caguana Ceremonial Ball Courts Site, Utuado
Anthropologist John Alden Mason first excavated it in 1914. By 1956, the Institute of Culture led by Dr. Ricardo Joy worked for the restoration of this site. Caguana, considered one of the most important archeological sites in the West Indies, is approximately over 700 years old, built by the Taíno around 1270 AD.
The park offers archaeological pieces and ceremonial spaces, replicas of an ancient civilization. It consists of 10 ball courts or bateyes, surrounded by monoliths and a stones-shaped driveway. The main batey is rectangular, reaching 160 x 120 feet. Some of the monoliths were carved with mythological figures, most weighing more than one ton and moved from the Tanamá River to Caguana.
For visit hours and more information call: (787) 894-7325.
Besides salsa dancing, pirates and rum, its Indian culture is a must when it comes to things to know about Puerto Rico.