Cacique Mabodamaca : A Taino Chieftain of Note
Near the entrance to the charming town of Isabela in Puerto Rico, a bust of Cacique Mabodamaca has been carved into a cliff wall as a reminder of the role this well-respected Taino chieftain played in Puerto Rico’s early history. Also, the main roadway, Route #113, connecting Isabela to Quebradillas was recently renamed as “Avenida Cacique Mabodomaca” in his honor.
During the Indian Wars in Boriken (Taino term for Puerto Rico) in the 16th century, Cacique (meaning Chief) Mabodomaca’s territory, known as Guajataca (meaning “the water ladle”), extended through the present day regions of Isabela, Quebradillas and Camuy. A Taino chieftain was paid significant honor by the people of his kingdom. He had the privilege of wearing a golden pendant called a guani, which immediately distinguished him as the leader among the people. Local legend has it that during an ongoing battle with the Spanish invaders, Cacique Mabodomaca led his people up the Guajataca River and they disappeared into Puerto Rico’s central mountain range, while another account claims that Cacique Mabodomaca died in battle, and yet another that he fell off a cliff into a river where his golden pendant remains and may yet be found. Irrespective of how he actually died, by all accounts Cacique Mabodomaca lived a life of bravery and self-sacrifice in behalf of his people, fighting fearlessly to maintain their way of life and their security that was under threat by European invaders.
It is in remembrance of Cacique Mabodomaca’s life and the impact that he had on his people, that the non-profit organization, the Mabodamaca Corporation, was founded. Among other things, the Mabodamaca Corporation aims to raise awareness of the historical, cultural and social responsibility to preserve the heritage of the people who were the original residents of the land and whose blood was spilled in its defense, as well as to encourage the maximum cultural development of people with Taino ancestry, thereby assisting them to embrace their roots. Among its many projects are the presentation and preservation of archaeological finds; the development of eco-tourism opportunities; publications and educational conferences; the construction of a museum of history, culture and archaeology; presenting craft workshops, talks, exhibitions and seminars; and special projects for fundraising.
Certainly Puerto Ricans with Taino ancestry can remember Cacique Mabodamaca with pride as a brave warrior who always had the best interests of his people at heart, and the dedicated members of the Mabodamaca Corporation will ensure that he is not forgotten.