Taíno Cacique Yuiza


In honor of celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month (as well as child of the rich heritage of ‘mi familia’), I want to share with everyone one of my many favorite art pieces. This beautiful portrait in particular, “Yuiza” by Boriken artist Samuel Lind, is a portrait that I love and one of my favorites. To share with you my knowledge based on my memory, Yuiza

(Yuisa / Loaiza / Luisa / Loiza) is a legend of Borikén (the Island Borinquen, its Indigenous Taíno name which translates to “Land of the Valiant Lord”) especially in Loíza (“La Capital de la Tradicion” a.k.a. the island of famous for talented musicians and artists and where many freed or escaped African slaves populated).

Yuiza was the only female Taíno Cacique, well in actually there were only 2 female Taíno Caciques. Yuiza was the 1st and only female Cacique in Borikén (Puerto Rico). When the Spanish Conquistadores invaded Borikén enslaving the Taíno Indians many of the male Taínos who resisted being adapted to slavery where killed leaving the women to be taken to live as the wives of Spanish sailors.

Based on history because the Taíno people where having a hard time adjusting to the harsh treatments, being killed or died from illnesses. In order to save and protect her people, Yuiza became the lover of a mulatto conquistador Pedro Mejias. Because the Spaniards took the Taíno women to be married, many of the women were forced to give up their religious beliefs and be baptized as Catholics.

Yuiza angered some by accepting the God of these Spaniards, it has been said Yuiza and the Conquistador were married. To her people she was admired and seen as the hero but this resulted in her being killed by other Taíno Caciques who believed she was a traitor to the Taínos by being involved with Pedro Mejias and abandoning her religious beliefs. Keep in mind this is a rumor that the two were supposedly married but to this day Loíza, Puerto Rico the ‘Island of many Traditions,’ is named after the last female chief, Taíno Cacique Yuiza.

“Pura Vida!”


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