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Agueybana is the leader of the Arawaks.
CivilopediaThe name "Agueybana," literally meaning "Great Sun" in the Taino language, refers to two brothers, both natives of the island today known as Puerto Rico. Agueybana I, born between 1460 and 1480, was leader of the Taino, a branch of the Arawaks. In 1508, the first Spanish explorers arrived to colonize the island. Agueybana and the Europeans soon negotiated a mutually beneficial agreement. In return for protection from the other tribes of the region, Agueybana's tribe would labor for the Spaniards, mining the island's rich gold resources.
The equitable terms of the deal would not last for long. The lust for gold drove the Spaniards to require more and more from their volunteer labor force and before long, it became apparent that Agueybana had negotiated his people into slavery. Unfortunately, he was unable to rectify his error. Whether through overwork, old age or illness (European disease had begun to ravage the island), Agueybana passed away in 1510.
Over the following year, Agueybana's brother took up the mantle of leadership, as well as his brother's name, becoming Agueybana II. Through covert planning, Agueybana II organized a rebellion against the island's governor, Juan Ponce de Leon (the conquistador known for his misguided foray in search of the Fountain of Youth). With the element of surprise on their side, Agueybana's warriors were initially successful, yet their victory would be fleeting. Between the rapidly increasing numbers of Spaniards arriving on the island and the storm of new diseases battering the Arawak population, the natives of Puerto Rico were nearly obliterated over the next thirty years. Agueybana II himself died in the rebellion he worked to foment, passing away in 1511.
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