Anacaona was born in Yaguana (today the town of Léogane, Haiti) in 1474. During Christopher Columbus’s visit to the chiefdom of Jaragua in what is now southwest Haiti in late 1496, Anacaona and her brother Bohechío appeared as equal negotiators. On that occasion, described by Bartolomé de las Casas in Historia de las Indias, Columbus successfully negotiated for tribute of food and cotton to be paid by the natives to the Spanish invaders under his command. The visit is described as having taken place in a friendly atmosphere. Several months later, Columbus arrived with a caravel to collect a part of the tribute. Anacaona and Behechío had sailed briefly aboard the caravel, near today’s Port-au-Prince in the Gulf of Gonâve.
Her immortalization in the intertwining histories of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic have resulted in the use of her name for various places in both countries. Many in Haiti claim her as a significant icon in early Haitian history and consequently a primordial founder of their country. Renowned Haitian American author Edwidge Danticat wrote an award-winning novel, Anacaona: Golden Flower, Haiti, 1490, in dedication to the fallen chief. She was immortalized by Puerto Rican salsa composer Tite Curet Alonso in his song “Anacaona”.