I personally dislike the label “reservation” or “reserve” because it makes me think of a zoo, a habitat for wildlife observation at a safe distance. This was the idea behind indigenous reservations originally. That is why so many different nations were stuffed into the same lands, but that’s a history lesson for another time…
Although, I cringe at the label, I do like the idea of a place to call home. A place where the Taino community can share, teach and work together; some workshops with communal tools and materials, and a CD player on the side to keep the energy flowing. A music room with all sorts of instruments, both modern and traditional. A place for our powwows and 49ner style gatherings, spaces to lay your bartering blankets, spaces for altars and sacred ceremonies, a space for sweats and vision quests; families sharing, all our kids growing up together learning through stories and plays, dances and interactions. We can have a couple of hamacas out there, maybe near a river and if not, the beach and if not, then we build a pool that snakes around like a river, with waterfalls and whirlpools and everything! Heck, I’d be happy with a plastic kiddie pool and a hose, I just want my hamaca!
We can have a place to congregate and have all kinds of circles- anything from 12 step meetings to sewing circles! A huge kitchen with burenes for cassava bread and lots of room for people to get together and cook and eat… Celebrate births and deaths, weddings and anniversaries, share accomplishments and sorrows, congregate for announcements and open discussion….I could go on and on with this dream, I like to dream BIG!!
The coolest thing is that this doesn’t have to remain a dream. This is something which we can create into a reality, all we have to do is put in the effort. Richard Bach said “You are never given a dream without also being given the power to make it true. You may have to work for it, however.” And that last sentence, my friends, is the kicker…
One of the leaders of our Taino Nation brought up some very important points:
1) Legal ramifications
The fact is that, more often than not, if people do not have a vested interest in the property, they will not sink nickel or time into it, and these are essential for it’s success. Not going into the Nation/Government relationships, other questions to consider are: Where is it located? In the US or out? And what are the implications if it’s out of US borders? If it is in the US, will it be in the Mainland or the Caribbean? An indigenous society is usually attached to their home lands being that it’s sacred…but then again ALL of planet Earth is Mother… Who will manage it? Will it belong to a group and it’s membership or will it be open to all that self-identify as Taino, regardless of group affiliation? Who will hold the keys or will the lands and any buildings or lodges upon it remain open? Who will provide for it’s maintenance, repairs, monthly bills? Who will schedule it’s use?
These may seem like insignificant questions to some, but ultimately, they are part and parcel of a quick, generic, reality check. They touch on both points this Taino leader mentioned, the one above and the one that follows- the one I believe is the most pressing…
2) “…it requires real time community interaction.” and “A major obstacle… is the philosophical differences among community members and groups that keep a project like this from moving forward.”
Magic words, man, magic words! The ways the people of our Nation interact with each other can be painful to watch. Before we can be a “self-governing” Nation we need to become “self-governing” people. I do see the possibilities of unity in our future, but not until we come to the realization that before we can unite as a Nation, we will need to unite as human beings; with ourselves first, and THEN each other. I believe that this won’t be until we gather the courage to walk through our personal fears and make peace with our own shadows. Once this process begins we are more willing to face each other with love, honesty and, above all, respect. If not all of us are willing to make these changes for the benefit of our Nation, at least those of us that have leadership or council positions in our respective groups should feel compelled to.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” ~Albert Einstein
We need to be willing and able to deal with people we don’t like and don’t agree with in a respectful manner, honoring both ourselves and each other. We need to be willing to be the “better person” when things become heated, even if the other person is not doing so. We need to offer each other the same space, listening skills and respectful disagreement we expect to receive for our own unwanted ideas. We need to treat others like they matter, with dignity; like we care about them, their thoughts and their feelings- the same way we expect to be treated.
We need to remember we are “brothers”, not only when we first meet and are friendly, but also when, eventually, we disagree.
We want a lot and this means we will have to be willing to invest as much if not more of an effort as we want in return. We need to put forth a true commitment to this movement, any part of it that we decide to participate in; to be there, to make it a priority, even in the face of family demands and personal desires; even in the face of public ridicule and financial loss; even in the face of personality conflicts. We need to commit to either give it our all or to quietly stay out the way of those who are doing so.
It’s a lot of work and it is not going to be easy, but we can make it happen.
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves” ~Edmund Hillary
(c) January 2009, Anita “Nanu” Pagan