In the spirit of Hatuey

It has come to my attention that my words have caused a flurry of confusion, anger, criticism and gossip regarding the thoughts and feelings I have shared about the UCTP and the behavior of its president, Roberto Borrero.

Of course, I was not included in the emailed gossip and criticism of my person, which goes to show how “constructive” these rumors truly are.  Regardless, I extend the invitation to all my dear brothers and dear sisters, uncles and aunties, elders; don’t be afraid to write to me directly!  You have a concern, bring it to me and let’s communicate.  If you want to make it a public discussion, by all means, we can do that, too.  In the end, we can agree to disagree and let it go at that, but to growl and grumble about me to others, speaks nothing of my person and volumes of who you are as a human being.  I would pray you do not dishonor yourself that way.

I hold no grudges, not against “las malas lenguas” nor against Borrero, personally.  We are all suffering from the same things: historical grief, intergenerational trauma and the effects of the forced integration of a mindset and worldview that is alien to our spirits.  We are damaged and so we are angry, and in this anger we lash out to anyone who offers us a target- including those who bring their truth about that which hurts- especially if that truth is not yet recognized.  Yet, still, I remain open to both Borrero and the loose tongues, still willing to forge ahead together- if they are.  If I have enough compassion to help an injured creature on the side of the road why would I not have it for my Taino relations who are also hurting?

Leonard Peltier said: “…speaking out is my first duty, my first obligation to myself and my people.  To speak your mind and heart is Indian way”.  Those are words I live by.  If I witness disrespect, I will speak up.  If I see injustice, I won’t be silent.  My heart is open to my people and I refuse to shackle my thoughts and muzzle my words to protect anyone’s false pride and self-importance.

Personally, I have had enough. I have been lied to enough by leaders who use self-determining vocabulary and double-speak to create false dilemmas and force me to choose between what they believe are the “only right choices”, all the while telling me they are defending my indigenous right to choose.  I have had enough of being coerced into accepting the point of view of a leader and shut up about my own.  I have had enough of organizational misrepresentation, disrespect and forced assimilation to what our leaders believe to be the “best” thing for us.  Good intentions are not enough.  Is this not how we lost our language?  Is this not how we lost our traditional social values?  Is this not how we lost our spiritual beliefs, our culture?  The conquerors thought they were giving us the right civilization, the one true God and the correct way to live.  They were doing their best for us, killing the Indian and saving the man.  They, too, had the best of intentions.  And, as an interesting aside, I believe those were also Dickie Wilson’s last words.

Now we have our own leaders destroying the person to save the Indian!  Have we become so accustomed to the master’s whip that we defend those who would pick it up, give it a polish and wield it against our own again?  Haven’t we had enough abuse already?  Or do we continue to silence the spirit of Hatuey that bubbles up within those who dare stand up and speak the truth on behalf of the Taino people?  Do we behave as the conquerors did (and still do) and forget our very humanity?

My words were disapproving, yes, and they were critical, too.  They were meant to be.  They were also true.  Borrero owes me nothing personally, but as an International representative of the Taino People, as the Voice of the Taino People in the United Nations, and thus the world, he has chosen some big moccasins to walk in.  I demand he be respectful of the very people he pretends to represent.  I demand he keep in mind that his position is that of a servant of the people, not a judge and definitely not a commander.

And to make another thing clear, this is not a personal vendetta against Borrero for banning me from his little online club.  I have a blog I share my opinions on, one he visits on occasion; so his banning was more along the lines of a power trip.  But it is not one I’m angry at him for, since he can only give what he has.  What I am is disappointed.  That tower he sells as a nation builder, that beacon of light made to call Tainos together from all over the diaspora, the UCTP, is nothing but smoke and mirrors, a farce.  It could be so much more, it’s presented as so much more, it was sold to me as so much more- but it is not.  From a distance, what seemed to be an impressive tower proved to be nothing but a cardboard box with a cute little sticker on the side, and my very own UCTP enrollment card.

Beyond the blips and sound bytes of the computer, I am a human being.  A human being who also happens to be a Taino Indian woman; one who was raised knowing the responsibilities and obligations that my gender and my humanity demand of me.  I will not be silenced.  It is time the People remembered what their responsibilities require of them, each and every one of us; particularly those people in positions of leadership.  It’s not all chest-beating and feathers, golden necklaces and taking on ancient names.  Our leaders need to learn to listen to the needs of the people they have chosen to serve and respond with something more honorable than criticism and empty threats of litigation.  What you do is who you are… not the description you give of yourself in newsletters.

I pray that the UCTP, and its president, live up to their potential someday.  I pray the same for my Taino people.

(c) A. Nanu Pagan, April 2010


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2 Responses

  1. Taino Ti

    Again Nanu u get straight to the point in what plagues our community. A cult of personality leader getting flattery and praise while not living up to the Title runs rampant in our community. A whole host of verifiers who in their haste don’t know that they are doing more harm than good in verifying the nonsense that we the Taino people call our organizations today.

    It was said 20 years ago that Taino people in this point in time are too immature to take on the Cacike system. Accountability and responsibility along wit professionalism is lacking among our communities and for the most part people suffer in silence or just go away because after all everybody is Volunteering their time and energies to the so called Taino Resurgence.

    It looks like that person was right because the Cacike system has divided us more than it has united but why do things stay the same and why do some Taino leaders get away with this??

    Because Good Taino do Nothing!!!!!!!!!

  2. A big bo’matum, Ray, for stopping by and adding your thoughts. I value your input and appreciate your visit 🙂

    Our ancient governing system, as written by the chroniclers, was a monarchy, a governing system that, historically speaking, has been a failure. And with the postcolonial mentality, intergenerational trauma and historical grief we carry, a monarchical system leaves us open to despotism, tyrrany, dictatorships and totalitarianism. Is it our immaturity or is it our damage that impedes us from getting it together?

    Personally, I wonder about the chroniclers accounts… Was our governance truly a monarchy as described or were these the only way the chroniclers knew how to express their understanding of what they saw? The political systems that existed (and in some places still exist) here in the American hemisphere at the time of European arrival was not the same as that in Europe, it was completely different. So why would it be that there was a monarchical system only in the Caribbean when tribal leadership systems across the Americas were so fluid? A leader was a leader until he/she was followed no more. A leader was an example to the people. Their behavior was that to be admired and imitated. A good leader led the people, they didn’t impose upon them.

    That is not what we see now. We see subterfuge and pretense, scheming and deception, gimmicks, gossip, bravado and machinations. We see lies. Look close enough and we find our leaders have more than one face depending on who they are speaking to.

    Why do things stay the same? I don’t know. But I do know that history repeats itself and that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is pretty much insane, so maybe we can do something different. Sometimes doing just one thing different brings about a whole new situation.

    Why do some Taino leaders get away with this? Although I agree with you when you say “Good Taino do Nothing”, I do so only up to a point. I think some good Taino sit on the sidelines and do nothing out of fear, confusion, sometimes even laziness. But there are others who do focus their times and energies in positive ways. You have been instrumental in creating and nurturing a yearly artistic event where the Taino are featured prominently. I have done that kind of organizational work and it’s not easy, but your results have been fabulous! This is a good thing.

    And although my words are unpopular and very few people dare post responses for fear of social recrimination and organizational retaliation, the truth is many people read my words and like you, they get what I speak of. Regardless of whither they reply publicly or not, they are listening, so a different perspective is getting out there. People are accepting the invitation to think a little differently about what they are being spoon-fed by their leaders. This is also a good thing.

    These seeds we plant by our actions may not germinate in all hearts, but they will in some and that’s what matters. Don’t lose hope, my friend. Don’t despair. Just keep doing what you do to the best of your abilities and trust the Creator.

    🙂 Taino ti 🙂

    N

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