A home of our own~ Considering a Taino Village

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!

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A comer pasteles!!!

This post was originally published on La Diva Latina .com.  Reposted here with the Author’s permission…

With the Holidays upon us, families across the Caribbean and beyond will soon be serving up all manner of traditional meals. On the island of Boriken ( Puerto Rico ) for example, no traditional holiday feast would be compete without a particular savory TAINO delight known as PASTELES.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

Examiner.com posted this article regarding Thanksgiving and towards the end exhorts people, not to quit the celebration, but to share the Truth of it’s history.

The only concern I have with the telling of the “Truth” of Thanksgiving is the vast amounts of “Truths” out there!  Even among the links at the bottom of the post, and in internet search engines, you will find different versions of what, where, when and why Thanksgiving came to be.  History has been mauled by those in control and there is little agreement as to the details of this holiday.  It vacillates from the Spanish being the first to gather and give thanks to the Creator with a Mass of gratitude (although I think that one is not supposed to count because it was the Spanish), the Pilgrims, George Washington, Lincoln… all the way up to recent history, when congress passed it into law.  Then there are all the different native Nations who suffered the brunt of the initial brutalities upon meeting the Europeans, just before they celebrated these feasts!  Who’s Truth do we share then?

I do not disagree with the author’s encouragement to “instill in them [the children], the truth.” However, as inferred above, that Truth can very well be subjective.  Depending on the way you look at it,  you change the focus of the story.   At no moment do I deny the horrors of our history and I believe that the truth of our past should be taught; to each child the history of their Nation first and then that of our cousins.  But there is also a higher truth to be taught in the celebration of Thanksgiving, a truth that is not of the Europeans but of our very culture.

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What is truly important?

I found this fearful, ethnocentric post on the web.  This article claims to have been written by Tim Giago, president of the Native American Journalists Foundation and the publisher of Indian Education Today Magazine.  I am not a professional writer, but this piece seems to lack the polish of someone of such high distinction, so I cannot say that this is the actual author, only that it claims to be.  My argument is with the content and not the polish though, so here is my reply.

I’m saddened to see how acrimonious my brothers and sisters have allowed themselves to become; it only shows how disconnected from Spirit some of us have grown to be.

This onslaught on the “fake shaman” who are popping up all over the place, like fry bread in a powwow; this whole piece of writing,  is dedicated to a racist agenda hidden in an attitude of righteous indignation, attacking a matter that no one has a right to touch!

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Let sleeping dogs lie

My purpose for blogging is so that I can safely revisit my past, my childhood and all the experiences that helped make me who I am.  I want to disentangle those things in my spirit that were hard to live through, those things that at times I refused to experience and escaped from in one way or another.  I want to extricate them from my soul, pull them out kicking and screaming, and stand them before me.  I want to investigate them, revisit these memories, see them with different eyes; with the physical and emotional maturity I am capable of today.  I want to relive them, feel them and then decide- is there something there I want to keep or am I ready to let it go? 

I hadn’t thought of O, E or my childhood in a long time and suddenly it seems I’m being bombarded by my past.  Writing about it was a good way to alleviate the tension that particular time caused in me, tension I wasn’t aware I still carried.   There are things there I still need to revisit, rehash, revise and relive but that’s for another day.   Today I respond to my friend, Craig’s, curiosity while honoring my memories of O and E; of the pain they caused and the growth they unwittingly spurred.
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A Child is NOT a Short Adult

Recently, my little brother, T., bought himself an interesting book titled The Dangerous Book for Boys.  He had just purchased the book when I met up with him and he was still basking in the glow of excitement.  He flippeLittle Louied quickly through the pages, showing me images of knots, paper airplanes and other instructions of things a boy “should” know how to do.  At that very moment, I saw my brother in a different light.  No longer a tattoed, pierced, hard working man of 30-something with wife and kids in tow…he was now a child of six or seven, wishing for his father to give him the attention he needed, wishing for his mother to come home and tend to his needs, for his older sister to back the hell off and mind her own business.

I saw the child he was and the child still there and I loved him.

My brother and I didn’t have the easiest childhood.  Mom, who was the matriarch of our family, had a car accident that left her disabled and needing care herself and Dad was usually escaping into work.  T. and I were left to our own devices, to deal with life as best we could.  This is a tall order for children ages 5 and 8.  Even with the involvement of neighbors, sitters and others we suffered abuses of all kinds and experimented in areas we had no business exploring.

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