Why not the Chamorro? A possible peer in Taino cultural revival….

The  discussion I was participating in on the UCTP forum regarding the Taino language, inspired me to further research other indigenous peoples who may be like us;  folks struggling with their own individual decolonization while trying to help heal that of  their people, reviving the culture and those things that are important to it, making it all work together- past, present and future-in balance.   A people that may be similar to my own, in the ways I feel are important.  My priorities lie in relationships; how we relate to ourselves, how we relate with each other, with the community and with the world at large.  This to me, is the basis of society, and everything else depends on it.

Continue reading “Why not the Chamorro? A possible peer in Taino cultural revival….”

When is abusive behavior acceptable?

These questions have been running around my head for a couple of weeks now… I had to put them out there. Just thoughts to ponder…

Is the good that a person does reason enough to accept abuse and disrespect from them?

Does the fact that a person chooses to sacrifice and give so much of his/her time and effort to a people, compensate for that person becoming dictatorial or tyrannical?

Do great strides allow a government the freedom to trample upon rights they claim to defend?

Should we over look the violations committed by leadership because of the “good” that leadership does for the people as a whole?
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“Tau” as religious infiltration?

The thought of “Tau” being a religious corruption was a very interesting element added to the “Tau” discussion…

Some folks believe that “tau” is of christian origin because of the tau cross used by the Franciscan monks,  as a mark of those who accept Christ as their savior, and maybe even the mark painted in lamb’s blood on the doorpost of the Israelite’s homes; protecting the first born of the household against the angel of death during the tenth, and final, plague the western God imposed on Egypt when ordering the pharaoh to “let his people go”.

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Who’s example can we follow? Are the Maori a good choice?

In a recent discussion on the UCTP forum regarding the matter of the Taino language, it’s development and evolution came up.  The particular word being discussed was “Tau” which has been used for several years now as a greeting among Taino online.   No one seems to know where the word came from, nor how it developed into it’s present meaning, but, regardless of this lack, it has been, and continues to be used as a greeting in emails, IMs, forums and even in face to face conversations.   This  particular exchange mentioned the possibilities of finding another indigenous nation who may serve as an example to us and whom we may mold ourselves after with regards to the  regrowth and revitalization of our culture, language and society.  This is a marvelous idea in concept, but has left much to be desired in practice.

Continue reading “Who’s example can we follow? Are the Maori a good choice?”

Some thoughts on the word “Tau”

There has been an uproar in the Taino community recently with regards to the word “tau” being used as a greeting.  Apparently this word has not been found in any of the resources we have for Taino language, nor has it been found in any of our cousin languages… those that have been looked through, anyway.  Added to this, is the growing trend in alarmist conspiracy theories that are weaseling their way into the heart of our people.  I find this trend somewhat sad since herd mentality will encourage people who are scared to follow most anyone who’s calm under pressure and speaks authoritatively.  Spook a herd of buffalo and they will stampede following the herd who in turn, is led by a buffalo that’s just as lost, but looks like he’s got a plan- even if it’s one that takes them all over a cliff.  As if that weren’t enough, it seems that the personal choice to use the word “Tau” as a greeting has been made into yet another reason for hostility and disunity- a political controversy.  Now it’s use has been made into a political statement that identifies a person as being with one faction of the Taino Movement or another.  As if these flimsy organizational labels were of great importance! Continue reading “Some thoughts on the word “Tau””

They came before Columbus… and what?!?

I read They Came Before Columbus:  The African Presence in Ancient America by Ivan Van Sertima.  I wasn’t halfway through this book and I was thoroughly offended, but I finished it just to hear their point of view.

I don’t buy it.

Continue reading “They came before Columbus… and what?!?”

Splintering among the Taino Nation…

These are some questions I thought very interesting, and I had never considered before.   They were posted on an Indigenous Forum I participate in by someone whom I consider quite intelligent.  The questions are regarding the Taino Movement and it’s people from 20+ years ago to the present.  There are some people who have been part of this movement forever, in one way or another, and others, “newcomers”, who are just now discovering the possibilities of their indigenous ancestry.

Sometimes past and present don’t meet eye to eye and these questions seem to want to  uncover the “why”, “because”, “porque'” of them.

I would add, that the questions themselves are also very telling.  The answers are my own.

Continue reading “Splintering among the Taino Nation…”

Restitution or retribution for the first “Indians”?

Who needs federal recognition?  Why should we beg like dogs for the privledge of being able to be called “Native American” when this title is rightfully ours by virtue of birth?

Why not take the conquerors to the world courts for crimes against humanity?  Why not take Spain, Portugal,  France and England to court for the damage done to our people?  We have all necessary documentation written by their very scribes, in our very own history books and museums… The only problem I forsee with this is probably proving it… This is the crap Guatemala was going (is still going?) through and their stuff is a lot more recent.

Hmmm… it is a thought, though.

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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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Cultural Dissonance?

Note:  The following post is a long one. I hope you feel like reading!   ~N

I am a modern Caribbean Indian woman; a mixture of Taino, European and African descent.  However, it is my Taino Indian heritage that I choose to follow, learn and endorse.  The existence of my Taino ancestry has been covered up, denied for many years because of greed and genocide.  This cover up is pernicious and has infected not only the familial roots of my Nation but has disowned our indigenous heritage  on a grand scale.  Society wide- to the point where in school I was taught that the Taino people became extinct due to poor constitution and laziness;  and world wide- because although many know that Columbus reached the Caribbean Islands in 1492, few recognize the Taino people as the Indians he met there.

Recent studies have shown that a good percentage of the population tested (in PR)  not only carry Taino genetic markers, but that in fact,  carry most of the DNA material inherited via  Taino female bloodlines.  I find this very appropriate since the Taino have traditionally been a matrifocal society.  Additionally, there has been more extensive study of Spanish documents, census taking and log keeping.  This history is now being looked at as written by very human people who were not above a little underhandedness…  So, scientists and historians are now finding that the Taino did not become extinct as has been propagated, but survived; having chosen invisibility over death, and blended blood,  religion and culture to what is present in the Caribbean islands today.

These scientific and historical findings have engendered a grand movement.  For some time now, there has been a resurgence of people reclaiming Native Caribbean Indian ancestry and identity.  Hand in hand with this resurgence comes a strong desire to unite as a tribe and create community.  Folks are meeting in cafes and parks,  fairs and powwows, museums and  kitchen tables to discuss the reclaiming  of our Taino heritage.  Websites have been put up,  groups and organizations have been created to promote union and sharing, teaching and learning.  Some have assembled family groups, clans and tribes, others have organized and incorporated; all with different purposes but the same idea- to join with others of like mind.

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