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.
Continue reading “Cultural Dissonance?”