Our planet is mostly water. We are mostly water. Water is Life. Water is a Healer. At least this is the understanding of many Traditional healers and the Elders I’ve sat with. They instruct us to speak to the Water, to ask the Grandmother for Her blessings.
Most of the social and spiritual gatherings I participate in are composed of people from a variety of ethnicities and beliefs. Coming from a multi-cultural background myself, this is usually not an issue. Yet, as years have gone by, I’m finding myself feeling increasingly uneasy at the upcoming of any new event. We all have cultural blind spots and a certain amount of ethnocentricity, yes. Because of this awareness, I try not to look for offense in the ignorance of others; we are all working from our own programming and we are all in different spaces. But this discomfort continues and for the longest, I couldn’t quite pin-point what it was that bothered me so much about non-Indian guests in our gatherings. Continue reading “Ayaca e’ Iguana: Decolonizing Indigenous Diets”
Every November, on the fourth Thursday of the month, the US celebrates Thanksgiving Day with food, drink, parades and sports. Families gather together, whether they like each other or not, to eat, drink and be merry. But this merry-making is not to be found everywhere for the day is not a celebration to many of the original peoples of this land. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Day: to Thank or not to Thank…”
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.
I usually don’t slam Christians. I know many people who follow that faith and they are good people. There are some times, however, that the magnitude of the stupidity reflected by some christian leaders is just too much to be ignored…
With the recent deaths occurring in an Arizona sweat lodge, three so far, many Indigenous Americans are rabidly repeating the mantras “That’s what you get when you mess with things you have no right to mess with”, “Non-natives have no right to participate, let alone conduct sacred native ceremonies” and “The spirits are clearly expressing their disapproval, when will non-natives learn?”
These are sad, angry and fear filled sentiments with which I do not agree. They weigh in my heart as I hear my relations repeat them at family events, powwows and even sacred gatherings. I have shared my feelings before pertaining to the separatist attitudes my relations have regarding our spirituality. Yet, further understanding compels me to revisit the issue and clarify, albeit to myself, this particular concern. Although I still do not agree with the segregationist views, I do believe my relations have some very good points and real reasons for concern. However, I suggest pause and deliberation lest our fears overcome and misguide us. By clarifying to ourselves exactly what it is that is really important, we can better express our concerns to others without sounding like rabid, bigoted hypocrites.
This is important because no one listens to rabid, bigoted hypocrites except other rabid, bigoted hypocrites and you end up preaching to the choir.
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”.
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.
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.