7/31/2005

PR Government Supporting Abuse and Referring to Hunger Strikers as Cannibals


From left, Taíno Activists Josué Xuerix Camacho and Roger Atihuibacex protesting at Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado, Puerto Rico.

Utuado, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – On the 7th day of the indigenous occupation of a state-run archeological park, Taíno activists are now reporting increasing levels of cruelty by a hired “goon squad” in Puerto Rico. The Taíno have been occupying the park in an effort to draw national and international attention to island wide desecration of sacred sites and the lack of recognition of their basic human rights.

On Thursday, Utuado Judge Concepcion Figueroa directed the local representatives of the Puerto Rico’s Institute of Culture to resolve the situation through civil means and not use police. Shortly after, a private security force was hired and has been terrorizing the Taíno protesters inside the Caguana Ceremonial Park. The press, legal advisors and supporters are being denied direct access to the group, some of whom are on their six day of a hunger strike. The Institute of Culture has ordered the park’s electricity and water shut off and will only allow medical services if there is a 911 call. An ambulance has already been called twice to administer aid and two protesters were treated for dehydration. Paramedics have stated that if there is another 911 call they will have to remove one protester, Taina Rosado, from the premises and admit her into a hospital.

Three protesters made it to the park’s gates to inform supporters of the increasing harassment by club waving guards from the Genesis and Caribbean security companies. “The guards have threatened our leaders with bodily harm and are not allowing them any rest at night by continuously taunting them with spotlights and shouts” stated an Roger Atihuibancex Hernandez, a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People.

The group’s legal counsel Maurico Hernandez stated “Although they are weak from hunger and despite the inhuman treatment, the protesters will not be deterred and have vowed to remain until they can secure a meeting with the Governor”

The Office of Puerto Rico’s Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila has been silent despite increasing international attention to the situation. “The Taíno protesters have been receiving letters from indigenous peoples and other supporters from all over the world” stated Hernandez. Letters to the Governor have been sent from the International Indian Treaty Council, which is the oldest indigenous NGO accredited to the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Other letters have come from throughout the United States and as far as Belgium, Italy, Hawaii, Canada, New Zealand, Tibet and India. Television, radio and newspaper reports have also been increasing attention on the occupation.

Yesterday, Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia newspaper revealed the disdain that officials have for Taíno in Puerto Rico as the Institute of Culture’s Executive Director Dr. Teresa Tio publicly issued various discriminatory remarks against the group, which included denying their legitimacy. In a response that would be well suited for a 15th century Spanish Conquistador Dr. Tio also demeaned the Taíno’s call for religious freedom by stating the Institute “would not allow cannibalism or the sacrifice of captured enemies to take place there”. No such demand was ever issued by the Taíno.

As increased local and international support is being sought, the Taíno have stated via the news media that they will leave the Ceremonial Grounds if they can be assured in writing that a meeting with the Governor will take place.

The Taíno expect a barrage of phone calls and letters to inundate the Governor’s Office on Monday as the eyes of the world turn toward Puerto Rico.

===============================================

*New York Correspondecnce: Roberto Mucaro Borrero 1(212)604-4186

Related Story (En Espanol): http://www.endi.com/

7/30/2005

URGENT SUPPORT NEEDED FOR TAINO IN CAGUANA

Taino'ti Guaitiao (Greetings relatives):

It is my hope this message finds you all in good health. As you may
already be aware, a group of indigenous Taíno Indian leaders have
been occupying a state run archeological park in Utuado, Puerto Rico
since Sunday. The Taíno are peacefully protesting the desecration
and destruction of sacred sites around the island as well as other
violations of their human rights.

The situation is very serious as three Taíno leaders are now on
the fourth day of a hunger strike until Governor of Puerto Rico,
Anibal Acevedo Vila, agrees to meet with them and discuss this
issue. Two protesters are already showing signs of dehydration and
as of today there has still been no communication from the Governor.

With this in mind, the Taíno leaders would like to express their
deepest gratitude to all those who have responded to their previous
call, sending letters or telephoning the Governor's Office. However,
since there has been no response they have requested increased
international pressure on Governor Acevedo Vila by phoning, faxing
or emailing letters to him. Below you will find a sample letter that
we hope you can reproduce on your organizational letter head and fax
or email to the Governor. Phone calls and faxes are the most
effective.

You can also contact you local officials and ask them to appeal to
the Governor as well.

Please send a copy of your faxed or emailed correspondence to
Governor Acevedo Vilá to our U.S. Regional Coordinating Office at 1
(212)769-5329 or uctp_ny@yahoo.com .

In the spirit of our ancestors and for our future generations, we
thank you in advance for your support, prayers and solidarity.

Oma'bahari (With Respect),
Roberto Múcaro Borrero,
President, UCTP
U.S. Regional Coordinating Office
http://www.uctp.org/

-------------------------------------------

Hon. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá
Governor of Puerto Rico
PO Box 9020082
San Juan, PR 00909-0082
Tel: 1(787) 721-7000
Fax: 1(787) 721-1472 and 1(787) 721-3336
portal@ogp.gobierno.pr

Dear Honorable Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá:

I am writing to support the members of the Taíno Nation and People
represented by the Caney Quinto Mundo, the Consejo General de
Taínos Boricanos and the United Confederation of Taíno People in
their direct action reclaiming the sacred Caguana Ceremonial Center
in Utuado, Boriken (Puerto Rico).

I am greatly concerned to learn that several Taíno leaders have been
engaged in a hunger strike until they can secure a meeting with you
and they have been ignored by your administration.

I respectfully and urgently appeal to you to meet with the
protesters at Caguana and speak to them in the spirit of
reconciliation. The eyes of the world are upon you.

I thank you in advance for your serious attention to this matter and
look to a positive resolution for the Taíno People.

Respectfully,

[Your Name, Title, Organization]

7/29/2005

Legal Victory at Ceremonial Center: Judge Refuses to Order Taíno Protesters Out

Taino Leaders and community members in Council at Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Photo: Roger Atihubancex Hernandez

Utuado, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - At 6:00 p.m., last night, Judge Concepcion Figueroa found no probable cause for trespassing, and dismissed this charge against the Taíno Indians occupying the Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado, Puerto Rico. Since Sunday, the Taíno have been occupying the grounds to protest the desecration and destruction of sacred sites around the island as well as other violations of their human rights.

The Court dismissed all charges against Sonia Viro Acevedo as it was found she had left the Park and was instead outside in support despite testimony by prosecutors to the contrary. A new case against another protestor was also dismissed for failure to issue the proper citation.

However, the Judge found probable cause that the accused were exercising dominion and control of the area, based upon false testimony regarding dangers and alleged possible destruction of property at Caguana. Judge Figueroa, Court of First Instance, in Utuado, ordered an August 3rd hearing to then schedule a trial date.

The Judge refused to issue any order on bail as she found that the protestors were not a risk of flight. She denied the District Attorney’s requests for a condition that the protestors leave the premises. The judge stated that in misdemeanor cases, an order of eviction or removal was inappropriate as the issue can be resolved through the appropriate legal civil remedies. The DA stated that those civil recourses were out of his jurisdiction.

The Judge also told the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture’s representatives not to use the police or criminal charges to evict the protestors and to resolve the issue through civil legal process. The prosecution attempted to persuade the Judge that the Park’s construction was held up by the protestors and would cause irreparable harm. The prosecutor’s misrepresentation in Court omitted that the 8 month closure of the Park was due to contractor’s non-compliance and an alleged fine for delay had been issued. The project was three months delayed before the Taíno occupation.

The numbers of Taíno leaders inside the park has increased based on concerns of security. The Institute of Culture has ordered that the lights and water be shut down every night, and are refusing access to the restrooms in an attempt to force the protestors out. The archeological park’s staff has also refused entrance on two occasions to the legal advisors of the Taíno leaders.

After the legal victory, the local representatives of the Institute of Culture, Attorney Boneta and Director Heidi Quintero, capriciously set new conditions on a previous and informal offer for the Taíno to meet with Dr. Teresa Tió, Executive Director of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The Institute’s representatives now state that a meeting will only take place if the protesters vacate the grounds. The meeting was offered for Monday August 1st in San Juan but Quintero refused to put anything in writing stating that “her word was good enough.” This commitment was expressed shortly after the court decision in the presence of DA Richard Rosado, Attorney Adrian Torres Rodriguez and the Capitan of the Utuado Police Department.

The failure of the Puerto Rico’s Governor and the Institute of Culture to send a high level representative to negotiate and dialogue in good faith has increased tensions outside the Park with growing number of supporters. Concern for the health of the Taíno protestors, some on their fourth day of hunger strike, is increasing.

The Taino are firm in their demands to meet with Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila to discuss this issue and will not leave Caguana without resolution.

7/28/2005

TAINO INDIANS MAY MAKE LAST STAND AT CEREMONIAL CENTER



Taina Rosado, Elba Anaca Lugo and Naniki Reyes Ocasio Standing Up For Taino Rights at the Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado, Puerto Rico

UTUADO, PUERTO RICO (UCTP Taino News) – A group of indigenous Taíno Indian community leaders have been occupying a state run archeological park in Utuado, Puerto Rico since Sunday. The Taíno are protesting the desecration and destruction of sacred sites around the island as well as other violations of their human rights.

After local authorities in Utuado assured the group there would be no arrests, police may be set to vacate the Caguana Ceremonial Center as earlier as tomorrow afternoon. The authorities have now served the leaders with a citation to appear in court tomorrow morning at 9m. Naniki Reyes Ocasio, a Taíno leader from Orocovis has stated that they will not vacate the ceremonial grounds, which they consider sacred. “We are exercising our basic human rights to bring attention an issue that has been ignored by this and previous administrations” she said. “We have still not heard anything from the Governor’s office.”

Police and park officials have now shut off access to the activists while a large crowd of Taíno descendants and supporters continues to gather outside the gates.

“We are now going through a process of purification physically and spiritually” stated Elba Anaca Lugo a Taíno leader who was born in Utuado. “Seven of us have decided to begin a hunger strike until the Governor decides to meet with us here.”

The group states that the occupation was necessary to bring attention to the continued violations of indigenous rights on the island. Past calls for official dialogue have been ignored. The Taíno are calling for increased local and international pressure on Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vila to secure a meeting to discuss their issues formally. Support letters and phone calls to the Governor’s Office are urged as the threat of police action draws closer.
==========================================
UCTP Taino News Editor's Note:
*For Information: Roberto Múcaro Borrero 1-212-604-4186

*THE TAINO LEADERS INVITE THE GENERAL PUBLIC TO UNITE AND SUPPORT THIS CAUSE AND TO SEND LETTERS OF SUPPORT TO THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES: caney@prtc.net, uctp_ny@yahoo.com, anacatoao@hotmail.com, tribucoabey@yahoo.com.

7/27/2005

TAINO INDIAN OCCUPATION IN PUERTO RICO GAINS ATTENTION


Indigenous Taino Leader Elba Anaca Lugo being Interviewed at Site : Photo - El Nuevo Dia

Utuado, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – In a message sent this afternoon, the Judicial Administration of Puerto Rico has communicated that they will make no arrests at a state administered archeological park currently occupied by local Taíno Indians. The Taíno are protesting the desecration and destruction of sacred sites around the island as well as other violations of their human rights.

The officials have expressed their serious concern and have now scheduled a meeting with the indigenous leaders. Naniki Reyes Ocasio, a Taíno community leader from Orocovis stated that there has still been no official communication from the Governor of Puerto Rico, Aníbal Acevedo Vila, concerning the issue. A hunger strike is now being considered by the Taíno activists until the Governor himself appears at the Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado.

There has been widespread press coverage at the site located in the mountainous region of the island and numerous interviews have been conducted. From the local Puerto Rican press to international radio, general support is continuing to amass. A growing number of Taíno Indian descendants are now centralized around the site. The neighboring community around Caguana is also beginning to express their support and many elders are now participating. The occupation calls attention to the situation of the Taíno People who are the descendants of the first indigenous peoples of the western hemisphere to encounter Christopher Columbus in 1492.

The Taíno leaders who have occupied the ceremonial grounds since Sunday now await word from Executive Cabinet Officials concerning the arrival of the Governor.

7/26/2005

Taíno Occupation of Sacred Ceremonial Center Continues


Taino Protester Sonia Viro Acevedo at Site Awaiting Exceutive Order from Governor. Photo: Roger Atihuibancex Hernandez

Utuado, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - Representatives of the Caney Quinto Mundo, the Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos and the United Confederation of Taíno People continue to occupy the Caguana Ceremonial Center in the town of Utuado, Puerto Rico. The local indigenous leaders consider the state run “archeological park” a sacred place.

Yesterday the Taíno leadership met with representatives of Puerto Rico’s Institute of Culture and the municipality of Utuado to negotiate an immediate settlement. Along with the long standing issue of Taíno remains being displayed at the site, recent problems at Caguana are said to stem from ongoing construction. Renovations are now entering the ninth month, making the area inaccessible to the general public including local Taíno who view this as a violation of their freedom of religion.

Island wide abuses of archeological sites and indigenous cultural material are deemed unacceptable by the local Taíno. As increased development takes place throughout the island, Taíno leaders have noted increasing destruction and desecration of burial grounds, sacred places and ancestral remains. According to the Taíno these conditions do not only violate their religious freedoms but they do not comply with federal, state, or municipal legislation concerning these issues. A case concerning the destruction of a Taíno ceremonial site is now being heard in the town of Caguitas.

The Taíno also note that the provisions of U.S. federal legislation such as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act have yet to be enacted in Puerto Rico. Elba Anaca Lugo, the President of the Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos, stated that reclaiming of Caguana is part of a larger national campaign to raise public awareness about issues of national patrimony and indigenous rights.

A representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People, Roger Atihuibancex noted there was overwhelming support of the action from the many families who arrived to visit the Center only to find it closed to the public due to the protracted construction. Park management staff offered to expedite the completion of the construction before September as a negotiating point. The staff has also threatened arrest of the activists if they do not vacate the area.

The Taíno leaders are currently reviewing all options while camped in a ceremonial plaza named in honor of 16th century Taíno leader Agueybana. A concern is that key agency officials were unavailable to offer their decision making powers as the island is celebrating adjoining holidays from Monday through Wednesday. The municipal staff is not empowered to enact the requests by the Taíno leadership. Naniki Reyes Ocasio, founder of the Caney Quinto Mundo has vowed to remain until representatives of the Governor’s office arrive to discuss the community’s demands.

Margarita Shashira Muñoz, a Taíno community elder from Vega Baja taking part in the occupation expects warrants to be issued shortly as the action has created an embracing situation for government officials. As support letters for the Taíno continue to arrive from throughout the world, local supporters like Taíno elder Manuel Galagarza expressed his happiness that the younger generations are standing up for their rights and continuing the legacy of indigenous resistance in the Caribbean.

Officials have so far been unable to follow through on the threat of arrest, as local magistrates needed to expedite the orders cannot be located due to the holiday.

7/25/2005

BORIKEN TAINO RECLAIM CAGUANA CEREMONIAL CENTER


Caguana Taino Ceremonial Center in Utuado, Puerto Rico

THE INDIGENOUS TAINO PEOPLE OF BORIKEN (PUERTO RICO) RECLAIM THE ANICENT CAGUANA CEREMONIAL CENTER AS A SACRED DECLARATION, ON JULY 25 2005, DAY OF THE PUERTO RICAN CONSTITUCION

Message from the Caney Quinto Mundo, the Consejo General de Taínos Boricanos and the United Confederation of Taíno People:

“End the Destruction and Desecration of our Sanctuaries and Sacred Places, Archeological Sites, Coaibays (Cemeteries), Ancestral Remains, Sacred Funerary and Ceremonial Objects, and Ceremonial Centers Now!”

Encampment Established as Indigenous Taíno People of Borikén (Puerto Rico) Reclaim Ancient Ceremonial Grounds in Utuado and Call for:

• An executive order by the First Executive of Puerto Rico, the Hon. Anibal Acevedo Vila to fulfill the constitutional, civil, human and international rights of the Taíno People,

• Constitutional reform to recognize our inherent rights as an Indigenous Nation,

• The immediate return of ancestral remains and funerary objects so that they can be reinterred in their resting places within the womb of Mother Earth.

“Because we exist and we have the right self-definition, respect and dignity as an indigenous Taíno Boricua Nation, we affirm our collective rights, knowledge, culture, traditions, customs and ancestral spirituality. As our practices and beliefs simply are not taken into consideration and regarded as nonexistent, it is necessary to establish policies and guarantees to protect the inherent rights of the Indigenous Taíno People of Borikén (Puerto Rico).”

THE TAINO PEOPLE LIVE!


Taino Protesters Gathering Water for their Occupation of Caguana

For Information Contact:

Naniki Reyes Ocasio, Founder
Caney 5to Mundo (Fifth World Learning Center)
HC-01 Bx. 5761
Ciales, Borikén (P.R.) 00638-9624
(787) 847- 5039
E-mail- caney@prtc.net

Elba (Anaca) Lugo, President
Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos (General Council of Boriken Tainos)
HC-61 Bz. 5075
Trujillo Alto, Borikén (Puerto Rico) 00976
(787) 568-1547 or (787) 760-5078
E-mail: anacaotoao@hotmail.com

Roberto Múcaro Borrero, President and Chairman
United Confederation of Taíno People
U.S. Regional Coordinating Office
New York, NY USA
http://www.uctp.org/
(212) 604-4186
E-mail: uctp_ny@yahoo.com

7/22/2005

Caribbean Native nations join U.N. Permanent Forum

A group of Caribbean indigenous nations gathered for special ceremonies and events in late May during the 4th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held in New York City. The indigenous movement in the Caribbean represents one of the lesser-known currents of Native cultural and political resurgence. This spring at the United Nations, the various delegations of Caribbean indigenous peoples coalesced in interesting and welcome ways.

For the first time in many years, Caribbean indigenous representatives were able to meet, share food and culture, and get down to the hard work of U.N. resolutions, interventions and document reaffirmation that marks much of international work. The Taino Nation of the Antilles, with primary bases in Puerto Rico and New York City, organized events for Caribbean delegates. It fund-raised the costs of one delegate from Dominica and coordinated presentations. Roberto Borrero, a Taino who serves on the NGO committee of the Indigenous Permanent Forum, also helped fund delegates to the event and has been active in hemispheric organizing. An Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean has been formed.

Carib cultural activist Prosper Paris, among others, joined the U.N. events. Prosper is from the Carib Territory in the north coast of the small Caribbean island of Dominica. He was one of several presenters on a panel on Indigenous Education and Cultural Survival organized by the Taino Nation. This writer chaired the panel, held at the customary indigenous gathering place in New York City: the United Nations Church Center at 777 United Nations Plaza, where several dozen Taino, Carib, Arawak, Guajiro and other indigenous peoples gathered.

The notable event, ably organized by Vanessa Pastrana, Inarunikia, among other volunteers from the Taino Nation, featured a dance presentation from young Taino people and recitations in the Taino language that are the product of a vigorous reconstruction and relearning of the insular Arawak language by members of that nation since the 1980s.

"From Cuba, in the mountains of the Sierra, from Dominican Republic, from our own Boriken [Puerto Rico], we have met relatives, holding on to our identity and retaking our indigenous roots,'' said Cacique Cibanakan, of the Taino Nation. ''Our hearts pound with excitement that our people are coming together."

Indigenous delegates from all over the world arrive in New York City every spring for the now-permanent U.N. forum on Indigenous peoples' issues. There are always dozens if not hundreds of important and fascinating stories - both positive and negative - on the conditions of tribal peoples and on the always tortuous and troubled trajectory in the world of highly exploitative industries, with their rapacious hunger for indigenous lands and natural resources.

In too many cases, the political contentions of land and resources are accompanied by attacks on Native leaders and political and social structures. Quechua and Aymara from Bolivia and Ecuador, Kuna from Panama, Maya from Guatemala, northern Canadian Cree leaders, Lakota treaty chiefs and Haudenosaunee traditionalists from the United States and Saami from Norway, among many others, sustained a necessary dialogue on human rights and development through the work of U.N. gatherings.

In New York representing the Arawak community at Joboshirima in Venezuela, Chief Reginaldo Fredericks found a not-so-distant relative in Daniel Rivera, Wakonax, one of the active leaders in the Taino movement in Puerto Rico and the diaspora. The Arawak chief, who is Onishido Clan and lives mostly in the rain forest, was very happy to meet Taino relatives.

Among the messages carried by Fredericks from his people is the need to preserve and restore indigenous language. He commended the Taino language recovery program, developed by the nation's elder language advocate, Jose Laboy, Boriquex, and offered to help bring together the Arawak (Lokono) peoples wherever possible. ''It is wonderful we are more and more recognizing each other; we have a lot to offer each other,'' Rivera, who made an intervention at the United Nations on behalf of Caribbean Indian peoples, responded.

Of the many currents of indigenous movement across the Western Hemisphere, the Caribbean is the most hidden and marginalized. As communities, clans and nations coalesce, however, encounters such as the one at the United Nations in New York, provide common ground for exchange and mutual education. The shared cultural history is fascinating.Fredericks narrated stories of his people to the Taino Nation elder, which tell of six original Lokono (later Arawak) nations, which the chief called ''clans.'' Of the six ''clans,'' three are unaccounted for while Taino is in the process of vigorous cultural and social recovery.

According to Fredericks, the ancient Lokono tribes or clans were called Oralido, Cariafudo, Onishido ''rain people,'' Gimragi, Way'u, and the ''good people'' from the great islands (Taino). Today, ''as far as we know,'' the chief reported, only Onishido and Way'u survive on the mainland. The chief was most intrigued that hundreds and perhaps thousands of Taino descendants from the islands of the Greater Antilles are reaffirming themselves. The chief pointed to his headdress, which shows six feathers, symbolizing the six tribes or clans of the Lokono. ''The good island people, the Taino, are one of the six feathers,'' Fredericks reminded the other Caribbean delegates.

From La Guajira, Colombia, Karmen Ramirez represented the Way'u Morerat ORJUWAT organization. She pointed out not only her Native Way'u nation, but also four tribes from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as Arawaks who originate with the Way'u of the Guajira Peninsula. It was another instance of people from common ancestors and linked contemporary identities meeting and recognizing each other as a result of an indigenous international movement. The Way'u, who also reside in neighboring Venezuela, are one of those peoples hurtfully divided by an international border.

Caribbean indigenous delegates, in the shadows for decades if not centuries, put their statements into the record at the annual U.N. event. The Caribbean indigenous caucus signaled the following major goal: ''That the collective rights of the indigenous peoples of the Greater Caribbean to lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge be enshrined in the Constitution of all Greater Caribbean countries and in other states where indigenous peoples exist.''

Author: Jose Barreiro
Source: Indian Country Today

7/20/2005

Boriken Taino National Congress 2005



Orocovis, Boriken/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - A national congress of Indigenous Peoples was convened on the island of Boriken from June 21st – 25th 2005. Organized by the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, the meeting was hosted by the Caney Quinto Mundo and took place on Caney lands located in the beautiful mountainous interior region of the island.

The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos is a national indigenous council under the direction of community leader Elba Anaca Lugo. The Caney Quinto Mundo is a community-based learning center and organic farm founded and maintained by Naniki Reyes Ocasio and Mauricio Guatuel Hernandez in Orocovis.

In collaboration with the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP), invitations to attend the meeting were distributed to Taino groups and individuals throughout the island and the Diaspora.

Activities included a solstice gathering at La Piedra Escrita, a large sacred stone adorned with ancient petroglyphs in the mountain town of Jayuya. Additional meetings and an “areito” (traditional celebration) at the Caney Quinto Mundo were also scheduled. Meeting times were organized into official business meetings and community consultations.

Events began on June 21st in Jayuya to not only honor the solstice and “La Piedra Escrita” but to express solidarity with other Indigenous Peoples gathering at the same time. Solidarity and prayers were expressed for Chief Arvol Loooking Horse of the Lakota Nation, as well as for the Haida Nation of Canada. Chief Looking Horse is at the lead of an international initiative to recognize sacred sites called World Peace and Prayer Day. The Haida Nation of the Queen Charlotte Islands was celebrating the end of their successful campaign to repatriate their ancestral remains from institutions around the world.

The ceremonies in Jayuya were led by Elba Anaka Lugo and Naniki Reyes Ocasio and included blessings from local community elders such as Manuel Galagarza and Shashira Rodriguez Valentin. Community members were also invited to share sentiments and songs in a large community circle. Throughout the ceremony the importance of unity and respect were stressed and these ideals set the tone for the rest of the gathering.

Back at the Caney, among the first official business items were reports of work being done by UCTP representatives in the U.S. The UCTP’s work with local communities, educational initiatives, the UCTP Census project, international campaigns and internet initiatives were well received by the local community.

Following the reports by the UCTP delegation, introductions and presentations were made by representatives of the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos. The presentations cited worked accomplished and work in-progress such plans to develop direct actions to publicize the situation of the Boriken Taino. Accountability of current affiliated and non-affiliated indigenous leaders was also discussed. Accountability was an important issue also stressed during the community consultations. Other issues were presented and debated by the diverse group of local leaders, elders, and various representatives of families and community groups. Sacred sites, ancestral remains, solidarity and communications between island communities, local environmental concerns and the establishment of local "yukayeke” were all addressed. A major cross-cutting theme was the need for more action at the island level and how relatives off island can contribute to and support an island developed agenda.

Two important resolutions were affirmed at the gathering by consensus. One item supported the international presence of the UCTP, in collaboration with the Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos, at the United Nations and the OAS. Another was the unanimous affirmation of the indigenous term "Taino" to collectively describe our diverse community. This motion was initiated by respected community elder Manuel Galagarza. After some debate, it was acknowledged that although our ancestors used various forms of identification, ‘Taino’ is an indigenous term, which is both positive and appropriate as a unifying ethnic identification in Boriken and throughout the Greater Antilles.

At the close of the events an overall feeling of satisfaction was expressed by attendees and organizers. Although some logistical challenges arouse due to translation issues and the non-scheduled, but welcomed participation in the  re-internment of ancestral remains at the CEDETRA Museum in Jayuya, participants from on and off the island shared feelings of empowerment and the desire to take a more active role in community affairs. The re-internment of the Taino remains at CEDETRA was an historic and precedent-setting event in terms of collaboration between local groups and that Taino community members took the lead role in the ceremonial preparation and burial of the remains on site. Plans for an educational plaque to be displayed on the tomb are being presented to the municipality of Jayuya. 

Follow-up on the meetings will be forth coming from the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, the Caney Quinto Mundo, and the UCTP.

Author: Roger Guayacan Hernandez