Adios Mr. Columbus…

UCTP Taino News - This year, the United Confederation of Taino People’s campaign to end the Columbus Day celebrations continued on various fronts. UCTP representatives mobilized locally, nationally, and internationally to bring attention to this highly contentious issue.

Promotion of educational materials was a major focus of the campaign with a re-issue of the "Columbus the Exploiter" summary essay developed by UCTP Liaison Office Evelyn Dye-Garcia (Washington). The summary was distributed via the UCTP communications network with a recommendation that the information be forwarded to local news papers, radio stations etc. A new e-strategy was also implemented with the distribution of "Columbus the Exploiter" via thousands of free internet "e-cards". UCTP members and allies also noted a marked increase of other communities etc. using and adapting UCTP Columbus related resources since the expansion of distribution; widening the educational impact of the campaign.

In an effort to provide some of the most up-to-date materials available on this subject, UCTP web resources on the Columbus issue at http://www.uctp.org/archives.html#7a were also updated.

As in previous years, UCTP representatives were invited to appear on several radio broadcasts as well as support and participate in indigenous led actions, such as the Transform Columbus Day (TCD) action in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Enid Conley, a UCTP Liaison Officer in the State of Florida was a special guest of the TCD organizers. The UCTP is a proud member of the Transform Columbus Day Alliance.

Providing an alternative to Columbus Day, an Indigenous Peoples Day event was co-organized on Monday, October 9th 2006 in the Bronx, New York with Friends of Brook Park, the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society, and the UCTP Regional Coordinating Office.

The Indigenous Peoples Day, Prayer Vigil & Unity Gathering focused on a central theme of "unity" and statements of solidarity were read as received from across Turtle Island and from as far as Nepal. The UCTP was also informed that Chief Sidney Hill, Taddadaho (Spiritual Leader) of the 6 Nations Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy burned sacred tobacco for the event in an important expression of support from the local Indigenous Nations.

After an opening ceremony and lighting of the central fire, the gathering began with a reading of the 1493 Papal Bull Inter-Caetera. The reading was followed by burning a copy of this document in solidarity with other Indigenous Peoples performing similar ceremonies around the world. Since 1992 Indigenous Peoples around the world have called for the revocation of this infamous document by the Vatican.

A significant focus of the event was also dedicated to re-affirming solidarity with Leonard Peltier, a Native American activist who has been wrongfully incarcerated for 30 years. Activists Esperanza Martell and Onaji who were on a 12 day fast to draw attention to Peltier’s case participated in the event.

Local Taino organizations such as Maisiti Yucayeke Taino, KuKarey Spiritual Circle, and Tanama Yucayeque Taino were also represented at the Indigenous Peoples Day event along with members of the local Native American and Mexica communities as well as various community activists from diverse backgrounds.

Later that week, on Sunday October 15th UCTP and other Taino representatives were invited to a “Festival of Corn and Resistance” at the non-denominational San Romero de Las Americas Church in New York. Led by Father Luis Barrios, a special mass focused on social justice as well as Indigenous, and African resistance in the Americas. Invited speakers included Esperanza Martell, Roman Guaraguaorix Perez, Marta Morales, and Roberto Mucaro Borrero. The speakers focused contemporary Taino affirmation, and the situation of Leonard Peltier. A poem “To be or not to be Taino” was read by Atabuxi (Jacqueline Rodriguez). Recognizing the importance of Maisi (corn) to indigenous communities throughout the Americas, a feast of corn based foods was celebrated after the gathering.

Though the far-reaching affects of these initiatives are at times difficult to determine, community members are noting they are having an affect on some of our young people.

Dr. Rose Quinones, a UCTP Liaison Officer in Ohio notes for example that her 9-year old niece Alexis stopped to pray for Native America Day at her school. On October 12th when young Alexis asked her fellow students to excuse her because she had to pray at that moment, a group of curious students asked what she was praying for. In the spirit of her ancestors Alexis replied that she was praying that Columbus Day would be renamed Native American Day. She added that “we weren't lost!”

Upon hearing her explanation the other children decided to join Alexis in prayer.
UCTPTN 10.24.2006

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