Caribbean and North American Indigenous Peoples present sacred gifts for President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia.

La Paz, Bolovia - Three delegates from the Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Working Group to prepare a draft Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, were honored to present sacred gifts for President Evo Morales Ayma on Friday April 27th 2007.

In a special meeting that took place at the Presidential Palace, hereditary Chief Damon Gerard Corrie of Barbados, presented a wood sculpture of a Paramount Chief created by master carver Foster Owen Simon of Pakuri Arawak Territory in Guyana - on behalf of the Taino-Arawak and Kalinago-Carib People of the Caribbean and the Lokono-Arawak People of South America. Ronald Lameman of Canada, presented a soap-stone carving of a Thunderbird created by a master sculptor of the Cree Nation of Canada on behalf of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations of Canada. Elder Stuart Jamieson of the powerful Six Nations Iroqouis Confederacy of North America offered a sacred prayer blessing for the historic occasion.

For the delegates the gifts represented the status of President Morales Ayma - who is the first Native American in the Western Hemisphere to have democratically attained this high office in the entire post-contact history of the Americas – and his strength and fortitude in creating the first internationally recognised and truly Native Government in over five centuries of European Colonial and subsequent Neo-Colonial occupation of the 'New World'. The gifts also represented the spiritual blessings directed from the hearts of all those who are truly loyal to their Indigenous identities - to the new, free and just Bolivia President Morales and the Native Ministers of this peaceful revolution have created; which is a light of hope to all Indigenous Peoples the world over.

Bolivia's Ambassador to the OAS, His Excellency Reynaldo Cuadros, received the gifts on behalf of the President who was in an emergency meeting due to a natural disaster, which had occurred that day. Ambassador Cuadros was recognized by the delegates as having worked tirelessly on behalf of the Indigenous Caucus during their stay in Bolivia.


An Arawak Witnesses History in Bolivia

La Paz, Bolivia - At the Presidential Palace on April 23rd, President Evo Morales Ayma signed into law the Nationalisation of the Natural Gas Industry of Bolivia; one of the largest reserves in the world. Witnesses to the historic event included Bolivian Government Ministers, top brass of the Bolivian Armed Forces, members of the Indigenous Caucus of the Organisation of American States, and hundreds of Bolivian citizens.

President Morales is the first Indigenous Amerindian Head of State in the Americas in almost five centuries of European colonisation and domination of the Western Hemisphere, and he gave a spontaneous & moving speech in Spanish - interrupted regularly by wild applause - explaining the reasons for his move and the truly criminal discrepancy that previously existed between what the powerful multinational leeches were extracting out of the country as compared to the pittance they were paying the Bolivian people - 85% of whom still live in poverty due to such unbridled capitalism´.

Afterwards the President personally greeted all the members of the Caucus and we were availed the opportunity to have our photos taken with him. Every country in Latin America was represented in the audience and the Indigenous Caucus, I was the only Caribbean person present at this historic event - and as a Arawak it was a great honour to be in the ancient ancestral birthplace of my people, to stand in solidarity with my Bolivian bothers and sisters, and witness MY president in action.

UCTP Taino News Moderator's Note: Damon Gerard Corrie is the Hereditary Chief ofthe Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks, founder & president of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations, and a member of the Indigenous Caucus of the Organisation of American States working group to draft a declaration of Rightsof the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas - for which he is the official representative of the United Confederation of Taino People.


Indigenous Peoples’ Lands, Territories, Natural Resources: Livelihoods and Emerging Issues

Roberto Mucaro Borrero (Taino) at the United Nations, April 19
Photo: Miguel Ibanez, Habitat Pro Association

The briefing looked at the traditional lifestyles, practices, and struggles of indigenous peoples around the globe. H. E. Mr. Javier Loayza, Chargé d’affaires, Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the United Nations; Ms. Sonia Smallacombe, Social Affairs Officer, Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; and Mr. Roberto Mucaro Borrero, Chairperson of the NGO Committee on the International Decade for the World’s Indigenous People discussed the needs, rights, and challenges of indigenous peoples in maintaining their traditional cultures, environmentally sound relationships with the land, and sustainable use of natural resources.

H.E. Mr. Javier Loayza initiated the discussion by emphatically noting, “We do not own the land, we belong to it.” He explained that this quote reflected the thinking, spirituality, and daily lifestyles of indigenous peoples. According to Mr. Loayza, the concept of privatized territory was absent from the philosophy of indigenous communities, who regard the land as a living space that provides resources. Mr. Loayza emphasized that it was vital to remember that vision when confronting the current crisis of climate change, which was rooted in the longstanding dominant economy of privatization that transformed the natural environment, irresponsibly exploited resources, and created a “socially unjust model” which “has rendered our world inhospitable.” He explained that indigenous peoples had been the victims of that unjust model since colonizers invaded and misappropriated their lands, and further stressed the polarization between the “haves” and “have nots” around the world. Mr. Loayza described the sociopolitical changes underway in Bolivia as a victory for indigenous peoples in the spirit of plural national justice. The Bolivian government was making efforts towards advancing the needs and equity of indigenous peoples and translating indigenous issues into tangible policies to help protect their environments, explained Mr. Loayza. He concluded that he hoped the cosmo-vision of the indigenous peoples would inspire the world to change their current unsustainable practices in the face of environmental degradation.

Ms. Sonia Smallacombe described the work underway for the upcoming Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Its major themes of territories, lands, and natural resources include a number of related issues such as forests, desertification, sustainability, and biological diversity. According to Ms. Smallacombe, the long struggle of indigenous communities to gain recognition of their rights lied at the heart of the permanent forum; however, the draft Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples continued to remain under review and negotiation. She described the Permanent Forum as a unique international body that brought together indigenous peoples, governments, civil society, and United Nations agencies to make recommendations to ECOSOC. Indigenous leaders could offer their traditional knowledge and best practices. Ms. Smallacombe emphasized the importance of the direct participation of indigenous peoples in UN activities. She further noted the vital role that language played in keeping traditional knowledge alive, which was preserved by speech and oral traditions. The death of aborigine elders was equivalent to the burning down of a library, explained Ms. Smallacombe. She concluded by underscoring the threat of the climate change crisis in endangering the traditional lifestyles and homelands of indigenous peoples, particularly those in small Pacific Island states and the Caribbean where the water levels were rising and those in African regions blighted by desertification.

Mr. Borrero further highlighted the importance of language and communication in preserving the stock of traditional knowledge among indigenous communities throughout the world, but warned of the dangers in over-generalizing the circumstances of indigenous communities. He noted that they had different realities, but similar reactions and responses to their histories of maltreatment and victimization. According to Mr. Borrero, there were prominent linkages between the current situation of indigenous peoples and their past interactions with colonizers who took advantage of them. Speaking from a historical perspective, Mr. Borrero explained that the tragic history of the relationship between the colonizers and indigenous peoples extended far beyond the simple act of conquering and also involved unfulfilled promises and broken treaties. He cited the example of the double wampum created by Native American tribes in New York symbolizing their intention of living in harmony with the European settlers, which never came into fruition. Mr. Borrero further underscored the linkages between the development of dominant economic models and the climate change crisis along with the connections among social justice, implementation, and benefit sharing. In conclusion, Mr. Borrero urged all NGOs to support of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and lobby for its passage.

During the question and answer period, Mr. Loayza noted that NGOs had a special duty advocate for the acceptance of the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in all levels of government. Mr. Borrero further stressed the importance of the Declaration by explaining that it was the product of 20 years of negotiation, which had recently been compromised by a few governments’ calls for revisions. He strongly urged NGOs to oppose the renegotiating of the text and support its timely adoption.


This briefing held at United Nations headquarters on April 19 was organized by the Department of Public Information, and the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in cooperation with the NGO Committee on the UN International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.


Caves in Taino Mythology*

Caves are an important part of Taino mythology and the Taino believed the first peoples of Hispaniola came from two caves in a mountain named Cauta. The ancestral Taino emerged from one cave, Cacibajagua, while the ancestors of the non-Taino peoples came out of another, Amayauna. The Taino [of Hispanola] also believed the Sun and the Moon emerged from a cave called Iguanaboina. Caves were intimately associated with the spirits of Taino ancestors, whose worship was a central element of Taino religion. They believed their universe consisted of three layers united by a vertical axis. The earth’s surfaces lay in the middle, with the celestial vault above. The bottom layer was a watery underworld known as Coaybay or dwelling place of the dead. Access between the earth’s surface and the underworld was by way of sacred caves. These were portals to Coaybay and the ancestors.

The Taino also believed that the island of Hispaniola was a monstrous living beast. The head of the monster was at the eastern end of the island, in the chiefdom of Higuey. Two caves in Higuey were seen as the beast’s eyes. Another connection between caves and the ancestors is that caves are homes to colonies of bats. The Taino believed that the spirits transformed themselves into bats. They would hide during the day and come out at night to eat the fruits of the Guava tree. These spirits of the dead were called opias and the bat is one of the most frequently depicted animals in Taino art.

Article source: http://lisahopwood.com/chicho.html

*UCTP Taino News Moderator's Note: The above information is presented for educational purposes only. The views and opinions expressed within “Caves in Taino Mythology” are not necessarily those of The Voice of the Taino People News Journal, The Voice of the Taino People Online or the United Confederation of Taino People.


SHOCKING REVELATIONS IN BOLIVIA : A letter from Damon Gerard Corrie

Every Caribbean person who has benefitted from a Secondary Education will be familiar with the vile Éncomienda system´that was instituted in Spanish occupied Caribbean islands shortly after Colombus´s arrival in the Western Hemisphere. This heinous system allowed the Spanish plantocracy to ´own´ Arawak families, clans and even entire villages - if they had enough money, they then made their Arawak slaves work on their own lands for the financial benefit of the Spaniards until death freed them from this wretched state.

All in the past I hear you say, but you are wrong. According to a documentary produced in Bolivia - there are Arawakan Guarani Amerindians in Eastern Bolivia who are still living under a virtual encomienda system administered by the wealthy descendants of European Spanish descent.

This was allowed to continue un-opposed by all the Colonial and Neo-Colonial governments of Bolivia since the evil days of the Spanish conquest (because all of these prior & illigitimate governments were led by Spaniards and their descendants) .

Naturally, the heirs of the conquistadores can no longer punish by killing the Guarani indentured servants as they would like - but they continue to exploit them in every other way imaginable, rapes, beatings etc, these minority of modern day Spaniards who still parasitize the Amerindian territories of Bolivia sell one another vast areas of Guarani land - with any Guarani who dare to live on their own tribal lands being valued in the sales at $1,800 Bolivianos each ($1 US dollar = 7.50 Bolivianos), they provide the Guarani with second hand clothing (how philantrophic of them!) and see that they get just enough food to survive - so they can provide physical labour to keep their captors wealthy 7 days a week.

A video recorded interview with a lucky few Guarani who escaped their living hell documents this crime against humanity, and in it the wealthy land owners regurgitate familiar racist arguments (similar to a former Canadian Editor in a recent Barbados newspaper) to justify their actions saying and I quote: "The Guarani are hard workers, but if it were not for us forcing them to work they would become lazy since they have no ambition, they need us to civilize them".

It was not until the beginning of 2006 when Amerindian President Evo Morales was democratically elected President of the Republic of Bolivia that the liberation of the Guarani became a high priority on the agenda of the Amerindian Government of this beatiful country - home to the largest population of Amerindians on Earth (approximately 7 million pure-blooded survivors of the Spanish Holocaust).

Of course President Morales can only solve the problem though legal channels - and this has been an uphill struggle to rewrite a racist constitution so that Bolivia's rightful landlords have a body of laws to protect them from such exploitation - whilst the battles are on-going the war is not yet won, and the Guarani´s day of total liberation has not yet arrived.

Long live the Amerindian Government of Bolivia - the light that shines on in the darkness.

Damon Gerard Corrie
Writing from La Paz, Bolivia

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UCTP Taino News Editor's Note: Damon Damon Gerard Corrie is the Hereditary Chief of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks, founder & president of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations, and a member of the Indigenous Caucus of the Organisation of American States working group to draft a declaration of Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas - for which he is the official representative of the United Confederation of Taino People.


Hans Koning, author, passed away on Friday...

The UCTP pauses to offer its sincere condolences to the family of Hans Koning who died on Friday at his home in Easton, Conn.

Mr. Koning, 85, authored novels, plays, screenplays, travel books, young adult books and many magazine articles, particularly for The New Yorker.

His “Columbus: His Enterprise — Exploding the Myth” was published in 1976, and reprinted in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage. Mr. Koning's factual portrayal of Columbus and his exploits sold 30,000 copies just in 1992. The book is still in print and commonly used high-school text.

A supporter of the UCTP’s on-going campaign protesting the Columbus Day “celebrations”, Mr. Koning’s last public speaking engagement took place at the American Museum of Natural History in January 2007.

Mr. Koning is survived by his wife, the former Kate Scanlon; his daughters Christina, of London, Tess Koning-Martinez of San Francisco and Lynne Koningsberger of the Netherlands; and his son, Andrew, of Manhattan.

Hans Koning, author of “Columbus: His Enterprise — Exploding the Myth” with UCTP President Roberto Mucaro Borrero at the American Museum of Natural History in January 2007. Photo: R. Mickens, AMNH


Release from the Archaeological Society of Jamaica

From: wacicjamaica@gmail.com

"We are pleased to announce that the first major publication on Archaeology in Jamaica will be launched in Kingston on Tuesday, May 22, 2007.

The book titled " The Earliest Inhabitants: The dynamics of the Jamaican Taino" will be formally presented at the ceremony to be held starting at 6.30 p.m. at the Rex Nettleford Hall at the University of the West Indies Campus at Mona in Kingston, Jamaica.

It is a collection of works by various archaeologists and researchers on "The Earliest Inhabitants", edited by Lesley-Gail Atkinson, published by the University of the West Indies Press and launched with the cooperation of the Archaeological Society of Jamaica

If anyone wishes more information on how to purchase the book please email:



Related Articles:

UCTP Book Announcement:

Jamaican Gleaner Review (Nov. 19, 2006)


Famed Carib Canoe Sails Again

The Gli-Gli Carib Canoe Project is about to embark on another expedition in celebration of the 10th anniversary of their first voyage to relink the Carib communities of the region. According to the official website the current objective is to sail the Carib Canoe, “Gli Gli,” with a crew of 12 Dominican Caribs from Antigua to the Virgin Islands, via Nevis and St Kitts, St Eustatia, St Barths, St Martin and Anguilla then across the Anegada passage to Tortola. The expedition intends to draw attention to the role the Caribs have played in the region's history and culture. Throughout the expedition the crew will be presenting slide and video shows about the Gli Gli Carib canoe project and presenting traditional musical performances for schools and heritage groups.

For more information visit:

1) The official website of the current Gli-Gli project at:

2) UCTP Support for the Gli Gli Carib Canoe project:

Update on Former Arawak Village Chief David Simon…

UCTP Taino News - Damon Corrie informs the UCTP that David Simon, former elected village Chief of St. Cuthberts Mission/Pakuri Arawak territory in Guyana was freed on April 10 and is now back home with his wife and two daughters. Simon was arrested under “dubious” circumstances in Soesdyke area of the East Bank Demerara. The information concerning the case was distributed internationally including to the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS).

See original story at:


YET WE SURVIVE: The Kalinago People of Dominica: Our Lives in Words and Pictures

"Yet We Survive: Our Lives in Words and Pictures"is a new book created by the Kalinago people of Dominica, recently released by Papillote Press in London.

The book is edited by Mary Walters, with a foreword by Lennox Honeychurch.

This book tells the story of a remarkable people. Nowadays the Kalinago (Carib) people live in a corner of Dominica as farmers and fishermen, taxi drivers and teachers; they make baskets and build canoes and preserve what is left of their rich cultural legacy.

With their own words and pictures, this book offers an extraordinary insight into the Kalinago people as they see themselves today: at work and play, shopping, schools, religion, the differences between women's and men's lives. It illustrates who they are, how they live, how they see their future.

Yet We Survive is fully illustrated and supports the teaching of social subjects, history, geography, language, expressive arts, ICT, global citizenship and enterprise for pupils at Key Stage 2 in England and Wales, and Primary and S1 in Scotland.

Editor and teacher Mary Walters says: “There is a wealth of material here for students to explore a unique Caribbean culture while comparing and contrasting it with their own lives.”

Professor Peter Hulme, University of Essex, says: “Just 515 years after Columbus arrived in the Caribbean, these indigenous people finally get to speak here through their own words and photographs, showing what it means to maintain a traditional culture while living in the modern world.”

Professor Hulme adds: “Most history books say that the indigenous population of the Caribbean has been extinct since the sixteenth century. As its title suggests, Yet We Survive shows that the Kalinago (Carib) population of the island of Dominica is still alive and kicking in the 21st century. In turn dramatic and commonplace, heart-rending and uplifting, Yet We Survive offers a unique window into a unique culture.”

Irvince Auguiste, former Carib chief writes: “Yet We Survive has been the most interesting literature on the Kalinago people of Dominica because it provided a number of our young people with the opportunity to collect the information and to work on it while they acquired new skills in photography and techniques in conducting interviews. Since the work was done, the infrastructure has improved and new projects are being explored for economic development, particularly in tourism. Congratulations to Mary Walters.”

Excellent teachers’ notes available from http://www.papillotepress.co.uk/ or email pollyp@globalnet.co.uk

Publication date: April 16 2007 ISBN: 078-0-9532224-2-1 Hardback £9.99
Title : Yet We Survive - The Kalinago People of Dominica: Our Lives in Words and Pictures
Editor : WALTERS, Mary
Hardback : 40 pages
Publication Date : April 2007
ISBN10 : 095322242X
ISBN13 : 0780953222421

For further information: Polly Pattullo on 0207 720 5983 or email: pollyp@globalnet.co.uk
23 Rozel Road, London, SW4 0EY, UK.

Article Source:


Taino Nation on My Space…

UCTP Taino News - Recognizing the importance and growth of social networking sites, last year the UCTP established web pages on the famed “MySpace” network and the “Yahoo 360” network. “These services are an excellent opportunity to extend our educational and advocacy initiatives in ways that were unavailable to us before” stated Roberto Múcaro Borrero, President of the UCTP’s Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination. “Our Nation is on the move and engaging in this form of outreach is a natural progression related to other precedent-setting initiatives the UCTP has undertaken within the realm of the Information Society”.

MySpace is currently the world's “fifth most popular English-language website” offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and videos internationally. Yahoo! 360° is a similar social networking site run by Yahoo!

To review and link to the UCTP's MySpace page visit http://www.myspace.com/taino_nation . To link to the UCTP's Yahoo 360 page entitled "Taino Nation News Online" please send a request to uctp_ny@yahoo.com .

Suriname authorities to tackle food shortages in Amerindian villages

Paramaribo, Suriname - Several Amerindian villages in the remote southern areas of Suriname are being threatened by serious food shortage, authorities here have confirmed.

According to Ronny Pansa, an official in the ministry of Regional Development, the situation in the villages Kwamalasemutu, Tepu, Kawemhakan, Palumeu and Apetina is very serious after a bad harvest, due to extreme weather conditions and fiddling cankers.

Over the weekend the ministry prepared hampers containing basic food items totaling over 1,600 kilos to distribute in the affected area as of Thursday. The National Coordination Centre for Disaster Management (NCCR) is in charge of the relief operations.

News of the imminent food shortage started trickling in two weeks ago when villagers informed the authorities over the failure of the cassava crop, the main staple food in the area, and which yielded less than average quantities, to sustain the local communities. Over 3,000 individuals live in the five communities.

As a result of the mass flooding of the same area just a year ago, villagers didn’t plant as much as they were accustomed to. Furthermore, fiddling cankers caused massive damage to cassava fields and other crops.

Bad harvest, due to flooding and fiddling cankers, are common in these remote Amerindian villages, close to the border with Brazil. The area is only accessible by plane, making transportation of regular food items such as cooking oil, salt, sugar, rice and flour very expensive. If necessary the authorities will continue the food distributions, said Pansa.

In May 2006 a large part of the Suriname interior was affected by serious flooding after weeks of torrential rains hit the area. Over 25,000 Amerindians and maroons, descendants of runaway African slaves, were affected, while several thousands had to be relocated. Since then the situation has returned to normalcy and a flood monitoring system has been established.

Author: Ivan Cairo
Source: Caribbean Net News


BREAKING NEWS: Former Arawak Village Chief arrested under dubious circumstances in Guyana

Guyana, South America (UCTP Taino News) - On Saturday April 7th, David Simon - former elected village Chief of St. Cuthberts Mission/Pakuri Arawak territory in Guyana South America - was arrested by Guyana Police while he was walking in the Soesdyke area of the East Bank Demerara. The official charge is 'failure to attend Court concerning a matter pertaining to the insurance of his vehicle", bail might be considered on Tuesday April 10th 2007 - but until then he must eat (if relatives bring him food), live & sleep (on a bench) in Providence Police Station. Mr. Simon had gone to Court twice and was told each time by the Court Clerk that there was 'No case pending against him".

Mr. Simon had made history in international environmental & conservation circles on 17th September in 2003 when he signed the Nancy Lewis Cullity Parrot Protection Act (see photo) into reservation law for the 240 square mile St. Cuthbert's Mission/Pakuri Arawak Territory - a law that forbade the capture & trafficking of parrot and macaw species on the autonomous tribal territory for the pet trade; he was the first Indigenous leader worldwide to sign the Act - which was the brainchild of American Vietnam Veteran Brian Cullity & Barbadian Damon Gerard Corrie and was drafted by Marc Johnon - founder of Fosterparrots.com in the USA.

When alerted about the arrest Mr. Corrie had this to say: "This is an outrage! To think that in this day and age a former elected Amerindian Chief could be arrested and confined to a cell for an 'allegged' non-violent offense such as this - where in civilized countries such an offence - if true - would be punishable by a mere fine - is totally unacceptable, in fact - seeing as the Police (contrary to the Laws of Guyana) did not ask the current elected Chief of St. Cuthbert's Mission/Pakuri Arawak Territory - Chief Pierre Andrews for permission to arrest Mr. Simon - who is a member of the Arawak tribe and resident of that autonomous territory - I believe Mr. Simon's Human Rights have been violated and I will personally alert the relevant international Human Rights bodies within the OAS (Organisation of American States) and the UN (United Nations). Members of the Guyana Police Force need to learn the law and follow the law - for they seem to believe that they are above the law far too often."

Mr. Corrie - who is a descendant of the 19th century Guyanese Hereditary Arawak Chief Amorotahe Haubariria, called on the media in Guyana to investigate the case and ask Mr. Simon for his side of the story - as ugly rumours are spreading in the community about pay-offs made by political opponents to certain policemen to 'frame' Mr. Simon. Current elected Chief Pierre Andrews can be reached via (592) 649-0812 for more information.

UN Issues Stark Climate Change Warning

UCTP Taino News - Approximately 20 to 30 percent of plant and animal species are at risk of extinction if the global average temperature increases by another 2.2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to a major consensus report released Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The IPCC is a United Nations body charged with assessing the scientific record on global warming. The UN panel concluded "with high confidence" that human-caused warming over the last three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems. This report comes on the heels of an historic Supreme Court opinion authorizing the EPA to fight global warming.

UCTP Taino News Editor's Note: To urge EPA Administrator Johnson to take action on global warming, send a message via the Environmental Defense Network at:


To review other UCTP Climate Change related stories visit:




Taino Support Ramapough Lenape in Remembering an Ancestor


MAHWAH, N.J. - Hundreds of people gathered in the woods around Stag Hill yesterday afternoon for an American Indian healing ceremony at the site where Emil Mann was mortally shot a year ago by New Jersey park police.

Many of those in attendance belonged, as Mann did, to the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation.

Dwaine Perry, chief of the Ramapoughs, several members of Mann's family, local officials and representatives of local American Indian tribes were among those present.

The crowd, including many children and the elderly, was somber as it was urged through Native prayers, drumming and song to pray for the spirit of the 45-year-old Monroe, N.Y., man who was shot by police during a tribe cookout on April 1, 2006.

Mann was unarmed. The Ramapo town worker died of his wounds April 10.

Chad Walder, the officer who shot Mann, was indicted last week on a reckless manslaughter charge. Walder's attorney has said the officer was defending himself against Mann.

The crowd had gathered earlier in the day for a healing ceremony at the tribe's community center. People then walked 45-minutes - first on paved roadway, then on hilly, muddy unpaved paths through the woods - to get to the site where Mann was shot.

Some of the men wore fringed leather jackets, and several women had embroidered shawls over their coats.

In a clearing on the mountain, they stood in a circle and prayed for Mann's spirit, that his family, tribe and friends be comforted, and that there be peace on the mountain.

In the center of the clearing was a cloth folded lengthwise, upon which were placed containers of dried herbs or leaves, including tobacco, cedar, sage and sweet grass.

The herbs represented the four elements, which figured largely in the ceremony.

Speaking in their native language and in English, Roman Redhawk Perez, chief of the New York-based Maisiti band of the Taino Indians from the Caribbean, and Taino member of Kukarey spiritual circle Roberto Warawayute Delgado started the ceremony by blowing sharp blasts from conch shells to the north, south, east and west. The gathering followed suit by turning in each direction.

"Our people are not from this land," Redhawk said, "but we hurt... because it happened to us back home.

"Emil is an ancestor now, a young ancestor," Redhawk added.

Others who spoke remembered Emil Mann as a peacemaker. The crowd was urged to remember how Mann had touched their lives, for their memories would aid his journey.

Despite the overcast skies and the chilly air, the crowd remained standing during the ceremony, which lasted well over an hour. Afterward, people were invited to place flowers on a cross bearing Mann's name, which had been erected at the shooting spot.

Several colorful, shiny helium balloons bobbed near where they had been tied to the large wooden cross. One of the balloons bore the message, "Happy Birthday."

Mann's 46th birthday would have been tomorrow.

Joyce Coyote Woman O'Blenis, a Ramapough from Stag Hill, had known Emil Mann since he was a child.

"This should never have happened," she said of the shooting. "It was a senseless thing."

O'Blenis said the woodsy area was where the tribe taught its children Native ways and enjoyed peaceful recreation.

Mark Moore, a distant cousin and friend of the slain man's, said the ceremony was a good one.

"It gives him release, so he can go to the other side," the Wurtsboro, N.Y., man said. "It's needed."

Moore was present at the cookout the day Mann was shot. He was riding an all-terrain vehicle and didn't see the actual shooting, he said, but he came back to see Mann on the ground and Walder standing over him.

"My nephew told us to get out of here, that they're shooting us, so I went," he said. "And who do you call for help when the cops are shooting you?"

Moore said he called the media instead.

Moore cautioned the general public against the stereotyping that has seemed to plague the Ramapoughs.

"People are still calling us names," he said. The names are not as bigoted as they used to be, but they're unwarranted, Moore said. "Now they're calling us insular," he said. "We're people just like everybody else."


Related Story:

Cop Indicted Ramapough Indian Killing


Untold Origins - Caribbean Heritage and Identity

UCTP Taino News - If you missed the "Untold Origins: Caribbean heritage and identity" exhibition, which was presented in London, England from October 19 2004 – February 26 2005, you can now download information from the exhibition by visiting the Cuming Museum website.

The exhibition presented "histories and stories of the people who populated the Caribbean prior to the arrival of Europeans 500 years ago" and highlighted Caribbean indigenous survival. Exhibition related educational materials can now be downloaded in pdf format if you have "Acrobat Reader". The Acrobat Reader program can be downloaded free via the internet at:


Excerpt from Cuming Museum Website:

Untold Origins - Caribbean heritage and identity
October 19 2004 to February 26 2005

The Untold Origins exhibition was presented for Black History Month 2004. It explored the untold history of the indigenous people of the Caribbean and their contribution to the Caribbean culture of today.

The Caribbean has always seen people on the move, from the settlement of people from the South American mainland thousands of years ago, the forced settlement of enslaved people from Africa, to the "island hopping" and emigration abroad in search of work in the 20th century.

Within the Untold Origins exhibition the Cuming Museum explored what happens when people and cultures move and come into contact with each other. What do people preserve from their original culture to maintain their sense of identity? How does contact with a new culture change how they view themselves.

The histories and stories of the people who populated the Caribbean prior to the arrival of Europeans 500 years ago seemed hidden. Until recently the received history of the Caribbean taught in schools repeated the inaccurate and simplistic story of Carib cannibals eating their way up the island chain, terrorising the more civilised Arawak communities. The indigenous people had been represented as being exterminated after European contact, with tiny populations of survivors on a few islands.

The indigenous cultures did experience a catastrophic collapse and the populations on some islands were nearly wiped out altogether. But at the same time as official colonial documents declared the native peoples as extinct they were finding ways to survive on the margins of society. The Cuming Museum wanted to explore their survival in more depth and to discover whether there are any echoes of indigenous culture surviving in Southwark's Caribbean culture today.