Correction: Puerto Rico-Archaeological Find

Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - The Associated Press has issued a correction for its Oct. 28 story regarding the recent pre-Columbian archaeological find in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The Associated Press reported erroneously that Arawak Indians, including the “Taino” subgroup, migrated to the Caribbean from the Yucatan peninsula of present-day Mexico. The AP now reports that the Arawak migrated from South America “according to archaeological experts.”

UCTPTN 12.29.2007

In Belize, a celebration of liberation

Jonkonnu is a masquerade party observed in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean during the Christmas season.

By Ericka Hamburg, Special to The LA Times

The drummers form a semicircle and settle into their chairs; the rhythm thunders to life. Street dogs scatter like bullets.

A dancer jumps before the drummers like a mad strutting bird and jackhammers the ground with his feet. His tall, feathered headdress spins as he turns; his white shirt becomes translucent with sweat, and bands of shells around his knees rattle and shake. Red lips, a pencil mustache and doll eyes are painted on his mask of pink wire mesh.

Arms outstretched, he arches toward the drummers and dictates their rhythms with his frenetic footwork. Then, in a flourish, he leaps from the circle of attention, and a new dancer replaces him.

He also addresses the drummers with his body, and they shift rhythm in response. With each kick, each strut, tiny shells fly from his knee bands and land in the dusty street, retrieved by eager youngsters watching from the sidelines.

Welcome to Jonkonnu, a masquerade found in parts of the English-speaking Caribbean during the Christmas season. Unlike Carnival, this festival has secular roots; when Caribbean colonial masters loosened restrictions on slaves, the slaves then entertained and parodied them with costumed characters and musical processions.

Last winter, on a sultry Christmas morning, I found myself in Dangriga. This rough-and-tumble town is the cultural capital of the Garinagu, also known as Black Caribs.

In the 17th century, shipwrecked West Africans and aboriginal Arawaks found one another on St. Vincent and intermarried; thus began Garinagu society. Although Spain was the ruler of record, the British arrived with ambitions to farm cotton and sugar, with the unconsenting labor of island inhabitants.

The Garinagu (now known more commonly by their language, Garifuna) successfully fought off the British until 1797, when they were forced into exile, set adrift with a loss of thousands of lives. The survivors landed first on Becquia and Roatán and, in 1823, migrated to the mainland, settling in pockets of Honduras, Guatemala and the southern coast of Belize.

See the full story at:

See related stories at:

Photo: A dancer holds the crowd's attention during Wanaragua, or Jonkonnu - a festival during the Christmas season, in Dangriga, Belize. (Ericka Hamburg)


What a terrible lost to the world is the killing of Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto was a woman of courage and conviction. When she was Prime Minister of Pakistan she had schools built all over her country. She made hunger, housing and health care her top priorities. What a great lost to the world is the assassination of this heroic woman who sought only to bring peace to her people. May her spirit now at rest serve as a strong influence in the hearts and minds of all the women of the world who are victims of violence, hate, oppression and religious persecution.

The house of Atabei respectfully asks that you pause for a minute of prayer on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007 at 12noon for the soul of this relative sister in honor of her commitment to peace, and understanding.


"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground."

Posted by Taino Women's Bohio de Atabex at:


A Message from UCTP:

On behalf of the Taino People and Nation represented by the United Confederation of Taino People, the UCTP Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination fully condemns the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minster of Pakistan, on Thursday, December 27, 2007. Our deepest condolences are extended to her family and to the Pakistani People as they mourn this courageous leader.

Further, the UCTP urges our community to support the call for a moment of prayer for Benazir Bhutto issued by the Bohio de Attabei Taino Women's Circle. In solidarity, the UCTP will pause to honor this request at 12noon on Saturday, 29 December 2007.

May justice and peace prevail on Earth.

Oma’bahari (With respect),
Roberto Mucaro Borrero,
UCTP – Office of International Relations and
Regional Coordination

UCTPPN 12/28/2007


Taino Take Action to Support Head-Start Program

New York (UCTP Taino News) – Taino artists Reina Miranda and Aguilar Marrero of TAINO SPIRIT were among a group of esteemed supporters of the “Pa’l Pueblo” charity drive for the United Head-Start program of Bushwick, New York on December 14, 2007.

A call for support of the program was announced on a recent RADIO CAPICU program aired in New York. Supporters were urged to sponsor a special event for the charity drive, which took place at the Notice Lounge in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. In the spirit of their ancestors, Miranda and Marrero, co-owners of Taino Spirit (http://www.cafepress.com/aguilar), contacted the radio show to pledge their support as official-sponsors as well as confirm their appearance to donate for raffle 4 hand-painted jackets and other “surprises”.

To the delight of the event organizers, Taino Spirit had also organized the participation and toy donations of a local PATHMARK supermarket, the New York Pod Café, Despierta Boricua, and the United Confederation of Taino People’s Office of International Relations. On behalf of these entities, three large bags of toys as well as financial donations were presented to this charity event that also featured cutting-edge poetry, comedy, and music presentations.

The gifts will be distributed to the children on December 19.

Photo (From left to right): Raul Kahayarix Rios, Joanne Ramirez, George "Urban Jibaro" Torres, Aguilar Marrero, Reina Miranda, Margarita Cheng, Papo Swiggity, and Jessica Arocho.

UCTPTN 12.19.2007


Third Taino Council Meeting with Jacanas Community

Jacanas, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos held their third community gathering at the Jacanas PO 29 site in Ponce, Puerto Rico this past weekend. Taino activists and supporters from around the island, met with local residents as well as interested archeologists to plan follow-up strategy around this controversial archeological site.

Workshops, discussions, cultural presentations, and ceremony were led by various representatives of the Consejo.

With the support of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) and concerned community members, the Consejo has maintained a consistent vigil as well as an information camp in Jacanas.

Among the Consejo’s future plans is major clean-up of the area scheduled for February 2008.

Photo courtesy of Connie Laboy

UCTPTN 12.18.2007


Pirates of the Caribbean Resurface

Dominican Republic (UCTP Taino News) - The wreckage of the infamous Captain Kidd's abandoned pirate ship has been found in shallow waters off the Dominican Republic, a research team claims.

An underwater archeology team from Indian University (IU) reports that the remains of the Quedagh Merchant was just 70 feet off the coast of Catalina Island in less than 10 feet of seawater.

The IU team has been licensed by the Dominican Republic's Oficina Nacional De Patrimonio Cultural Subacuático (ONPCS) to study the wreckage and convert the site into an underwater preserve for the public. One of the main concerns now is keeping the site safe from looting.

According to a Indian University press release, the IU team has worked closely with ONPCS for 11 years conducting underwater and land-based archaeological research related to the era when the Old World and New World first collided. Much of their work is focused in the area of La Isabela Bay, the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement established by Christopher Columbus.

The IU team suggests that this recent find continues their work documenting the "age of discovery to the golden age of piracy", as well as the transformation of both the indigenous Taino and introduced cultures of the Caribbean. The Taino were the first indigenous people to interact with Europeans in this region of the world.

Image: William "Captin" Kidd

UCTPTN 12.13.2007

Floyd Red Crow Westerman Crosses Over Into the Spirit World

The UCTP pauses to offer condolences to the family of Floyd Red Crow Westerman (Dakota) who crossed over into the spirit world this morning in Los Angeles, California. A renowned American Indian activist-singer-songwriter, Westerman made his big screen debut in the movie Renegades (1989) and is best remembered for his role as elder/leader Ten Bear in Dances with Wolves (1990). His songs like "Custer Died For Your Sins" and "BIA Blues" have helped spread the American Indian Movement's message throughout the world. Floyd performed with countless musicians including Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley in large benefit concerts for Indian self-determination, human rights and environmental protection. He toured the world with Sting to publicize the plight of the Rainforest People who are dying along with the Rainforests and, as caretakers, must be protected if the rain forests are to go on providing for all life on Earth. Red Crow has been an ambassador of good will representing the International Indian Treaty Council from the time of its founding. Services are pending.


Tropical storm flooding kills 9 in Caribbean

By Manuel Jimenez

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (Reuters) - Flash flooding from Tropical Storm Olga's torrential rains killed at least eight people in the Dominican Republic and forced tens of thousands out of their homes, government officials said on Wednesday.

The storm weakened on Wednesday to a tropical depression after it exited Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But flooding remained a deadly threat as the remnants of Olga moved west across the Caribbean, forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

By late afternoon, Olga was just a broad mass of thunderstorms centered 65 miles north of Kingston, Jamaica. It was moving rapidly west on a course that would keep the center south of Cuba and take it over Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula by Saturday.

Olga's top sustained winds dropped to 35 mph (55 kph), below the threshold to be called a tropical storm, and forecasters expected it to dissipate further on Thursday.

Photo: Subtropical storm Olga is seen in the Caribbean in a satellite image taken December 11, 2007. (NOAA/Handout/Reuters)


Cheyenne Fox-Tree McGrath: Jingle Dancer

UCTP Taino News - Cheyenne Fox-Tree McGrath, an Arawak Jingle dancer of Bedford, Massachusetts dances during 25th annual GLICA Powwow at the Bedford VA Hospital in September 2007. The Pow Wow was sponsored by the Greater Lowell Indian Cultural Association. The photo was on the front page of the Bedford Minuteman, a local news publication.

Photo credit: John Walker

Review the Pow Wow Story at http://www.wickedlocal.com/bedford/homepage/x775327764


Yauco’s First Annual International Arts Festival A Success

Yauco, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) In recognition of cultural arts from throughout the world, the municipality of Yauco celebrated its first annual International Arts Festival at the town’s central plaza December 8-9. The festival also highlighted Taino culture with its presentation of prominent Boriken Taino artisans as well as several Taino cultural performers.

The towns of Yauco and nearby Guayanilla are historically documented as part of the ancestral territory of Agueibana, Boriken’s most well-known Taino Kasike. In the 16th century Agueibana entered into the first recorded “guaitiao” or treaty with Juan Ponce de Leon.

Understanding this region’s history, local residents are proud of their ancestral heritage and they celebrated this pride with a diverse array of artworks, handicrafts, song and dance.

Some of the featured presentations included the Taino song with Sonia Viro Acevedo and a musical theater piece presented by the Yauco High School Dance Students League based on Tina Casanova’s novel "En Busca del Cemi Dorado".

Photo (R.Hernandez): Guaili and Sonia Viro Acevedo at the Yauco International Arts Festival

UCTPTN 12.10.2007

A University of Miami project helps Cuban-Americans trace their family histories

By Madeline Baró Diaz,
Miami Bureau. Sun-sentinel.com

After Martha Ibañez Zervoudakis left Cuba as a child, her grandmother's stories connected her to an island she remembered mostly through photographs.

"Whenever my grandmother would start talking about family, I would just sit there and be hypnotized because I just loved it," said Zervoudakis, 47, a mother of four who lives in Southwest Ranches. Over the years, that interest turned into a genealogy hobby that led her to document about 2,400 relatives, with one family branch going back to the city of St. Augustine in the 17th century.

Like Zervoudakis, other Cuban-Americans have gotten hooked on tracing their family histories. Now, a year-old program at the University of Miami wants to add to their ranks. The Cuban Family History and Genealogy Project aims to turn more Cuban-Americans into amateur genealogists, giving them tips and tools for tracing their family histories.

"What happens with every migration is you bring with you your music, your food, and you pass it on to future generations ... but we lose our family history," said Jorge Piñón, a senior research associate at UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies who runs the project.

The goal of the project is to preserve the history of the Cuban-American community and the various ethnic groups that called Cuba home over the centuries, beginning with the Guanahatabey, Ciboney and Taino indigenous settlers. Christopher Columbus' discovery of Cuba in 1492 ushered in Spanish colonization and the decimation of the indigenous inhabitants by war, slavery and disease less than a century later.

Review full article:


Imparten cultura taína en la escuela

Maunabo - Vivos en el espíritu.

Los indios carecían de una codificación escrita, pero decenas de niños de este municipio están empleando una escritura inventada para expresarse en el idioma del pueblo perdido. Incluso, rezan el padrenuestro en la lengua nativa y se llaman por sus “nombres” taínos ante montañas verdosas y riachuelos que serpentean alrededor de su plantel escolar.

Creen, con la misma intensidad que escriben los símbolos de los petroglifos en la pizarra de su salón, que su plantel, la escuela de la comunidad Matuyas Bajo, se construyó sobre un cementerio indígena y frente a un petroglifo del río Maunabo.

El renacimiento de la cultura taína en Puerto Rico, que se ha ido evidenciando en años recientes mediante actividades que realizan algunos ciudadanos para recobrar las costumbres y las ceremonias indígenas, ahora ha tomado un nuevo giro a través de talleres que se les están presentando a menores de dos escuelas públicas de Maunabo. El innovador programa cuenta con el apoyo de las oficinas regionales del Departamento de Educación.

Los niños tanto de Matuyas Bajo como de la escuela Higinio Figueroa Villegas, del barrio Emajagua, se encuentran en el proceso de aprender a hablar taíno y no solamente empleando las cientos de palabras de origen indígena aceptadas por la Real Academia Española por su utilización en Puerto Rico, la República Dominicana y Cuba.

De hecho, los talleres, ofrecidos por una organización sin fines de lucro, cuentan con el endoso del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña y, posiblemente, podrían extenderse a otros 24 planteles escolares de la región sureste, la cual agrupa a otros municipios como Yabucoa y Patillas.

“Queremos impartirle a estos niños el amor a nuestra naturaleza, nuestros valles, nuestros bosques. Los taínos miraban a las montañas, a la tierra, de una forma muy distinta” , sostuvo la profesora y directora del programa sin fines de lucro Guakía Taína-ke, Carlalynne Meléndez.

“Nunca pensé que el programa iba a ser tan exitoso. Creía que los padres se iban a reír, que no iban a tomarlo en serio, pero una vez notaron el interés de los niños, también se han envuelto en los talleres”, añadió la catedrática de antropología del Recinto de Río Piedras de la Universidad de Puerto Rico.

Símbolos con sentido

Para poder transcribir las palabras taínas, la profesora utiliza una serie de símbolos taínos que ha emparejado con las letras del abecedario. Con increíble facilidad, los niños escriben los símbolos, de hecho, utilizándolos en sus clases de español para traducir las palabras a la lengua olvidada. Cabe destacar que algunas tribus han implementado este sistema ante la falta de una codificación escrita.

“Cuando componen las oraciones también se les pide que las escriban en taíno y a ellos les fascina. Están bien interesados con el programa”, indicó la maestra de español, Juanita Rivera Rodríguez.

A través del consentimiento escrito ofrecido por sus padres, un total de 45 niños de Matuyas Bajo participan en el programa desde hace dos meses. Mientras, otros 75 estudiantes del barrio Emajagua reciben las clases desde principios de noviembre. La mayoría de los niños son de cuarto a sexto grado.

El programa intenta inculcarles a los participantes un amor por el ambiente. Aprenden también a reconocer las Antillas Mayores por sus nombres indígenas, así como los instrumentos musicales de los nativos del archipiélago puertorriqueño.

“Aprendo a explorar y cómo se formó Borikén”, indicó Tatiana León Colón, de 10 años, conocida por sus pares por el nombre taíno de Yara (lugar).

El propio maestro de matemáticas y estudios sociales de Matuyas Bajo, Pedro León, asistió a una sesión del programa para ampliar sus propios conocimientos de historia. “Si todos los estudiantes tendrían esta oportunidad, saldrían adelante”, sostuvo el maestro.

Autor: Francisco Rodríguez-Burns
Fuente: Primera Hora