Taino community members representing Cuba, Kiskeia, and Boriken were in attendance as well as members of other indigenous Nations including the Apache, Cree, and Mayan. Among the Mayan community of Guatemala the winter solstice is known as Wayeb’ or Uayeb and it represents the days leading up to the end of their solar calendar cycle.
Mildred Karaira Gandia, a Boriken Taino representative of the United Confederation of Taino People in Florida also attended the ceremony with her son Justin and community elders Santos and Annette Irizarry. Karaira was honored to take a role in the ceremony as the representation of Attabey, the Earth Mother.
Remaking on the importance of the gathering Karaira stated “I am honored to be representing the UCTP at this ceremony in Miami as it is an opportunity to bring our people together as family as well as to honor this land area, which is a part of our ancestral homelands. Our ancestors - be they Taino from Cuba, Kiskeia, or Boriken - knew Florida as Bimini and many settled here. As descendants of those peoples we are not immigrants, this is also our home.”
The ceremony culminated with guaitiao (friendship) dance led by Edgar Konuk Ceiba Rodriguez and a feast featuring traditional Taino staples such as Yuka and Casabe bread.
The winter solstice occurs annually some time between December 20 and December 23 in the northern hemisphere, and between June 20 and June 23 in the southern hemisphere, during either the “shortest day” or “longest night of the year.”