Taíno Appointed Member of UN ICT Strategy Council

United Nations (UCTP Taíno News) – Taíno community leader Roberto Borrero has been appointed to serve as a member of the Strategy Council of the Global Alliance for ICT and Development of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA-GAID), for a two-year term starting 1 June 2009 and ending 31 March 2011. Composed of top-level policy makers, practitioners, experts and thinkers, the high-level Strategy Council provides overall strategic guidance and priority setting to UNDESA-GAID.

The Global Alliance functions as a partnership and network supported by the United Nations, under the authority of the Secretary-General and the auspices of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Borrero will share his experience as a member of the International Indigenous ICT Taskforce (IITF) with representatives of governments, civil society/not-for-profit, private sector and international organizations.

UNDESA-GAID plans to focus on its key message of how ICTs and innovation can be harnessed to meet key global challenges such as poverty eradication, the financial crisis, climate change, governance and mainstreaming gender within the broader United Nations Development Agenda.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations established the Global Alliance in March 2006, to meet the need for an inclusive, multi-stakeholder global forum and platform for policy dialogue and partnership-building, to promote the use of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to enable and catalyze multi-stakeholder partnerships for action under the GAID umbrella.

UCTPTN 05.30.2009


Karaira: Tribal Link’s Taíno Grandmother

I first met Grandmother Karaira (aka 'Millie') in 2008 during my first year of Tribal Link Foundation’s “Project Access Global Capacity Building Training for Indigenous Peoples” in New York. She is fiercely proud of her Boriken Taino heritage and for those who don't know - she'll remind you that Boriken is the true name of the island the Spanish Conquistadors later called 'Puerto Rico' (Rich Port).

I remember how Grandmother Karaira used to bring food for me each day ‘Just to make sure I had something to eat', and this was entirely out of the kindness of her heart and of her own volition.

Concerning the entire group of Tribal Link trainees (both 'freshmen' and 'alumni') – Karaira always has grandmotherly advice and words of wisdom for everyone. She often sat in the background and listened, waiting for the spirit of the ancestors to move her to single out anyone she senses is in dire need of prayer or counsel. On my last night in New York I was in a bit of mental anguish over a lingering issue I was trying to find a way to cope with, grandmother Karaira called me over and said privately to me "I feel I need to talk to you about something, you can tell me if I am wrong, but I sense that...".

She went on to very precisely give the direction I was looking for - to the specific issue I was pondering.

If I had let slip even a hint or single word at any time during my almost 3 weeks in New York about this private matter it would have been easy for someone to make an educated guess, but I never said a word even remotely concerning this topic; so Karaira was genuinely in tuned on a spiritual level to obtain the insight she did.

This however, was by no means the first time, last year during a ceremony she gave me a blue Parrot feather, I had been told in a dream over 20 years ago (when I was still a teenager) by a voice that said "Now you know how to reach me - when you pray, use the feathers".

I had accumulated over the years the other feathers that I traditionally required, and the Blue Parrot feather was the last one I needed. I never told anyone about that dream yet she knew I needed that specific gift.

Among Indigenous Peoples these are normal occurrences, but to many non-indigenous - these are considered to be quite remarkable.

The Taino and Lokono Arawaks are closer blood relations than almost any other two indigenous tribes in the Western Hemisphere, and this historic bond of kinship was fractured by the consequences of the arrival of un-civilized Iberians into our lands over five centuries ago. In modern times my own Bariria Korobahado Lokono (Eagle Clan Arawaks) have cemented an alliance with the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) - to which Grandmother Karaira is a representative officer.

The UCTP was founded by Tainos from Boriken, Kiskeia, and Cuba but it has been Boricuas who have been spearheading the Taino revival in the Greater Antilles and beyond. It is a mammoth effort with the UCTP taking a principle role internationally. I am honored to be a fellow Council member.

Likewise, well-known UCTP supporter and Taino artist Aguilar Marrero was granted a life seat on the Eagle Clan Tribal Council. UCTP President Roberto Mukaro Borrero remains the first and only official advisor to the multi-racial and worldwide Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations, which was founded by the Eagle Clan Arawaks.

Before I conclude I just want readers to know that with the strokes of their pens - former Spanish colonial governors in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Cuba re-classified 'Indios' as 'Mestizos' or ‘Mulattos’ - an act which instantly had the effect of Taino people officially ‘disappearing' from the population census records of those islands. So do not succumb to the erroneous and widely held belief that 'the Tainos are extinct'.

Cuba recently revised their official inherited false colonial era curriculum to now admit to the continued existence of Taino people in Eastern Cuba - who have kept many of their traditions and cultures intact, and the recent official DNA tests conducted in Puerto Rico conclusively proves the continued biological existence of Tainos there. That is just in case anyone failed to notice the very highly visible modern day Taino cultural activities that have been increasing publicized.

Still there are people in western societies who are so ignorant that they utter nonsense such as "You guys do not wear loincloths, paint and feathers anymore – so you are not really Arawaks" - to which I often respond by asking them: "Do you still wear the attire your ancestors wore 500 years ago?". Actually I do still own and wear loincloths, paint my body etc. - but when I am among my own people and on our own lands as an outward expression of inward cultural pride.

I do not however do so in an urban context among the imposed and dominant foreign culture there. The old saying "when in Rome do as the Romans" does have some merit I think. In the end, we all know who we are and it matters not the depth of ignorance exhibited by others.

Author: Damon Gerard Corrie
Reporting from the Eighth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, New York City, 18-29 May 2009
e-mail: damoncorrie@yahoo.com


WIPO Launches Publication on Indigenous Traditional Knowledge

United Nations (UCTP Taino News) – The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the L’auravetl’an Information & Education Network of Indigenous Peoples (LIENIP) have jointly developed a bilingual – English and Russian - publication entitled “Traditional Knowledge & Indigenous Peoples.” The publication was launched on 27 May 2009 at the 8th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at UN Headquarters in New York.

In 2007, LIENIP organized a series of educational conferences, aimed at fostering a greater understanding of the social nature of traditional knowledge while encouraging mutually-beneficial relationships across sectors. This publication is comprised of several articles written for and presentations made at these events, and also includes a glossary of related concepts.

The project highlights Traditional Knowledge as an important element of the intellectual and cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples. The publication features contributions by S. Rama Rao (WIPO), Mattias Ahren (Sami, Sweden), Roberto Borrero (Taino, UCTP), Kenneth Deer (Mohawk, IITF), Ramiz Alakbarov (UNFPA), Jane Anderson (NYU), and Ann Gilliand (UCLA).

The publication is available in hard copy by request and is downloadable from the WIPO website at http://www.wipo.int/tk/en/folklore/culturalheritage/index.html .

A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO was created in 1967 "to encourage creative activity, to promote the protection of intellectual property throughout the world".

UCTPTN 05.28.2009


Taino percussionist to inaugurate PR JazzFest 2009

Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - Taino percussionist Pablito “Haguey” Rosario is scheduled to inaugurate the 2009 PR JazzFest at the Anfiteatro Tito Puente May 28th with his eleven member band "Orinoco".

Over his remarkable career, Rosario has performed with such notables as Mongo Santermaria, David Bowie, Chico O'Farril, Tito Puente, Ruben Blades, Ismael Miranda, la orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, Larry Harlow, and many other illustrious musicians.

"Haguey" will dedicate this upcoming performance to his father, Pablo Rosario Sr., who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimers to call attention to this debilitating disease.

Photo: Pablito Haguey Rosario demonstrating the Guahei during a presentation with the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society. (UCTP Photo)

UCTP 05.26.2009


Taino Participate in NY Native Festival

Inwood Hill Park, NY (UCTP Taino News) – Members of the Cacibahagua Taino Cultural Society joined other Indigenous Peoples at the Drums Along the Hudson Festival this past Sunday.

The festival was hosted by Sandra Bookman, the Weekend Anchor for WABC-TV News, and featured Native American Performers, the Kahurangi Maori Dance Theater from New Zealand, dancers from India and Peru, and a Pow Wow. After a blessing by local Mohawk Nation representatives, the Cacibahagua Taino Cultural Society had the honor of participating in the opening ceremony of the program presenting the song of the sea turtle.

Members of Cacibahagua also exhibited and demonstrated Taino cultural items as well as distributed information related to the United Confederation of Taino People throughout the day at the Storytellers Tent.

Drums Along the Hudson is a free event presented by Lotus Music and Dance, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, JP Morgon Chase, and WABC-TV.

Photo: Members of the Cacibahagua Taino Cultural Society at the 2009 Drums Along the Hudson Festival. (Photo credit: M. Sague)

UCTPTN 05.18.2009


Confederation Welcomes New Southern States Liaison

Ellijay, Georgia (UCTP Taino News) – The United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) welcomed this month Monika “Mamona” Ponton-Arrington as its Liaison Officer responsible for Confederation outreach in Alabama and Tennessee. She will also serve the States of North Carolina and Georgia in coordination with elder Mildred Mukara Torres-Speeg.

A Boriken Taino whose family comes from Puerto Rico’s Ponce, Coamo, Dorado, Jayuya, and San Juan areas, Ponton-Arrington currently resides Ellijay, Georgia with her husband Fulton Arrington, a Tsalagi (Cherokee). She was given her Taino name Mamona by her grandmother.

Ponton-Arrington is a mother of four children ranging from ages 32-23 and works as a Counselor. An advocate for Native Rights, she works to protect sacred sites in Georgia and is presently a Trustee to the Talking Rock Cherokee Memorial Cemetery.

She has presented lectures before civic groups, colleges and historical societies and enjoys traditional arts.

Contact information for Monika Mamona Ponton-Arrington will soon be made available at the UCTP webportal at www.uctp.org.

UCTPTN 05.13.2009

Caribbean Indigenous Peoples to Attend UN Forum

United Nations (UCTP Taino News) – Caribbean Indigenous delegates will join over one thousand Indigenous Peoples representatives from around the world at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (PFII) next week. The Forum’s eighth session will take place from 18-29 May, 2009 at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Caribbean representatives to the PFII include Damon Corrie of the Eagle Clan Arawaks (Barbados & Guyana), Chief Charles and Margaret Williams of the Kalinago Carib Nation (Dominica) as well as various delegates accredited by the United Confederation of Taino People.

Some of the issues being focused on at the session include the Second UN International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Permanent Forum is an advisory body to the United Nations Economic and Social Council with a mandate to discuss indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights.

UCTPTN 05.13.2009


Drums Along The Hudson Festival This Weekend

New York (UCTP Taino News) - The Seventh Annual “Drums Along the Hudson: A Native American Festival” will take place on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 in Upper Manhattan’s Inwood Hill Park from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm, rain or shine. The event is FREE to the public and presented by Lotus Music & Dance in collaboration with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, and is sponsored in part by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and WABC-TV. DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON features Manhattan’s only open air pow wow, which is a celebratory gathering of Native people. This year’s pow wow will be led by Louis Mofsie and the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers and will feature other indigenous and international artists including a special opening ceremony presentation by the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society.

A multi cultural family-oriented festival, DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON includes exhibitions of world dance and drumming traditions as well as Native American crafts and international cuisines. The festival combines a celebration of Native American heritage, culture, and art with the diversity of New York City itself. In keeping with the underlying theme of environmental appreciation and education, DRUMS ALONG THE HUDSON will continue to feature an Environmental Tent which will include demonstrations by organizations and artists dedicated to promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle and an information and Caribbean Indigenous Exhibit table sponsored by the United Confederation of Taino People.

During the day, between the hours of 1pm and 3pm, the festival organizers will honor two individuals and or organizations for their contributions to either Humanitarian Services or the Environment. This year’s honorees are Mohawk Elder & Author Tom Porter and Laura Turner Seydel, Environmentalist & Chairman of the Captain Planet Foundation. Sandra Bookman, weekend anchor for WABC-TV, will host the event. For more information visit the Drums Along the Hudson website at http://www.drumsalongthehudson.org/ .

UCTPTN 05.12.2009


Frogs flown from Montserrat to flee deadly fungus

In this photo released by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, an adult female mountain chicken frog in healthy condition is shown during a night survey at Fairy Walk in the Caribbean island of Montserrat on March 6, 2009. Scientists are airlifting to Sweden and Britain one of the world's largest frogs out of the tiny island of Montserrat to save it from a deadly fungus devastating its dwindling habitat that has been nearly destroyed by the temperamental Soufriere Hills volcano. (AP Photo/Gerardo Garcia, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Scientists are airlifting dozens of one of the world's largest frogs off of Montserrat island to save them from a deadly fungus devastating their dwindling habitat. The dense forest of this tiny British Caribbean territory is the last remaining stronghold of the critically endangered mountain chicken frog, a 2-pound (0.9 kg), frying pan-size amphibian that got its name because locals say its meat tastes like — you guessed it — chicken.

Once eaten as a delicacy, the frog was hunted and much of its habitat on Montserrat was destroyed by the temperamental Soufriere Hills volcano. Now experts fear a virulent fungus could decimate the few thousand frogs they estimate survive.

"Its impact has been catastrophic," Andrew Cunningham, senior scientist with the Zoological Society of London, said of the chytrid fungus. "The mountain chicken frog has been virtually wiped out."

Experts have found 300 dead frogs and believe hundreds more have perished since the fungus surfaced in late February, said Gerardo Garcia, director of the herpetology department at the British-based Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

To save the frogs, scientists are giving some of them anti-fungal baths and scooping up dozens of others and flying them at a total cost of $14,000 to zoos in Britain and Sweden, where they live in temperature-controlled rooms with automatic spray systems. About 50 have been flown off the island.

Biologists clad in full paper suits will care for them until they are released.

"We're in a situation where the species could become extinct forever," Garcia said.

Frogs should ideally be kept in their natural habitat, but flying them out was the only short-term solution, said Andrew Terry, Durrell's conservation manager. They would not have enough to eat if restricted to fungus-free areas, he said.

"Mountain chickens are hardy animals with a wide range of dietary needs," Terry said.

The fungus already has devastated the mountain chicken on Dominica, a nearby island that once served as the frog's other home and whose coat of arms bears the amphibian's image.

Natives on both islands used to favor the frog's meaty legs, although it is mostly tourists now who request them, said Gerard Gray, director of Montserrat's Department of Environment.

Experts are still trying to figure out how to eradicate the fungus, which has killed a range of frog species from Asia to South America.

Chytridiomycosis causes lethargy and convulsions, and thickens the skin that frogs breathe through.

Mountain chickens are nocturnal animals that live in rough terrain, making them hard to find to get an accurate tally of their numbers, Gray said. Scientists estimate a few thousand live on Montserrat.

The large frogs sound like a small howling dog when they croak.

Gray remembers the night he heard a mountain chicken croak and it was so loud he thought it had crawled under his bed.

"My wife laughed at me," he said. "It was in the forest where it was supposed to be."

Hunting aside, the number of frogs already were dwindling in Montserrat because of the active volcano. It has erupted continuously since 1995 and forced more than half of the island's 12,000 people to leave.

But the volcano might prove to be the frog's ultimate savior. Local officials hope to relocate the frog to a region cut off by lava and ash that is inaccessible by foot, and — they hope — free of fungus.

Source: Associated Press