UCTP Resolution Concerning the Participation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples in the International System

UCTP Taino News - In recognition of the spring equinox, and United Confederation of Taino People Day (March 27), the UCTP issued a resolution reaffirming UCTP commitment to promoting the participation of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples within the United Nations System and other international forums.

The resolution, UCTP/Res./21.03.2005, was issued in accordance with the 1998 Declaration of the UCTP. The UCTP resolution was presented to the Secretariat of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues as well as Caribbean Governments, and several United Nations agencies as part of the UCTP’s preparations for the upcoming meeting of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues this May at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The UCTP resolution will be available for public distribution shortly and posted at the UCTP web portal under the heading “UCTP Governmental Relations and Recognition” at
http://www.uctp.org/#2 .

The UCTP in the International System

UCTP Public Notice: As the UCTP has been at the forefront of promotion of the rights of Taino and other Caribbean Indigenous Peoples within the international system, please note the following:

a) UCTP and the OAS: Taíno concerns were promoted at the recent meetings of the Organization of American States by Borikén Taíno Leader, Naniki Reyes Ocasio. The meeting focused on the proposed OAS Inter-American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The OAS proposed Declaration as well as the United Nations draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are two of the most important exercises currently underway to address the human rights of Indigenous peoples. While the latter is considered more responsive to Indigenous peoples’ concerns and aspirations, the proposed OAS instrument does include a number of important rights and guarantees and does further the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ rights in the Americas specifically. As such, the OAS proposed Declaration will remain a focus of the UCTP’s international advocacy work.

b) UN World Summit in the Information Society (WSIS): The Government of Canada, the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, and Canadian National Aboriginal Organizations (through the Aboriginal Canada Portal Working Group - ACPWG), supported indigenous peoples' participation at the WSIS Phase II Preparatory process from 17-18 March 2005 in Ottawa, Canada.

This two-day planning meeting was a follow up on the UN World Summit on the Information Society and the Global Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the Information Society, which took place in Geneva, Switzerland in Dec.2003. The Ottawa conference highlighted Government/Development Agency Presentations as well as Indigenous Perspectives on the developments, opportunities and challenges of Information and Communications Technologies.

Representatives from states, Indigenous organizations and United Nations agencies participated in discussions on such diverse applications and issues as economic opportunities, e-learning, e-health, and e-government. A review of the implementation of the WSIS Plans of Action also took place and recommendations were made concerning “Forward Planning for Phase II of WSIS” to be held in Tunisia, in November 2005.

Of particular interest to the Caribbean Indigenous community was the participation of UCTP - U.S. Chairman and President Roberto Múcaro Borrero, who presented on a panel discussing Indigenous Media & Arts and Connectivity. The Chairman’s presentation focused on the UCTP’s online initiatives and was well received by all in attendance as many participants were unaware of the Taíno presence in the Caribbean and the Diaspora. Further, the UCTP web portal was identified as a ‘best practice’ as it is “currently the only online resource representing diverse voices of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples, which is developed, controlled and financed by Caribbean Indigenous Peoples”. The UCTP Web Portal will be featured with other Indigenous Peoples’ best practice initiatives from throughout the world within the final report of the conference as well as on various websites focusing on the WSIS. This is a positive and precedent-setting development for all Caribbean Indigenous Peoples.

In addition, an Indigenous Steering Committee for the WSIS was selected to forward the Indigenous Peoples agenda toward the Tunisia Summit. The selections of members were based on the geographical regions identified by the Permanent Forum on indigenous Issues, with two focal points for each region. For Latin American and the Caribbean, Marcos Terena of Brazil and Roberto Múcaro Borrero were elected by the Latin American and Caribbean Caucus in attendance.

A final report is forth-coming from the organizers and the UCTP will post this and other information concerning the WSIS as it becomes available.

UCTP Web Portal Updates!

UCTP Public Notice: In our continuing effort to be of service to our community, the awarding winning web portal (http://www.uctp.org/) of the UCTP has recently been updated in the following sections:

a) UCTP U.S. Representatives: Please note that information concerning our newest representatives in the United States has been posted at http://www.uctp.org/usr.htm . You can now directly contact our UCTP Liaison Officers in the States of Illinois, Maestro Edgardo Pérez and Ohio, Dr. Rose Quiñones Del Valle, Ph.D, PCC, LSW.

b) Educational Resources: Please note that the section entitled ‘Historic Documents relating to the Colonization of the Indies’ located at http://www.uctp.org/archives.html has been updated and includes an updated ‘Letter of King Ferdinand to the Taíno Indians’, two letter concerning the gold of the Indies (1559), and biographical information on Spaniards in the new world from the 16-17th centuries.

c) Taino Leadership in Boriken (Puerto Rico): Please note that the contact information for El Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos (The General Council of Boriken Tainos) has been updated at http://www.uctp.org/bprr.htm .

d) Taino Communications Group & News Services: The UCTP continues to focus a considerable amount of attention on the dissemination of information and communications, which are an integral part of our mission and service to our communities. From our UCTP Web Portal, our hard copy and online version of our news journal "The Voice of the Taino People", our television broadcast collaboration with Presencia Taina T.V., our support of Indigenous Peoples Literature Web Portal, as well as the Taino News and Information Email List, the UCTP remains committed to promoting Caribbean Indigenous concerns utilizing all aspects of the Information Society.

These UCTP initiatives continue to gain considerable attention at the international level. The steady growth of the UCTP's Taino News and Information Email List provides a concrete example of this trend as our current membership has reached over ONE THOUSAND subscribers. The support of our community and our allies have made the “Taino News and Information List” the LARGEST online news service available, which is dedicated to Caribbean Indigenous Issues.


Arrr, Matey! The Curse of the Racist Sequel?

Published by Inter Press Service, 2/28/05

PORT OF SPAIN - The 2003 blockbuster movie grossed 653 million dollars in theatres around the world, and the producers of the "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" are eagerly gearing up to film the sequels.

Filming of the scenes for the first of two installments is scheduled for April, and like the original, they will be shot in the Caribbean.

However, unlike the original movie, which was filmed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the first sequel will also involve the Caribs of Dominica, whose ancestors were among the early inhabitants of the Caribbean.

But the project, due to be released on Jul. 7, 2006, is already proving to be a problem, as the descendants of the Caribs, historians and others are objecting to scenes depicting these indigenous people as involved in cannibalism.

Brinsley Samaroo, head of the history department of the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI), dismisses the claim of cannibalism as a "European myth".

He told IPS that it was nothing but "manufactured history" by the Europeans who came across the Caniba, a tribe found in North and South America.

"The Caniba tribe was very hostile, as would be any group whose territory was being invaded. They were resisting the Europeans very stoutly and in order to warn other Europeans about this, the early explorers spread the myth that the Caniba tribe eat people," he said.

"They called them cannibals, derived from the name of the tribe," he explained.

Samaroo is lending his support to those who have publicly called on Walt Disney Productions to remove that aspect from the "Pirates of the Caribbean 2".

Disney has so far made no public statement on the issue, and did not respond to an IPS request for an interview.

The governments of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica, whose impoverished economies would receive a boost from the activities associated with the filming of the sequel, have also been silent on the controversy.

Several of the estimated population of 3,000 Carib descendants in Dominica have applied to be extras in the film, which again stars Johnny Depp, but that has not stopped the Carib chief, Charles Williams, from taking a stand against the project.

Williams contends that Disney executives were insistent on including scenes where Caribs would be portrayed as cannibals, and to appear naked or semi-naked in the movie.

The Carib chief said that Caribs have been "stigmatised up to this day" as cannibals and Disney wants to popularise that stigma through the movie.

He said that this portrayal "cannot be perpetuated in movies," and his condemnation is gaining support from other Carib descendants and organisations across the Caribbean.

The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Historical and Archaeological Society has called on movie-goers to boycott the sequel unless the "grossly offensive" scenes depicting the Caribs as cannibals are removed from the script.

According to the society's secretary, Paul Lewis, perpetuating the image of Caribs as cannibals is totally unacceptable to all Caribbean peoples.

"Caribbean scholars and schoolteachers have been waging a ferocious battle for a long time to give the indigenous peoples of the region a fairer and more honest share of its history," he said in a letter to the local media.

Ricardo Bharath, who heads the Carib community in Arima, the Amerindian word for water and the third largest town in Trinidad, has also condemned the sequel.

"I think it is not right. I want to support the chief (in Dominica)," he told IPS. "In all my involvement in the community I have had no experience of our people being described as cannibals. I have listened to stories from the elders, a lot of anthropologists and archeologists and they all stated they found no evidence of cannibalism of our people in the Caribbean region."

"Do you want to know who the real cannibals are? They are the ones in modern-day society who are eating down our mountains, raping the environment, polluting the water courses," he said.

Adonis Christo, the shamaan or medicine man of the Arima Carib community, insists that "the Caribs were hunters, fishermen and farmers. They were nomadic."

"They defended their people, families, and friends. They defended their homes. They defended their lands," he added.

The Caribs here have been researching their history, preserving and practising traditions of their ancestors, including the annual "Smoke Ceremony" each Aug. 1, where they pay tribute to their forefathers with various offerings including tobacco and farine, which is made from cassava and water.

On Oct. 14, the Caribs observe "Recognition Day", joined by their counterparts in Dominica, Suriname and the Arawaks from Guyana.

"We don't eat people. We only eat wild meat," says Valentina Medina, the titular Queen of the Carib Group in Trinidad. (END)

Pirates, Caribs & Cannibals

by Steve McCabe

"The Caribs, it was thought, found Spaniards to be stringy and grisly, as opposed to the French who were rather delicious and the Dutch who tended to be fairly tasteless."

And though there has never been any hard archaeological evidence that would indicate widespread and systematic cannibalism (such as scorched human bones, bones with knife or saw cuts or which are unnaturally fractured) the myth persists.

As the debate rages over Hollywood's depiction of the Caribs as cannibals in the forthcoming Pirates of the Caribbean sequels, what exactly is the basis for the almost universal idea that the Caribs were in fact cannibals?

None really. In fact, evidence suggest the notion of the fierce savages who ate European flesh (and favoured French cooking) was more used as the perfect excuse to justify their own slave-taking of islanders and colonial thrust through the region.

Indeed, what better excuse to get round Queen Isabella of Spain's 1503 prohibition "to arrest or capture any Indians... or to do them any harm or evil to their persons or possessions", for she had also consented to make exception of, "a people called Cannibales ...(who) waged war on the Indians who are my vassals, capturing them to eat them as is their custom."

The earliest mention of the Caribs, according to Dominica historian Dr. Lennox Honychurch, is that made by Columbus in his journal on 26 November 1492: "All the people that he has found up to today, he says, are very frightened of those of caniba or canima." (Hulme & Whitehead 1992:19). His initial reference to the word is as a place where people were located, rather than the name of the people themselves.

In other statements the Tainos may have been using the term to refer not to a specific ethnic group but to any hostile band who attacked their villages, particularly those who came from the small islands to the east of where they were in Hispaniola. ). They have variously been called canima, canybal, caraibe, carebie, caribbee, charaibe and cribe in other European languages."

Reviewing early documents related to the Island Caribs, anthropologist Robert Myers found a pattern of low-scale raiding and slave-taking throughout the Windward Islands, but there was no reliable evidence to support their reputation as cannibals.

But the report of the ferocious Caniba continued to influence Spanish policy.

In short time, Columbus's 'Caniba' were being called 'Caribe'. The English used 'Caribbees' 'Charibs' or 'Caribs', the French used 'Caraibes' and, for those on the mainland, 'Galibis'. Fr. Raymond Breton, who lived amongst the Indians in Dominica from 1641 to 1655 (and though French never ended up in a pot), said, however, that the men called themselves 'Callinago' and the women called themselves 'Callipunam'. Today, the favoured name is 'Kalina' but those still living in St. Vincent call themselves 'Garifuna' and in Dominica 'Karifuna', which is now widely accepted to be the Caribs own name of for women.

See also Wild Majesty: Encounters with Caribs from Colombus to the present day
Hulme & Whitehead, P & N (Oxford, 1992)

News Source: http://www.news-dominica.com/articles/articles.cfm?Id=3794 15-Feb-05


UCTP Representative Claudia Foxtree in NYC

UCTP Rep. Claudia Foxtree visits "The Gates" while in NYC

UCTP Report: In February, I did a presentation on Native Americans in New York City at Columbia University’s Teachers College Annual Winter Roundtable on Cultural Psychology and Education. This year’s Roundtable theme was Racism as a Barrier to Racial-Cultural Competence in Psychology and Education.

Native American (NA) Education is unique in this country. While most teachers (and students) do not identify as NA, many will teach about or include this perspective when transforming curriculum. Stereotypes, distortions, and missing/biased history have perpetuated misconceptions and myths about NAs. What we have learned about NAs and what we think we know, is often inaccurate or even offensive. Socially responsive teaching actively works at unlearning and relearning the authentic, accurate, contemporary NA story. Critical pedagogy actively deconstructs, questions, and teaches to controversies. I believe Teachers do not need to know all the answers, however, they do need to be aware of the potential conflicts in order to steer students toward asking questions, encourage dialogue, and then facilitate their learning by helping them find solutions.

In my presentation, we considered the importance of language. Participants looked at ways to identify NAs, by tribe, nation, regions, etc., the meaning behind particular identifications, and in what context they would use which words. Folks also looked at words that might come up in literature, text books, and other classroom activities. Terms such as Indian, totem pole, tribe, pioneer, and costume may seem benign, when, in fact, there is a historical context which needs be acknowledged, accounted for, and discussed, before they are used in the context of studying Native People. Next, people discussed derogatory phrases, such as “low man on the totem pole” and the implication, including psychological damage, of these phrases to Native and nonNative children alike. And finally, participants were given words related to Native culture, such as The Circle, giving thanks, and Pow wow, and asked to discuss what they knew. These “culture words” were related to what we, as NAs, value. When teachers understand who we are and where we come from, then the ability to teach in culturally responsive ways and make personal connections increases.

Another primary goal when related to teaching about NAs, is bringing NAs up to present day (we’re not just in history, and we’re not all dead). I demonstrated this by sharing stories, modeling oral traditiona, from contemporary writers which dismantled common myths, such as, Columbus discovered America, Native Americans crossed the Bering Strait about 12, 000 years ago, and Thanksgiving was a peaceful harvest gathering of Native Americans and Pilgrims.

Although not the focus, we also addressed what it means to be culturally sensitive to NA students. NA cultural differences were discussed in the context of educational practice. For example, we noted the importance of storytelling, cooperative groups, modeling, and active participation and how these relate to NA cultural practices.

One exciting moment for me during this presentation was to have Jane Elliott as one of the participants in my workshop. She was this year's recipient of the Social Justice Action Award at the conference. Here’s a copy of her biography from the Conference Program, for those who are not familiar with her name. “Jane Elliott's work began in a culturally homogenous third-grade classroom in Riceville, Iowa, when she introduced the "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" discrimination experiment in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In this exercise, students were designated as superior or inferior based upon their eye color. This temporary social structure led to an enactment of striking resemblance to racial discrimination, and exposed young children to the experience of interpersonal and systemic oppression. For years, Ms. Elliott repeated this experiment with school children before creating workshops and lectures designed to raise awareness about racial discrimination and racism in adults. She describes her work as "an inoculation against discrimination," and believes firmly that racism is a learned response that derives from regular exposure to both overt and subtle forms of social oppression. Jane Elliott has traveled around the country and the world illuminating a host of audiences about multiple forms of social oppression and the responsibility we all share in addressing these biases on individual, institutional, and societal levels.

Jane Elliott is known internationally as a teacher, lecturer, and diversity trainer. She has been honored with the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education and the Christine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice… Elliott has appeared on myriad television shows, including The Today Show, Tonight with Johnny Carson, Donahue, and the Oprah Winfrey show. Her work has been immortalized by several documentaries, including The Eye of the Storm, and A Class Divided, which chronicled the "Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes" exercise.”

*Contact Claudia at cfoxtree@lincnet.org


Taino Nation Celebrates World Water Day

United Nations (UCTP Taino News) - In many parts of the world, such as Europe and North America, people take it for granted to turn on a tap for safe and clean water to drink, to cook, to wash — yet, more than 1 billion of our fellow human beings have little choice but to use potentially harmful sources of water. Each year, March 22 — World Water Day — marks a permanent effort to promote access to safe drinking-water and sanitation. It is a springboard for raising awareness about water, stimulating debate and focusing on the dangers that derive from inadequate access to safe water and basic sanitation.

With this in mind, the United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed as the UN International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005–2015, starting on 22 March, World Water Day 2005. The Water for Life Decade gives the world’s goals “a greater focus on water-related issues, while striving to ensure the participation of women in water-related development efforts, and further cooperation at all levels".

The official opening for the Water for Life Decade was held at United Nations Headquarters in New York. Spiritual leaders representing religious and spiritual traditions from around the world were invited to offer blessings for the world’s water. Among these distinguished delegates, indigenous representatives of various Nations were invited to add their voices to this prestigious assembly. Among these notable participants were elders and respected community leaders from the Iroquois, Apache, Hopi and Taíno Nations.

UCTP Chairman Roberto Múkaro Borrero was honored to be asked to officially call the event to order with the sounding of the Guamo (conch shell trumpet) as well as offer an honoring prayer song in the Taíno language. The proceedings, which also included an opening address from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and poems on the importance of water by local NY school children, were televised internationally.

You can get more information on the Water for Life Decade as well as an advocacy kit at http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/

Dominica's Carib Indians to be Portrayed as Cannibals in Movie Sequel

Johnny Depp will star in the sequel of Pirates of the Caribbean

ROSEAU, Dominica: The BBC has reported that the "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels plan to portray Dominica's Carib Indians as cannibals. Shooting on the films is expected to take place this April in the area, with hundreds of Dominicans applying to be extras in the movie.

The cast and crew are to work on two sequels back-to-back, with the first to be released in 2006.

Carib Chief Charles Williams said talks with Disney's producers revealed there was "a strong element of cannibalism in the script which cannot be removed".

The Caribs have long denied their ancestors practiced cannibalism. "Our ancestors stood up against early European conquerors and because they stood up...we were labelled savages and cannibals up to today," said Williams.

About 3,000 Caribs live on the island of Dominica, which has a population of 70,000.

News Source: Caribbean Net News - Tuesday, February 15, 2005

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