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.

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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.

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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


Taino TV Updated

UCTP Taino News – Taino TV, the internet video television channel of the United Confederation of Taino People has been updated with several video shorts featuring the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society. The videos were taken by Taino artist Reina Miranda at the November 2007 celebration of Puerto heritage at Hunter College in New York City hosted by the Comite Noviembre.

The footage featuring the recent presentation of Cacibajagua adds to the increasing collection of Taino-related media available at the Taino TV channel site. Videos shorts of cultural presentations, interviews, lectures and more can be found in the “Favorites” as well as the “Playlist” sections of the Taino TV channel internet page.

Taino TV is available free to the general public and viewers can visit and subscribe to the channel at http://www.youtube.com/Tainotv.

Photo (by Mamarazzi): Members of the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society


Noel’s Devastation Still Affecting Caribbean

UCTP Taino News – Last month, Tropical Storm Noel devastated parts of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, and the Bahamas, with incessant rains and massive flooding that took the lives of several dozen people and destroyed thousands of homes, crops and infrastructure. According to preliminary assessments conducted by the U.N. and other international agencies, the Dominican Republic was the hardest hit, with close to 85 persons dead, 48 missing, and an estimated 66,568 displaced.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) reports that as a result of the storm the potential for an outbreak of dengue fever in the Dominican Republic is high. Mosquito nets and water purification and collection material are critical focus of relief work. As of November 15th CRS also reported that many roads are still impassible in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and communication infrastructure is severely damaged “leaving thousands stranded.”

The organization - CRS - has committed $500,000 dollars to the relief effort and is seeking additional donations at http://crs.org/haiti/noel-floods/

Photo: The Madre Vieja Bridge over the Nigua River in San Cristóbal, Dominican Republic. Photo by José Luis Guigni/CRS


Kearns: Federal grave robbing of Taino remains

by: Rick Kearns / Indian Country Today
© Indian Country Today November 23, 2007. All Rights Reserved

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its associates took ancient indigenous remains and artifacts from a newly discovered site in Puerto Rico in late October and flew them to a lab in Atlanta, Ga., for tests. There are laws in Puerto Rico prohibiting anyone from removing these kinds of materials from the island, and there are Taino people, real live human beings, who are furious over this latest episode of federal body snatching.

Probably in response to the public complaints of Puerto Rican scholars and archaeologists, the feds have promised to return everything that they have stolen, although we have to take their word for what has recently appeared as the list of items that will be returned.

As Yogi Berra once said, ''This is deja vu all over again.''

For Puerto Ricans of all kinds, especially for those of us with Taino roots - and that means most Puerto Ricans - we've heard this line before and we have no reason to believe them. On top of everything else, there is a sad echo effect at play here: It's the racist way in which the United States treats Puerto Rico and the way some officials treat Tainos or even the idea of Tainos that creates a sickening echo, one that keeps ringing in our ears and should be telling us something.

That something is to gain sovereignty for the island. It's the only way we can protect our heritage, our people and even the remains of our ancestors, as our Native cousins in North America have learned over and over again.

The series of events that lead to this latest outrage played out fairly quickly. Within the last few months, the Corps started clearing a section of southern Puerto Rico for the construction of a dam, for the purpose of preventing flooding that is all too common in that region. At some point the Corps hired New South Associates, an archaeological and historical consulting firm, to handle any potential discoveries. It has been widely known that the area north of the city of Ponce was home to some major Taino ceremonial sites; the centers at Tibes and Caguana are good examples of these highly developed community areas.

Near the end of October, a major Taino site was unearthed during the construction process. Archaeologists from both the United States and Puerto Rico are hailing it as being the best-preserved pre-Columbian site in the Caribbean, with the potential to reveal many aspects of Taino and pre-Taino life in the area, from eating habits to spiritual ceremonies. The newly discovered site has a ritual ball field (known as a batey) that measures 130 feet by 160 feet, surrounded by giant stones etched with petroglyphs, one of which portrays a masculine human figure with legs of a frog. Along with the plaza, many ceramic pieces were unearthed as well as graves of ancient peoples, some of whom were buried facedown with their legs bent at the knees.

Experts are already estimating that the site includes materials dating back as far as 600 A.D. with other items from approximately 1,500 A.D., a few years after the invaders arrived.

These facts are the only points of agreement. Otherwise, the tableau turns into a crime scene.

According to members of the General Council of Borinquen Tainos, leading Puerto Rican archaeologists and scholars from the island's Institute of Culture, the Corps and New South destroyed untold amounts of artifacts and human remains with bulldozers and backhoes. Puerto Rican archaeologists and local Taino leaders then protested these procedures, eventually embarrassing the federal grave robbers enough so that they had to halt the excavation. Sadly, the official chicanery did not stop there.

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Nightwolf Radio Special on National Day of Mourning

UCTP Taino News – In recognition of the National Day of Mourning, “Nightwolf - the Most Dangerous Show on the Radio” will broadcast a 3 hour live special from 9am - 12 noon, Thursday, November 22, 2007.

Featuring the show’s host Jay Winter Nightwolf, a wide range of indigenous perspectives will be presented by special guests to the WPFW/Pacifica Radio studios in Washington DC and by telephone. At 10am (EST), one of the featured interviews will highlight recent controversy surrounding a recently uncovered archeological site in Puerto Rico. Discussing the issue and community concerns will be Roberto Mukaro Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People.

Nightwolf is regularly broadcast each week on Pacifica's WPFW 89.3 FM Sunday evenings at 8:00 pm EST. The shows are webcast and listeners can tune in at http://www.wpfw.org/.

UCTPTN 11.21.2007

Photo: Jay Winter Nightwolf (yillah ©2004)


American Indian Airwaves: Protecting the Ancestors

Wednesday, 11-21-07,
on American Indian Airwaves "Protecting the Ancestors and Thanks, but No Thanks: The Moral Benevolence of Genocide"

Part 1:_____________________________________

Roberto Mucaro Borrero (Boriken Taino Nation). Roberto, from the United Confederation of Taino People (http://www.uctp.org/ ) joins us today to discuss defending the Taino ancestors and the misrepresentations, lies, and deceptions entailed in the recent Associated Press article titled: "Archaeologist DiscoverMajor Pre-Columbian Site" which recently was published in"Indian Country Today"http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096416037

Part 2:_____________________________________

George E. (Tink) Tinker (Osage Nation), Professor of American IndianCultures and Religious Traditions at Iliff School of Theology joins us today to discuss the settler societies notion of celebrating the moral benevolence of genocide (Thanks, but No Thanks Day or Thanks-taking Day) and how governments, institutions, and agencies are using the month of "November" to establish "Native American Heritage Month" ("Indian in the Cupboard Syndrome") as a means to coopt indigenous peoples from engaging in critical forms of decolonization, self-determination and sovereignty.

American Indian Airwaves regularly broadcast every Wednesday from 3pm to 4pm(PCT) on KPFK FM 90.7 in Los Angles, FM 98.7 in Santa Barbara, and by Internet with Real Media Player, Winamp, & Itunes at http://www.kpfk.org/

SPECIAL NOTICE: weekly shows can now be heard on the KPFK web site under "audio archives" located on the left. Scroll down and click onAmerican Indian Airwaves.



Second Annual Puerto Rican Artisans Fair Highlights Taino Culture

New York, NY (UCTP Taino News) - On Saturday, November 17, 2007, Comite Noviembre is sponsoring its second annual Puerto Rican Artisans Exhibition and Fair at Hunter College in New York City. Held in recognition of Puerto Rican Heritage Month, the event will transform Hunter College’s West Building into a “typical Puerto Rican Plaza” with artists, sculptors, and food venders from 11am – 5pm. This year, Taino culture will feature prominently in the celebration with a Taino opening blessing, and a special presentation of Taino music and song with members of the Cacibajagua Taino Cultural Society at 3:30pm.

A family workshop on “Taino history and music” will take place at 11:30am (Rm. W217) and a “Taino Petroglyph Pendant” workshop for children will be held at 12:35pm. All day several prominent Taino artists will be featured in the celebration’s exhibition including Aguilar Marrero, Reina Miranda, and Esperanza Martell.

Established in 1987, Comité Noviembre is the only collaboration of its kind in the United States that brings together the collective talents and resources of the some of oldest and most prestigious Puerto Rican organizations in existence.


Latin America and the Caribbean Advisory Group of Indigenous Leaders meet with the UN System

Quito, Ecuador (UCTP Taino News) - The Regional Meeting of the Advisory Group of Indigenous Leaders with the UN System in Latin America and the Caribbean held from 5 to 6 November in Quito, Ecuador, was jointly organized by UNICEF-LAC, OHCHR and SPFII. It was attended by more than 60 focal points of United Nations regional offices, indigenous members of the Advisory Group of UNICEF, Ms. Otilia Lux de Coti of the PFII, and indigenous authorities from Quito.

Representing the United Confederation of Taino People, Roberto Mukaro Borrero was appointed to the group and participated actively in all discussions. Borrero also had the opportunity to meet with local indigenous leaders of the regional informal gatherings organized in recognition of the meeting.

During two days UN agencies, funds and programmes dialogued with indigenous representatives on the strategies to implement recommendations of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). As an outcome, recommendations were prepared to Resident Coordinators within the context of the Declaration, the UNDG draft guidelines on indigenous peoples’ issues and the Second International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People in order to integrate indigenous issues in the work of its agencies.

UCTPTN 11.10.2007


Caguana Ceremonial Center

Sitting in the lush central mountain range of Puerto Rico (Borike), the ancestral home of the Boriken Taíno people, Caguana is the largest and most complex ceremonial site in the West Indies. Caguana Ceremonial Center consists of a large central plaza, a ceremonial dance area, ten rectangular earth-and-stone– lined ball courts and plazas and one circular plaza, as well as the remains of an oval-shaped structure and a sacred cemi mound. Ethno-historical accounts of early "explorers" noted that ceremonial sites like Caguana were places where highly important ceremonial ball games were held. Today, one can still see stone collars, elbow stones, and petroglyphs carved on perimeter stones. Caguana is today one of many sacred sites for the Taíno people.

Because of its rich archaeological significance, Caguana became a National Historic Landmark in 1993. However, this designation has not prevented vandalism and tourist devastation to the ceremonial center. Now, the Taíno are calling upon the Puerto Rico government and the U.S. National Park Service to "ensure that any governmental projects promoting tourism go hand in hand with protecting and safeguarding the integrity of local Taíno culture, sacred sites and the environment. "

Read the full report written by DeAnna Rivera with UCTP President R. Mucaro Borrero and Grandmother Naniki Reyes Ocasio at the Sacred Lands Film Project.


The Continuity of Caribbean Indigenous People

UCTP Taino News – On the internet, a UK article entitled “The Continuity of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples” contains a section focusing on Caribbean indigenous revival, solidarity between the “Carib Nations” and the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP). The article also highlights the role of the internet in promoting indigenous culture. See the article at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/Uploads/FILE_25934.pdf


Italians against Columbus Day

UCTP Taino News – In solidarity with American Indian nations, a group of Italian citizens have decided to actively support protests against the celebration of Columbus Day by establishing a petition against it the controversial holiday.

The petition, which was written in Cannara (Perugia) - Italy on October 9, 2007, will be presented to Italian municipalities, presidents of Italian regions, and to Italian American associations.

Mike Graham (Cherokee) of United Native America, Oglala Lakota Patriot Russell Means, and UCTP President Roberto Mukaro Borrero (Taino) have endorsed the effort.

The Italian petition against the celebration of Columbus Day can be found online at http://www.petitiononline.com/cd1ptoit/petition.html.


Maori Activists Won't Be Charged As Terrorists

Photo: Armed police roadblock at Ruatoki caused controversy

Aotearoa/New Zealand (UCTP Taino News) - Terrorists charges have been dropped against New Zealand activists arrested in military-style police raids in October. Reports indicate that the alleged evidence Police Commissioner Howard Broad would “stake his reputation on” was insufficient to sustain “terrorist charges.” Five activists have already been bailed including famed Maori leader Tame Iti.

Referring to New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act, Solicitor General David Collins stated the legislation is “so complex and incoherent that it cannot be applied to domestic terrorism.” Collins also stated the flawed Act “doesn’t look good for government.”

A number of indigenous Maori and environmental activists are still facing various firearms and weapons charges but they are now able to be with family and friends.

Upon their release today, several Maori activists commented that they were overwhelmed by the support from the global activist community.

Maori Party co-leader Dr Pita Sharples called on police to apologize while others are calling for the resignation of the Police Commissioner.


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Scholastic Highlights Taino Culture During Native American Heritage Month

UCTP Taino News – In recognition of Native American and Puerto Rican Heritage month, the Taino People and culture are featured in Scholastic’s online news magazine. Scholastic is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology.

Announcements focusing on the article, entitled “Taino Sounds,” were also featured in the company’s print versions of Scholastic News for Kids.

The highlight on the Taino has the potential to reach millions of students and teachers around the world via the internet and the print sources. The article focuses on particular aspects of Taino world view, including relationships to the natural world and the music of famed Puerto Rican Taino cultural icon, Paseo Taino: Travesia Taina. Under the direction of Elba Anaca Lugo, Paseo Taino is one of the oldest continuing Taino presentation troupes on the island.

“The music, performing, and presentation style of Paseo Taino: Travesia Taina has influenced and given birth many if not all contemporary Taino cultural groups on and off the island whether they are aware of it or not” stated Roberto Mukaro Borrero a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People.

Speaking on Scholastic’s Taino focus, he continued noting “What is important about this focus is that it presents our people in a contemporary light and not as extinct, relics of the past.”

“Scholastic’s ‘Taino Sounds’ article is a positive example of a partnership that was based on consultation and mutual respect” Borrero also stated “As an indigenous community that extends throughout the Caribbean, these are the types of relationships that we are striving to cultivate and promote.”

Taino Sounds was recorded during Paseo Taino: Travesia Taina’s featured presentation at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, January 2007. The article will remain available at www.scholastic.com/news with its link at Scholastic’s “Special Reports.”
Photo: Elba Anaka Lugo and Pablito Haguey Rosario of Paseo Taino: Travesia Taina at the American Museum of Natural History, January 2007. (AMNH Photo/R. Mickens)


Hurricane Noel to dump rain along East Coast

Caribbean death toll rises to 124; storm deadliest in Atlantic for 2007

NASSAU, Bahamas - Hurricane Noel, the deadliest storm to hit the Atlantic this year, paralleled the U.S. coast on Friday, losing strength as it headed north toward Nova Scotia.

Noel slammed the Caribbean earlier this week with heavy rains that caused flooding and mudslides, leaving 124 dead, officials said.

After drenching the Bahamas and Cuba on Thursday, the Category 1 hurricane’s sustained winds were at 80 mph on Friday and its center was about 425 miles south of Cape Hatteras, N.C., the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. Noel is moving to the north-northeast at about 17 mph but was expected to pick up speed.

Read the full story at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21526342/


Taino Leaders Speak Out on Sacred Site in Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – Taino community leaders Elba Anaka Lugo and Naniki Ocasio Reyes will be interviewed tonight on 1320 Radio Isla starting at 10 PM to provide an update on the recent Taino archeological find in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

During the two-hour program they will also provide commentary on Taino community concerns as well as ways the community plans to address this controversial situation.

Lugo is the Director of the Consejo General of Tainos Borincanos and Ocasio Reyes is the founder of the Caney Quinto Mundo. The first local indigenous organizations to respond to violations being committed at the site known as PO29, the Consejo and the Caney have continued to monitor the situation closely. Besides meeting with local officials to address the issue, the organizations have also jointly organized spiritual ceremonies on behalf of the Taino ancestors, which have been carried out at the site by Taino elders and spiritual leaders.

Listeners can tune in tonight for the 2 hour special program in Spanish by visiting the station's live on-line link at http://www.radioisla1320.com/index_html.php.

UCTPTN 11.02.2007


Large Ancient Settlement Unearthed in Puerto Rico

Kelly Hearn
for National Geographic News

Bodies, structures, and rock art thought to belong to an indigenous pre-Columbian culture have been unearthed at an ancient settlement in Puerto Rico, officials recently announced.

Archaeologists say the complex—which dates from A.D. 600 to 1500—could be the most significant of its kind in the Caribbean.

"This is a very well preserved site," said Aida Belén Rivera-Ruiz, director of Puerto Rico's State Office of Historic Preservation.

"The site seems to show two occupations: a pre-Taino and a Taino settlement."

The Taino are thought to be a subgroup of the Arawak Indians who migrated to the Caribbean from Mexico or South America hundreds of years ago, experts say.

They were among the first tribes to encounter Europeans.

Huge Plaza

The ancient Taino settlement was discovered in southern Puerto Rico.

Archaeologists have known since 1985 that the area contained indigenous artifacts.

But the scope of the site became clear only recently, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction on a new dam meant to protect the region from flooding.

Perhaps the most significant find is a large plaza covering an area of about 130 by 160 feet (40 by 50 meters).

Rivera-Ruiz said the plaza appears to be a batey, a rectangular area around which the Taino built their settlements.

The plaza, which contains stones etched with ancient petroglyphs, might have been a court used for ceremonial rituals or ball games.

"If this information is confirmed, this would be the largest known indigenous batey in the Caribbean," Rivera-Ruiz said.

Roberto Mucaro Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People, agreed.

The site "could be the largest ancient Taino cultural area found not only in Puerto Rico but throughout the Caribbean," Borrero said.

And petroglyphs of a masculine figure with frog legs could prove especially important in understanding the culture's roots, he added.

"They could reveal evidence of direct links between the Taino and the Mayan peoples," he said, although other experts strongly refute that the two cultures are related.

Storm of Controversy

Confusion and criticisms are already swirling amidst excitement over the findings.

Initial reports about bodies found in several graves at the site suggest that the people were buried in unique positions.

The bodies were "buried facedown with the legs bent at the knees—a style never seen before in the region," the Associated Press reported.

But Miguel Rodriguez, a member of the Puerto Rican government's archaeological council, said the burial positioning isn't unheard of in the area.

Kit Wesler, a Taino expert at Murray State University in Kentucky, also said that the "facedown position is unusual but probably not unprecedented."

Rivera-Ruiz of the state preservation office stressed that any claims about the uniqueness of the burial arrangements must await a full excavation and studies of any funerary objects.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-based New South Associates—a private archaeology company contracted by the Corps of Engineers to salvage the site—is at the center of controversy over their excavation methods.

According to AP, the company had initially been using a bulldozer that caused damage to centuries-old bones.

Members of the Taino who visited the dig on Saturday "witnessed damage to the site, particularly to some human remains and stones" that was apparently caused by a backhoe, Taino representative Borrero said.

Rodriguez was adamant that the company should be pulled off the project.

"This is a textbook case of what they shouldn't do," he said. "They are using mostly diggers and bulldozers and they must stop."

Rodriguez also accused the company of violating Puerto Rican law by failing to register artifacts it had taken off the island.

"They haven't told us anything about the materials, so they are not following the rules," he said.

An official from New South Associates said the Corps did not permit them to answer press inquiries.

But Rivera-Ruiz, of Puerto Rico's historic conservation office, defended the Corps and its contractor.

"The contractor was originally hired by the Corps of Engineers to conduct a salvage data recovery operation on a site that was essentially doomed," she said via email.

"Once preservation became an option, the scope and invasive nature of the project was shifted in favor of the more low-key, less intrusive hand excavation of already exposed features."

About 80 percent of the site will be left intact, Rivera-Ruiz added, allowing for the long-term preservation of most of the site.

She added that Puerto Rico's State Historic Preservation Office has overseen the company's operation, and the parties are complying with the law.

And Corps spokesperson David McCullough told National Geographic News via email that his agency stands behind New South Associates and is reworking its plans based on the new findings.

"When the Corps recognized the extreme significance of this site," he said, "we redesigned the parts of the dam project that would create the greatest adverse effect to the site."

Source: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/10/071029-puerto-rico.html


Puerto Rican archaeologists accuse U.S. Army Corps of taking artifacts without permission

The Associated Press

Puerto Rican archaeologists on Monday accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of illegally shipping two dozen newly discovered pre-Columbian artifacts off the island without permission.

Diana Lopez, a University of Puerto Rico archaeologist, said the Army Corps should be fined for sending ceramic pieces, stone tools and bones, which may date from 600 A.D. to 1500 A.D., to Atlanta for testing without approval from a local archaeology council.

"They never told us that they were going to take those pieces," said Miguel Rodriguez, a member of the council who claimed such tests could have been done on the island.

Jose Rosado, chief of the corps' San Juan construction office, has promised that engineers will return the pieces to Puerto Rico once tests determine their origin and value. Calls and e-mails to his office went unanswered Monday.

The artifacts were discovered earlier this month when an Army Corps team began work on a dam project in southern Puerto Rico. Archaeologists said the find could shed light on most aspects of Indian life in the region, from sacred rituals to eating habits.

They called for a halt to the corps' heavy digging, which they warned could expose the pre-Colombian site to wind and rain.


Taino Artists Continue to Gain Recognition

Taino Artists Aguilar Marrero and Reina Miranda
exhibiting their works at the 106 Street Festival
in Spanish Harlem, New York

New York (UCTP Taino News) - Taino artists, Aguilar Marrero and Reina Miranda, are continuing to gain recognition for their work and the Taino culture. The two have been busy not only with their collective art exhibitions but with informative presentations as well. They recently represented indigenous Caribbean culture at the Roosevelt Island "Falls for Arts Festival", the HealthPlus "Hispanic Heritage Month" celebration, and various Art Fairs around Manhattan.

Their selected art works were part of an exhibition held earlier this year at the United Nations in conjunction with the 2007 session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Both Marrero and Miranda maintain a website at Cafepress (http://www.cafepress.com/aguilar) where prints works dedicated to promoting the Taino culture can be obtained. The next New York area appearance for these popular Taino artists will be at the Second Annual Comite Noviembre Puerto Rican Artisans Exhibition and Fair, November 17, 2007. The event will take place at the Hunter College West Building from 11am-5pm.


Taino Concerned over New Archeological Find in Puerto Rico

Ponce, Puerto Rico (UCTP Taíno News) – Tomorrow at 9am, the President of the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, Elba Anaca Lugo will issue a public statement concerning a recent archeological “discovery” in Ponce, Puerto Rico via University of Puerto Rico Radio (WRTC 89.7 FM). Lugo’s statement will highlight the declaration issued by the Consejo General and the Caney Quinto Mundo in response to this major archeological find said to date back from 600 A.D. to 1500 A.D. Lugo will also note violations observed by the local indigenous Taíno community in relation to this already controversial case.

The Taíno archeological site was uncovered last week while land was being cleared for construction of a dam to control flooding in the area.

At the site a number of unique archeological finds have already been documented including monolithic stones displaying petroglyphs (carvings) that are surrounding ceremonial plazas as well as burial grounds. At least one of the stone monoliths depicted a human figure with frog legs similar to one found at another site – Caguana - in the island’s mountainous interior.

Although local archeologists have been aware of the historic importance of the area since at least 1985, the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture has called for the construction to stop as heavy machinery has already destroyed important artifacts. The investigation and the “discovery” is one that is sure to bring the subject of ancient indigenous culture back into to the spotlight on the island. The case however is already amidst controversy regarding the construction permits, their relation to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the island’s Institute of Culture.

Same Old Story

Local Taíno leaders and activists are all too familiar with the scenario unfolding in Ponce. In July 2005, a group of indigenous community leaders entered the Caguana Ceremonial Center in Utuado to mount a peaceful protest to not only bring attention to condition of that “park” but the ongoing destruction of sacred sites around the island. This historic action, which ended in the arrests of several Taíno leaders, is known locally and internationally as “El Grito Indigena Taíno de Caguana.”

Reports indicate that at this new archeological discovery in Ponce, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave permission for the construction to begin with evidence that there was the potential for a major find in the area. As in other similar cases, the U.S. Army Corps is said to have already removed major artifacts to undisclosed locations in the U.S. One question locals have concerns the Puerto Rican Institute of Cultural and if it was aware of and allowed the U.S. Army Corps to engage in this practice without challenge.

At least a year before “El Grito de Caguna”, local Taíno leaders raised the alarm about another major archeological site that was being destroyed to make way for construction. This case occurred in Arecibo at “Ojo del Agua.” The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Institute of Culture were also involved in this case and again, many unique artifacts have left Puerto Rico without pubic knowledge or consultation. The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos and the Caney Mundo brought the destruction at Arecibo to the attention of both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Institute. The local Taíno called for a halt to the construction and for consultative meetings to discuss their concerns but their requests were ignored. The construction continued and the destruction to that site remains an inconceivable loss barely mentioned by local media.

“The lack of respect for the local community and the continuous destruction and looting of our national patrimony were among the major reasons why we chose to enter Caguana and symbolically reclaim the site through our protest.” stated Elba Anaca Lugo.

“These corrupt practices have been going on in Boriken (Puerto Rico) for many years and we, the Taíno People have continuously attempted to bring these cases to the attention of the government authorities who in turn continue to ignore our concerns.” continued Lugo. “This is a violation of our basic human rights.”

Speaking on behalf of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP), Roberto Mucaro Borrero stated “The UCTP is in full support of the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos and the Caney Quinto Mundo with relation to their declaration concerning the ancient Taíno site recently found in Ponce, Puerto Rico.”

“As they represent the concerns of the local indigenous community, the UCTP looks toward the Consejo General and the Caney Quinto Mundo for guidance in this situation and will do all that it can to highlight their exclusion from the consultation process” noted Borrero.

Representatives of the Consejo General visited the site on Saturday, October 27, 2007 to survey the situation first-hand as well as to perform traditional ceremony on behalf of their ancestors. Lugo’s statement and commentary on UPR radio tomorrow morning is the first in a series that the Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos will dedicate to this issue.

Photo: Prof. Elia Vega García


Declaraciones del Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos y el Caney 5to Mundo en torno al hallazgo del yacimiento Tibes/Bucana Baramaya (Portugués)

Declaraciones del Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos y el Caney 5to Mundo en torno al hallazgo del yacimiento Jacanas -Tibes/Bucana Baramaya (Portugués) en Ponce.

La Nación Taino/ Buricua representada a través del Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, órgano unificador de nuestra madre tierra Boriken y el Caney 5to Mundo:

  1. Declara que en este hallazgo han habido innumerables violaciones de leyes al patrimonio del pueblo Buricua Taino de Boriken (Puerto Rico), así como al patrimonio universal.
  1. Exige que se detenga las excavaciones y saqueos inmediatamente.
  1. Exige la repatriación al Consejo General de Tainos Boricanos y al Caney del Quinto Mundo de las osamentas saqueadas del yacimiento para su retorno a la madre tierra con todo el protocolo espiritual ceremonial según nuestras costumbres y tradiciones.
  1. Proclama el yacimiento Tibes Bucana/Baramaya Tierra Sagrada y Santuario del patrimonio cultural indígena de Boriken.
  1. Denuncia que el gobierno federal, a través del cuerpo de ingenieros, así como el gobierno estatal y las instituciones que manejan nuestro legado cultural y ancestral han incurrido en una clara crasa violación de leyes de derechos internacionales indígenas de las Naciones Unidas y la Organización de Estados Americanos, leyes arqueológicas estatales, constitucionales y federales.
  1. Denuncia que el pueblo Buricua Taino ha sido discriminado y excluido de su plena y efectiva participación, el procedimiento de consulta previa y del consentimiento libre, previo e informado en el manejo y destino de nuestra herencia cultural ancestral por las instituciones gubernamentales.
  1. Exige que se detenga las profanaciones a nuestros enterramientos y yacimientos indígenas.
  1. Reclamamos respeto y dignidad para con nuestros enterramientos, restos y objetos Sagrados Fúnebres Ancestrales..
  1. Exige la preservación de este yacimiento para pasadas, presentes y futuras generaciones.

Nota: anexos A, B, C, y D, fundamentos legales.


Photo: Prof. Elia Vega García


UN Declaration Assists Caribbean Indigenous Peoples

Belize (UCTP Taino News) - The Supreme Court of Belize, on October 18, cites the recently adopted United Nations Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples to justify its decision upholding the rights of Mayan People to their traditional lands.

The Supreme Court decision involved the Maya villages of Conejo and Santa Cruz and noted that their customary land tenure practices give rise to property rights that are protected under the Constitution of Belize. The Court found that that the failure of the government of Belize to recognize and protect those rights constitute a violation of the constitutional protections of property, equality, life and security of the person. The judgment, which took approximately two and a half hours to read, affirmed that Belize is obligated not only by the Constitution but also by international treaty and customary law - including the recent United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples - to respect and protect Maya customary land rights.

The decision is being hailed as a landmark in Belize as well as throughout the Caribbean region and beyond as it is the first judgment applied specifically to the United Nations' declaration, which was adopted Sept. 13 by the U.N. General Assembly.

The victory is expected to result in more protections and land rights for Indigenous People in Belize and potentially affects more than 40 Maya villages. Community leaders are calling it Mayan Independence Day.


Puerto Rico & the House Natural Resources Committee

UCTP Taino News - On Tuesday, the Committee on Natural Resources will meet in open markup session to consider H.R. 900, the Puerto Rico Democracy Act of 2007. The legislation would provide for a federally sanctioned self-determination process for the people of Puerto Rico by directing the Puerto Rico State Elections Commission to conduct a plebiscite during the 111th Congress. The plebiscite would give voters the option to vote for continued U.S. territorial status or for a path toward a constitutionally viable permanent nonterritorial status. Visit Web site for additional information. The meeting will take place at 11:00 a.m., in Room 1324 of the Longworth House Office Building in Washington, DC.

Terrorism Act used Against Indigenous People in New Zealand

Aotearoa/New Zealand (UCTP Taino News) – Last week, New Zealand’s Terrorism Suppression Act was used to carry out nationwide raids against indigenous Maori sovereignty groups, environmental organizations, and even a school bus.

It has been widely reported that approximately three-hundred officers including an elite anti-terrorist “special tactics group” took part in the raids following an investigation into what are alleged to be “military-style” training camps in the Eastern Bay of Plenty - home to the Tuhoe Maori. In Tuhoe Country, the entire community of Ruatoki was blockaded by armed police, with no cars allowed in for several hours.

There have been seventeen reported arrests so far, including well-known Tuhoe Maori activist Tame Iti. At least sixty persons are reportedly being detained for questioning while others who have not yet been taken into custody have had “open warrants” issued against them. An “open warrant” in New Zealand means that the police can return to search their homes at any time, day or night, over the next month. Maori activists are also reporting that police have entered homes with unsigned search warrants, aggressively displaying firearms, intimidating children, and confiscating computers.

Responding to the crises, Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell stated “Maori always predicted it was only a matter of time before the Terrorism Suppression Act would be used against them.” Flavell also noted that the “over-the-top” operation has left Ruatoki school children and families fearful.

Although some non-Maori were arrested during the raids, mainstream media is seizing the opportunity to promote racially biased reporting. The BBC ran a headline reading “Alleged Maori plot against whites" while a headline from London’s Daily Telegraph read "Maori weapons seized in terror camp raid." According to that headline, it would seem even weapons have an indigenous identity in New Zealand.

Across the globe Indigenous Peoples are justifiably concerned with the events unfolding in the South Pacific. The International Indian Treaty Council and other international organizations have issued urgent communications to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Special Rapportuer on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, among others.

While the raids are a source of outrage, many long-time indigenous activists are not completely surprised by the actions of the New Zealand Government. With the rise of politically conservative controlled governments, aggressions against indigenous rights activists are increasing.

From the military incursions against Indigenous Peoples in Columbia and Australia earlier this year to last year’s Mohawk stand off with Canadian forces in Caledonia as well as the special weapons police operation against unarmed, hunger-striking Taíno activists in the U.S. colony of Puerto Rico in 2005, renewed policies of government-sponsored aggression against First Nations are fast becoming a rule rather than an exception in some countries.

Looking at these events collectively, a pattern of government hostility emerges that one cannot help but to link to the controversy surrounding the recently adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As most of the world voted to adopt this standard-setting human rights instrument, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States voted against it while Columbia abstained.

If their recent aggressions and votes at the UN are used as a guide, one can conclude that from the perspective of governments, the solution to their “problems” is simple: Indigenous Peoples can sing and dance to bring in tourism revenue but if they speak up about respect for their basic human rights they will be militarily targeted, forcibly removed from their lands, and jailed.

Maori in Aotearoa (New Zealand) are now experiencing this reality. Although The Terrorism Suppression Act was passed in 2002, a Bill currently before New Zealand’s Parliament would amend it, creating a new offence of committing a terrorist act punishable by a sentence of up to life in prison. So far all but one of the current accused has been declined bail. If a bail application is declined in the District Court, an appeal to the High Court can be made but if application is again refused, the accused will remain in custody until the time of trial. Considering the factors in these cases, there is a strong possibility that many freedom fighters and social and environmental activists could face two years imprisonment without trial.

As Indigenous, Human Rights, and Environmental activists worldwide continue to closely monitor the events unfolding in Aotearoa, one can be sure that certain “democratic” governments are also monitoring this situation just as closely in anticipation of their own possible actions against Indigenous Peoples.


UCTP Taino News Editor's Note: A support website for the arrestees has been created with information on support groups, background details, how to write to prisoners and more, at http://www.civilrightsdefence.org.nz/.


From Hatuey to Che: Indigenous Cuba Without Indians and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

On October 19-20, 2007, Michigan State University College of Law was fortunate to host the 4th Annual Indigenous Law Conference. This year, the theme was American Indian Law and Literature. My thanks to Matthew Fletcher and Wenona Singel for an excellent conference. My own contribution to that event focused on my work in Latin America, and specifically Latin American engagement in international law and national self constitution. What follows is an abstract and then an extended version of my presentation at the Conference. Comments and reactions, as always, are most welcome.

ABSTRACT: Indigenous peoples have been quite useful to political elites in Latin America almost since the time of the conquests by Spanish and Portuguese adventurers in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, indigenous people supplied the foundations for a trope, both literary and political, essential for the construction of cultural, ethnic, racial and political identities distinct from the traditional colonial masters of emerging Latin American states, as well as from that great power to the North. This paper looks at one aspect of this rich development by focusing on the "noble savage" and the construction of Caribbean (and principally Cuban) political identity and the formation of governance ideals. The heart of the paper examines essays of José Martí in the broader context of Latin indigenismo.


Indigenous peoples have been quite useful to political elites in Latin America generally, and in the Caribbean specifically, almost since the time of the conquests by Spanish and Portuguese adventurers in the 15th and 16th centuries. But they have been most useful dead. Or, where the vestiges of Taíno culture are hard to avoid, at least erased from living national memory. In their place, a political racialized mestizaje was deployed against the political purity of race deployed by North Americans in their quest to replace Spain as the dominant colonial power in the Hemisphere, and against Spanish race hierarchies of the colonial period.

Dead, the Indian could be transformed, generalized, denatured, and repackaged for the benefit of emerging elites. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, indigenous people supplied the foundations for a trope, both literary and political, essential for the construction of cultural, ethnic, racial and political identities distinct from the traditional colonial masters of emerging Latin American states, as well as from that great power to the North. This trope, in turn, was part of a larger discussion within Latin American pitting a mestisaje based political and literary theory among nations with large mixed populations and a more North American perspective in places like Argentina and Chile with smaller indigenous and African populations. Indigenismo thus fractured in meaning—pointing to either original peoples, or the blended post conquest populations, or the indigenous characteristics of a dominant European population in its new territory.

See full article at:


Taino Welcomed by Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples

Arima, Trinidad (UCTP Taino News) – On October 16th, 2007 Indigenous leaders from throughout the Caribbean meet in Arima, Trinidad to discuss critical regional issues under the auspices of the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP). Hosted by Trinidad’s Santa Rosa Carib Community, delegates attending the COIP meeting represented Indigenous Peoples from Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and Puerto Rico.

In an historic affirmation of Caribbean Indigenous solidarity, COIP officially welcomed Puerto Rico’s Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos as full voting members. As COIP is a recognized by Indigenous Peoples, governments, inter-governmental organizations as a Caribbean regional organization, the inclusion of the Consejo General now provides an opportunity for Boriken Taino to officially raise their concerns within this collective.

During the meeting, another important agenda item focused on COIP representation at International Forums such as the United Nations. The increasing visibility of COIP at this level is already evident as a communication from the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues was received and transmitted to the participants during the opening ceremony for the meeting.

Held in Arima’s Town Hall, the opening ceremony for the important meeting began with welcoming remarks from the honorable Mayor of Arima, Adrian Cabralis, as well as Government Ministers, Excellencies Penelope Beckles and Joan Yuille-Wiliams.

Funding for many of the delegates to attend the meeting as well as the concurrent activities celebrating Trinidad’s “Amerindian Heritage Week” was made available by the government of Trinidad and Tobago.


Carib and Taino Nations Sign Historic Treaty

Chief Charles Williams and Roberto Mucaro Borrero
Unite the Carib and Taino Nations in Trinidad. UCTP Photo

Arima, Trinidad (UCTP Taino News) – The Kallinago Carib Nation of Waitikabuli (Dominica) and the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) ratified an historic "Declaration of Unity" on October 16, 2007.

Kallinago Chief Charles Williams and Roberto Mucaro Borrero, the President and Chairman of the UCTP’s Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination signed the declaration on behalf of their respective communities during the celebration of Amerindian Heritage Week in Arima, Trinidad.

“Indigenous Peoples need to support each other as there is strength in unity” declared Chief Williams.

The declaration promotes solidarity between the Kallinago and the Taino at the local, national, and international levels.

“Treaties between Indigenous Nations are tangible demonstrations of our sovereignty and our internationally recognized right to self-determination” noted President Borrero. “This declaration makes it clear to all that the Kallinago and the Taino recognize each other as Indigenous Peoples of the region”.

The Kallinago Carib Nation is the only indigenous community in the Caribbean islands who maintain an officially recognized territory via a treaty with the government of Dominica. The UCTP represents Taino People throughout the region and the Diaspora.

The “Declaration of Unity” with the Kallinago Nation follows a series of similarly historic treaty ratifications by the United Confederation of Taino People. Currently, the UCTP maintains treaty relationships with the Santa Rosa Carib Community of Trinidad, the Joboshirima Arawak Community of Venezuela, the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP), and the Eagle Clan Arawaks of Barbados and Guyana.


Caribs Celebrate Amerindian Heritage Week in Trinidad

Ameridian Heritage Week Ceremony, Arima, Trinidad

Trinidad and Tobago (UCTP Taino News) – October 14 thru 19 2007 is designated Amerindian Heritage Week in the “Twin Republic” of Trinidad and Tobago. Celebrations, ceremonies, and educational activities are being led and organized by the Santa Rosa Karina (Carib) Community with the support of the government of Trinidad.

Some highlights of the week long celebration include ceremonial processions, ceremonies, crafts exhibitions, visits to sacred and historic sites, meetings with high-level government officials, and a meeting of the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (C.O.I.P.).

In solidarity with the Santa Rosa Carib Community, indigenous delegations representing Guyana, Surinam, Belize, Venezuela, Dominica, Puerto Rico and from as far as Canada are participating in the celebration.

Under the leadership of Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, the Santa Rosa Community continues to raise the prominence of Trinidad’s indigenous descendants. At last year’s celebration the government announced the formation of a cabinet committee to review and issue recommendations regarding the island’s Indigenous Peoples. The committee, which includes government and Santa Rosa Community representatives has recently submitted its first report.

During a speech given in Arima this week, Chief Bharath-Hernandez stated that while the community appreciates the government’s support “much more needs to be done”. The Chief then referred to their Community’s outstanding land-base issue and their desire for an official holiday to recognize the contribution of the Twin-Island Republic’s Indigenous Peoples.


Arawak Master Woodcarver Names Son After Bolivian President

Pakuri Territory, Guyana (UCTP Taino News) – Internationally renowned master woodsculptor, Foster Simon of Pakuri Lokono Arawak Territory (St. Cuthberts Mission) celebrated the September birth of his newborn son by naming the child “Evo” Simon after President Evo Morales Ayma of Bolivia.

President Morales is hailed as the hemisphere’s first “full-blooded” indigenous Head of State in over 450 years of the European and neo-colonial occupation of the Americas. Many Indigenous Peoples throughout the Caribbean and the Americas consider President Evo Morales to be “their President”; he is a well-respected and revered personage among First Nations of the Hemisphere.

Foster Simon’s wooden sculptures form part of the Presidential collections of Guyana, Venezuela, and Bolivia. One of Simon’s most recent art works was presented to Bolivian Ambassador Reynaldo Cuadros who received the unique piece on behalf of President Morales. The work was gifted to the Ambassador by Simon’s brother-in-law, Damon Corrie (Arawak), who was invited to make the special presentation at the Presidential Palace in La Paz during a session of the Organization of American States held there in April 2007.

Photo: Proud Arawak parents, Margaret and Foster Simon with new
baby "Evo Simon" in Pakuri Territory, Guyana


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