Taino Women Collecting Clothing for Homeless Families

Bronx, NY (UCTP Taino News) - Members of the Bohio Atabei Caribbean Indigenous Women's Circle are coordinating clothing drive for a Bronx shelter operated by "Women in Need, Inc.", an organization that provides housing, help and hope to New York City women and their families who are homeless and disadvantaged.

Bohio spokesperson Vanessa Inarunikia Pastrano stated that there is a need for "plus size clothes as well as coats, hats, gloves, pants for women and children."

"We are also asking that consideration be given to the donation of environmentally safe toys as we have 50 children from infant to 12 years of age who will most likely not receive a gift over the holidays" she continued.

The group plans to deliver the donations directly to the Bronx Shelter on January 6th 2010 on "Three Kings Day". The donations can be dropped off or mailed to Bohio Atabei, c/o KHNIA, 2805 University Avenue, Suite B, Bronx, New York, 10468.

The Bohio Atabei will accept clothing and toy donations only. Clothing should be new or "like new" condition. Monetary donations can be made directly to "Women in Need, Inc." at http://www.women-in-need.org/.

UCTPTN 12.27.2006


Taino Artisans Look Toward the Holidays in Ponce

La Guancha, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) – Holiday shoppers interested in contemporary indigenous art in Boriken (Puerto Rico) can visit several Taino craft venders at the festival market at “La Guancha” in Ponce.

Community members Luis Kacian Calderon Vega of Alfareria Kanari and Edgar Yerut of Wakia Arawaka Taino are certified artisans who present their works at the famous marina and boardwalk every weekend. The artisans serve as cultural ambassadors for a curious public.

"Our culturally based Taino Boriqua artforms make unique and affordable gifts perfect for the current economic climate" stated Luis Kacian who heads his own shop, Alfareria Kanari, specializing in hand-thrown ceramics. Artisans on the island have been adversely affected by the island’s ongoing economic crises.

"We hope that more people contact us so that we may share our art and culture with the entire world" notes Edgar Yerut who along with Lizzy Sarobey co-design the handcrafts presented by Wakia Arawkia Taina year round at this coastal boardwalk bazaar.

While the artists at La Guancha are looking toward local support this holiday season, interested Taino art enthusiasts world-wide can contact them at akanari2008@hotmail.com.


Bermuda Native Community and Taino Declare Unity

The Honorable Governor of Bermuda, Sir Richard Gozney, UCTP Liaison Mildred Karaira Gandia, and Stephen Tucker, Chairman of the St. David’s Islanders and Native Community in Bermuda. (UCTP Photo)

Saint Davids, Bermuda (UCTP Taino News) - An historic "Declaration of Unity" was ratified this month between the St. Davids Islanders and Native Community of Bermuda and the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP). The treaty was the result of a diplomatic process that began in June during a local indigenous celebration of Bermuda's 400th Anniversary.

Mildred Karaira Gandia (Boriken Taino) was the Confederation's representative who undertook the diplomatic mission to Bermuda. Karaira facilitated the treaty process in coordination with Tucker "Brinky" St. Clair of the Saint David's Islander and Native Community.

"The Taino could not have had a better representative to our community" stated Tucker, a community Council member.

The Declaration of Unity promotes solidarity between the Saint David's Islanders and Native Community and the Taino at the local, national, and international levels.

“This Declaration is significant politically and spiritually” stated Karaira.

“With our unification we strengthen our voices in the region as we continue to promote the teachings of our ancestors by reuniting our indigenous family.” She continued stating “This is for our future generations.”

The Saint David’s Islanders and Native Community represents the descendants of Indigenous Peoples who were taken to Bermuda as part of the slave trade from the United States and Caribbean during the 1700s. The UCTP represents Taino People throughout the region and the Diaspora.

UCTPTN 12.15.2008


Dr. Desrey Fox of the Akawaio Tribal Nation passes on

Georgetown, Guyana (UCTP Taino News) - Dr. Desrey Fox, 54, passed away this morning at the Georgetown Public Hospital in Guyana. Dr. Fox, a member of the Akawaio Tribal Nation was a Minister in the Guyana Government’s Ministry of Education. Local reports indicate that she sustained back and head injuries in a tragic auto accident on Tuesday evening. Her grandson was also injured in the accident and remains in the hospital’s pediatric ward.

Dr. Fox was born in Waramadong Village, Upper Mazaruni District in Guyana. She was awarded a Ph.D and MA in Linguistics from Rice University, an MA in Environmental Anthropology from the University of Kent at Canterbury, and a B.Sc in Sociology from the University of Guyana.

"I was deeply saddened by this tragic news” states Damon Corrie a Lokono Arawak activist. “I had known Dr. Desrey Fox since the 1996 United Nations sponsored SIDS (Small island Developing States) conference in Barbados.”

Corrie continued stating “Truly, Guyana has lost its most famous Amerindian daughter. May her soul rest in peace knowing that her allotted time on this Earth was well spent.”

Dr. Desrey Fox is survived by three sons and other relatives.

UCTPTN 12.11.2009

Online Petition: I Respect Human Rights- Human Rights Day 2009

Takahi Guaitiao (Greetings Relatives): December 10, 2009, marked the 61st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first global enunciation of human rights. These are basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. Examples of these rights include but are not limited to the right to life, the right to economic, social and cultural rights, the right to water, the right to food, and the right to education.

Today, the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change (IIPFCC) launched a petition called “I Respect Human Rights! Human Rights Day 2009”. The petition reads:

"On the occasion of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2009, I affirm my commitment to the universal human rights, including the human rights of Indigenous Peoples as embodied in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples."

Please sign the petition online at:


Please share with others in your network. Haho (Thank you)


Guyanese Indigenous Organization Changes Leadership

Georgetown, Guyana (UCTP Taino News) – The Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) has changed its leadership recently and is now being run by an Interim Executive Committee. The new Committee office-bearers include Dr. George Norton (Chief), Mary Valenzuela (Deputy Chief), Colin Klautky (Public Relations Officer), Esther Robinson (Secretary), Gracene Rosheuvel (Asst. Secretary), and Sheffield Forero (Treasurer). The Committee will remain in place until the GOIP Annual General Assembly schedule to be held in July 2010. GOIP works to facilitate the development of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana through institutes and by promoting the recognition of the internationally recognized rights and interests through partnership with other NGO’s, stakeholders and agencies.

UCTPTN 12.10.2009


Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Human Rights Day 10 December 2009

The concept of non-discrimination lies at the heart of human rights.

For this reason, it has been designated the official theme of this Human Rights Day, which occurs every year on the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And for this and many other reasons it should be an unofficial theme every day, every year, for everyone.

Twenty-six of the Universal Declaration’s 30 Articles begin with the words "Everyone…” or “No one…” Everyone should enjoy all human rights. No one should be excluded. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Non-discrimination must prevail.

Today, we have a whole range of rights-based international treaties imbued throughout with the concept of non-discrimination. These include, for example, Conventions on the rights of the child, rights of people with disabilities, rights of refugees and of migrant workers; Conventions dedicated to the elimination of racial discrimination and discrimination against women; as well as treaties dealing with labour, health and religion. These legally binding standards are complemented by important UN declarations detailing minority rights and the rights of indigenous

These international laws and standards are supported by thousands of national and regional laws and institutions. Quite a few countries now have truly universal education, and a smaller number have universal public health systems. Taken together all of this marks an extraordinary celebration of humankind’s ability and aspiration to create a world of equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. And many millions of people have benefited as a result.

People of all sorts have something to offer. When we embrace diversity, we bring extra richness and depth to our societies.

Yet discrimination is still rampant.

Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than one percent of the world’s property. Despite significant improvements over the past century, women and girls are still discriminated against to some degree in all societies and to a great degree in many. Every day countless numbers of women are sexually or physically abused, and the vast majority of their abusers go unpunished and future abuse is undeterred.

Minorities in all regions of the world continue to face serious threats, discrimination and racism, and are frequently excluded from fully taking part in the economic, political, social and cultural life available to the majorities in the countries or societies where they live.

Similar problems face the estimated 370 million indigenous people who make up five percent of the world’s population, but 15 percent of its poorest people. They are often marginalized, deprived of many fundamental rights – including land and property – and lack access to basic services.

Racial and ethnic discrimination are also to be found all across the planet, and remain one of the most dangerous forms of discrimination. Left unchecked, or actively fanned, they can all too easily lead to hatred, violence, and – in the worst cases – push on up the scale to full-blown conflict, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Discrimination based on religion or belief can be equally destructive. In certain countries, members of certain groups are restricted in how they can exercise their religion or belief and deprived of their fundamental rights. In extreme cases such conditions may lead to sectarian violence, killing and conflict. Stereotyping can lead to stigmatization and isolationism.

Refugees and migrants are widely discriminated against, including in rich countries where men, women and children who have committed no crime are often held in detention for prolonged periods. They are frequently discriminated against by landlords, employers and state-run authorities, and stereotyped and vilified by some political parties, media organizations and members of the public.

Many other groups face discrimination to a greater or lesser degree. Some of them are easily definable such as persons with disabilities, stateless people, gays and lesbians, members of particular castes and the elderly. Others may span several different groups and find themselves discriminated against on several different levels as a result.

Those who are not discriminated against often find it hard to comprehend the suffering and humiliation that discrimination imposes on their fellow individual human beings. Nor do they always understand the deeply corrosive effect it has on society at large.

Discrimination feeds mistrust, resentment, violence, crime and insecurity and makes no economic sense, since it reduces productivity. It has no beneficial aspects for society whatsoever. Yet we continue to practice it – virtually all of us – often as a casual reflex, without even realizing what we are doing.

I would therefore like to encourage people everywhere – politicians, officials, businesses leaders, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, religious leaders, teachers, students, and each and every individual – to honour Human Rights Day 2009 by embracing diversity and resolving to take concrete and lasting actions to help put an end to discrimination.

Source: www.uctp.org


Federal Agency to Change its Early Conclusions on Environmental Assessment in Vieques

ATLANTA-The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has signaled its intent to modify some of its earlier conclusions about health risks to residents of the Island of Vieques. The decision was shared during a meeting with scientists from Puerto Rico and followed a thorough review of ATSDR public health assessments finalized in 2003 and other environmental studies of the island conducted in the intervening years. ATSDR’s re-examination of the data comes as part of a "fresh look" the federal public health agency pledged to island residents and Congress.

"A thorough and objective review of the available data is an important step in our commitment to the people of Vieques", said Dr. Howard Frumkin, agency director. "Much has been learned since we first went to Vieques a decade ago, and we have identified gaps in environmental data that could be important in determining health effects." We are committed to using the best technology and scientific expertise to help find answers for the people of Vieques.

"The gaps we found indicate that we cannot state unequivocally that no health hazards exist in Vieques. We have found reason to pose further questions," Frumkin said. As a result of the scientific consultation and its document review, ATSDR expects to:

change some of its earlier conclusions regarding the safety of environmental exposures on Vieques;
• recommend biomonitoring to determine whether persons living on Vieques have been exposed to harmful chemicals, and, if so, at what levels those chemicals may be in their bodies;
• work with Puerto Rican health officials to conduct more in-depth evaluation of health outcomes;
• work with community members and Puerto Rican health officials to issue science-based, precautionary recommendations to protect public health;
• work with partners in the Puerto Rican health care community to encourage improved access to health care for residents of Vieques; and
• coordinate an inclusive, accountable process featuring participation of Puerto Rican community members and professionals in moving forward.

ATSDR scientists will prepare a summary report of the previous environmental health work done for Vieques, including recommendations developed from the scientific consultation. As part of the scientific process, this report will be peer reviewed by independent experts. Once peer review is completed, ATSDR will provide detailed recommendations about future activities.

"ATSDR greatly appreciates the scientists taking time to travel to Atlanta and share their findings and perspectives. We salute the independent scientists and community leaders for their dedication to the health of the people of Vieques, and we look forward to working with them as we move forward with our fresh look at Vieques," Frumkin said.

Source: ATSDR Press Release


Negotiations Continue on American Indigenous Rights Declaration

WASHINGTON D.C. (UCTP Taino News) — Indigenous leaders from throughout the Americas gathered in in Washington DC this week to participate in the negotiations on an American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The proposed legal framework focuses on the protection of the economic, cultural, and political rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The meetings took place from Nov. 30 - December 2, 2009 at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS is a regional inter-governmental organization that seeks to build peace, solidarity and collaboration in the Americas.

“This work needs to be completed,” said Armstrong Wiggins, director of the Indian Law Resource Center’s Washington office. “The declaration is not yet adopted, and I fear it could become an orphan if states do not act more seriously on it.”

Damon Corrie, an Arawak activist from Barbados agrees. Corrie and other Caribbean indigenous delegates from Dominica, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Saint Vincent, and Suriname continue to be concerned about the lack of participation from CARICOM governments within these important negotiations.

“The only CARICOM member State showing any interest in this process is the Republic of Guyana” noted Corrie. “This process will have a tremendous impact on whether future relations between Indigenous Peoples and political states will be equitable and harmonious or unjust and adversarial.”

According to a recent press release from the Indian Law Resource Center (ILRC), this dialogue comes as global initiatives are threatening indigenous rights. The World Bank and United Nations for example have funded several projects that are designed to provide climate change solutions but instead could harm indigenous communities if developed on their lands and territories. These projects could lead to violations of indigenous peoples’ land and natural resources rights.

The ILRC and other participating organizations assert that the declaration would address these threats and establish a legal framework to protect indigenous rights from potential violations.

UCTPTN 12.02.2009


Esencia Tabonuco Continues to Educate Local Community

Members of Esencia Tabonuco present Taino culture in Hato Rey Boriken (Puerto Rico)

Hato Rey, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) - Celebrating “la Semana Puertorriqueña” in Hato Rey last Sunday, the Taino cultural group Esencia Tabonuco gave a special educational presentation at Iglesia San Jose en Barrio Isreal.

In his statment to those gathered, Melvin J. Gonzales Acosta, the group’s director emphasized the community participation in these presentations. Gonzalez Acosta linked public education and traditional areyto (social ceremonial celebrations) practices as a way to connect families and neighbors inter-generationally.

Featuring indigenous Taino traditions within the island wide heritage celebrations this month has gained prominence as the history of Caribbean colonization becomes more important to the younger generations of the so-called “New World”.

UCTPTN 11.21.2009


Taino Honor Island’s First Hero

Professor Jalil Sued Badillo addresses those gathered to honor Taino leader Agueybana II
in Ponce, Boriken (Puerto Rico)

Ponce, Boriken (UCTP Taino News) – Local Taino gathered in Ponce, Boriken on November 19, 2009 to pay respect to Kasike (Chief) Agueybana II, a 16th century warrior considered by many to be the island’s first hero to stand against colonialism.

Organized by the United Confederation of Taino People’s Liaison Office in Boriken, the special event took place at the monument to the great Taino leader who led confederated indigenous communities against Spanish conquistadors at the battle of Yahueca in 1511. The program was enthusiastically attended by members of the local community, scholars, government officials, and school children.

Among the presentations featured was a historical biography of "Agueybana el bravo” by Professor Jalil Sued Badillo, a musical tribute by elder and artist Miguel Anel Guzman, and a Taino cultural presentation by members of Esencia Tabonuco.

The program received additional support from the office of the honorable Victor Vassallo Anadon, the congressional representative for Ponce and Jayuya. Vassallo issued a proclamation for the occasion designating Nov. 19 as Kasike Agueybana Day.

UCTPTN 11.20.2009


Native American Response to Sweat Lodge Death

Traditional Native People Question Motivation of New Age Movement

Native American Sweat Lodge a Spiritual Experience, Monika Ponton Arrington
A Native American sweat lodge ritual is a conscious spiritual journey that should never involve the exchange of money, as this degrades the energy of the ceremony.

Three people died and dozens were hospitalized October 8, 2009, after collapsing from the intense, prolonged heat of a sweat lodge conducted by spiritual guru James A. Ray.

The sweat ritual was part of a five-day, almost $10,000 "Spiritual Warrior" retreat near Sedona, Arizona, designed to "accelerate the releasing of your limitations and push yourself past your self-imposed and conditioned borders," according to the retreat's advertisements.

Many Native Americans are distressed about not only the injuries and deaths that occurred because of the sweat lodge, but also about the use of this sacred Native tradition as a money-making tool.

"Our spirituality, our traditional ways, should not be for sale," said Monika Ponton-Arrington in an interview with Suite101's Lori Nash. Monika is a Taino Native, from Puerto Rico, but now resides in Ellijay, Georgia.

"The Inipi Ceremony – which is what it is called by the Lakota people – has been passed down for generations by our ancestors. It is a sacred, spiritual quest that you have to really prepare for, and you have to go in for the right reasons, and with the right intentions," Monika said.

Native American Sweat Lodge a Spiritual Experience, Monika Ponton Arrington
A Native American sweat lodge ritual is a conscious spiritual journey that should never involve the exchange of money, as this degrades the energy of the ceremony.

Three people died and dozens were hospitalized October 8, 2009, after collapsing from the intense, prolonged heat of a sweat lodge conducted by spiritual guru James A. Ray.

The sweat ritual was part of a five-day, almost $10,000 "Spiritual Warrior" retreat near Sedona, Arizona, designed to "accelerate the releasing of your limitations and push yourself past your self-imposed and conditioned borders," according to the retreat's advertisements.

Many Native Americans are distressed about not only the injuries and deaths that occurred because of the sweat lodge, but also about the use of this sacred Native tradition as a money-making tool.

"Our spirituality, our traditional ways, should not be for sale," said Monika Ponton-Arrington in an interview with Suite101's Lori Nash. Monika is a Taino Native, from Puerto Rico, but now resides in Ellijay, Georgia.

"The Inipi Ceremony – which is what it is called by the Lakota people – has been passed down for generations by our ancestors. It is a sacred, spiritual quest that you have to really prepare for, and you have to go in for the right reasons, and with the right intentions," Monika said.

Three people died and dozens were hospitalized October 8, 2009, after collapsing from the intense, prolonged heat of a sweat lodge conducted by spiritual guru James A. Ray.

The sweat ritual was part of a five-day, almost $10,000 "Spiritual Warrior" retreat near Sedona, Arizona, designed to "accelerate the releasing of your limitations and push yourself past your self-imposed and conditioned borders," according to the retreat's advertisements.

Many Native Americans are distressed about not only the injuries and deaths that occurred because of the sweat lodge, but also about the use of this sacred Native tradition as a money-making tool.

"Our spirituality, our traditional ways, should not be for sale," said Monika Ponton-Arrington in an interview with Suite101's Lori Nash. Monika is a Taino Native, from Puerto Rico, but now resides in Ellijay, Georgia.

"The Inipi Ceremony – which is what it is called by the Lakota people – has been passed down for generations by our ancestors. It is a sacred, spiritual quest that you have to really prepare for, and you have to go in for the right reasons, and with the right intentions," Monika said.

"Plus, it does not cost money. In fact, it should never involve an exchange of money, because money takes away the purity of the energy for the ceremony," she said.

The Right Intentions Bring Healing Energy

Native Americans use the sweat ritual as a way to cleanse and heal their spirits, Monika said. Typically, the ceremony focuses on one person, and the others there come to support him or her. Often it is only family members who are taking part in the ceremony together.

"It's important that everyone know each other, so you know what kind of issues are being brought in," she said. "When I go to a sweat ceremony, and I don't know who all is in there, I stay outside and sing to support them, but I'm not going to go in there; it just wouldn't be right."

"In that New Age sweat where people died, they were all strangers and they were there for their own reasons, all different," Monika said. "They all had their inner issues, their problems, their demons," she said. "The Pourer – even if he did know what he was doing – he could not be spiritually connected to everyone, all 60 people, who were there."

A proper sweat ceremony is also not about "pushing your limits," Monika said. "It's supposed to be about connecting – connecting to Mother Earth, connecting to spirituality, connecting to our ancestors – and through this connection comes healing," she said.

The Traditional Native Sweat Ceremony Must Follow Proper Protocol

As practiced for hundreds of years by Native Americans, the sweat lodge ceremony involves a chosen individual – the Pourer – to pour the "water of life" on the super-heated rocks, producing steam. The Pourer has to earn the right to do this by preparing for years; it is believed that the Pourer takes care of the lives of those participating in the sweat ceremony by purifying them.

The heated rocks are believed by the Natives to be "Grandfathers" or "Stone People" – spiritual ancestors who deliver messages during a sweat ritual. It is then the Pourer's responsibility to call in the helper spirits and deliver their messages to those in the sweat through prayer and singing.

"During a sweat, you are in the womb of Mother Earth, and you are witnessing the expressions of the spirits and angels of the ancestors to come and help you," Monika said.

"Spiritual Precautions" Must Be Taken

Monika contends that many mistakes were made in the Sedona sweat lodge during the "Spiritual Warrior" retreat, and that these mistakes could have produced an "energy" that contributed to the tragic outcome.

"First of all, there should be no more than 10-15 people; I heard there were 60 people in there. That's just dangerous, because no one knew each other. It would be confusing for the spirits," she said.

Monika added that as the temperature rises in the sweat lodge, the doors are opened to cool it down and to "reconnect with the outside world." A sweat ritual might last from dusk until dawn, she said, but the participants are not expected to suffer with the heat, as it was reported that some did in the Sedona sweat lodge.

"Plus, you never mix men and women in a sweat, unless it is only close relations or you know the people very, very well," she said. "

"The energies of men and women are different, and that would add to the spiritual chaos that must have occurred" that day in Sedona, she said.

"I have brothers and sisters who are Lakota, Commanchee, Cheyenne, Apache, and I have seen many good and beautiful things – miracles – come from a sweat ceremony," Monika said. "But it has to be done right, with the right preparation, and it must be respected."

"Arvol Looking Horse said it best," Monika said. "He said that all nations and people on Earth should please respect the sacred ceremonial way of life and not exploit our traditions for money."

Author: Lori Nash
Source: Suite 101


Brown pelican off endangered species list

Washington, DC (UCTP Taino News) — After being pushed to near extinction caused by pesticides, hunters, and the loss of habitat the brown pelican was removed from the endangered species list on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2009.

"We can all celebrate this victory for our sacred relative.” stated Roger Guayacan Hernandez, a Liaison Officer for the United Confederation of Taino People in Boriken (Puerto Rico).

“Our ancestors saw the Aruna (the brown pelican) and many other water birds as spiritually significant” continued Hernandez. “In many ways, the Aruna is a symbol for the conservation of the region’s wildlife as it took real dedication and partnership between government, conservation organizations, and concerned individuals to archive this success.”

Aruna is the ancient Arawak word for the brown pelican.

According to reports the Aruna population is now back up to more than 650,000 of the birds across Florida, in the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean, and in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The Aruna still faces threats including habitat loss from Global Warming. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service will continue to monitor its progress working with agencies and organizations in Mexico, Boriken, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

UCTP 11.12.2009



PAKARAIMA MOUNTAINS, GUYANA - Word has leaked out to a select few local, regional and International media sources that Barbados born Damon Gerard Corrie (of paternal Trinidadian and maternal Guyanese Amerindian descent) - well known to Barbadians as "the Snake Man'', may soon be well known throughout the Caribbean as 'Barbadiana Jones'' - he's been able to watermark and copyright the pictures of the "discovery of his lifetime" and can now be fully revealed.

He became the first person to identify and compile physical and photographic evidence of an ancient Amerindian culture
of skilled stonemasons formerly inhabiting an estimated 200 sq. mile mountainous area of Guyana.

Since the culture area covers 200 sq miles (known so far) in the Pakaraima mountains of Guyana - He decided to name the long lost ancient culture that inhabited this region and left a treasure trove of unique artifacts - the 'Pakaraimans'.

Corrie says he has been searching this area over the past decade at his own expenses - purely to satisfy his own curiosity initially; but realizes now that what he has discovered is too important to keep to himself any longer.

Never far from controversy, Corrie says he was careful to amass as much evidence as possible as he is convinced that "unscrupulous individuals in academic and political circles will not waste any time in launching petty and vitriolic attacks and attempted character assassination upon him" in order to caste doubt on the veracity of his discoveries.

This solo effort on 36 year old Corrie's part may prove to be an invaluable contribution to the science of Anthropology, and a vital missing chapter to the pre-Colombian history of Guyana.

Source: UCTP Taino News


President Obama signs memo on tribal consultation

President Barack Obama signed a memorandum on tribal consultation at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, which took place at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, November 5.

The memo directs all federal agencies to submit a "detailed" tribal consultation plan in the next 90 days. A progress report will be due in 270 days.

"History has shown that failure to include the voices of tribal officials in formulating policy affecting their communities has all too often led to undesirable and, at times, devastating and tragic results," Obama stated. "By contrast, meaningful dialogue between Federal officials and tribal officials has greatly improved Federal policy toward Indian tribes."

The memo also directs the White House Office of Management and Budget to submit a report on the implementation of the tribal consultation policies by the agencies. The report is due in one year.


Review text of memorandum here:


Taino Leader to Speak at Florida University

Miami, Florida (UCTP Taino News) - The President and Chairman of the United Confederation of Taino People’ Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination, Roberto Borrero is scheduled to give the opening address at Florida Atlantic University’s Native American Indian Heritage Celebration. Borrero’s special address will be presented on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 11:30am at the University’s campus, Traditions Plaza Breezeway, in Boca Raton, Florida. This special event is sponsored by the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Multi-Cultural Affairs and launches a series of activities focusing on Indigenous Peoples in the United States.

The Native American Indian Heritage month celebrations at FAU are free and open to students, faculty, and the general public. The celebration activities were coordinated in consultation with Dr. Enid Conley, FAU Alumna; the South Florida Story-telling Project; and Student Government BSUMP.

“This is such an honor for our local Taino community” stated Mildred Karaira Gandia, one of the Confederation’s two Liaison Officers in Florida. “This is an historic opportunity for the general public to understand that South Florida was and remains a part of the traditional Taino homelands.”

Karaira will host a welcome reception for Borrero in Miami that will be open to local Taino community members as well as representatives from other local Tribes and allies on Tuesday evening, Nov. 3. Community members that would like to attend or have more information about the reception should contact Karaira at Karaira@uctp.org as RSVPs are required.

In 1990 President George H. W. Bush approved a joint resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.

UCTPTN 10.26.2009


Venezuela Grants Land to Indigenous Communities On Indigenous Resistance Day

Caracas, Venezuela - Celebrating 517 years of indigenous resistance to invasion and colonisation Venezuela marked Indigenous Resistance Day on Monday with a street march through the capital, Caracas, the granting of title deeds to indigenous communities, and a special session of the National Assembly.

Across the Americas October 12 is widely celebrated as Columbus Day, the day in 1492 when Christopher Columbus, representing the Spanish Crown, first arrived in the Americas. In 2004 the Venezuelan government officially changed the name to Indigenous Resistance Day.

In Caracas, thousands of members of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), together with members of Venezuela's 44 indigenous groups, marched to the National Pantheon, in order to celebrate achievements for indigenous peoples under the Chavez government and claim their rights as the original inhabitants of the country.

A special session of the National Assembly then took place in the Pantheon, where the remains of 16th Century Indigenous Cacique (Chief) Guaicaipuro lie as well as those of Venezuelan independence leader Simon Bolivar, who fought against Spanish colonialism.

Also during a special ceremony in Zulia state, Venezuelan Interior Relations and Justice Minister, Tarek el Aissami, handed over title deeds covering some 41,630 hectares of land to three Yukpa indigenous communities in the Sierra de Perija National Park.

"Today we join in this celebration of Indigenous Resistance Day, the day of the dignity of the indigenous peoples of Latin America and particularly of the Bolivarian and Revolutionary Venezuela," stressed the minister.

Yupka community spokesperson Efrain Romero said, "It's historic to receive title to the lands we inhabit," and added, "We reaffirm our fight for this revolution to continue advancing (...) we reaffirm our support for President Hugo Chávez."

In recent years the Sierra de Perija region has been the scenario of a fierce conflict between large "landowners" and the indigenous communities who were forcibly driven off their lands during the Perez Jimenez dictatorship in the 1940s.

The situation came to a head in July 2008 when Yukpa indigenous communities occupied 14 large estates to demand legal title to their ancestral lands. Estate owner Alejandro Vargas and four others, armed with guns and machetes, responded by attempting to assassinate the Yukpa cacique (chief) Sabino Romero, who was leading the occupations, and beat and killed Romero's elderly 109-year-old father Jose Manuel Romero.

Then on August 6 hundreds of armed mercenaries, hired by large landowners, attacked the indigenous communities.

At the time Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez slammed what he described as the "ambiguous attitudes" of some government functionaries in dealing with the land demarcation process and ordered an investigation into the violent attacks.

"There should be no doubt: Between the large estate owners and the Indians, this government is with the Indians" Chavez said.

During his speech today El Aissami emphasised that the delivery of title deeds of land to indigenous peoples is one of the policies promoted by the National Executive to ensure comprehensive recognition of the ancestral territorial rights of indigenous peoples.

Sergio Rodríguez, a spokesperson for the Environment Ministry clarified that other areas belonging to Yukpa communities are yet to be demarcated but said the ministry, together with the indigenous communities and other agencies that comprise the National Demarcation Commission, "will continue to work to resolve the situation. Our goal is to provide land titles to those Yukpa sectors that lack them by the end of the year."

However, another dispute in the Sierra de Perija region between the Barí, Yukpa, and Wayúu indigenous peoples resisting coal mining on their lands on the one hand and the state-owned Corpozulia, still has not been fully resolved.

The government is also expected to hand over title deeds covering 5,310 hectares to the 366 strong Palital community, belonging to the Kari'ña ethnicity in the state of Anzoategui.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the III Congress of the Great Abya Yala [the Americas] Nation of Anti-Imperialist Indigenous Peoples from the South in the remote Amazonas state, Minister for the President's Office, Luis Reyes Reyes, also granted credits to representatives of indigenous communities to assist in agricultural production.

Despite many unresolved issues, indigenous peoples have made significant advances in Venezuela over the last 10 years. The Bolivarian Constitution adopted in 1999, through Art. 8 specifically emphasises recognition and respect for indigenous land rights, culture, language, and customs. According to the constitution, the role of the Venezuelan state is to participate with indigenous people in the demarcation of traditional land, guaranteeing the right to collective ownership. The state is also expected to promote the cultural values of indigenous people.

Article 120 of the Constitution also states that exploitation of any natural resource is "subject to prior information and consultation with the native communities concerned."

In 2003 the government also initiated the Guaicaipuro Mission, a social program aimed at the promotion and realization of indigenous rights as recognised in the constitution.

Venezuela's indigenous people, who comprise approximately 1.6% of the population, also have three indigenous representatives in the National Assembly.


Economic Crises in Boriken (Puerto Rico)

Boriken/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño has implemented widespread job cuts affecting all sectors of the island's population. In the midst of Puerto Rico's worsening economic crises, Fortuño plans promote the privatization of basic infrastructural services such as electricity, water, and the education system.

Reports estimate that nearly 20,000 civil servants already have or will lose their jobs. Analysts note that the loss of jobs in the government sector will affect similar losses in the private sector.

The island's cultural patrimony is one area that will be particularly impacted by job losses. Reports indicate that museums and national parks under the control of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (ICP) such as the Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center will now be forced to close. These institutions will not only lose staff for daily operations but collections and archives are now potentially at risk without proper supervision and controls.

In the form of several recent amendment proposals to controversial "Law 7", ICP President Marisol Rodriguez supported Governor Fortuño's plan to do away with the protective functions of the Institute's mandate. The result of these proposals would facilitate development projects that are expected to have an adverse affect on the island's national patrimony. Opponents state that these amendments are in clear violation of a 60 year law that created the ICP protections in the first place.

The Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos, a local Taino organization has proposed a volunteer initiative to the Institute to keep Caguana open.

In response to the current economic crises and the administration's privatization policies, diverse workers unions as well as community and student organizations plan to unite in a mass National General Strike throughout the Puerto Rico on the 15th of October.

UCTPTN 10.14.2009


The Myth of "America"

Happy Columbus Day

Columbus sailed the ocean blue in Fourteen Hundred and Ninety Two ...

May the spirit of adventure and discovery always be with you.

Wishing you a great Columbus Day

- Columbus Day greeting card

To mark Columbus Day In 2004, the Medieval and Renaissance Center in UCLA published the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents. Its general editor, Geoffrey Symcox, leaves little room for ambivalence when he says, "This is not your grandfather's Columbus.... While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing - not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting biblical scripture - to advance his ambitions.... Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently. The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail - if it was recognized at all - in light of his role as the great bringer of white man's civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise."

But does it?


"They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells," Christopher Columbus wrote in his logbook in 1495. "They willingly traded everything they owned.... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features.... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane.... They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want. Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas, in the multi-volume "History of the Indies" published in 1875, wrote, "... Slaves were the primary source of income for the Admiral (Columbus) with that income he intended to repay the money the Kings were spending in support of Spaniards on the Island. They provide profit and income to the Kings. (The Spaniards were driven by) insatiable greed ... killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples ... with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty."

This systematic violence was aimed at preventing "Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings. (The Spaniards) thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.... My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write."

Father Fray Antonio de Montesino, a Dominican preacher, in December 1511 said this in a sermon that implicated Christopher Columbus and the colonists in the genocide of the native peoples:

"Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt quietly and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before ..."

In 1892, the National Council of Churches, the largest ecumenical body in the United States, is known to have exhorted Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others."

Yet America continues to celebrate "Columbus Day."

That Americans do so in the face of all evidence that there is little in the Columbian legacy that merits applause makes it easier for them to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their government. Perhaps there is good reason.


In "Columbus Day: A Clash of Myth and History," journalist and media critic Norman Solomon discusses how historians who deal with recorded evidence are frequently depicted as "politically correct" revisionists while the general populace is manipulated into holding onto myths that brazenly applaud inconceivable acts of violence of men against fellow humans.

For those of us who are willing to ask how it becomes possible to manipulate the population of a country into accepting atrocity, the answer is not hard to find. It requires normalizing the inconceivable and drumming it in via the socio-cultural environment until it is internalized and embedded in the individual and collective consciousness. The combined or singular deployment of the media, the entertainment industry, mainstream education or any other agency, can achieve the desired result of convincing people that wars can be just, and strikes can be surgical, as long as it is the US that is doing it.

Never has this process been as blatant and overt as in recent years when the time has come for America to legitimize the idea of global domination. A Department of Defense report titled Joint Vision 2020 calls for the US military to be capable of "full spectrum dominance" of the entire planet. That means total domination and control of all land, sea, air, space and information.

That's a lot of control.

How might this become accepted as "Policy" and remain unquestioned by almost an entire population?

The one word key to that is: Myths. The explanation is that the myths the United States is built upon have paved the way for the perpetuation of all manner of violations.

Among the first of these is that of Christopher Columbus. In school we were taught of his bravery, courage and perseverance. In a speech in 1989, George H.W. Bush proclaimed: "Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith."

Never mind that the monumental feats mainly comprised part butchery, part exploitation and the largest part betrayal of host populations of the "New World."


On their second arrival in Hispaniola, Haiti, Columbus's crew took captive roughly two thousand local villagers who had arrived to greet them. Miguel Cuneo, a literate crew member, wrote, "When our caravels ... were to leave for Spain, we gathered ... one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495.... For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island's fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done."

In 1500, Columbus wrote to a friend, "A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand."

Such original "monumental feats" as were accomplished by our nation's heroes and role models were somewhat primitive. Local inhabitants who resisted Columbus and his crew had their ears or nose cut off, were attacked by dogs, skewered with pikes and shot. Reprisals were so severe that many of the natives committed mass suicide and women began practicing abortions in order not to leave children enslaved. The population of Haiti at the time of Columbus's arrival was between 1.5 million and 3 million. Sixty years later, every single native had been murdered.

Today, "perseverance and faith" allow us to accomplish much more and with far greater impunity. The US continues to liberate Iraq and Afghanistan with 2,000-pound bombs in civilian areas and purge Pakistan via drone attacks on weddings.

Neither case is of isolated whimsy. It was and remains policy.

In "A People's History of the United States," celebrated historian Howard Zinn describes how Arawak men and women emerged from their villages to greet their guests with food, water and gifts when Columbus landed at the Bahamas. But Columbus wanted something else. "Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise," he wrote to the king and queen of Spain in 1503.

Rather than gold, however, Columbus only found slaves when he arrived on his second visit with seventeen ships and over 1,200 men. Ravaging various Caribbean islands, Columbus took natives as captives as he sailed. Of these he picked 500 of the best specimens and shipped them back to Spain. Two hundred of these died en route, while the survivors were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town where they landed.

Columbus needed more than mere slaves to sell, and Zinn's account informs us, "... desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, (he) had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

"The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed."

As a younger priest, the aforementioned De las Casas had participated in the conquest of Cuba and owned a plantation where natives worked as slaves before he found his conscience and gave it up. His first-person accounts reveal that the Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades. They forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual's head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers' breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks. Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: 'Wriggle, you litle perisher.' They slaughtered anyone on their path ..."


Full Spectrum Dominance

In a letter to the Spanish court dated February 15, 1492, Columbus presented his version of full spectrum dominance: "to conquer the world, spread the Christian faith and regain the Holy Land and the Temple Mount."

With this radical ideology, Las Casas records, "They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burned them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Saviour and the twelve Apostles."

About incorporating these accounts in his book, Zinn explained to Truthout, "My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present ... but I do remember a statement I once read: The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is."


Author journalist Chris Hedges believes that glorification of (the atrocities of) Columbus is one of several myths that sustain the illusions that justify the imperial visions of the United States.

In conversation with Truthout, he said, "It's really easy to build a holocaust museum that condemns Germans. It's another issue to build a museum that confronts our own genocide, the genocide that was perpetrated by our own ancestors towards Native Americans or towards African-Americans. I am all for documenting and remembering the [World War II] Holocaust, but the disparity between the reality of the [World War II] Holocaust or the reality of the genocide as illustrated in the [World War II] Holocaust museum and the utter historical amnesia in the Native American museum in Washington is really frightening and shows a complete inability in a public arena for us to examine who we are and what we've done."

Noam Chomsky holds a similar view. "We have [World War II] Holocaust museums all over the place about what the Germans did," Chomsky told Truthout. "Do we have one about what we did? I mean about slavery, about the Native American population? It's not that the people involved didn't know about it. John Quincy Adams, a great grand strategist, who had a major role in these atrocities, in his later years when he reflected on them, referred to that hapless race of North Americans, which we are exterminating with such insidious cruelty. They knew exactly what they were doing. But it doesn't matter. It's us."

Explaining how the mythology of a country becomes its historic reality, Chomsky stated, "If you are well-educated, you can internalize that and it. That's part of what a good education is about, enabling people to live with those contradictions. And you see it very consistently. In the case of, say, the Iraq war, try to find somebody who had a principled objection. Actually you can, occasionally, but it's suppressed."

Historical revisionism and amnesia are critical for nation-building, opines Paul Woodward, the writer and author of the blog "War In Context". He elaborates, "Every nation is subject to its own particular form of historical amnesia. Likewise, imperial powers have their own grandiose revisionist tendencies. Yet there is another form of historical denial particular to recently invented nations whose myth-making efforts are inextricably bound together with the process of the nation's birth ...

"Whereas older nations are by and large populated by people whose ancestral roots penetrated that land well before it took on the clear definition of a nation state, the majority of the people in an invented nation - such as the United States or Israel - have ancestry that inevitably leads elsewhere. This exposes the ephemeral link between the peoples' history and the nation's history. Add to that the fact that such nations came into being through grotesque acts of dispossession and it is clear that a psychological drive to hold aloft an atemporal exceptionalism becomes an existential necessity. National security requires that the past be erased."

Robert Jensen is an author and teaches media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas. In an essay where he justifies his decision to not celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday, he says, "Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep anti-Semitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day. What would we say about such a holiday? Would we not question the distortions woven into such a celebration? Would we not demand a more accurate historical account? Would we not, in fact, denounce such a holiday as grotesque?"

Of course we would.

But our story is different, and once again this year, on October 12, we will once again "Hail Columbus."


Authors: Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola

Article Source: truthout http://www.truthout.org/1012091

Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.

Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist, is the author of "The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan," (Haymarket Books, 2009), and "Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches From an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq," (Haymarket Books, 2007). Jamail reported from occupied Iraq for nine months as well as from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Turkey over the last five years.

Jason Coppola is the director and producer of the documentary film "Justify My War," which explores the rationalization of war in American culture, comparing the siege of Fallujah with the massacre at Wounded Knee. Coppola has worked in Iraq as well as on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.