#13 Highgate Gardens, Wildey. St. Michael,
Barbados W.I. BB 14005


From left to right - Damon Corrie, Roberto Borrero, Ovide Mercredi, and Leilani Stewart meet in Ottawa, Canada to follow-up on the OAS Summit of the Americas process.

Interested readers may follow the developments of the 3rd ILSA at the OAS run website www.summit-americas.org as well as its FaceBook site.

"We need to continue to work together" stated Andrea Montilla of the OAS as she explained the on-going process in the Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Some advocated believe the proposed OAS Draft Declaration could be stronger than the UN Declaration - if the USA joins the rest of the 34 member OAS community and supports the Declaration instead of obstructing it.

Montilla also noted the importance of the OAS as well as its genuine desire to work with Indigenous Peoples throughout the Americas. The audience concurred, for all have taken note that the Organization of American States HAS indeed prosecuted MORE cases in favor of Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere than even the United Nations!

Grand Chief Ed John of the Assembly of First Nations of Canada and Celeste McKay of the Native Womens Association of Canada both gave informative opening addresses and likewise both re-affirmed the positives of collaboration with the OAS in a spirit of equity, and made excellent suggestions as to formats the OAS could consider adopting - which would enhance this special relationship between Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and the Organization of American States.

The floor was then opened for audience feedback/questions/comments.

Former Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Ovide Mercredi – who presided at arguably the most tension-filled time in recent memory of relations between Native Nations and the Neo-Colonial Government of Canada in the 1990's (Oka Crisis) - addressed the gathering.

Ovide, still no stranger to controversy and an inspiration to a generation of anti-assimilationist native leaders, eloquently explained the difference between Indigenous Leaders and Political Leaders of the Nation States of the Americas.

"I am a leader of MY indigenous people - not the Prime Minister of Canada.” Likewise the Prime Minister of Canada is the leader of HIS non-indigenous peoples of the Neo-Colonial Political State of Canada. The OAS must find a way whereby the Indigenous Leaders of the Americas recognized by their own Indigenous Peoples - not merely representatives who may potentially have no actual mandate to speak on behalf of any Indigenous Nation - must be able to sit across the table from the Political Leaders of the 34 Neo-Colonial Nation-States of the Americas and have a genuine and equitable dialog for I believe this is the only way that over 500 years of inequity can be successfully addressed and redressed - in order to create a better future for generations to come.”

President Tony Belcourt of the ICCTA (Indigenous Commission for Communications Technologies in the Americas) spoke in detail about the need for a secretariat or Permanent Forum to be created by the OAS to allow for more effective participation by Indigenous Peoples within the OAS system. The suggested entity could function as a nexus between the Indigenous Leaders and Political Nation State leaders as Ovide had suggested.

Ellen Gabriel - the outgoing President of the Quebec Native Womens Association & Veteran of the crisis years of the 1990's (Oka crisis) that also propelled her to International Fame as a committed Indigenous Rights leader in Canada - raised the issue of the need to protect traditional knowledge as a way to mitigate and survive the Global Climate change that is already effecting us all – and Indigenous Peoples more severely than any others.

President Clement Chartier of the Metis National Association of Canada supported Ovide Mercredis call and added to what Tony Belcourt had said highlighting the fact that presently there exists no separate category in the OAS system for 'Indigenous Peoples' - and much to all our chagrin - we still fall under the broad (and inappropriate in our minds) category of 'Civil Society' which lumps us in with religious organisations, charities and sexual orientation advocacy groups; when in truth and in fact our issues are that of the intricately delicate relations between Colonizers and those they forcibly Colonized.

President Roberto Mukaro Agueibana Borrero of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) - who has been almost singlehandedly pushing the agenda of Pan-Caribbean Indigenous Rights for over a decade - delivered a very enlightening presentation where he made several recommendations covering some areas not addressed previously. President Borrero exposed the fact that the UCTP had sent information from the 3rd ILSA (Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas) to virtually EVERY CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) country asking them if they were aware of the issues being discussed with the OAS - which they are also members of - and asking for their official position on these matters. Unfortunately, true to their form of first decade of the 21st century not a single Caribbean Government had even the courtesy to respond.

Following the 5th Summit of the Americas and the 3rd ILSA (April 2009), the ONLY CARICOM government to report anything on the subject of Indigenous issues was the Government of Guyana. Unfortunately Guyana took the opportunity to blow it's own horn about its Amerindian Affairs Minister (a political appointee of the President of that country - NOT one voted for by any democratic majority of Guyana's 100 Amerindian Chiefs/Toushaus) and it's Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. In its official report to the OAS, Guyana says nothing of relevance about the Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas or OAS Draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples process.

In conversation with President Borrero of the UCTP, Leilani Stewart, Vice President of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations gave a very insightful analysis, which beautifully explained the validity of oral tradition as a vehicle to factually transmit information. Stewart also stress the need to strengthen the voice of Caribbean Indigenous Peoples through the well-positioned UCTP 'Indigenous media octopus'. President Damon Corrie of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations pledged to supply the UCTP with as much information as he receives from allied communities in the Caribbean Region.

PTC.PR – 12.2010


Taíno Celebrate Rare Solstice Event

UCTP Taíno News – Over the weekend and through Tuesday December 21st, Taíno people acknowledged the winter solstice with gatherings and areito (ceremonies) in their island homelands and the Diaspora. This year’s winter solstice was even more significant as it coincided with a total lunar eclipse and a full moon. The last time an eclipse took place during the solstice was in the year 1638.

Acknowledging the significance of this celestial event and the associated Taíno areito, Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague stated “Our ancestors are watching for signs that we are committed to bringing back these powerful traditions.”

Commenting from Borikén (Puerto Rico) on Tuesday a young Taíno woman, Yari Sierra stated “Today is a day to heal and reflect on the incredible gift the great Mother has give us, which is one we will not experience again... I only hope people will come to value these gifts the universe has shared.”

The next eclipse to coincide with a solstice will occur in 84 years.

UCTPTN 12.22.2010


U.S. Will Endorse Indigenous Declaration

Washington, D. C. (UCTP Taino News) - President Barack Obama announced today that the United States will endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Obama announced the decision during the second White House Tribal Nations Conference.

The United States is the last country to endorse the U.N. Declaration, which was ratified by 143 countries in 2007. Only four countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, voted against it.

President Obama stated that “The aspirations [the Declaration] affirms – including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples - are one we must always seek to fulfill.”

The news of the U.S. position on the Declaration is being commended by Indigenous leaders in the United States and beyond.

The United Confederation of Taino People’s Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination issued a brief statement welcoming the decision as it ‘potentially benefits not only U.S. federally recognized Tribal Nations” but others like the Taíno who reside in U.S. Territorial possessions.

The official White House statement notes that the decision to support the Declaration is a “response to the many calls from Native Americans throughout this country” and an effort to “further U.S. policy on indigenous issues.”

UCTPTN 12.16.2010

Taíno Author Releases New Children’s Book

New York (UCTP Taíno News) - Inspired by the true story of how the people of Borikén (Puerto Rico) saved Bieke (Vieques) from environmental destruction, author Rafael Landrón has written a bilingual children’s book entitled “Beba and Little Sister Island” published by Campanita Books. The story focuses on a young manatee named Beba who is summoned by her animal friends to travel and discover the origin of the thunderous noise they keep hearing from other side of their beautiful island home. Illustrated by award-winning artist María Antonia Ordóñez, the story is a timeless tale of courage, solidarity, love, and justice set in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean.

In Beba and Little Sister Island, the animals play the role of the real-life heroes whose courageous acts tipped the scale and literally saved the island. Much of Bieke (affectionately called la Isla Nena - translated in the book as Little Sister Island) had been turned into a radioactive, polluted, devastated landscape. With the departure of the U.S. Armed Forces the island is on its way to recovery, but it will be decades before the damage is reversed.

“The story never makes direct reference to where the big ships come from, or what they are doing there”, explained Landrón. “I wanted the message to be universal”.

A Borikén Taíno, Rafael Landrón is a Professor at Boricua College in New York, as well as an emerging poet, performer, and writer. Beba and Little Sister Island is his first children's book and is available at Amazon.com.

UCTPTN 12.16.2010


CUNY-TV to Focus on Taíno Revival

New York, NY (UCTP Taino News) – CUNY-TV’s weekly series “Independent Sources” will air a segment on the ‘Taino Revival’ tonight at 8:30pm (EST) on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 75. Along with the debate over Taínos claiming their ethnic identity, this edition of Independent Sources will also address what's next for Haiti after protesters recent election results and the growing movement in New York to save endangered languages. The program will repeat on Thursday, December 16th at 7am, 1pm, 11pm and again on Saturday, the 18th at 9am. Outside of the New York metropolitan area, check your local cable listings for CUNY-TV.

UCTPTN 12.15.2010


Sub-regional Indigenous Peoples Meeting to Include North America and the Caribbean

Ottawa, Canada (UCTP Taíno News) - The OAS Summits of the Americas Secretariat, in collaboration with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), and the Inuit Circumpolar Council [Canada] (ICC), will host a Sub-regional Meeting with Indigenous Peoples’ representatives North America and the Caribbean in Ottawa, Canada, on Monday, December 13, 2010.

The main purpose of the Sub-Regional Meeting of Indigenous representatives from Canada, the United States and the Caribbean region is to provide an opportunity to follow-up on the implementation of the April 2009 Declaration and Plan of Action of the III Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas (III ILSA) “Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas for Present and Future Generations”. Additionally, this meeting will provide an opportunity for indigenous peoples to begin preparations for the IV ILSA.

Representatives of the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) will participate at the meeting to provide a briefing on Caribbean regional follow-up to the III ILSA. Other Caribbean regional representatives are scheduled to attend the meeting from Guyana, Suriname, and Barbados.

This event will make up part of a proposed series of such meetings to allow indigenous peoples from various sub-regions the opportunity to dialogue and coordinate their participation in the Summits process. Each face-to-face event will be complemented by the participation of interested parties through the Indigenous Peoples Group of the Summit's Virtual Community website.

UCTPTN 12.12.2010


Taíno Condemn Chile’s Attack on Rapa Nui

Indigenous Rapanui Pia Tuki among those wounded in a violent attack by Chilean Govt. forces on Easter Island.

UCTP Taino News –
On Friday, December 3, Chilean troops opened fire on unarmed Rapa Nui (Easter Island) People who have been peacefully occupying tribal land taken over by the State. The attack has left 19 Rapanui wounded with 3 needing to be evacuated to mainland Chile to be treated for their serious wounds.

Roberto Mukaro Agueibana Borrero, a representative for the United Confederation of Taíno People (UCTP) stated that “As Indigenous Peoples we must condemn these acts of violence perpetuated on the Rapa Nui by the Chilean government. In solidarity with the Rapa Nuii the UCTP calls on Chilean President Sebastian Pinera to be directly involved in finding a peaceful and lasting resolution to this crisis.”

Borrero continued stating that "As Chile adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 they have a moral obligation to halt the evicitons and work in harmony with the Rapa Nui."

In recent years, tourism and migration have increased pressure to control available land on the 10 mile by 15 mile island. The Rapa Nui have increasingly taken matters into their own hands, seizing a dozen properties they claim were illegally taken from their families generations ago.

The latest media reports state additional reinforcements have landed on the island and the island's top government authority, Valparaiso Gov. Raul Celis, says "the evictions will continue."

UCTPTN 12.05.2010



To: Hon. Daniel J. Galán, Secretario del Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales, Hon. Luis G. Fortuño, Gobernador, Hon. Thomas Rivera Schatz, Preseidente del Senado, y Hon. Jennifer A. González Colon, Presidente de la Camara de Representantes, y Hon. Luis M. Santiago González, Presidente de la Comisión de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales del Senado y Hon. Eric Correa Rivera, Presidente de la Comisión de Recursos Naturales, Ambientales y Energía de la Cámara de Representantes del Estado Libre Asiciado de Puerto Rico

Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/ViaVerde/petition.html

We as young Taíno Guaribo Gua Coku Gua Boriken (Puerto Rico), oppose the “Green Route" project proposed by the current government as an energy reform solution to reduce the cost energy. The so-called "Green Route" is nothing but a mechanism of mass destruction to Mother Earth, Atabey, that will negatively impact wildlife and their habitats, presents a threat to Sacred Sites, the life, well being and property of the People. We have already suffered the loss of life, and damage to our environment, wildlife, habitat and homes from explosions. On November 21, 1996 there was a huge explosion caused by a gas leak in the town of town of Rio Piedras that injured over 100 people and took the lives of 34 people. The latest “accident” occurred on October 23, 2009 in the town of Cataño when a fuel leak caused an explosion in the oil refinery "CAPECO (Caribbean Petroleum Company, (owners of the Gulf gas stations in Puerto Rico). Today we still have not received a report on the environmental and wild life impact of said explosion.

It is outrageous to witness this act of crass violation of fundamental basic human and constitutional rights of our Nation and Peoples. Everyone has the Sacred and undeniable human right to enjoy the benefits of development without the destruction of their natural resources, wildlife, habitats or threat to their sustenance, Sacred Sites, life, culture and property of the People.

This deplorable plan means that power plants would go from dependency on foreign oil to dependency on foreign natural gas; making us totally dependent on the Fenosa Company (a Spain based company), a leading multi-national corporation in the gas and power sectors, creating yet another dependency on a monopoly. It operates in 23 countries and has more than 20 million customers worldwide. We have already experienced the devastating consequences to Atabey, Mother Earth caused when they began to lay the infrastructure for this project in the south of the Island, “Gasoducto del Sur”. They now pretend to revive this disastrous project with a very misleading name change from the Southern Pipeline to the “Green Route” implying that it is renewable green energy, and changing the route to the central mountain range all the way to the metropolitan area.

According to the AEE plans, the pipeline route is 146 km long with a potential impact to over 100 meters wide and, would severely impact around 400 agricultural acres.

• It will severely affect the conservation of the of the Rio Grande de Arecibo and Rio Portuguese Watersheds and impact many rivers including, Rio de la Plata, Río Bayamón, Quebrada Diego, Rio Cibuco, Cano Matos, Perdomo Canal, Rio Grande de Arecibo, Caguana River, River Caguanita, Pellejas River, Rio Corcho, Quebrada Arenas, Río Tallaboa, Tanamá River, Indian River, Rio Grande de Manati and Rio Yunes.

• The pipeline route is comprised of 106 km of the karst area which supplies more than 25% of the total water demand of the country and directly impacts 223 acres of Special Conservation Zones. Furthermore, the presence of sinkholes and unstable terrain located within the pipeline route would cause more landslides than usual. Unstable terrain in south-central mountain range have some of the highest slopes ranging from sea level on the coast to 3,000 feet above sea level in town of Adjuntas, it crosses two seismic fault lines and then continue to San Juan affecting 13 municipalities.

• It will impact some 51 communities, and passes through the lands of the University of Puerto Rico in the Town of Utuado, with potential risks to 22,854 families and students. Although the government says "there is a prudent separation of the pipeline from the communities"; the pipeline will pass along the side of the road that runs in front of the Levittown community in Toa Baja which is home to about 30,071 people; and the pipeline will be exposed along sections of the Arecibo Utuado PR10 where some 13,104 vehicles transit every day.

To see the full report by Casa Pueblo go to: www.redbetances.com/component/content/article/51-en-portada/390-casa-pueblo-html

• Although, the preamble to the constitution of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico says that “a democratic system is fundamental to the life of the community… and …that a democratic system is one where the will of the people is the source of public power, where public policy is subordinate to the rights of man, and ensures the free participation of its citizens in collective decisions”. This multinational project again ignores and tramples on the right of the People to participation in decision-making.

Where is the democracy in our country when the government feels free to ignore the will of the people? Therefore we reach out to your conscience and heart to oppose the “Green Route” pipeline of death. Your voice and action together with those of others will help to preserve what is ours. We already face enough risks to our environment, lives and property. Let us explore new sources of renewable and sustainable energy alternatives!


Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/ViaVerde/petition.html


Message of UCTP President on "El Dia de Agueybana el Bravo"

19 Nov. 2010

Re: In honor of “El Dia de Agueybaná el Bravo”, Bo. Caracoles, Ponce, Borikén

Takahi Guaitiao (Greetings relatives):

Justify Full It is an honor to share a few words with you on this special day dedicated to one of our great Taíno heroes – Kasike Agueybaná el Bravo.

I would like to begin by saying hahom (thank you) and bo matum to all the guaitiao present on this day of remembrance – you honor us all.

I would also like to say hahom to the honorable Representative of District # 25 Ponce-Jayuya, Víctor L. Vassallo Anadón who after hearing the need we expressed to him, decided to move forward and proclaim this day officially as “El Dia de Agueybaná el Bravo”. It is our hope that he will continue to support this day and urge more of his colleagues to do the same. This day needs to be recognized as a national holiday.

Guaitiao, as the living descendants of the ancient Indigenous Peoples of Borikén and the Caribbean, it is our responsibility to remember those who have come before us. It is our responsibility to honor them in a good way for if we do not, who will? If we do not sing songs for them, who will? If we do not speak up for them, who will?

Guaitiao, to remember Agueybaná el Bravo is to remember our sacred land we call Borikén. To remember our sacred Borikén is to remember that great leaders such as Agueybaná el Bravo paid for it with their lives.

In closing, the United Confederation of Taíno People joins you in solidarity calling for respect and acknowledgment of the ultimate sacrifice made by our national hero – Agueybaná el Bravo.

Han han katu, Seneko kakona,

Roberto Múkaro Agueibaná Borrero,

President, United Confederation of Taíno People,
Office of International Relations and Regional Coordination

Source: http://www.uctp.org


Taíno Arts Matriarch Crosses into Koaibei

Morovis, Borikén/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – The Taíno community is mourning the loss of master ceramicist Evarista Chéverez Diaz who crossed into koaibei (the spirit world) on November 4, 2010. Known affectionately as “doña Varin,” Chéverez was a symbol of the revival of Taíno style coil rolled pottery in Borikén. She is remembered for her humor and wit as well as her knowledge of local medicinal plants and remedies.

“Doña Varin will be sincerely missed by many people of all walks of life on the island and beyond” stated Roberto Múkaro Agueibaná Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People. “She was a proud Taíno woman and she will remain an important part of the contemporary history of our people.”

Born in Morovis on November 16, 1933 Chéverez would have been 77 years old today. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, don Pablo Chéverez and her children Hector Luis, Felix Manuel, Pablo Alberto, Esthel Violeta, Juan Jose, Maria Janette, Nydia, Antonio, Alice Daisy, and Javier as well as a number of grandchildren.

UCTPTN 11.16.2010


FDU Hosts Presentation about the U.N. and Indigenous Peoples

TEANECK, NJ —Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations” is the topic that a United Nations panel will present on and discuss on November 17, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. at Fairleigh Dickinson University's Metropolitan Campus, Teaneck, N.J. as part of FDU’s United Nations Pathways program.

The opportunity to attend this presentation is free and open to the public. The presentation will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a traditional welcome and cultural presentation from Chief Dwaine Perry. The film “Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Vol. 1” will be screened and following that will be a panel discussion by Roberto Borrero and Tonya Gonnella Frichner. The event will conclude at 8 p.m.

Perry is the chief of the Ramapough Mountain Indian Nation, who are the descendants of the Lenape people. The Ramapough Indians are a group of approximately 5,000 people living around the Ramapo Mountains of northern New Jersey and southern New York.

Borrero is the current chairperson of the NGO Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. He is a member of the Boriken Taino indigenous community and respected advocate for indigenous rights. The Boriken Taino are native to Puerto Rico.

Frichner is an attorney and the founder and president of the American Indian Law Alliance, an NGO in Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council. She is a member of the Onondaga Nation, Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy.

Fairleigh Dickinson’s Office of Global Learning, in collaboration with the N.G.O. Committee on the United Nations International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, and Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, presents this program.

The program is being held in the Rutherford Room in the Student Union Building. Fairleigh Dickinson is located at 1000 River Road, Teaneck, N.J. For additional information, call FDU’s Office of Global Learning at (973) 443-8876.


Mayan, Taino traditions celebrated in Verona

Pittsburgh, PA - People driving on Verona Road Sunday night could little know, though if they did they would likely wonder, about the Mayan and Taino ceremonies that were taking place in Miguel Sague's yard.

There was fire, incense, a sweat lodge, and afterward, a feast, as Mr. Sague introduced or re-introduced a small group of people to a Mayan fire ceremony, followed by a Taino sweat lodge experience.

It's a tradition he tries to observe on a monthly basis, said Mr. Sague, 59, a retired Roosevelt Elementary School art teacher.

"It's what keeps us going," said his wife, Lenia Sague. Both she and her husband moved to the United States from Cuba when they were young, but have continued to observe their Taino culture.

"It's what keeps us grounded to our Taino beliefs," she said.

The Tainos are an indigenous people of the Caribbean. Mr. Sague is a member of the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle, which celebrates Taino and other indigenous cultures, and since his retirement, he has spent much of his time traveling around the United States taking part in similar native ceremonies to the one he hosted at his house.

He sent out e-mails through the Caney group and other groups he is a member of here to invite people to participate in the traditional ceremonies, and about 10 people with varying degrees of experience with indigenous ceremonies took him up on the offer.

At around 5 p.m., people began gathering in the Sagues' Verona home. In the front yard, a fire pit burned, filled with wood and large stones that had been heating up since 2 p.m., Mr. Sague said. Next to the fire pit was a small wooden hut, slightly more than waist-high and with room for 10 to 15 people.

Before he began the sweat lodge ceremony, Mr. Sague's friend, Antonio Ah Ik, led a small group of people through a Mayan ceremony on the patio behind the house.

Mr. Ah Ik lives in Verona now but is originally from Guatemala, where his father taught him the traditions of their Mayan ancestors.

The sound of passing cars occasionally entered the background while Mr. Ah Ik performed a ceremony that far predates engines or tires. He poured sugar into a circle formation, then divided the circle with more lines of sugar, to symbolize the four cardinal directions. Facing each direction in turn, he spoke Mayan words, praying for wisdom and knowledge for the people standing around the circle.

Mr. Sague placed small pieces of wood into the circle, and they lit a small fire, feeding it with cut flowers, more sugar and incense. Then each participant said a silent or spoken prayer, and tossed incense into the fire.

The ceremony lasted about 20 minutes, and then Mr. Sague led the group back into his house, where they changed into lighter clothing for the sweat lodge ceremony.

The fire ceremony, Mr. Sague said, symbolizes life, while the sweat lodge ceremony -- with people crowding into a small, dark, warm space, to emerge 45 minutes to an hour later -- represents birth.

"It's a very powerful way for us humans, whether indigenous or not, to relate to our Earth mother," he said.

Seven people crawled into the sweat lodge, then Mr. Sague took a shovel and began to pull the stones, glowing with heat and covered with embers, out of the fire pit. He brushed off the embers with a tree branch, then transferred them into a pit in the middle of the dark sweat lodge.

Over the course of the purification ceremony, he said they would use 24 stones as he led the small group in traditional Taino chants.

Outside the temperature was in the 40s. Inside, the participants, who had been instructed to fast for at least four hours, would get the sensation of being in a sauna.

"I've never put a thermometer in there," Mr. Sague said. "It just gets hot enough for people to sweat."

Author: Kaitlynn Riely
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Kiskeia ‘Pyramids’ are Natural Formations

Kiskeia/Dominican Republic (UCTP Taino News) – Investigations in the Dominican Republic have confirmed that recently discovered ‘stone pyramids’ are not pre-Colombian structures but natural formations. An impressive team of researchers gathered to investigate the claim emerging from the Puerto Plata municipality.

According to local reports the research investigation team included local archaeologists Jorge Ulloa and Joaquin Nadal as well as Alfredo Coppa and Alice Angeletti from Universita La Sapienza in Rome. Geologist Tabare Mundaray Baez and Pauline Kulstad of the Caribbean Association of Archaeologists were also a part of the delegation.

The research team determined that the large lime stone formations were the result of natural land shifts.

UCTPTN 11.05.2006


Confederation Commended for Census Campaign

Photo: Victor Vassallo, Roger Guayakan Hernandez, and Virginia Pastrana.

Ponce, Boriken/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) – Last week Victor Vassallo, a representative of Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, commended the Boriken Liaison Office of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) for their work promoting the 2010 U.S. Census. In an official partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, the Confederation organized events, produced literature, and developed an online campaign to promote Taino participation in the 2010 Census.

The United States conducts an official census every 10 years. While the UCTP was an official partner with the U.S. Census Bureau for its campaign in 2000, this year’s activities included a major event at the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center in Ponce. The activity featured local Taino cultural presenters Wakia Arawaka Taina and was attended by the general public as well as U.S. Census Bureau officials from Washington D.C. and Boston, Massachusetts.

Vassallo not only praised the Confederation’s work increasing the visibility of Taino descendants but its work promoting the protection of indigenous sacred sites in Boriken. In particular, Vassalllo thanked the UCTP for bringing the issue of the Jacanas ceremonial site to his attention. Vassallo has since introduced formal legislation to protect the Jacanas cultural area.

Expecting more than 15,000 households to identify themselves as Taino in the Census, UCTP Boriken Liaison Director Roger Guayakan Hernandez stated "The U.S. Census is a mechanism for Boriken’s indigenous families to be recognized officially.”

He continued stating that in his opinion "Tainos must be responsible to make themselves count because nobody else will."

The UCTP also administers an alternate Taino Census Registry not affiliated with the U.S. Census Bureau.

UCTPTN 10.28.2010


U.S Reviews Indigenous Declaration

Kimberly Teehee of the White House Domestic Policy Council responds to questions during discussions on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Photo courtesy of indianlaw.org)

Washington D.C. (UCTP Taíno News ) -
Representatives from more than 20 tribes met last week with officials from the White House, the Department of State, Department of the Interior, and other federal agencies to discuss the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was the third round of conversations in the U.S. review process of the Declaration, which was ratified by the UN General Assembly Sept. 13, 2007. 144 countries voted in favor of the Declaration. The U.S was one of four countries to vote against its passage along with Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Today, the United States and Canada remain the only countries in opposition to the Declaration as New Zealand and Australia have officially reversed their positions.

“The Declaration is not only an issue important to federally recognized Tribe Nations but to State Recognized Tribal Nations as well as Indigenous Peoples like the Taíno whose ancient homelands are now U.S. territories” stated Roberto Borrero, a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People.

He continued noting that “The Confederation has submitted a position paper to the State Department calling on the U.S. to endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples without qualification.”

According to participants at the meeting federal officials would not confirm when a decision on the Declaration would be made. U.S. Officials did report however that more than 2000 submissions concerning U.S. endorsement of the Declaration have been received.

State Department officials also announced that written submissions will be accepted through October 31, 2010.

UCTPTN 10.20.2010


Remembering the Ancestors

NEW YORK CITY - Luis Ramos has become a local hero amongst the Indigenous Indian people of New York. Luis Ramos a very humble man of medium built has managed to put together a powerful celebration. This event is called "Indigenous Day of Remembrance". This event takes place in the heart of New York City at Columbus Circle.

You see Luis is a Taino Indian and he has a vested Interest in the history and truth of Christopher Columbus. The Taino people were the first to discover the Mass Murderer Christopher Columbus. Many do not know that Columbus was much hated by his own peers, he could not get support in Portugal, so he went to Spain charmed Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. When you get a chance read "the Book Of Privileges" these Privileges were set up as contracts between Columbus and Spain.

Christopher Columbus was born in 1451, in Genoa Italy. Most school children are left to believe their hero was born in Spain. They are also being taught that he set foot in the United States when in reality it was Sal Salvador. The journey was suppose to be heading for Asia I have doubts that he was really lost when in fact he had help from the Moors whom were master explorers and navigators.

Perhaps he even deceived the King and Queen of Spain perhaps he had a hidden agenda and needed funding for his quest. These arguments and thoughts are still being discussed within my circle of researchers and friends.

As we assemble in Columbus Circle, Prayers are being sent out to the Creator for all the Indian people that have crossed over, lost their lives to this Mass Murderer, Christopher Columbus whom was the first Mass Murderer and Serial Killer recorded in American history. At least by Indigenous people.

We as Native people protest the Myth of Christopher Columbus and demand that his Statue come down, I would like to see the Board Of Education take responsibility for much of the Myth of this man. It gets pretty lame when you have to tell Indigenous children"forget about the truth just pass your test and get your diplomas then go speak the truth"

I want to thank Luis Ramos for this Remembrance day. I am hoping that the event grows and grows it was so good to see all Nations coming together for the one thing we have in common which was the domino affect that Columbus had on us all.

If you are in New York get information on Columbus from U.C.T.P which stands for the United Confederation Of Taino People, and their friend and brother Luis Ramos organizer of the event.

Author: Firebird Graywolf
Source: Indian Country Today


American Indian Women meet in Cherokee Territory

Cherokee, NC (UCTP Taino News) - The Conference for American Indian Women of Proud Nations (AIWPN) held a successful gathering September 16-17, 2010 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel in Cherokee, NC. The conference, held annually, was organized collaboratively by AIWPN, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the Western Carolina University - Cherokee Center.

This year’s conference theme was “Nurturing and Empowering Our Communities Through Leadership.” The organizers noted that “women are increasingly taking on the mantle of leadership in a variety of ways. Although the rate of participation by women in tribal government and community leadership is still less than men, women play a significant role in tribal politics and community building.”

Native women from throughout the nation were welcomed to attend this conference, which offered statewide and national applications.

Among the attendees was Monika Mamona Ponton-Arrington, a Liaison Officer for the United Confederation of Taino People.

Expressing her feelings about the successful gathering Ponton-Arrington stated “I found that we [Native Women] are not that different, being indigenous and having our lands, languages, ceremonies, and housing destroyed. Our peoples were lied to, taken away, murdered, and sometimes even forced into various types of servitude. Our actions, thoughts, and feelings were very similar.”

Ponton-Arrington, a Boriken Taino also stated “there was so much to speak about and not enough time.”

UCTPTN 10.13.2010


Possible pyramid discovered in Dom. Republic

Kiskeia/Dom. Republic (UCTP Taino News) – A local Dominican newspaper reported the discovery of a possible ancient pyramid in the Puerto Plata district of the Dominican Republic on Friday. The so-called pyramid is in the form of a large pile of stones that was found by the property owner who is deciding to remain anonymous at this time. The owner also claims to have alerted local authorities who he feels are ignoring an important archeological find.

Reactions from the Taino community have been mixed as there is caution over the report which could turn out to be a hoax.

Taino community member Miguel “Sobaoko Koromo” Sague states “I am skeptical concerning the possibility that our ancestors were so influenced by Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures that they would have begun to build pyramids". Sague continued stating that in spite of the doubts “it is a little exciting to allow myself to imagine that maybe... this man is really saying the truth.”

Another community member, Vanessa Inarunikia said that “As Taino, we know exchanges took place with Mesoamerica but [if this claim is true] this would confirm our oral tradition as fact for the academics and others who usually tend doubt everything unless they say it was so.”

In addition to local Taino oral tradition contacts between Mesoamerica and the Caribbean have been sporadically documented over the years. In his journal Columbus identified a group of Maya traveling from the Yucatan to the Caribbean islands by canoe. Recent archeological finds in Cuba have also confirmed some trade interaction. Several anthropologists and linguists have also noted some Mesoamerican influence in Taino culture and language.

Roger Guayacan Hernandez, a representative of the United Confederation of Taino People in Boriken (Puerto Rico) states that “we have heard about some mound type structures from a few elders here on the island. They say that many of these were destroyed with the building of modern roads. Unfortunately, we have not been able to physically verify these claims so it will be interesting to see what the find in Kiskeia is really about.”

Reports from internet archeology groups indicate that an archeology reporter, Mairobi Herrera from the newspaper Listin Diario will follow-up on this story. According to these sources Herrera has so far contacted Dominican archeologist Adolfo Lopez to investigate the claim and he has pledged to provide an update soon.

UCTPTN 10.05.10 Justify Full




The group The Maboities, Guatiaos of Puerto Rican Art and Culture, with their head office in Jayuya, will celebrate for the third consecutive year the Birth of Elpidio Collazo “Maboiti” {R.I.P.}. The entire month of October 2010 will be dedicated to celebrating, remembering and honoring the life and work of Maboití. Elpidio Collazo considered the most outstanding, recognized and prize-winning artisan carver of Puerto Rican birds of Puerto Rico . This master artisan was born on October 28, 1937 and passed away on November 5, 2007.

Every person or institution that wants to join with us, The Maboities, or independently join in this celebration will be very well received. Among the activities that may be carried out during this celebration will be conferences, presentation of documentaries, oral readings of the biography of Maboití in schools and universities, conversatorios, among others.

It would be helpful if we knew about other activities relating to his birth in order to include them in our calendar which will be produced and promoted in relation to the birth of this great artisan carver of Puerto Rican birds now deceased.

In regards to the majority of the activities, they will take place in The Center of Art and Culture Elpidio Collazo Maboití, located on Highway 144, kilometer 9.3 in the borough of Coabey in Jayuya. We will have the patronage of the Autonomous Municipality of Jayuya. The activities taking place during the month are: The Unveiling of the Stone Monument and the exhibition of toys from the infancy of Maboití which will be on October 1, 2010 at 7:00 am, on October 3 from 10:00 am will be the selling and exhibition of antiquities, and at 2:00 pm will be the presentation of the Walter Murray Chiesa National Award to Mr. Héctor Rodríguez artisan promoter of the “Compañía Fomento Industrial” (Industrial Development Company) among the other activities to take place during the month.

On October 28, 2010 at 10:00 am, all those who want to join in this posthumous homage to Maboití will deposit floral gifts at the Monument Stone Maboití. This is the first time in Puerto Rico that one month has been designated to honor an artisan annually.

For more information you can contact the Center of Art and Culture Maboití at (787) 828-1241 with the Director Mrs. Magalis Gordillo.

Graciela Collazo



Encuentran ruinas podrían ser pirámides aborigen en Puerto Plata

PUERTO PLATA, Rep. Dominica - El descubrimiento arqueológico aborigen más trascendental de todos los tiempos de República Dominicana, podría haberse producido en una comunidad rural cercana a esta ciudad. Se adelantó que trataría del descubrimiento de las ruinas de un conjunto piramidal y un asiento indígena sujeto a ser confirmados por los arqueólogos que están siendo contactados por uno de los propietarios de la tierra donde se hizo el hallazgo.

El informante, el cual rehusó identificarse, afirmó que de comprobarse la veracidad del hallazgo, este descubrimiento podría cambiar la historia de la época precolombina criolla en muchos aspectos.

Reveló que el sitio donde supuestamente están situadas las pirámides, está ubicado en un área elevada que estaba cubierta de árboles y arbustos durante cientos de años, razón por la cual no fue encontrada antes.

Dio a conocer que el hallazgo de las presuntas ruinas se produjo de modo fortuito el pasado 2 de septiembre, mientras un trabajador suyo realizaba trabajos de desyerbo en las inmediaciones del lugar donde construye una vivienda y un sanitario.

“Vamos a traer un agrimensor para medir el área y traer los arqueólogos, los geólogos y los antropólogos para que examinen los restos de las pirámides y localizar el asentamiento y el cementerio indígenas.

Explicó que se trata de un conjunto enorme de piedras calizas ubicadas en un promontorio que los aborígenes fueron tallando y dándoles forma piramidal, el cual nadie había descubierto, hasta que Dios dijo: “mi hijito, a ti es que te vamos a premiar permitiendo que seas el descubridor”.

Informó que llamó al Departamento de Sismología de la Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) y solicitó al geólogo Humberto García que viniera y “todavía al día de hoy estoy esperando su llamada”.

Asimismo, manifestó que también hizo contacto con un funcionario del ministerio de Medio Ambiente que es geólogo, de apellido Frometa y está esperando respuesta, para hacer una prueba con carbono 14 para determinar los años de las ruinas.

Fuente: El Faro


Major Conference on Small Islands to Convene at United Nations Headquarters

Most Overseas Countries & Territories Eligible to Participate

United Nations member States will undertake a 5-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States at the beginning of the 65th Session of the UN General Assembly. The session will convene for two days on 24-25 September 2010.

Those overseas countries and territories (OCTs) which are associate members of the United Nations regional economic commissions are eligible for participation in the conference in the capacity of official observer providing for full participation in the proceedings including the right to address the session from the podium, and participation in all other events consistent with established practice. The legislative authority for the participation of the OCTs in the conference is U.N. General Assembly 64/199 of 21 December 2009 which:

"Invites the participation of associate members of regional commissions in the high-level review, subject to the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, and in the preparatory process thereof, as observers, in the same capacity specified for their participation at the International Meeting to Review the Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, held in Mauritius from 10 to 14 January 2005."

Eligible Associate Member Countries

(Bermuda) 1/
British Virgin Islands
Cayman Islands
Netherlands Antilles
Puerto Rico
(Turks & Caicos) 2/
US Virgin Islands
American Samoa
Cook Islands
French Polynesia
New Caledonia
Northern Mariana Islands
Tokelau 1/

1/ Territory is not an associate member of a UN regional economic commission
2/ Due to suspension of elected government eligibility for participation is in question.

The genesis of participation of the associate member countries in United Nations world conferences emerged from the Working Group of Non-Independent Caribbean Countries (NICCs) of the Caribbean Development & Cooperation Committee (a subsidary body of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) dating to the early 1990s.

The category of participation of "Associate Members of Regional Economic Commissions" in United Nations world conferences and special sessions of the General Assembly was initiated by the associate members of ECLAC in the run-up to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), otherwise known as the Earth Summit. The result was the establishment of a mechanism through which the overseas countries and territories (OCTs) could engage the international debate on issues in the economic and social sphere as it directly affects them. It should be noted that for those OCTs whose international relations are controlled by an administering power, the eligibility criteria for participation of the territories has been adopted by consensus in the UN General Assembly with the support of the cosmopolitan countries.

Several United Nations studies were undertaken to bring to light modalities for the participation of OCTs in the UN world conferences, and in the wider United Nations system, respectively. These studies serve as a blueprint for participation.

Governments of associate member countries of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) are urged to communicate their interest in participation to the United Nations Department of General Assembly and ECOSOC Affairs, or alternatively to contact their respective regional commission offices in Trinidad and Tobago (for the Caribbean), and Fiji (for the Pacific) for further information.

Source: Overseas Review


Global Appeal and World Wide Drum Ceremony

MALUKU (UCTP Taino News) - Indigenous elders in Maluku and West Papua have taken the initiative to organize a global appeal with a World Wide Drum Ceremony by Indigenous Peoples throughout the world on September 13, 2010. The appeal is being organized to urge governments to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

Organizers of the event are calling on indigenous communities and organizations to draft memorandums on their current situations, which can be sent to national governments on Sept. 13th. The memorandums would also call for the implementation of the UNDRIP. Communities are also urged to organize a drum ceremony on the same day to “help sound the indigenous voice around the world”. Supporters are encouraged to use any traditional instruments for the campaign.

“We hope that as many Indigenous Peoples as possible could take part in this campaign to make this global event a great success” stated Pelpina Sahureka on behalf of the organizers. She hopes that communities will make videos of their participation and send them to the organizers at mu@nusaalifuru.org.

The appeal has been gaining attention around the world.

“The implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is an important issue for us and we are urging our communities and allies to consider supporting this appeal” stated Roberto Borrero a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People.

The Confederation helped to organize Caribbean regional support of the UNDRIP toward its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007.

144 counties voted in favor of the Declaration’s passage with 4 countries - Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States - voting against it.

Australia and New Zealand have since reversed their decision in favor of endorsing the UNDRIP. Canada and the United States are currently reviewing their decisions.

UCTPTN 09.07.2010


Ohio refusing some older Puerto Rican birth certificates; national Latino group charges racism

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Elizabeth Torres was stung when her 19-year-old son said he'd been turned down for a state-issued Ohio identification card because his birth certificate from Puerto Rico was considered invalid.

"We're not illegal aliens, we are citizens of this country," Torres said. "We have everything, all the documents and all that, but we are not treated as such."

People born in Puerto Rico are finding that older birth certificates from the U.S. territory are not being accepted when applying for a state ID or driver's license at the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a reaction to concerns about possible fraud that a national Hispanic group said smacks of racial discrimination.

Since early April, the bureau has refused to accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before Jan. 1 as proof of identity and date of birth. The policy reflects a law on the island that will invalidate all older birth certificates on Sept. 30, the agency said.

"They are not placing credibility in their certificates," said Ohio BMV spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said. "For an agency that uses a birth certificate as one of the primary documents to be able to verify identity, that's something we have to look very hard at."

Ohio already has dealt with cases in which Puerto Rican birth certificates were used fraudulently. In a scheme uncovered in 2008, Puerto Rican certificates were being sold to illegal immigrants in Virginia, and they were then brought to Ohio to obtain state ID cards, Komlanc said.

At the time, federal prosecutors said that Ohio was chosen because it had looser procedures for obtaining identification at licensing bureaus. A federal judge in Harrisonburg, Va., last year sentenced one Columbus woman to a year in prison, while another - a clerk at a licensing office - received 30 months' probation.

Puerto Rico's law change followed raids last year against a criminal ring that stole thousands of birth certificates and other identifying documents from several schools in the U.S. commonwealth. The island is now requiring about 5 million people - including 1.4 million in the U.S. - to apply for new birth certificates with security features.

Puerto Rico began issuing the replacements July 1, but the older birth certificates are still valid for another month, Puerto Rico Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock said.

McClintock said he contacted Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland's deputy legal counsel last week to discuss the issue, arguing that the state was disregarding Puerto Rico's law.

Ohio has the nation's 10th largest Puerto Rican population, according to 2006-2008 Census data. The state had an estimated 26,498 residents born in Puerto Rico; Florida ranked first with 337,408, followed by New York with 318,239.

Based on current information, the Ohio governor's office sees no reason to change the state's policy, Strickland spokeswoman Amanda Wurst said.

"It is in an effort to address the safety and well-being of Ohioans and to avoid issuing identification cards with fraudulently acquired birth certificates," Wurst said.

Brent Wilkes, executive director of the 115,000-member League of United Latin American Citizens in Washington, D.C., charged that any state that has already decided the existing certificates are invalid is acting out of bias.

"Puerto Rico is being victimized because of the fact you've got so much attention on Latino immigrants in the United States," Wilkes said. "Puerto Ricans are not immigrants, but they're still Latinos."

Komlanc countered that Ohio also is cautious with other birth certificates, noting that the state won't accept a version of Indiana's birth certificate that does not include gender.

Representatives from Wilkes' group met Wednesday with Thomas Stickrath, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, which oversees the BMV. He explained the agency's position and appreciated the opportunity for dialogue, Komlanc said. The meeting opened channels of communication, said Marilyn Zayas-Davis, Ohio legal adviser for LULAC.

North Dakota also places restrictions on Puerto Rican birth certificates and will not accept them without backup documentation. The policy has not been much of an issue, said Jamie Olson, a spokeswoman for the state's transportation department.

Other states have handled the Puerto Rican certificates less stringently. For example, officials said Kansas will honor birth certificates from Puerto Rico through Sept. 30, and Hawaii will accept them at least through that date.

Tom Jacobs a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, said the Puerto Rican government's directive caused four days of confusion, "but where we stand now, we will accept Puerto Rican birth certificates."

So will Arkansas, said Michael Munn, assistant commissioner of revenue for operations and administration. He said problems with validity of Puerto Rican birth certificates had arisen in fewer than 10 cases in Arkansas since the issue was brought to his office's attention early in the summer.

In Ohio, Torres' son, Alfredo Pagan, doesn't drive, but needed an Ohio ID card to take his high school equivalency test, his mother explained in her native Spanish.

"My son wants to get a job and help me with the house expenses and all that," said the 40-year-old Torres, a hotel housekeeper who left Puerto Rico 12 years ago and lives in Cleveland.

Ohio is willing to work with people born in Puerto Rico to see if they have other forms of documentation, such as a passport or school records, that can verify their identity, Komlanc said.

She said that part of the process apparently was not followed properly in the case of Alfredo Pagan, and the BMV is trying to contact him.

Author: Doug Whiteman ; Associated Press Writers Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Sandra Chereb in Carson City, Nev.; John Hanna in Topeka, Kan.; Mark Niesse in Honolulu; and, Tom Parsons in Little Rock, Ark., contributed to this report.

Source: Associated Press


Ohio BMV policy leaves people from Puerto Rico with identity crisis

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The summer of his 19th birthday, Alfredo Jose Pagan of Cleveland had plans.

He would sign up for the GED exam he has been studying for and apply for a job at a downtown hotel that was offering an interview.

Both steps require a photo ID, and last week Pagan walked 25 blocks to the nearest office of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to get one.

He left empty-handed and bewildered. His birth certificate, the one that says he was born in Utuado, Puerto Rico, is no longer good here, he was told.

The state BMV will not accept Puerto Rican birth certificates issued before Jan. 1 of this year.

"I was surprised," Pagan said. "I didn't know what the problem was. And they didn't explain it to me."

The West Side teen was blindsided by a new, little-known state policy that could affect thousands of Hispanics in Greater Cleveland and around the state. For months, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has quietly refused to accept most Puerto Rican birth certificates, the primary document for people applying for a driver's license or for a state identification card.

State officials say they judge the document to be untrustworthy and note the prohibition is temporary.

By Sept. 30, all Puerto Ricans born on the island are expected to have newly issued birth certificates with enhanced security features. The Ohio BMV is ready to accept those documents, said spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc.

Until then, people like Pagan face an identity crisis.

At a time when the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections is working to make it easier for Puerto Ricans to vote -- considering bilingual ballots at the urging of the U.S. Justice Department -- the state is making it harder for Puerto Ricans to identify themselves.

"People walk into a registrar's office, get told, 'No, we don't take those anymore,' and no one tells them what they are supposed to do," said David Dawson, the deputy director of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Several Hispanics with experiences similar to Pagan's have contacted the Legal Aid Society in recent weeks. Dawson assumes there are hundreds more who have been turned away from license bureaus and don't know why or where to go.

They are caught up in a dramatic change in the way Puerto Ricans are being asked to identify themselves.

Traditionally, birth certificates are the primary form of ID on Puerto Rico. Most islanders possess several copies and carry them even on the mainland. But Puerto Rican birth certificates, which attest to U.S. citizenship, have become popular among many non-Puerto Ricans, too.

In an effort to stop identity fraud and a black market for Puerto Rican IDs, the commonwealth in December announced plans to nullify all of its birth certificates as of July 1.

The 4 million residents of Puerto Rico, plus the 1.3 million who live on the mainland -- including about 65,000 in Greater Cleveland -- were told to apply for the new, more secure documents that the commonwealth began to issue after Jan. 1.

The deadline for applying was extended to Sept. 30, and the old birth certificates are valid until then -- at least in most places.

The Ohio BMV did not agree to go along with the extension.

"From our perspective, we have a government that comes out and publicly says, 'We do not believe our document has credibility,' " Komlanc said. "We have to take a very hard look at that."

The BMV initially decided not to accept any Puerto Rican birth certificates, she said. It softened that internal policy April 8, when it decided to accept birth certificates issued after Jan. 1.

"We do not take this lightly," Komlanc said.

She said Deputy Registrar License Agencies were notified to try to help Puerto Rican customers by alerting them to other records that, in combination, can confirm age and address and might get them a photo ID. The license bureaus will accept Social Security cards, passports, utility bills and school records, Komlanc said.

Judging by Pagan's experience, that word has not spread through the ranks.

The soft-spoken teen, who aspires to become a mechanic, said he was simply told his birth certificate was unacceptable. He came home and told his mother and they visited another license bureau, where he was told to come back with a new birth certificate in October.

"I want to get a job, so I can help my mom with bills in the house," he said. "They said I have to wait."

Author: Robert L. Smith
Source: The Plain Dealer


Taíno People Featured at United Nations Indigenous Day

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses UN Headquarters' event in observance of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. At right is Roberto Múkaro Agueibana Borrero, Master of Ceremonies for the event.
(UN Photo/Evan Schneider)

UNITED NATIONS (UCTP Taíno News) - The United Nations celebrated the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples on August 9, reaffirming indigenous rights and presenting several short films produced by indigenous filmmakers. Caribbean Indigenous Peoples, the Taíno in particular, were a featured part of the event commemorated at UN Headquarters.

The program was called to order with the sounding of the guamo (conch shell horn) by Roberto Múkaro Agueibana Borrero (Taíno) who served as the program’s Master of Ceremonies.

A welcoming song by Native American singer Kevin Tarrant and opening statements by UN dignitaries including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were presented. The participation of the UN Secretary-General highlighted the event’s high-level profile.

Four short films were presented during the event including "Taíno Indians: Counted out of Existence" by Alex Zacarias (Taíno). Zacarias is an Emmy-award winning documentary film maker whose family comes from Bieke (Vieques). His film deals with the Taíno People's struggle for recognition in Borikén (Puerto Rico).

“Film is a great way of communicating people's stories” stated Zacarias.

Sylvia Kaonamahakuio Marrero, a Borikén Taíno who attended the program agreed.

“It was an honor to be part of this important event and share with others; not only our Taíno people but also with other Indigenous Peoples” said Marrero. “The program was very educational.”

UCTPTN 08.10.2010


UN spotlights film as a window into indigenous lives

United Nations - On the frozen Arctic, a hunter in search of seals watches in horror as one of his tribesmen murders another. Then the killer begs him to forget what he saw and help dispose of the body. Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s short film, the first ever made in the Inupiaq language, asks what constitutes justice in an isolated community where everyone needs each other just to survive.

The 2008 prize-winning film Sikumi (On The Ice) offers an insight into a culture and a people largely unknown to the rest of the world, and it is also one of four films screened today in New York as the United Nations celebrates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous filmmaking is the theme of this year’s Day and Mr. McLean hopes that films such as his own provide a chance for audiences worldwide to understand a bit more about peoples who find themselves frequently marginalized, dispossessed of their lands and impoverished.

“Online, in one day, half a million people saw the film,” he tells the UN News Centre. “And of those half a million people, maybe 99.9 per cent have never met an Inupiaq person… They didn’t get some deep education into what the culture is, but they got something. They got a taste. They got to hear the language they got to see the environment. They got to see a piece of what life up there is like.”

Sonia Smallacombe, an officer at the Secretariat of the UN’s Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, stresses that indigenous filmmaking offers not only an opportunity for audiences to learn about communities they never previously knew, but also for indigenous peoples to “get their voices out there into the public arena.”

By doing so, she explains, they can help countervail the often overly simplified portrayal of indigenous people in mainstream films that is used to “develop [detrimental] government policies on indigenous people.”

Mr. MacLean agrees. “I think that’s definitely accurate… It’s so amazing that film can do that for people and I think that it is a window that kind of goes both ways.”

The master of ceremonies at today’s celebrations in New York, which were attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was Roberto Múkaro Borrero, the Chairperson of the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) Committee on the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

A former president of the United Confederation of the Taino People, who are based in Puerto Rico, he says that indigenous “film is really important because it allows us to transmit a story that few people have heard.”

Indigenous filmmakers say that while not all films about indigenous peoples made by outsiders are shallow, even those that are complex tend lack the type of accuracy that only indigenous people themselves can provide.

“I think it’s possible for outsiders to have a complex viewpoint and be an observer with a kind of integrity…but I don’t think it’s possible for an outsider to write something inside. I think it’s only so far that you can go unless you grew up within,” says Mr. MacLean.

“Historically, I think there are a lot of great films that have been done by people coming from outside of [indigenous] communities that have helped to raise a lot of awareness. But there is just another way of looking at things and to get at that, to get at the heart of community, these stories have to come from the communities themselves,” says Mr. Borrero.

Like the Taino people, the Inupiat also place a strong emphasis on community. Because “the landscape [in northern Alaska] is so harsh, the lifestyle is so harsh, people had to rely on each other to a pretty amazing degree,” says Mr. MacLean. “It may be that a hunter is unsuccessful for a couple weeks, and if his family is only relying on him, they’re basically going to starve. But the fact is that they can survive that because his neighbour went out and got himself a seal, so they don’t go hungry.”

However, Mr. MacLean worries that the Inupiat’s strong communal ties are being threatened by an “assault from mainstream culture.”

“We have Western culture – this juggernaut that’s just piped into our homes over TV and the Internet, this onslaught that fills our brain and our lives. I think it’s important that it become a two-way thing. I think instead of us just absorbing the culture of the mainstream, it’s important that we start to project our own culture out as well,” Mr. MacLean says.

It’s precisely that dynamic, the tendency of a dominant “mainstream” culture to absorb indigenous culture, that makes the right to self-determination so important, says Mr. Borrero. “When other people are allowed to determine your identity, to determine your history, you lose your rights. You lose that part of your selves that has been around even before some of these governments were formed," he says.

Article 3 of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states that “indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

The UN is intrinsic to protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, says Mr. Borrero.

“I think UN plays a critical role because it's an opportunity for indigenous people, like the Taino, to bring their story to the international forum. Oftentimes, local and state governments are unresponsive, and communities have no choice but to go outside those realms to try to seek a redress and seek assistance for problems.”

Source: UN News Centre