Friday, June 03, 2005

Taino Children's Poetry

On May 19th, the Taino Nation of the Antilles and U.S. hosted a dinner, panel discussion and a cultural presentation by the children of the nation for the delegation members of the forth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The children played music, danced, sang and recited the following poetry;

We're Here to Stay! By: Erica Karayaru Velez,14 year old High School Student
A nation believed to be extinct and never coming back Now rising to the surface and slipping through the cracks Coming together to celebrate life Columbus could not take away Because he thought he could invade our lands and stay But we fought back and let Mother Earth be our guide And listen to the voice that we heard inside The voice telling us that they're greedy and what they're doing is wrong And instead of fighting we should be coming together to sing a song But that was the past and this is now And we are bring our nation to life the best way we know how We have a lot of elders who are wise and mature And a lot of young ones who will carry the nation to the future So if anyone tries to tell you we don't exist You'll look back and remember this We are the Taino Nation and we're here to stay So no matter what you do we won't go away

Dakia Kuyaya(Kuyaya is my name)By: Alejandro Kuyaya Pastrano, 10 years old
I speak the language of Columbus, I wear European style clothes. My shoes are from ChinaAnd my socks are from Japan.I like pizza and I play basketball, But there are things about me that you don't know.You see I'm a Taino, My ancestors left me a culture that is still alive today. My people sailed in big canoes,And played the scared drumsAnd if you would listen to my heart,You would hear how it sounds.So even if you see a change in what I wear today. My heart, my mind and my spirit are Taino, Kuyaya is my name!The future of the Taino Nation will firmly rest in the hands of our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters. After all the hard work and sacrifices throughout these last 12 years, since the resurgence and restoration of our nation. It will ultimately lie in the hands of our children. Who will inherit what we've worked so hard to restore and take us into the coming Millenniums. It is up to you to immerge your children into our culture. So they can learn the language, we have restored, so that they can learn the customs, traditions and culture that will prepare them to take their rightful place in the future of the Taino Nation. The Wanakan Cultural Center is now sponsoring classes in language, dance, music and all aspects of our culture, in order to better prepare both you and the children to continue the work we have initiated. After 500 years of silence and the declaration of our ancestor's extinction. We have fought our way back destroying the myth of extinction by our colonizers. It is your duty and responsibility to leave this inheritance to your children, as we are leaving it to ours. So for those of you in registry all you need do is show up for the classes, for those of you who have not requested registry into the Taino Nation of the Antilles and U.S. and would like to attend, what are you waiting for? The registry is living proof of our existence as a nation both now and for future generations to look back on and know that we existed, and that we loved and cared enough about them to insure that we never go back into obscurity. The prophecy of our return has been forfiled; it is now up to you to keep it alive for future generations to come.
Reprinted with permission by Tomas Waribonex Gonzalez of the Taino Nation of the Antilles.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Being conscious of origins in Indian affairs

Reprinted with permission from Indian Country Today (The Creative Commons License for The CAC Review does not apply to this article)

© Indian Country Today May 26, 2005. All Rights Reserved

Posted: May 26, 2005

by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today

In Indian affairs, consciousness of identity origins and tribal histories is essential. Without clear tribal definitions or their memberships, lands, histories and cultures, the concreteness of American Indian rights dissipates easily.

It is easiest to define Native status in the United States when the tribe is recognized, historically and legally, within the federal system. This is a complicated and historically paternalistic system, steeped in colonialist doctrine. Yet, for tribal nations to survive as distinct political entities as the American union enveloped them, sovereign definition over membership has always been a crucial issue.

The principal goal of a sovereignty model is tribal control over membership, tribal title (ownership) to lands, both in aboriginal title and as ''trust land.'' For each Native nation, large or small, the preferred nation-to-nation relationship with the United States is governmental. For the tribes, this is the relationship that is most reflective of their reality as the first self-governing societies and peoples of this land.

The defense and sustenance of the Indian tribal membership in this context has substantial history. Most always, the documented record of any tribe is rich with cases of real property dispossession and outright battles against extermination, characterized by the always strong (if not always successful) struggle to hold on to lands and territories rightfully owned by the tribe.

Beyond the status within recognized tribes fall various ranges of indigenous and tribal identities. Some of these concern disenfranchised folks from recognized tribes who are actual relations but whose circumstances fall outside legal definitions of membership. Many genuine stories of relations in this context give evidence of cultural exchanges of the most varied and interesting connections. Families long urbanized often have the most intimate, as well as distant, relations in reservation origins.

There are also the many tribes that are not federally recognized but maintain membership records that have been sustained and substantiated over time. Some of these are recognized by states and by local and regional tradition, but were separated from the historical record or from a federal-Indian relationship. Some were completely relocated; others completely Christianized, their distinct spiritual cultures dissipated.

Others were splintered by a large percentage of intense inter-marriage into non-Native cultures from which emerge people of great talent who occasionally become important Indian leaders.

Then there are Indian people in the United States, quite a few, who originate from Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Mayan nations of Central America estimate about one million of their people now reside in the United States. There are now large permanent Maya communities in Florida (Indiantown, Immokalee), as well as in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Add to that the many Zapotecas and Mixtecas from southern Mexico, and the large range of still-related and close-knit groups from Ecuador and other Andean regions.

In New York, Florida and Puerto Rico, people of Caribbean indigenous ancestry have re-organized related families of the Taino Nation of the Antilles, giving way to a growing cultural revitalization movement that counts many prominent representatives. Whereas in times past, immigrants to the United States were only too happy to leave behind the ''old country,'' to Americanize themselves into the new ''melting pot,'' the new immigrants from Latin America are not only sustaining their ties to their country of origin, but the indigenous among them are keen to maintain and consciously revitalize their ancestral identities.

Terrific kinship recognitions, friendships and alliances are possible in the healthy interaction of the three above-listed circles. This was in evidence this week at the United Nations, as Indian peoples from north and south met and discussed the many issues facing their communities throughout the hemisphere and the world.

The problem of holding on to tribal lands and resources, and the retention of intellectual properties, are important ongoing testimonies. As always, Native nations and their delegates found resistance from nation states and great sympathy from peoples and organizations at large, nationally and internationally. In the hallways and over coffee, friendships and alliances connected and developed that will last generations. Many of these small meetings were facilitated by urban Indian groups that networked Native delegations with foundations and human rights organizations.

The Indian context is complex and while alliances depend on shared identities, the respect of specificity within the context of peoples and place is equally crucial. In the United States, the recognition of American Indian nations has its own legal strictures that follow significant, if not always welcome, definitions. Of singular importance are the tribal rolls and tribal membership offices, as well as the ancient clan counts of longhouses and kivas. All have tried-and-true ways of determining their own membership and recognizing the identity of community participants.

These principles of time immemorial have their rationale, even when placed into federal stricture. This is most important because these days those most intent on destroying tribal rights claim to be Indian.

For example: One Nation, Inc., a national alliance wholly dedicated to the eradication of Indian tribal rights, issued this statement a year ago at the National Press Club: ''Do we wish to destroy our cherished American dream - a harmonious melting pot of all cultures, colors, and creeds? The current drive to revere tribalism among American Natives suggests the answer to be 'yes' to resurrecting the divisive apartheid we once deplored. With 562 federally recognized tribes, 291 tribal recognition applications pending, and 400 monopolistic Indian casinos supplying
outrageous funding to political parties, elected officials, and lobbyists, a new domestic crisis is exploding across America.''

One Nation Inc., United Property Owners and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance - three national coalitions of community groups, trade associations and local governments - are a growing advocacy base that is politically targeted to destroy the original peoples of America. But here is how One Nation defines its base: ''[Our] ... concerns lie not with American Indians, as many of our members claim this proud heritage.'' Their enemy is not Indian ''heritage'' per se; in fact, they already claim the identity, as they pretend to like ''Indians'' (i.e. themselves) while detesting ''federal Indian policy and out-of-control government bureaucracies assigned to serve the tribes - and some tribal leaders who don't serve the interests of their own people.''

Considering that these days even those who avow to destroy tribal sovereignty pretend to speak for American Indian identities, a clear scrutiny of brazen claims is crucial. It is a good thing that the tribes know who they are and who their actual members are. It is equally important that Indian nations establish and formally publish their policies on all such matters so that the manipulative and deceptive practices of anti-Indian hate groups can be laid bare.

Definition is crucial in this day and age. People who support a free-for-all with respect to Indian identity might consider how they usher in the Trojan horse that seeks the destruction of all American Indian freedoms.