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The CAC Review



Formerly the Newsletter of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink (ISSN 1684-0232): News, essays, website reviews concerning the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, and the global struggle for indigenous rights.



Updated: 2016-10-17T02:47:07.740-04:00

 



The CAC Review is Moving (and is being renamed)

2008-08-28T16:17:08.014-04:00

The CAC Review, under that name, will continue to exist at the current location, as an archive.

However, as part of recent efforts to reorganize and restructure, which include renaming the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink and all of its affiliated offshoots, the blog is now being continued in a new format, at a new address.

All posts from The CAC Review have been archived at the new address as well.

The new blog is called:

REVIEW OF THE INDIGENOUS CARIBBEAN CENTER

and can be found at:

http://indigenousreview.blogspot.com/

Kindly update your links and/or feed subscriptions. I hope to see you "over there."

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I AM REVOLUTION...TAINO SOY! by Axel Garcia

2008-08-27T06:26:30.514-04:00

From a poetic exchange on the Indigenous Caribbean Network, reproduced with the permission of the author, Axel Garcia

•••••••

I am revolution.....Being born "Spic" in an alabaster complexion.

My Grandfather couldn't see beyond my green eyes, so it was my skin I grew to despise. But "Papi", hold me, speak to me, tell me about "La Isla" with its swaying palm trees. Tell me bout Don Pedro, sing to me Ramito, dime de los esclavos.

Cause I, Papa, have been searching an eternity of years it seems, to understand the visions in my dreams; of a Taino reaching out his arms, trying to warn me of the harms....That Amerikkka and its democracy, will blind us with its glorious "Land of the free" ....

What price did you pay, Papa, if at my hue, the whiteness of my being, tu rechasa?

I am the victim of "O beautiful with gracious skies", while another of my kind dies! But don't put that on the radio or the TV, there is no room between the weather forecast, the Mets and the Yankees....

You see I am the revolution, as each day I fight, when in the mirror my enemy stares back with might. And yes Papa, I've scarred my skin with my flag tattooed again and again, so when the day comes of the concrete revolution, my "pale" body will lie next to all my fellow Puerto Ricans!!!

And Abuelo, when you see me again, I will be covered in the souls of my Indians....

POR QUE TAINO SOY!!!!




Mami & Papi: This is Not a Puerto Rican Obituary, by tainoray

2008-08-27T06:21:27.035-04:00

From a poetic exchange on the Indigenous Caribbean Network, reproduced with the permission of the author, tainoray:


MAMI & PAPI

For many of us Puerto Ricans our parents' childhood was very poor.

Boriken to them was hunger.

Access to a proper education was difficult.

They didn't come to America for a vacation, they came for a better way of life.

When they came here a lot of cheap jobs were waiting for them.

They worked the kitchens, swept the floors, served the food

Sound familiar???

They worked 40 hours for 20 hours pay if they were lucky

"Mucho trabajo, poco dinero," they said

They lived in rat and roach infested buildings but at least they had a roof over their head

Food in their bellies

They played the numbers looking for that pie in the sky

When they came hear nobody ever heard of Puerto Rico

They called them Spics, Wetbacks

They whistled at our mothers they new they were fine

They tried to beat up our fathers until they learned they could fight

They never complained

They never went anywhere

They told us to go to school and become somebody

They took us to the Villas and the Puerto Rican Day Parade

They kicked the St. Patricks Parade to the curb

They fed us rice and beans, pasteles & lechon on Holidays

All that good stuff

And to La Iglesia on sundays

They taught us their culture

They came home tired

We inherited the slums, many paid the price

But we are still here

I'm just trying to tell their story with this soliloquy

God bless them

This is not a Puerto Rican Obituary



A giant statue of Christopher Columbus has found a new home in PR

2008-08-27T06:15:01.754-04:00

For discussion of this piece, please see the Indigenous Caribbean Network


•••••••

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

A giant statue of Christopher Columbus has found a home after years of sitting in pieces in a park in the Puerto Rican city of Catano.

The city paid US$2.4 million to bring the 310-foot statue to Puerto Rico ten years ago, but then couldn't raise the extra cash needed to erect it.

Now, Catano Mayor Wilson Soto says port management company the Holland Group has agreed to take the disassembled, bronze and steel statue off his hands.

The company plans to install it in the western city of Mayaguez, where it runs the port. The town is set host the Central American and Caribbean Games in July 2010.




600 Ton Statue of Columbus (1998 article)

2008-08-27T06:12:28.404-04:00

For discussion of this piece, see the Indigenous Caribbean Network •••••••By MIREYA NAVARROPublished: December 21, 1998 Police Officer Adan Vargas Maldonado tried to picture what a 30-story-tall bronze statue of Christopher Columbus would look like.''I don't imagine it beautiful, but attractive, yes,'' he said as he kept watch on the mammoth head and other statue parts, strewn about in a park, awaiting assembly. ''It'll be something supernatural for Puerto Rico.''Such lukewarm views are an improvement over the reaction in almost every American city that has considered but rejected the statue by Zurab K. Tsereteli, the Russian sculptor who gave it to the United States as a gift of friendship in the early 1990's.In South Florida, cities like Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale passed on erecting the 600-ton monument because of its size and the costs involved, about $25 million for shipping and assembling. In Columbus, Ohio, which debated adding the statue of Columbus at the helm of a ship to its other memorials in honor of the explorer, some nicknamed it ''Chris Kong,'' and American Indians said it glorified someone who represented ''500 years of genocide.''But where some see a colossal headache, others see a potential moneymaker. The statue is about to settle down in Catano, a city of 36,000 better known for flooding, industrial pollution and playing ugly duckling to San Juan, its neighbor across San Juan Bay, but whose leaders expect soon to blossom as an international tourist attraction.Plans call for the statue, which would rise here 295 feet above sea level, to become the centerpiece of a waterfront tourism complex, which would also feature a pedestrian mall, restaurants, shops and boutiques, inspired by Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. Proponents say the complex, a short ferry ride from the cruise ships that anchor at San Juan Harbor, could draw 500,000 visitors a year.''This is going to put Catano on the map of the world,'' said Sergio Cordero, a Miami consultant who is manager of the statue project here. ''People will recognize it like they recognize the Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty.''Not everyone in Catano thinks it will be money well spent, given the city's municipal problems, but officials are trying to win people over by focusing on the future.The unlikely but impressive journey from Russia to Catano of the monument titled ''Birth of the New World'' began last February, when Anibal Marrero, the vice president of the Puerto Rico Senate, heard that the statue needed a home. Mr. Marrero, whose district includes Catano, said he thought it fitting that the gift be given to Puerto Rico, an American territory on which, unlike the mainland, Columbus actually set foot during his second voyage in 1493. (Puerto Rico's national anthem includes the lines: ''When to its beaches Columbus arrived, with admiration he cried: 'Oh! Oh! Oh! This is the pretty land I'm looking for.' '')Senator Marrero, who said the statue honored the man's daring spirit rather than his conquest, said he also envisioned new jobs and an economic bonanza for Catano. The city has one of the most majestic waterfront views on the island and is already the site of a popular tourist attraction, the Bacardi rum plant. But it does have problems, Mr. Marrero said, including an unemployment rate of about 13 percent and a disproportionate number of public housing projects.After enlisting the support of Catano's Mayor, Edwin Rivera Sierra, who earmarked $3 million to bring the statue's parts to the island, the two officials put a project team together and exchanged visits with Mr. Tsereteli, whose large-scale art is found all over Moscow and in cities like New York.Mr. Tsereteli had presented scale models of the statue to both President Bush and President Clinton and, last September, to the Organization of American States, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.The statue depicts Columbus standing at the historically inaccurate wheel of h[...]



Caribs' Santa Rosa Festival, August 24, 2008

2008-08-27T05:52:16.295-04:00

High Mass in Arima
By JANELLE DE SOUZA
NEWSDAY
Monday, August 25 2008
(image)

Voices were raised in song and prayer yesterday as parishioners left the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church in Arima to begin a street procession honouring the first of the New World saints, Santa Rosa de Lima.

(image)

The early Spanish missionaries dedicated the mission of Arima to St Rose who is honoured as “The Divine Patron of Arima.” According to the oral tradition of the Carib Community, St Rose appeared to a group of three hunters of the Carinepogoto tribe when the Mission was founded.

Even though the actual feast day was Saturday August 23, the day of St Rose’s death, was celebrated in a high mass from 9 am yesterday by parish priests, including Msgr Christian Pereira. The large church overflowed with adoring worshippers — young and old. Even the temporary seating area outside was filled to capacity.

After the mass ended, the procession was led by a cross bearer and altar servers and followed by the Carib Queen, Valentina Medina and members of the Arima Carib Community.

(image)

The church bell tolled as the statue of Santa Rosa was removed from the church and placed in the back of a van for the procession. The statue was beautifully decorated and garlanded in pink, yellow, red and white. The rain threatened but held up as the large crowd made their way through the streets of Arima.

(image)



My New Blog: One Day for the Watchman (1D4TW)

2008-08-26T03:24:54.192-04:00

I have been busy working on an offshoot blog, One Day for the Watchman, which is now live. “One day for the watchman” is a line from a Trinidadian proverb, about everyday being for thieves, but only one day is for the watchman, that one day which is the last day for the thieving, and it is usually meant to convey the idea that wrong doers will meet their end. One can read more of these proverbs, selected to suit the themes of the blog, under “Words of Wisdom.” 1D4TW will not be replacing or substituting for The CAC Revuew, but it will do some very different things. Posts that originally appeared here will remain, with some copied over to create 1D4TW. The themes of the 1D4TW will be broader and more political, allowing me to express and engage in issues and forms of writing that I sometimes produced here, but felt reluctant about doing so, or felt limited. The key foci of 1D4TW are, as listed under the “about” section which is retitled “Wha’ yuh say?“: radical indigenism and cultural revivalthe international politics of indigenous struggleCaribbean cultural identity, creolization, difference, history, and autonomythe politics of independence and decolonizationcritique of imperialism, capitalism, and modernitypolitics after the state, the world market, and Western hegemonyanarchy and autarkyways of life based on self-sufficiencyrethinking human-animal, our impermanence My thanks to Guanaguanare (also Guacara Dreamtime), Black Girl on Mars, and the late Dr. Roi Kwabena for the obvious inspiration for this new blog. Also, my thanks to thumbprints.co.tt’s Free Speech photo website featuring some amazing Trinidadian graffiti. From Guacara’s post on “Le Roi” I will end with some of Roi Kwabena’s famous signature lines that appeared at the end of his email messages: swim deep as manateelevitate as a kolibrichanting like a macawSINGING as COKIblowing like sandfly fly high like a condor from los iros to guayaguayare wade as an anacondadig deeper than anteater glimmer like the green horsewhip…[...]



Apparently Not: My Apologies

2008-08-24T09:03:54.197-04:00

As I am listening in, there is no live coverage of the Santa Rosa Festival on I95.5 FM, as indicated in the last post, based on past occasions. My apologies.



Caribs' Santa Rosa Festival - Live: This Sunday, August 24, 2008

2008-08-22T21:29:52.069-04:00

For those of you interested in the Santa Rosa Festival of Trinidad's Carib Community, you can hear a live broadcast, streamed online, from Trinidadian radio station I 95.5 FM, this Sunday morning. For those of you on the eastern seaboard of the U.S., the time the event starts is at 9:00am, same for those in the Caribbean.Go to this link http://www.i955fm.com/default.aspx -- and click on Listen Live. Don't expect to see any mention of the Santa Rosa Festival anywhere on that page, they usually show none even if they carry the live webcast. The ceremony is fairly long, close to 3 hours, and is essentially a typical Catholic mass.The website for the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Church of Arima, Trinidad can be accessed by clicking here.



"For Sale": Stolen Taino Artifacts from the Dominican Republic

2008-08-11T17:40:01.109-04:00

Over the past few days I have been contacted by a certain "Lai Tran," writing from either Champs or Marseilles in France, advertising for sale a number of artifacts, all shown below, which appear to be Taino artifacts, though a couple of items may not be genuine originals. No prices were mentioned, nor was the name of the collectors. I was told that the items were taken by two collectors who lived in the Dominican Republic, who have a second house in Nassau, and they "built buildings, public roads and 2 private airports." They found some of the items themselves, and others were obtained from workers and farmers. Some items were collected from "known Dominican collectors and antique dealers in Nassau." The entire collection shown below is currently being held in France.According to a knowledgeable correspondent, it is illegal to remove such items from the Dominican Republic, but there is little that can be done to get them back. In addition, there are lax controls in place to prevent travelers from leaving the country in possession of such items. According to this one source, what is shown below is the tiniest tip of an iceberg, and even a "vast percentage" of items held in storage at the Museum of Dominican Man have disappeared. In addition, it is alleged that dealers in Taino antiquities have found buyers among officials of the Dominican state.Posting images of these items is one way to keep track of what has been removed, and a way of posting a "beware" notice to any potential buyers: we know that these items have been illegally removed, and your purchase will also be illegal.This message has been forwarded to Taino colleagues working in museums in the U.S. as well representatives of the United Confederation of Taino People and the Taino Nation of the Antilles.May the day come that colonial Indiana Jones figures stop raiding the Caribbean as if it were their private, personal, plaything to be raped at will. [...]



"Name that Scientist!"

2008-08-11T10:01:24.488-04:00

First posted at Open Anthropology:

Imagine, 2008, and some foreigner travels to Barbados, and right under Barbadian noses he picks up the “world’s smallest snake,” known to native Barbadians since there have been native Barbadians, and he proclaims — without a metal helmet, bible, and cross — that he has discovered the snake, and that he will name it. The man clearly has balls, because he also decided to name the creature after his wife. S. Blair Hedges then says the naming is to establish its “genetic profile.” Apparently now his aim is to drive his wife into a murderous rage.

While some local academics tried to hush up the very negative local reactions to this latest episode of scientific imperialism (it’s no surprise that they would do so, given their dependence on academic networks owned and controlled within the dominant seats of Western power), Barbadians are clearly right to be critical.

What kind of world is it where one people gets to name the world for the rest of the world?

What kind of world is it where words from one particular, dead, European language are granted exclusive dominance in the name of “science”?

The answer: it’s a 2008 world, hardly different from a 1492 world.

So name that scientist!

▲▼▲▼▲▼▲▼



Garifuna Resistance against Mega-Tourism in Honduras

2008-08-11T09:58:11.662-04:00

A wonderful piece, from James Rodríguez's MiMundo.org, both for the beauty of the photography and the depth of sympathy for the struggle of a local Garifuna community against the invasion of tourist capital that has redefined their beaches as "wasted":‘We have hundreds of kilometers of beaches that aren't developed, and it's a waste,’ said the then Honduran Tourism Secretary (IHT), Ana Abarca in 2001. ‘We want strong tourism. We are going after the sun and the beach.’With a few adaptations, the dozens of Garifuna communities that populate the coast, continue to subsist as their ancestors did: through fishing, hunting, the cultivation of yucca, beans, banana, as well as gathering wild fruits such as coconuts and jicaco (cocoplum). “Our culture is based upon establishing a harmony with our natural environment”, explains Teresa Reyes, a community leader in Triunfo de la Cruz village.In what appears to be a renewal of old colonial enslavement and invasion, the Garifuna and their culture are now the target of development:The neoliberal model for development, in which the Honduran structures of power base themselves in, has identified the Caribbean Coast, and in particular Tela Bay, as the perfect place to develop a mega-tourist industry: Beautiful “wasted” beaches – as described by former IHT secretary Abarca – populated by relatively few people (already perceived as exotic, easily persuaded, and who can offer entertainment as well as cheap labor) make up the perfect wish list for those within the structures of power.The Garifuna are not passive in the face of continuous encroachments, and the state is probably underestimating the depths from which Garifuna resistance comes, having excelled at making resistance a central part of their history and culture:Such struggle for the control of Garifuna territories began over 15 years ago. “Starting in 1992, the Marbella tourist corporation and other foreign investors, in complicity with local authorities and military personnel, began usurping property rights within the Triunfo de la Cruz community. Facing the risk of losing communal land titles, local and national organizations came together to expose the corruption and managed so suspend the fraudulent operations.” Today, the Marbella project remains at a standstill.For the sake of foreigners to have the luxury of sinking their pink toes into Garifuna sand, the Honduran state has also disregarded the normal routes of negotiation and dialogue, resorting to force and intimidation on many occasions:In recent years, Garifuna activists have been living under a state of siege receiving innumerable death threats, having homes burned down, and have had three community members assassinated. “We find ourselves in a what can only be conceived as a war-like situation” declares Lopez during an interview.The state's tourism authority is planning to create a vast complex, occupying over three kilometers of beach, building a golf course (which is a source of environmental contamination), and engaging in deforestation, while trying to divide up communally held Gairfuna lands into individual plots whose deeds can be purchased.It's a 2008 world after all, which is hardly different from a 1492 world.“Here we will resist until our death. Only in coffins will they manage to get us out of here!” declares Santos Antonio Garmendia, who has lived in Barra Vieja since the early 1950’s.International financial institutions, at the heart of the spread of neo-liberal development, are not far behind the state in aggressively implanting these tourist projects:“International financial organizations are also playing a role in this conflict. The World Bank funds a land administration program known as the Program for the Administration [...]



Cuban mtDNA and Y chromosome study: maternal and paternal linkages in Cuba

2008-08-10T23:35:05.864-04:00

First posted on DIENEKE'S ANTHROPOLOGY BLOG:A message from this study is that Y chromosome diversity within an already settled territory can indeed be wiped out. Introduction of new pathogens or a technological differential between colonists and natives, are just two possible ways to achieve this.Many technological innovations (e.g. farming, Bronze, Iron) originated in a very small part of the Old World and spread far and wide. I would not be very surprised if this coincided with a massive replacement of Y chromosomes. The legacy of the earlier inhabitants may, of course, endure, via mtDNA, or autosomal DNA.BMC Evol Biol. 2008 Jul 21;8(1):213. Genetic origin, admixture, and asymmetry in maternal and paternal human lineages in Cuba.Mendizabal I, Sandoval K, Berniell-Lee G, Calafell F, Salas A, Martinez-Fuentes A, Comas D.ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Before the arrival of Europeans to Cuba, the island was inhabited by two Native American groups, the Tainos and the Ciboneys. Most of the present archaeological, linguistic and ancient DNA evidence indicates a South American origin for these populations. In colonial times, Cuban Native American people were replaced by European settlers and slaves from Africa. It is still unknown however, to what extent their genetic pool intermingled with and was 'diluted' by the arrival of newcomers. In order to investigate the demographic processes that gave rise to the current Cuban population, we analyzed the hypervariable region I (HVS-I) and five single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) coding region in 245 individuals, and 40 Y-chromosome SNPs in 132 male individuals. RESULTS: The Native American contribution to present-day Cubans accounted for 33% of the maternal lineages, whereas Africa and Eurasia contributed 45% and 22% of the lineages, respectively. This Native American substrate in Cuba cannot be traced back to a single origin within the American continent, as previously suggested by ancient DNA analyses. Strikingly, no Native American lineages were found for the Y-chromosome, for which the Eurasian and African contributions were around 80% and 20%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: While the ancestral Native American substrate is still appreciable in the maternal lineages, the extensive process of population admixture in Cuba has left no trace of the paternal Native American lineages, mirroring the strong sexual bias in the admixture processes taking place during colonial times.The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2148/8/213The article above, “Genetic origin, admixture, and asymmetry in maternal and paternal human lineages in Cuba,” is published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. Their results indicate that the,Native American contribution to present-day Cubans accounted for 33% of the maternal lineages, whereas Africa and Eurasia contributed 45% and 22% of the lineages, respectively. This Native American substrate in Cuba cannot be traced back to a single origin within the American continent, as previously suggested by ancient DNA analyses. Strikingly, no Native American lineages were found for the Y-chromosome, for which the Eurasian and African contributions were around 80% and 20%, respectively.For discussion of the articles, also see:ANTHROPOLOGY.NET @http://anthropology.net/2008/07/24/why-there-is-such-a-high-percentage-of-amerindian-mtdna-and-european-y-chromosome-signatures-in-the-caribbean/and DIENEKES @http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=7785493&postID=8388391862666083549&isPopup=true▲▼▲▼▲▼▲▼▲▼▲▼[...]



UNDOING COLUMBUS FROM THE CENTRE: Italian Day of Remembrance for the Genocide of Indigenous Peoples

2008-08-10T04:02:20.582-04:00

ESTABLISHING MANIFESTO OF THE 11 OCTOBER COMMITTEEfor the institution of theRemembrance Day of the Genocide of Indigenous PeoplesIn the age of “forced” globalization, in which we are lead to think of as inevitable the progressive and inexorable homogenization of cultures and people, it is fundamental to give voice to all the native nations which even today, despite centuries of physical and cultural genocide, keep on existing and affirming a different way to relate to Mother Earth.The 11 October Committee, formed by Italian groups and associations fighting for a long time for the self-determination right of the indigenous people all over the world, was constituted in Genoa on April the 13th 2008 with the purpose of spreading the knowledge of a different history from that written by the winners and to promote support initiatives to all the claims that nowadays native people laboriously undertake.Therefore we think it is necessary to start from the awareness that a gold paved road, “discovered” by the colonizers, corresponds to another, one of tears and blood, suffered by the colonized. The metaphor can appear strong but it’s a fact, given that we are remembering a genocide perpetrated upon millions of people and thousands of nations and cultures. Today there’s no point in focusing attention and analysis on what has happened in the past, and furthermore indigenous people don't want it; however to ignore history doesn't produce pacification but grudges.The possibility to build a future founded upon a true relationship of respect and mutual meeting has to start from the recognition of what has happened, and still keeps happening today to native people all over the world, from Botswana to Tibet, from America to Oceania.To such aims the 11 October Committee proposes to realize, on October the 11th and 12th 2008, two days of meetings and cultural events focused on native peoples resistance, meant as proud maintenance of their own dignity and cultural identity.The intention of the Committee is to propose the continuation of this initiative in the next years, giving voice to native peoples with the intent of beginning an exchange of thoughts, traditions and values amongst the cultures.In this first gathering, several exponents of the American native culture (writers, artists, dancers) will be the protagonists of the events and will bear witness to how much their own culture is still alive today and to how it is important to “positively” realize autonomous spaces of sovereignty and self-determination as foreseen by the ILO 169 Convention and from the Declaration of the Indigenous People Rights recently approved by the United Nations.For these reasons, the 11 October Committee is actively promoting a campaign insisting that the Italian government adhere to and ratify the ILO 169 Convention, which is the unique binding international juridical tool upon which native and tribal peoples can rely on in order to obtain the recognition of their rights.Finally the event will represent the occasion to launch a campaign to ask the Italian Parliament to establish a “Remembrance Day of the Genocide of Native Peoples” on October the 11th.The choice of this date seeks to remember, in a symbolic way, the last day of freedom of the American Indigenous People, with the hope that the broken circle can be recomposed for future generations.Adherents to the 11 October Committee:Associazione ECOcentrici (Roma)Associazione A SUD (Roma)Coordinamento Ligure Donne Latino Americane (Genova)Coordinamento per la Difesa di M. Graham (Modena)Associazione Gaia Terra (Roma)Associazione Huka Hey (Pordenone)Associazione Hunkapi (Genova)Associazione Il Cerchio (Italian indigenous people supporter ne[...]



Call for Support for the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, Quebec

2008-08-09T01:39:41.069-04:00

Sun Aug 3, 2008A CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS AND SOLIDARITYDear friends and allies --As you might know, in March the Algonquin community of Barriere Lake, located 400 kms north of Montreal, Quebec, had their Customary Chief and Council deposed by the Canadian government, with support from the Quebec government, in an attempt to get out of binding agreements signed with the community.This is only the latest chapter in Barriere Lake's long struggle to wrest control over their lives and lands from governments and corporations. In 1991, Barriere Lake compelled Canada and Quebec to sign a groundbreaking land management and sustainable development agreement, after a campaign of civil disobedience that caught international attention. The Trilateral agreement set important precedents: it would give Barriere Lake decisive say in the management of 10,000 square kilometers of their traditional territory, protect Algonquin land uses, and give them a share in the resource-revenue from logging and hydro projects on their land.Praised by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the agreement was an alternative to the Comprehensive Land Claims process, which Barriere Lake rejected because it would force them to extinguish their Aboriginal title and rights, among other reasons.The federal and provincial governments never liked the agreement, and have tried everything to undermine it – including the unilateral leadership change in March. It's the third time in the past 12 years that the government has refused to recognize the legitimate community leadership. Today, the agreement remains unimplemented.For background and information on Barriere Lake:http://www.barrierelakesolidarity.blogspot.com/Though a small community with few resources, Barriere Lake has demonstrated remarkable tenacity in their struggle for self-determination and the protection of their culture and land. But it is a struggle that can only succeed with broad support and solidarity from non-native people.The Barriere Lake Solidarity collective in Montreal, taking direction from Barriere Lake, is looking for groups and organizations to ENDORSE THE COMMUNITY'S LIST OF DEMANDS in order to build pressure on the federal and provincial government.Email us if you can: barrierelakesolidarity@gmail.comBarriere Lake's List of Demands1. That the Government of Canada agree to respect the outcome of a new leadership re-selection process, with outside observers, recognize the resulting Customary Chief and Council, and cease all interference in the internal governance of Barriere Lake.2. That the Government of Canada agree to the immediate incorporation of an Algonquin language and culture program into the primary school curriculum.3. That the Government of Canada honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the Trilateral, the Memorandum of Mutual Intent, and the Special Provisions, all of which it has illegally terminated.4. That the Government of Canada revoke Third Party Management, which was imposed unjustly on Barriere Lake.5. That the Province of Quebec honour signed agreements with Barriere Lake, including the 1991 Trilateral and 1998 Bilateral agreements, and adopt for implementation the Lincoln-Ciaccia joint recommendations, including $1.5 million in resource-revenue sharing.6. That the Government of Canada and the Province of Quebec initiate a judicial inquiry into the Quebec Regional Office of the Department of Indian Affairs' treatment of Barriere Lake and other First Nations who may request to be included.7. That the Government of Quebec, in consultation with First Nations, conduct a review of the recommendations of the Ontario Ipperwash Commission for guidance towards improving Quebec-Fi[...]



Archaeological Find in Boriken/Puerto Rico Held Hostage

2008-08-09T01:08:17.136-04:00

Puerto Rico archeological find mired in politicsBy FRANCES ROBLEShttp://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2039567/postsU.S. archaeologist Nathan Mountjoy sits next to stones etched with ancient petroglyphs and graves that reveal unusual burial methods in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The archaeological find, one of the best-preserved pre-Columbian sites found in the Caribbean, form a large plaza measuring some 130 feet by 160 feet that could have been used for ball games or ceremonial rites, officials said.SAN JUAN -- The lady carved on the ancient rock is squatting, with frog-like legs sticking out to each side. Her decapitated head is dangling to the right.That's how she had been, perfectly preserved, for up to 800 years, until the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers came upon her last year while building a $375 million dam to control flooding in southern Puerto Rico.She was buried again last week with the hope that some day specialists will study her and Puerto Rican children will visit and learn about the lives of the Taino Indians who created her. But archaeologists and government officals first had to settle a raging debate about who should have control over her and other artifacts sent to Georgia for analysis.The ancient petroglyph of the woman was found on a five-acre site in Jácana, a spot along the Portugues River in the city of Ponce, on Puerto Rico's southern coast. Among the largest and most significant ever unearthed in the Caribbean, archaeologists said, the site includes plazas used for ceremony or sport, a burial ground, residences and a midden mound -- a pile of ritual trash.The finding sheds new light on the lifestyle and activities of a people extinct for nearly 500 years.Experts say the site -- parts of it unearthed from six feet of soil -- had been used at least twice, the first time by pre-Taino peoples as far back as 600 AD, then again by the Tainos sometime between 1200 and 1500 AD.''It was thrilling, a once-in-a-lifetime thing,'' said David McCullough, an Army Corps archaeologist. "Just amazing.''But like all things on this politically charged island, the discovery got caught up in a sovereignty debate: If an archaeological site rich in historic and cultural value is discovered in a federal construction site in Puerto Rico, a commonwealth of the United States, who should be in charge of it?After months of finger-pointing and accusations of officially sanctioned plundering, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers poured $2 million into preserving the site. Plans to put a rock dump over it were changed, and the unearthed discovery was reburied with the aspiration that archaeologists will eventually return to dedicate the 10 or 20 years needed to thoroughly study the finding.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers promises the collection sent to Georgia will be returned to Puerto Rico. Some 75 boxes of skeletons, ceramics, small petroglyphs and rocks were sent via Federal Express in two double-boxed shipments for analysis.''The site is a significant contribution to our understanding of what Indians were doing,'' McCullough said. ``The thing that makes it unique is that the petroglyphs are so finely done. We originally were supposed to be there six weeks. It wound up taking four months.''McCullough said the corps had an inkling that the site was there since the mid 1980s but had never done much testing. They started digging in earnest last year while building a dam and lake to protect the region from floods, and realized the site had significant value.The corps found a ball court with four walls lined by tall stones, where they believe the Tainos either danced or played games. Three were covered in petroglyphs, among the best [...]



"Celebration of Spirit" Conference, Aug. 20-23, 2008

2008-08-09T01:04:43.796-04:00

PRESS RELEASE"CELEBRATION OF SPIRIT"August 7, 2008Tinton Falls, NJ - for immediate releaseTansi, osiyo ,hua kola, hau halito, istonko, Yá'át'ééh, kwai, kahe, dagot ee, Haaah, epivah-wuh-ennah, Pave-ésheeva, halito, auka, maruawe haitsi, kwaay, waciye, hau koda, han, dosha, um waynuma, asujutidli, aksunai, uma, aho, kiana, Kwe kwe, wa tkwanowera:ton, hacika no, haawka, onkwaho, aquai, estonko, hesci,aniin,boozhoo,he ha, way, sekoli, mike-tu-cubin,manahoo,tan kahk, saygo, nich-che-coogh, mique-wush-taagovenMeaning Hello in Several Native American LanguagesFrom the COS CommitteeWell Friends, we are now in the countdown phase for the Celebration of Spirit Conference, which is only 13 days away. A lot has happened since the last release, and I am sure that you will be as excited as we are about the following:The Dates are August 20th thru August 23rd 2008, at the Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida.This Event has and is continuing to create quite a buzz throughout Indian Country, but since it has been some time, let me just recap on some of the people that will be participating this year and are attending so far:Award winning Actress and one of our finest Ms. Tonantzin Carmelo, known for her work as Thunder Heart Woman from Into the West, which for this role Tonantzin received various awards as well as a prestigious nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Leading Actress in a TV Movie, Tonantzin is also part of a brand new documentary PBS Mini-series which will air in 2009 called, "We Shall Remain", will bring her knowledge and profoundly visionary voice, to some of the COS keynote events, and panel discussions.Ms. Irene Bedard Native American Actress and definitely one of our Pioneers, known thru Films such as Smoke Signals, and also as her role as Margaret Light Shines in Stephen Spielbergs "Into the West", her role as Pocahontas, will share her experiences, and her thoughts, about our Native American Women, people and struggles, adding her profound knowledge of the Media Industry, and bringing a true role model to any of the young American Indian Women that will be present throughout the event.Dr. Joseph Kalt Head of the Indian Studies Department at Harvard University will be a Keynote speaker about American Indian Studies, Education and the furthering of the American Indian etc.Russell & Pearl Means Co-Founders of AIM, Actor with numerous powerful roles such as Chingachgook,in Last of the Mohicans, also part of the new PBS Mini-series "We Shall Remain, Educator and Visionaries, will add their experiences, visions, hopes and voices in several of the events, Joanne Shenandoah Musician and Visionary, will be performing as will The Aztec Fire Dancers astound you with their unique ancient methods of Indigenous dancing with fire.Red Feather Woman (Rose Red Elk), our 2006 Native American Music Award Winner and also traditional story teller, Kevin Locke Famous Flutist and Visionary Hoop Dancer, also will add to the wonderful Entertainment line-up, which Kevin will come directly from his Tour in Europe just to participate in the Celebration of Spirit.John Tow Hawks Award Winning Flutist will be performing, adding a spiritual experience through his music.Fred Synder, Director of the International Native American Co-Operative, which Fred will actually be traveling 2300 miles from Tucson AZ, Fred and his family will have unique hand-made crafts from over 300 Tribal Nations of North America. An information desk with maps, brochures, Indian Events, will be available free for those who want to know more about the 556 Tribal Nations in America; The NATIVE AMER[...]



News about KACIKE: Upcoming Relocation and Editorial Changes

2008-07-05T13:04:41.352-04:00

This is an advance notice for both authors and readers that KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology will be relocated over the coming months to a new address:


There it will remain as an archive and will not be accepting any new submissions as of the date of this post. In addition, a new editorial board will be constituted if and when the journal should become active once again. In addition, the journal is being transferred into a new, easy-to-use, publishing format that will allow future editors to post articles without any knowledge of web coding, and will save them the expense of privately hosting the journal and paying for a unique domain name.

I wish to warmly thank all of the editors for the great work they have done over the past decade and a record of their having served on the editorial board will remain in place. In the meantime, I will continue to ensure that contents remain online and that any transition to a new editorial board will be a smooth one.

And last but not least, an especially warm thanks to our great authors and contributors whose work has been so widely read and admired. Final updates made to the journal as it gets transferred will reveal a wealth of new reader comments for each published article.



Unity Run

2008-06-12T13:19:30.499-04:00

Greetings Relatives! Here is the update and finalized plans to begin the Peace and Dignity Journeys East Coast Tributary Route. All are invited and we need your support! Please forward widely to anyone you think can help and/or participate!Gathering Ceremony, Preparation and Send offFRIDAY JUNE 13TH 6:30-8:30 PM RIVERBANK PARK(#9 train to 145th Street, walk one block West) This event is an all nations event to receive and welcome the staffs, runners, and communities. There will be Danza with Cetiliztli Nauhcampa Quetzalcoatl and please bring your songs and offerings. We will have 2008 Peace and Dignity Shirts and other items for sale! Bring donations of money and supplies also!Peace and Dignity Run BeginsSATURDAY JUNE 14TH 5 A.M. SUNRISEInwood Park (Take the A train to the last stop 210 St. and exit through the Isham exit, once you go up stairs you will be facing North, turn around South and make a right on that corner, the entrance to Inwood Park is less than 2 blocks East.) We will meet here at 5am sharp to walk together up the Mountain, a sacred site here in Manhattan by 5:30 am to greet the sunrise. From this point we will begin running together across the George Washington Bridge making our way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet with the Longest Walk 2 and eventually to the Pamunkey Reservation in Virginia to meet with youth from the Haudenosaunee Nation and other Native relatives on the East Coast. Our tributary route will conclude in Tahlequah, Oklahoma where we will meet with runners from the Trail of Tears route. The staffs we will then make their way toward the Kuna Nation in Panama on the main route of Peace and Dignity Journeys. You are all invited to be part of this prayer and historical time as we continue our work towards restoring and preserving our sacred sites, ceremonial traditions and sovereignty as Indigenous Peoples of this hemisphere.For more information: Jennie Luna 646.245.1216 lalunaxicana@yahoo.comThere are many ways you can participate:#1: WE NEED VEHICLES. If anyone is willing to drive for a few days or loan us a vehicle, please let me know. The duration of the route will be for approximately 25 days. If there is any piece of the route, certain days or vehicle contacts in different areas that you have, that would be appreciated. If there is any organization or nation that has a vehicle (preferably a van) that would be willing to participate by driving any distance…that would be welcomed. #2: RUNNERS. ALL runners for ALL lengths/distances are welcome. We do need more people that can run the entire distance to Oklahoma, but if you can only do a portion, all running is welcome. If you would like to run, please contact me with the days/distance you are willing to run. Below is the entire route so you can figure out where to join. I have also attached to this email a Runners packet. Please read it carefully and make sure you are willing to comply with the commitment that is asked of you. For example, there are NO drugs, alcohol, sexual relations, allowed during the run. You will need to complete this packet, fill it out and give to me when you join the run. Also, as a runner, please know that you are responsible for your own transportation home. You must have funds to provide your way home and some funds to help support yourself for the duration of the run (food, gas contributions, etc). #3: FUNDS. Peace and Dignity is a completely grassroots effort. We do not take corporate money and all fundraising is done through grants and community fundraising. Some money has been raised by the New York co[...]



Obama position on Cherokee issue builds ties with Native Americans

2008-06-05T14:50:32.787-04:00

From THE HILLBy Kevin BogardusDemocratic presidential front-runner Sen. Barack Obama’s support for the Cherokee Nation in its controversial battle with the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) is helping him win support from Native American leaders.That support has translated into votes in Democratic primaries, and could also help the Illinoisan in a general-election fight with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).Obama has weighed in against legislation supported by other CBC members that would cut off federal funds to the Cherokee Nation. The CBC is upset with the Cherokee for excluding Freedmen — descendants of slaves once owned by tribal members — from tribal membership.Obama has said that he disagrees with the decision, but opposes cutting off funds to the Cherokee, saying tribes have a right to be self-governing.To most black lawmakers, the move by the Cherokee Nation smacked of racism and discrimination. But many Native Americans see tribal membership as an issue of sovereignty and resent any federal intrusion.Chairman Joe Brings Plenty of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe in South Dakota said if Obama had sided with the CBC on the issue, it would have weighed on Native American voters’ minds.“It would have been costly,” Brings Plenty said. “If Congress is allowed to step and just rearrange the constitution, what is going to happen to our constitution? The seriousness of the issue is that comes down directly to interfering with the nations.”Obama easily won the two South Dakota counties where Brings Plenty’s reservation is located on Tuesday, although it wasn’t enough for him to win the entire state. He also benefited from strong wins in Indian counties in Montana, where he did defeat Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.).According to Obama’s advisers and supporters, a number of states might go Democratic in this year’s general election because of Native American votes. They cite Montana, a state where more than 6 percent of the population is Native American. It has voted Republican in the last several presidential campaigns, but Obama trails McCain by an average of only seven points, according to polls monitored by RealClearPolitics.Another example cited by Obama’s supporters is North Carolina. While its population is only a little more than 1 percent American Indian, it is seen as a swing state where Obama might be able to edge out a narrow victory.If Obama had sided with the CBC, Brings Plenty, who has no position on the substance of the Freedmen dispute, said he would not have retracted his endorsement but would have requested a meeting with the senator to offer his perspective on the issue.Brings Plenty isn’t alone in praising Obama’s position on the Cherokee issue. Indian Country Today, a Native American news service, praised him for meeting “Indian issues head-on, even where they could put him at odds with other voters.”“It was smart of Obama to put out a position. I’m glad he’s on the record. This is something tribes definitely want to hear,” said Lillian Sparks, a member of the Rosebud Sioux and executive director of the National Indian Education Association.The CBC reaction has been less positive.In an op-ed in The Hill, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), who endorsed Clinton for president, said the Democratic front-runner’s statement on the Freedmen shows he is without “a clear understanding of the issue.”“What Sen. Obama fails to understand is that the Freedmen issue is about treaty rights, not tribal sovereignty,” wrote Watson.Obama has taken other positions to w[...]



A Note from Max Forte: On the future of the CAC and KACIKE

2008-06-05T12:57:37.963-04:00

Dear friends,if you will allow me a personal announcement, this might be of some minimal interest to a few readers of this blog.By the end of this year I will have formally withdrawn from the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink, which will either pass into new hands, some new hands, or none and remain archived online at a new location. The current location of the CAC is at http://www.centrelink.org/. The new location, where there has already been a start in remodeling the CAC is http://indigenouscaribbean.wordpress.com/. The CAC is being renamed the Indigenous Caribbean Center, and restructured using blog site architecture so that it should be much easier to manage and update by anyone else. It will also go back to being on a free site, which should also make an eventual transfer much easier. The domain, www.centrelink.org, will cease to exist by the start of 2009.Also by the start of 2009, I will no longer be involved with KACIKE: The Journal of Caribbean Amerindian History and Anthropology at www.kacike.org. That site will also be moved over to wordpress.com, once again to make it easier to manage, update, and maintain without any personal financial expenditures.I will also be withdrawing from this blog by the end of this year.Finally, I will no longer be the webmaster for the Santa Rosa Carib Community.It has been a fantastic journey that I have traveled in the company of great people who have made my life much better, richer, and more interesting for having known them. The time has come for me to move on to new areas. Once my current projects, both large and small, are finally wrapped up within the coming three years, I will no longer be engaged in any kind of work focusing on the indigenous Caribbean. You should, I imagine, still find me in the Indigenous Caribbean Network.If I can insert my two cents' worth here (and I may be overvaluing my words, by at least two cents), for a number of years I have thought that the CAC should be fully indigenous-controlled. KACIKE was always an academic site, oriented to audiences with academic interests, so perhaps that case is not as straightforward.I am making this announcement in case there are any individuals "out there", among those of you reading this message, who might be interested in getting involved to take the reins of these sites and to eventually reshape them to better suit your interests and needs. In that vein, please feel free to contact either myself or Jorge Estevez, and we will make sure that your messages get passed on to all concerned.Many thanks again to all of you, the past decade online, and longer offline, has truly been an experience worth treasuring. For those who have benefited from these online resources, you are very welcome.Maximilian C. Forte■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ [...]



The Puzzle of Race and Politics, from Counterpunch

2008-06-05T12:19:32.160-04:00

COUNTERPUNCHJune 4, 2008The Puerto Rican ExperienceThe Puzzle of Race and PoliticsBy VICTOR M. RODRIGUEZThe application of United States frameworks and perspectives to understand Puerto Rican politics and society always derive distorted results. To apply the same lenses we use in the United States to understand political dynamics in Puerto Rico will lead to failure. The analysis of the recent United States primaries in Puerto Rico in CounterPunch by Nikolas Kozloff is a good example of this. The historical record is full of examples of how misinterpretation of local social dynamics derived from the frames used to interpret them.The United States Bureau of the Census learned this when the 2000 decennial census staff was preparing to develop items for the questionnaire to be used in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, since 1958, as a result of former Governor Luis Muñoz Marin’s negotiations with the U.S. Department of Commerce determined a process to develop the survey instrument to be used in the island. The process would consist of an inter-agency committee, led by the Puerto Rico Planning Board, that would include “consumers” of census data and would determine which kinds of survey items are needed in Puerto Rico. One of their decisions was that the question of race, would not be included in the survey instrument to be utilized in the 1960s census. Since the 1950s the question of race has not been included in the Puerto Rican census.In 1980, the Legal Services Corporation (legal advocacy group) requested that in order to ascertain the level of racial discrimination in the island some data gathering about race was needed. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico eventually decided there was no need for the gathering of such data in Puerto Rico. The climate for considering questions about race changed dramatically after the 1992 election of Governor Pedro Rossello, of the New Progressive Party (NPP) and a supporter for statehood for the island. In the years previous to the 2000 decennial census, the Inter-Agency committee, chaired by Lillian Torres, director for the social and economic planning for census activities with the Puerto Rico Planning Board discussed the need for data on race but decided not to use the items in the United States Census. They proposed to develop items more in line with the social reality of the island. Their decision was rejected and Governor Rossello himself made the decision to use the entire U.S. census survey instrument without any modification in tune with the social, economic and political reality of Puerto Rico. The outcome, in an island with a strong African and Taino cultural and phenotypical influence, resulted in 80.5% of the population self-identifying as white. Therefore, Puerto Rico is “whiter” than the United States.The bureaucratic decision of former Governor Rossello basically enabled a “whitening” process that was accelerated by Puerto Rico’s colonial status. Since the Spanish-American War, Puerto Rico, while it has not experienced a dramatically large black emigration (or received white immigrants to the island in large numbers) Puerto Rico’s “white” population has grown from 48.5% (1802) to 80.5% in 2000.The colonial experience has also been a racializing experience that has internalized even more the ideas that white is better (the colonial power is white). Also, the system of race is more fluid and elastic. In contrast with the polarized binary nature of the United States system of racial classification[...]



Barack Obama Commits to the Rights of Indigenous Nations

2008-06-03T12:00:29.683-04:00

"You will be on my mind every day I am in the White House"My Indian policy starts with honoring the unique government to government relationship between tribes and the federal government and ensuring that our treaty obligations are met and ensuring that Native Americans have a voice in the White House.Indian nations have never asked much of the United States, only for what was promised by the treaty obligations made by their forebears. So let me be clear: I believe that treaty commitments are paramount law, I’ll fulfill those commitments as president of the United States.See also the "First Americans" section of the Obama campaign website.Actually has an "Indian policy"An American Indian adviser on tribal policyEnd a century of mismanagement of Indian TrustsTreaty commitments are paramount lawWorld class health care and education on Reserves'Obamamania' hits the Crow NationIndian Country TodayMay 23, 2008by Adrian JawortSen. Barack Obama makes first visit to Indian countryCROW AGENCY, Mont. - "I like my new name: Barack Black Eagle. That is a good name," Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama told the crowd of some 4,000 people gathered at Crow Agency May 19. He referenced having been adopted into the tribe moments earlier by his new "parents," Hartford and Mary Black Eagle.Obama's official new American Indian name, given to him by the Crow Nation, was translated as "One who helps people throughout the land.""It is not just done for show," Robert Old Horn explained after he announced the tribe's newest honorary member. "But it is done with sincereness - adopting one into a family, with brothers and sisters."Crow Tribal Chairman Carl Venne introduced Obama, thanking the Illinois senator for co-sponsoring the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and presenting Obama with gifts to share with his family."We ask that you, senator, commit to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People," Venne said. The U.S. is one of four countries that voted against that declaration.In turn, Obama thanked and listed every tribe in Montana, and thanked the rest of Indian country for its support. He also praised the work of his director of Native American Outreach in Montana, Samuel Kohn, Crow.Having the senator come to the reservation was the manifestation of a lot of hard work on behalf of Kohn and other tribal Obama supporters."We've been doing all kinds of things: community organizing, meeting up with each of the tribal leaders, traveled all over the state," Kohn said. "We've really ran the gauntlet."Kohn said that because Obama makes every person feel involved, it has made his work more rewarding with a tremendous increase of voters on reservations.He was touched when his work to get people to vote was heeded by one elderly man on the northern Montana Rocky Boy's Reservation."And at a meeting, a man 74 years old came up," Kohn said. "He said nobody cared enough to ask him to vote, or cared enough to even show him what he should do to register to vote. But when he said he was going to vote for the first time in his life, he said, 'I'm going to vote for Barack Obama.'"For the first time, I feel that a candidate really cares about improving the life of American Indians. There's no other candidate that has sat down face-to-face with American Indians and genuinely cared about them."One Northern Cheyenne voter present at the Obama rally, Donna Gonzalez, said she was disillusioned with the current administration and was im[...]



Questions about Race, Indigeneity, and Photography

2008-06-01T17:48:24.962-04:00

Given the debate surrounding the proposed ban of "mixed-blood" marriages among Dominica's Caribs, and the unexplained assertion that 1,000 "full blood Caribs" remain there, added to assertions made in the Taino Revival book that contemporary Tainos are really black people trying to deny their blackness by choosing a Taino identity, there seems to be a whole bundle of very contentious ideas, and some of these are re-provoked by the New Old World photo exhibition reproduced by the National Museum of the American Indian (see the earlier post about this here).Arguments made in the Taino Revival book might apply with greater force in the case of the approach taken by Chief Williams, when it is almost impossible at this point to argue that anyone in Dominica is a "full blood Carib," and where asserting purity in the face of persistent mixture becomes really questionable. Had the contributors to the Taino Revival book directed their criticisms at concrete cases such as this, then I might have agreed with their arguments.In the case of many of the Tainos I see online, please forgive me for being crass and superficial, but it is just not clear to my eyes by what definition or criteria they should be seen as "black" -- unless the blackness that is asserted is carelessly racial shorthand for something deeper, that is cultural rather than biological. Anyway, it is not my job to fix their argument for them. The notion that Tainos are really just black people strikes me as taking the one-drop rule to the extreme, and without any reference to anyone's actual genealogy. Even in the U.S., where we are commonly told that a slight wave in the hair might qualify someone as "black," it is still not clear to me how one would view the Tainos and conclude that, really, they are black. By the way, I am sure that "wave in the hair" is an exaggeration, since by that rule most Italian immigrants would have been reclassified as black. All I am saying is that I do not see how and why the blackness issue would surface. And what I do believe is that a person who "looks" fully black to most North Americans, with their ethnic and racial biases and criteria, could still be entitled to call himself/herself Taino, because indigeneity is not about race, and apparent blackness does not erase multiple ancestries, and different ways of life that do not correspond with superficial appearance.But when one mounts a photo exhibition showing continuing indigeneity in the Caribbean, that is when we will run into some of the problems raised in the Taino Revival book. I am very familiar with at least one, arguably two, of the communities depicted in the photographs, the Caribs of Trinidad and Dominica. What I noticed is a tendency to show the full face of those persons whose appearance would meet the stereotypical expectations of what a "real Indian" should look like, while others, perhaps "too mixed", are photographed behind smoke, with their faces down. This can be a subtle, perhaps not deliberate, perhaps unconscious, way of conveying shame, embarrassment, and an attempt to disguise.Face, full front, the real CaribFace down, covered by smoke, the unreal CaribNo shame here -- any of a number of images of Cristo Adonis online,facing the camera straightI don't like it and I do not want to waste time making excuses for someone else's work. I think it humiliates people I know and deeply admire, people who are proud to show their faces and would not want [...]



Restoration: More Indigenous than the Ancestors, in the Poet's Eye

2008-05-26T02:55:40.472-04:00

I was struck by this passage from Derek Walcott's acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. I had read this at the time it was released and had forgotten this passage until I accidentally found it again in the last few weeks.

Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole. The glue that fits the pieces is the sealing of its original shape. It is such a love that reassembles our African and Asiatic fragments, the cracked heirlooms whose restoration shows its white scars. This gathering of broken pieces is the care and pain of the Antilles, and if the pieces are disparate, ill-fitting, they contain more pain than their original sculpture, those icons and sacred vessels taken for granted in their ancestral places. Antillean art is this restoration of our shattered histories, our shards of vocabulary, our archipelago becoming a synonym for pieces broken off from the original continent.

The love that goes into restoration is even stronger than the love which took reality for granted. In the vision of the poet, what some have called the "Taino restoration" brings us face to face with people who are more firmly committed, attentive, and protective of indigenous heritage than even the ancestors that they take care to respect -- what a refreshing difference from scornful remarks about the "neo-Taino" as mere "wannabes" who are not "real," not "real" like "real Indians of the past." I take it that "white scars" can have multiple meanings here: a direct reference to glue, thus of binding, and healing; the sea, uniting Caribbean islands, these fragments of the mainland; and/or, the history of colonialism, white domination, that wrought the breakage to begin with. And finally the poem places the Antilles within a South American embrace, now bringing together the poet with the archaeologist while reminding a region of a history that is too often forgotten, willfully even.