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"That's not "traditional'."
"They aren't REAL indians, they are wannabes."
"That is NOT part of our belief system."
"They are making things up."
"Fake indians."

These are common words coming from the mouths of our native friends, families and relations.  And when asked who a REAL indian is, the usual answers are "You either are, or you are not."  or "You know when you are."

My questions are as follows:

What makes a REAL indian?  What are the characteristics that define a person as Native American?
What is the difference between a Taino and any of the island labels, besides self identification?
And how important are these definitions?

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José Barreiro, director of the Office of Latin America at the National Museum of the American Indian, during the Taino Consciousness Conference 2012 Smithsonian’s National Museum of Native American, Day 1, refers to the issue as "Taino consciousness" within the larger concept of indigenidad. We come from a tranculturated Caribbean culture framed by a strong believe in the myth of Taino extinction. Thus, we need to give ourselves permission to believe in the existence and survival of the Taino live culture and start documenting the remnants of Taino culture to restore it even if we are transculturated or mixed.


I agree and believe that our Taino blood is stronger than all barriers encountered during the difficult journey of transitioning from being the mayority to being a minority. We still worship in our hearts just like our ancestors did.  The moon is our mother and the sun our father...We are guided by their spirits and worship in the silence. We live because our blood still lives.

Thank you Irma for your reply. The question continues being how? How do we go about being Taino beyond the silence. I know borincanos are doing a lot. I know also that the last DNA test proves that a great percentage of people in the island still have the Taino genetic information. 

We need to write about the Taino history and we need to talk to people (beginning with family members) about our roots and heritage. Spreading the word is like spreading seeds; some will die,but some will grow into beautiful trees. The bones of our people are still buried waiting for the right time to shine. DNA testing is marvelous but more digs and more people interested in archeology are necessary. We need to teach the young so they become interested in finding answers. I feel like that in the near future more studies and findings will give us many answers. Our DNA and our cells have memory and this memory brings light. They will help us find the answers.

Its crucial for us 21st century Tainos to understand that the most effective path to real practical progress as a people is to unite. There is an organization that has existed for over twenty years that embodies the most representative elements of everything Taino. It is the United Cofederation Of Taino People. Through the efforts of this organization the causes of Taino Resurgence movements have been brought to the global stage through participation in the International Treaty Council and the United Nations. The UCTP right now represents the best chance for ultimate unity and success for the future of the Taino Resurgence movement.

I agree with you both, Irma and Miguel. I am personally interested in the living culture of Taino people. How some communities have managed to retain some of the culture and others are invested in restoring it. Miguel, I saw your video about the Cordon dance and it is such a powerful example of cultural retention. Thank you for that. Irma I am researching the ritual performance practices of the Taino people and I make it part of my classes.

Absolutely! the retention of our ancient ways via modern-day folk culture is a vital element of who we are and how we can restore lost tradition. The Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle has added the Cordon Dance to our healing protocol and we are teaching it wherever we work with other Tainos. In regard to the most important manifestation of this thread on how to express our indigenity I want to stress the importance of unity. If many of us find and unify in collaborative organizations such as the UCTP the evvectiveness of our movement will increase exponentially.

I hope that you find the information you are looking for. From what I know each area of Puerto Rico had their own ceremonies and their own way of worshiping. I'm not sure if Miguel knows about this topic. I heard many stories when I was growing up.

Thanks Miguel. I will register and will tell others about this website.

Irma...I am from Cuba and I am connected to the surviving Taino traditions of my country of origin, however I live in the United States and as a US citizen I have spent over thirty years cultivating a close bond with my Boricua Taino brothers and sisters. The Caney Circle that I helped found in 1981 has been interacting with Boricua spiritual leaders and participants since 1990 when the first delegation of Boricua Taino Resurgence participants came to share Full Moon ceremony with us here in Pennsylvania. The Caney Circle celebrated its first ceremony at the Caguana Taino Ceremonial park near Utuado in 1992 and since then we have participated in dozens of ceremonies and spiritual gatherings all over the island of Boriken (especially at the annual JORNADA INDIGENA TAINA gatherings in Jayuya led by my friend, the spiritual leader Margarita Noguera). I have travelled all over the island of Boriken over the years and have met many of the most prominent spirit guides and leaders. I know that there are differences in the way that each leader approaches the ancient Taino tradition and I respect all, even though I don't necessarily agree with some of them.

Irma and Miguel, I have been questioned many times about my indigenous identity. Some people act as if they hold the authority over who is and who is not Taino. In Cuba and in the islands, I am considered a white man. Here in the US, I am Hispanic/Latino/Brown. I know we are all mixed, but agree with Jose Barreiro that it is about levels of Taino consciousness and how each one of defines oneself. So, after going to Toronto, I was welcomed by the indigenous people there as one of them. They think I am American Indian because of the way I look. There were no questions except "who is the tall indian?" One of my closest colleagues and friend thinks my indigenous ancestors were probably exiled to Cuba and I have just returned. So, I have not felt that degree of openness among the Taino people I have met in New York, for instance. Although I understand what Miguel is saying, I am always cautious about organizations, mostly when there is no personal contact. 

What does it mean to be "indigenous" today?

This thread was last commented on by Jorge Luis Morejon but the ënvelope to comment is missing, so, even you are not a ¨Chief¨, you are the initiator of this movement and since 1981 you have celebrated our traditions. That is why address this to you. Here are my 2 cents in the topic:

Original Ancestor should be the proper term but is not suitable for colloquial exchanges; Indigenous is not in the Real Academia de la Lengua (Is not relevant, but they have been controlling us for 525 years and we function under they rules). We could use Öriginario¨ but few would understand.

Since you are the first one, (that I know of) to act on the idea of Unity for all Indigenous groups in the Caribbean, I consider you the ideal person to put forth this iniciatives via our network, not only for your easy and educated manners, but also because you are the only one that responds to all the issues coming into the group promptly and with and incisiveness and empathy that I envy. My ideas come from years of browsing and reading about our ancestry.

In most Island there is at least one small or large group that are fully aware of our Grandparents Human Virtues.

A.-Lets coalesce into one network; it could be around our group or a variation thereof.

B.-We have to gather all asociacions and begin contact in order to begin #1. Two hours on web and I got not many.

Off course, this is a gargantuan task but if you have managed this group since 1981, no one is more adept for the task.

I can help you but time is constrained by University teaching and investigations, medical practice and a ton of other things. It may please you to know that one of those other things is searching for an alternative way to test the blood for a specific reaction on blood type O+ that can tell if your blood is or no Arawak. Then, depending on resources, we go for the Haplotypes.

Other members can chip in too and those of Arawak/Taino ancestry could volunteer to search some topicos assigned by you. All we need is passion and respect for our Honorable Ancestors. Most persons in our hemisphere forget that the basic unit of a society is a coherent familimy where you respect your ancestors, grandparents and parents. This behavios gets imprinted in the Morfogenetic Field of each social group. Those brought up without a family become unworthy members of society. Hence not for get that by not aknowledging our Ancestry we are disrespecting our inmediate parents.

On the side of good news, I might have access to the Morfogenetic Field but is a bit complicated and time consuming.

Honoring Our Ancestry, Your Humble Brother



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