Indigenous Caribbean Network

Quite by accident (I had never heard of Bankie Banx before today), I found this video titled "Big Chief." The story line that accompanies it reads:

In the lands, where the Arawaks roamed... A Visually stunning music video, recounting the story of the Arawak people who once inhabited the islands of the Caribbean. The 'Big Chief' story centers on a modern day island boy, who discovers an ancient scroll that reveals the true roots of his people.

I'm not sure if that is the "official" plot line, or the one created by the person who uploaded the video. Looking at the video, it is hard for me to decipher, visually, what it intends to convey.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Here is the video:

Views: 90


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Comment by Koa on August 21, 2008 at 3:51pm
Actually, one of the projects simmering in my brain is to set taino Indians in their native dress in todays world. Tainos of 600-800 years ago in a Supermarket, in a mall, in a modern home, on a plane, playing video games etc. Takes money which I don't have, but I will get there. Other projects in my brain are best kept under wraps.

Comment by Caracoli on August 21, 2008 at 10:58am
Thank you Brother for sharing your vision.

Very well said, I had no idea that Posie Perez lol said that sh@#.

The resurgance movement is building steam

Perhaps you can work on a project on Tainos as they live today

I could dream
Comment by Koa on August 21, 2008 at 10:44am
The CafePress link above is incomplete. It should be:

My apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Comment by Koa on August 21, 2008 at 10:21am
Thank you all for looking at my video slide show and for allowing me this opportunity to explain my work. It is a privilege and an honor to be accepted amongst you all.

My work began via a cultural quirk in Puerto Rico. I have spent much of my life in Hawaii (I just arrived from there this past June) and my wife and son were born there.

Several years ago, I got a part time job at the local High School and as a photographer, some of the students wanted school portraits. However, they wanted their portraits made as if they were Hawaiians.

I completed the job and then began to wonder, along with my wife, why did'nt the students want their images made based on their own culture. So I began to do research and found out that Puerto Rico does not provide that much instruction in their own native culture. Hawaii is different in that BY LAW, the children have to have culturally based classes from the time they enter school until they graduate.

Upon further research, I also noted that there were not many images of the Taino people. There were drawings, paintings and clay figures but nary an image could be found. Those that I did find portrayed the taino Indian in a very bad light. The images were bad, the poses were awful... just a very bad representation altogether.

What pounded the last nail in was when Rosy Peréz, the actress, made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. She spoke about how she went to Puerto Rico and met cousins she had never knew existed and during her talk, she mentioned the Taino tribe. During her talk, she called the Taino's "Savages". You heard me right, savages. I had had enough.

My work, with artistic interpretation, is a serious effort into portraying the Taino people as humans, just like you and I. They lived, they loved, they made love, they cared for their children, they cried, they laughed, they suffered, they died and yet... they still live. We still live.

They were, they "are" us.

The images are made to convey pride and yes, sensuality. I could make the models look like apes. neanderthals... savages; but that has already been done and it was about time the world recognized our people as decent, caring and loving people. It was time to change our image and the world's perception of us.

Thus far, I have succeeded with flying colors.

My work has been seen by thousands of people worldwide. in fact, my work is the first introduction which many people have of the Taino people.

Yes, it is artistic in nature.

Yes, I take a few liberties.

And yes, I portray our people in a semi fantasy Eden type style.

And yes, I want to get paid for my work as well (many people have told me that I should do it all for FREE and just give the images away to anyone who wants them. Sure! Tell that to my son who wants to eat).

But I get the general point across. Not savages. humans. You listening Rosey?

My models come from all walks of life. From those that are deep into the culture to those who are simply fascinated by the images and wish to become part of a pridefull vision which they had never experienced (nor thought existed) before.

Keep in mind that this work is not easy. There are many who have tried to stop me, who have made comments, leveled accusations (I was anonymously accused and subsequently investigated for child pornography and completely cleared by the authorities. The same person who did that later accused the local Police and teachers of running a prostitution ring from the High School). So, yes, it has been an arduous path to continue my work.

But the number of detractors in no way compare to the number of people who are totally fascinated by my work. That makes it all worth the time, stares and comments from the closed minded.

I have thus returned to Puerto Rico in order to continue making more images. Much of what I have planned will be very and I do mean very controversial. But I hope it wakes people up, makes them aware of their own culture, how our ancestors were treated and how we are being treated today. My company motto, "Cry not for WE yet live" stands today as it did when I first used it more than five years ago.

One last note. My work could never have even been started much less gotten this far had it not been for the models who selflessly gave of their time and talent to this project. My deepest and heartfelt gratitude goes out to all of them. Thank you! And to all those future models who will place their trust in me in the future, I thank you as well. And a special thank you to those who have supported my efforts. May God bless you all.

Comment by Caracoli on August 15, 2008 at 6:41pm
The fellow who made the video's name is Koa. 2 of the models Lizzy & Yerut have a group in Puerto Rico called "Wakia Arawaka". they foster awareness of Taino Arawak culture throughout the Island

As far as the Koa slideshow I think its a artistic reanactment Of Taino way of life pre-contact. The regalia is an attempt to fit the profile with some considerations for the modern times we live in (nuduty) The chronicles did say that the Taino Women wore naguas (loincloths)

Koa has a myspace, I will try to get him on our network
Comment by Caracoli on August 15, 2008 at 6:12pm
I thought it was a really cool video,Well researched and a deep story. You guys are right in your assesment and I hope to live long enough to see dozens more of videos like this
Comment by oronde ash on May 18, 2008 at 7:33am
big chief video says... know yourself through your history. hundreds of years after the slaughter of the original inhabitants, the jade stone symbolizing their history is found my a present day explorer. he has an archealogical, scholarly look about him with the indiana jones glasses and cave motif from the opening scene of raiders of the lost ark. we assume the man to be an intelligent, cultured man of science. he's got the backpack and torch. light shines on knowledge. the backpack will bring back elements of the truth. but like plato's allegory of the cave, the truth inside and outside are vastly different.

yet the truth of history frightens our hero. the truth is what it was. gunshots, spanish explorers, big chiefs perpetrating on big chiefs. those stories exist n history as they are. they will never change. everyone the man encounters along his route back home know the truth and have made peace with it. they serve their beer, drink their coconut, play their games because the truth has been dealt with on some level. and this... this educated, history buff, like jack nicholson says in a few good men: "... can't handle the truth."

like water from a cleansing conch, the truth should wash him in a baptismal spring. but the man has to make that choice. like the young boy we see in the beginning, running away from the explorer, this modern man must make a choice if he wishes to run or deal with the reality fast approaching in ships, on the island, in time... or what legacy will the man leave? what history? what will be his big chief story?

maybe i'm taking this video too far...
Comment by Maximilian Forte on May 17, 2008 at 10:23pm
That was a challenging video, because those images can be understood and interpreted on many different levels, and the discussion won't be a finite one. On the one hand, I see a familiar pattern, one that echoes images of North American Indians taken by Edward S. Curtis, who is usually accused of exoticism and primitivism, showing people as if they had not been ravaged by the expansion of white America and by Westernization, creating false images of continuity to satisfy white nostalgia for the societies they demolished. On another level, these individuals seem to be trying to bring artefacts back to life, showing how they were used. The video might also have been meant as an artistic statement. On yet another level, some might have a problem with the kind of fossilization of indigenous identity shown in the video--people must dress and live in this manner to be 'true' and 'real,' and I noted also the light colour shade of the individuals which raises some really serious problems and opens the door wider to the kinds of accusations of racial bias that have already been made. I don't think there is any one thing going on here, but without contextualization and without anything beyond the images themselves, the producers of this video might be causing themselves some problems.
Comment by Zeeska Lee on May 15, 2008 at 2:59pm
Perhaps, you could teach me something about this one. It's the Taino Tribe from Puerto Rico.
Comment by Zeeska Lee on May 15, 2008 at 2:58pm


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