Takaji My Relatives
It was such a blessing this past weekend August 10 and 11 2013, to participate in the ninth annual celebration of the JORNADA TAINA sponsored by CATTA COOP artisan collective in Jayuya Puerto Rico.
I arrived in Boriken early on Saturday morning on a flight into Aguadilla along with our Taino sister Tai Pelli who travelled out of Fort Lauderdale airport with me.
After spending some time with Tai's family in Cabo Rojo I helped her with the rental of a car and she drove us all the way up into the central mountains to Jayuya where we joined the other celebrants at the sacred ceremonial grounds adjacent to the famous Cemi Indigenous museum of Jayuya.
The gathering was largely organized by our respected sister Margarita Nogera.
Margarita not only organized the event but she also performed the role of main officiator during the ceremonies, leading us in prayer and ritual during the two days of the gathering.
As in years past the event consisted of two days of intense prayer, dancing and drumming. This activity gravitated around a sacred guatu fire burning at the center of a circular batey ceremonial field which is bounded by upright stone markers as in the days of our ancestors. The fire was kept burning day and night throughout the duration of the gathering. All day long and all night long on Friday night and Saturday and Sunday. We participants joined the heat of our love for and our commitment to our Taino people in particular and the world's people in general, with the heat of the central guatu fire. Someone was always tending that fire and someone else was always dancing and playing the drum for the whole two days and nights.
I was honored by our sister Margarita by being allowed to assist in the officiating of the ritual as elder of the Taino community and behike of the CANEY INDIGENOUS SPIRITUAL CIRCLE. Also assisting with the blessing of these ceremonies was the elder Arokoel Melvin Gonzalez.
It was an unique thrill during this event, for me to be able to re-connect with Taino brothers and sisters with whom I had not shared ceremony for three years since my last participation at a Jayuya Jornada in 2009.
Roger Hernandez, the Boriken representative of the United Confederation of Taino People was there.
I was extremely happy to be together again with Taino from the Miami area Mike Lopez and his wife Maryellen Cox Lopez, who offered his housethis past December as the site of the 2012 celebration of our CANEY CIRCLE Winter Solstice Ceremony.
In this photo the three "Miguel's": Mike Lopez on the extreme left, Miguel Guzman in center and Miguel Sague on the right.
I had an opportunity to discuss issues of the current Taino Resurgence movement with our esteemed grandmother Bibi Naniki who is a legendary activist and leader of our international Taino community.
I interacted with the grand old man of the Boriken Taino Resurgence, the great artist and musician, Miguel Guzman whose friendship with my family dates back to 1988 when I met him on my first ever visit to Boriken.
I also had opportunity to interact with Waya and Yari, the two young runners of the Caribbean contingent of the 2012JOURNEYS OF PEACE AND DIGNITY who stopped in the Pittsburgh area and stayed overnight at the Council of three Rivers American Indian Center on their historic trek to Guatemala last year.
We were also joined by Bibi Shashira of Boriken, here shown greeting Don Miguel Guzman.
My spirit was filled with happiness at being able at last after three years, to participate again in ceremony there in Boriken with our dear sister Joanna Soto Aviles and her husband Emilio.
Also present was the incredibly talented artisan and artist who created my new behike necklace, Brandon Cosul with his equally talented wife Ingrid Laguer , crafters of some of the most extraordinary examples of Taino artwork including a remarkable replica of the famous cotton funerary cemi which they brought to the event and was temporarily housed in the CATTA COOP display museum.
Here is an image of the original 500-year-old woven fabric funerary receptacle known as the COTTON CEMI
There were other beautiful participants there with whom I shared moments of peace and mutual wisdom:
As in earlier years the event included important informational conferences and presentations by talented and knowledgable presenters.
We were blessed by the performance of the wonderful group ESENCIA TABONUKO led by our Taino elder Melvin Gonzalez. They offered us a glimpse of the past in their "estampas" of ancient Taino tradition and lifestyle.
Our own Taino sister, the representative of the UNITED CONFEDERATION OF TAINO PEOPLE in Central Florida, Tai Pelli offered an extremely informative conference about the current issues affecting Indigenous people in the Americas and the rest of the world as seen through her eyes as a current activist for Native human rights.
My dear friends Sandra Reily of Crystal ParrtProductions and the videographer Travis Neff offered various presentations including a screening of his film Full Circle, based on her book, and a wonderful documentary of the discovery and saving of the Folrida Tekesta archeological site MIAMI CIRCLE in Miami.
Miguel Guzman charmed all of the participants with beautiful renditions of his own original tunes inspired by his dedication to the Taino Resurgence and his devotion to his beloved Boriken homeland.
What a powerful summer we of the CANEY INDIGENOUS SPIRITUAL CIRCLE are having this year 2013, the first year of the new era in the Mayan Calendar! and this awesome event in Jayuya is a magnificent example of these new beginnings.
I again want to thank our sister Margarita Noguera for making this gathering happen in spite of extraordinary challenges. I also send a great big Jajom to all of those sweet souls who attended the event and especially those who closely helped Margarita to make it happen.
Seneko Kakona to all of us.