Indigenous Caribbean Network

Tau My Relatives
We often refer to something called "Taino Resurgence", a movement that awakened in the hearts of many of our relatives the fervent desire to return to the roots of their Indigenous heritage. The Resurgence has taken many paths and like many such social movements it suffers from growing pains, the greatest of which is disunity. That is not abnormal, and in a sense, there are many in the movement who are making great headway in the struggle to keep it from becoming derailed.

One of the most important aspects of our Resurgence is the recovery of lost tradition and the adapting of that tradition to the everyday life of contemporary Tainos so that we can live our recovered culture rather than just "study" it.
At the core of this recovery effort is the return of some of us to our Indigenous spiritual roots.

Spirituality in our modern existence, especially in the Euro-dominated, Protestant-influnced West tends to be an uniquely individual experience. We here in this cultural mileu assume that each man or woman should adopt a very individualistic attitude towards his or her relationship with the Divine. Oftentimes, inspired by this uniquely Western concept of "Rugged Individualism" many of our modern Taino Resurgence relatives proudly proclaim a personal relationship with whatever he or she has interpreted the spiritual powers of the ancestors to be. This is actually a perfectly valid attitude because we all live in the here and now and not in the fifteenth century. In the Here and Now each person chooses his or hr spirituality and that is as it should be. However I really hope that no one who has done even the most superficial research into the primordial culture of our ancestors or, for that matter, any Earth-based culture will fool himself or herself into believing that each member of those societies had an independent and individualized relationship with the spirit forces and that he or she can just "follow his or her own heart" and ignore the rules of tradition that bind the culture together.

Ultimately we are communal creatures. Starting from its most early beginnings the human pursuit for communion with the realm of the spirits has been a group effort. Humans in all cultures experience the presence of the deities within the environment of community, in group ceremonies that apply themselvs to certain guidelines which the participants do not have the liberty to ignore in some sort of personal search for an individualized relationship with God. Since many of us in the Resurgence have realized that our community should be given the option to experience Taino Spirituality within the perspective of communal experience as our ancestors did, we have worked very hard to return this ancient heritage, this sacred gift of our ancestors back to the people.

As I said earlier, in the contemporary society of the West where most of us live, individualized experience is a perfectly acceptable approach to spirituality, and I, above all things, do not promote dogmatism. My spiritual experience teaches me that everyone of us must learn tolerance because tolerance and acceptance of the broad diversity that exists within our movement is our only hope for ultimate unity as a people.That is why even though I state that our ancestors were not "rugged individualists" I accept those of us in the Resurgence who choose that approach to spirituality. For the rest of us there can be no real Taino community without Taino communal/group experience spirituality.

To re-establish the tradition of communal/group experience we have had to devote ourselves to decades of study and prayer. This tradition can not arise from a vaccum. It is re-built from the ashes of what was once almost completely destroyed by the conquistador. This process is a never-ending journey of discovery and learning.

We in the Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle have reduced this process or learning to a fundamental format that acquires wisdom from three basic sources. We call these three sources: TRADITION, INSPIRATION and EDUCATION.
In the English language this concept of three souces can be distilled down to a three-letter accronym, TIE suggesting a "tie" or knot that binds the community together.

TRADITION is wisdom that has actually been passed down from one generation to the next in an umbroken line and has reached us now pretty much the way it was understood and applied by the ancient Tainos. Certain aspects of healing ceremonies that we observe owe a great deal to this source.

INSPIRATION is the wisdom acquired directly from the spirits. The spirits are very very busy and most of us in the Resurgence can attest to at least one personal experience with our spirit-teachers. We can learn from these communications and many of our Caney Spiritual Circle traditions wre inspired by the spirits of our ancestors

EDUCATION, as we interpret it in this context, is the acqusition of wisdom from a written source; archeology/anthropology books,the reading of historic records such as the ones left to us by Conquest-era individuals like the Spanish chroniclers. We also include here the accurate deciphering of the enigmatic Taino petroglyphs and pictographs guided by the quiet, constant tutelage and guidance of our spiritual sncestors who whisper into our ears constantly.

We sometimes are asked where we acquired a particular tradition or ceremony that is part of our spiritual culture.
Please visit our Caney Indigenous Spiritual Circle website for more information on this subject
TIE is the source of all our wisdom.
Taino Ti
Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague

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Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 5, 2009 at 3:11am
Tau Relative Keiahani

With all due respect to your opinion, actually all of us in the Resurgence have a very valid and legitimate right to refer to ourselves as a community, a real, palpable, and growing community, in every sense of the word. We commune with each other on a regular basis. We establish and maintain forums whether physical or virtual, within which to promote that communion. We go out of our way to maintain that communion, and see that communion as vital to our personal and group well-being. The communal experience is real to all of us whether we participate in it through membership in the organizations whose leaders you choose to disparrage in your comment, or in alternate groups and associations formed in reaction to or in a common cause against those very organizations.
So yes my sister, even you belong to a Taino community. The very fact that you are here eloquently expressing your very well thought-out opinions and we are here to listen is proof that there is a community.

Now. I would like to analyze the concept of "failure" which has been assigned by some to the established older organizations and their leaders. The word "failure" has been bandied around quite freely recently in relation to the leaders of older Taino organizations. I can only interpret this word within the context of your post to mean a "failure" to maintain "community" as you define community.

I am a witness to the history of the development of these organizations just as many of the critics of these organizations are. I am refering to the yukayekes, Nacion Taina De Las Antillas, The United Confederation of Taino People, Maisiti Yukayeke Taino, Jatibonuco Taino Tribe as well as others.

I am a public school teacher. When I went to school as a child I remember being taught about our people as a thing of the past, an extinct race who lost the war of conquest in the Caribbean. Only after the birth and endurance of these organizations that you criticize and the very high-profile work carried out by them under the guidance of their leaders has this prevalent attitude towards our people slowly changed. Now I can go to our text books here in the Pittsburgh Public schools and actually find our people being refered to much more accurately and also as a nation which nevr bcame extinct. And the evidence that the groups you criticized are responsible for this change in attitude is the fact that the educational publishing firms that promote these changes in attitude cite and refer the students to those very organizations as sources of further research about our people. As much as this fact may de distasteful to you, the fact remains that without the change caused by the activities of these organizations and their leaders we Tainos would not be recognized as a legitimate nation by anyone, especially our own selves. Yes we would be still calling each other "indio" but there would be no talk of national identity at all.

This is not the only example of the impact that these organizations have had on the legitimization of our nation in the eyes of the public, including our own Taino public. There is no stronger case for the survival of a people than an organized group of humans acting as a body to effect change and, my sister, I can guarantee you that what I have seen is REAL CHANGE.

you spoke of ego. That is a problem n all human societies and ours is not immune. Others have spoken of disunity (I have mentioned this problem myself). This is probably our most important obstacle. You lay the blame for this at the feet of the leaders. The fact is that disunity is fomented in the heart of each community, sub-group, splinter group, spin-off group, separatist "society", etc. etc. etc. Every time one of these separation groups spins off it does so under the aegis of lofty ideals; "we are different from them"..."we'll be better than them"..."we're more legitimate than them". And every time, not long after the spin-off there is an eventual spin-off from that spin-off, which spun off from an earler spin-off, ad nauseaum. Disunity may be enthusiastically nurtured by some leaders (which include some kasikes, some nitainos, some behikes, and yes, other people in power, such as moderators of social networks that limit the membership of their exclusive groups to only some Tainos and not others) but in the end all of us are responsible for disunity.

You speak of "The falsified perpetuation of false figure head with no pueblo behind them". That's great rhetoric but The leaders I see, the kasikes, do have a following. I beg to differ. When I show up at an event of the Nacion Taina De las Antillas I see a pueblo there. I'm not imagining those people. Nobody forced or coerced them to be there, men women and children who show up to support their leaders. They do so willingly, enthusiastically. And at the last three public events in which I participated I saw new people being welcomed into the tribal membership. Just because you don't happen to back a certain leader does not mean that this leader does not have a pueblo behind him or her. Whenever I talk to members of the Maisiti Yukayeke Taino they refer to their Kasike Guagaruaorix with the greatest respect and love, "My kasike" is the term that I have heard . When I participate in any activity of the UCTP I see real undeniable evidence of participation of hundreds of other enthusiastic Tainos and Tainas. This is verifiable fact that can be proven easily with records of activities. These organizations have real and legitimate followings that belie your statement of "figureheads with no pueblo behind them". When I participate in the activities led by the leaders n Boriken I see real commitment and devotion by people who travel hundreds of miles from all over the island to gather with their leaders.

These leaders expend endless hours of their lives to create the environment within which these manifestations of community can be take place. And the majority of those who participate simply show up and are inspired by the activity, go home encouraged to learn more about their people, to do personal research and teach their children as a result of that inspiration.

I think your most egregious charge was the suggestion that the leadership of these organizations do absolutely nothing except sell artifacts and ancestors bones on e-bay. That is a very serious charge and I feel that it is important for you to back that charge up with actual evidence. Please name the name of a single cacike, bejike or "councilman" (I assume you mean nitaino) that has ever sold an artifact or the human remains of a Taino on e-bay. Such reckless talk needs real foundation.
On the subject of our ancestor's bones the only verifiable activity of leaders of a Taino organization dealing with the bones of ancestors that i am aware of is the fforts of these leaders to return the bones back to their rightful place.

Case in Point: Members of the leadership of the UCTP and the Consejo General De Tainos Borincanos including Kasike Mucaro, Kasike Elba Anaka Lugo and spiritual leader of Caney Quinto Mundo in Boriken Grandmother Naniki in company of a number of other Boricua community members personally reburied the remains of a Boriken Taino woman on the grounds of the Museo Del Cemi in Jayuya after years of this ancestress being maintained on display at the museum.

Case in point: Members of organized Taino bodies here in the disapora were instrumental under the guidance of recognized leaders in the Taino community, including Nacion Taina Nitaino Jose Hatuey Barreiro, in returning the bones of an ancient Cuban Taino which had been held for many years by scholars here in the US back to Cuba to be buried by a bonafied Cuban Taino kasike and beike, Don Panchito in Cuba. Talk to your buddy Caracoli about that. He has all the facts.

That is what the kasikes are really doing with the remains of the ancestors.

With respect
Taino Ti
Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague
Comment by Anita Pagan on March 5, 2009 at 12:46am
Before I add my own opinion, let it be know that my words are not directed to anyone in particular. This is not a personal attack nor are there any hidden agendas. I offer thoughts to ponder, my own .02. Take what works for you and forget the rest...

I support the approach of fellowship and solidarity. You can't beat people into listening nor will the bullying and harassment create feelings of companionship and unity. The only camaraderie that's created is that among the oppressors.

It's sad that to see the whip the conquerors have dropped has been picked up by our very own and, instead of being burned, it's been given a polish and put into use with renewed gusto.

I agree that there are control and ego issues among our people, however I would offer that the same can be said for any group of people. We are all human and, at times, some of us can be "super" human. I would also offer that we may occasionally check our own behavior, that we may not be falling into the same seductive snare of self righteousness.

It is true that these leaders do not make up the community, they do not own the culture and do not control the fate of the Taino people. However, they are not as bereft of support as they would be portrayed. They are leaders because they are being followed. These organizations and yukayekes don't exist in a vacuum- they have membership and support.

I wonder who is more responsible for faliure- the egotistical leader or those who give them the title and follow?

And as many differences of opinion as we may have among us, as a group or individually, it is still undeniable that some of these leaders have taken huge steps towards national and international recognition. There has slowly been a re-writing of history describing the Taino as still present today. That didn't happen due to the good nature of the conquering culture.

Community building will not come instantaneously because we wish for it. It will only become a reality when enough people make it a priority and act in accordance with that goal. The word "community" is just noise, it's the people who use the word who give it a value and meaning; a meaning that will be lost only if that is what the people choose to allow happen.

What is community? What actions support the concept of "community", and is my behavior conducive to the creation and/or maintenance of community? If they are not, who is the actor then?
Comment by Keiahani on March 4, 2009 at 9:23pm
We can not speak of community until we hold the illegitimate nature of those who hold positions responsible for failure - a public critique, and ultimately a failure in ourselves to allow this verification of ego, to verify a person who does not authenticate the essence of who and what we are as a people. The falsified perpetuation of false figure head with no pueblo behind them must stop, in order to achieve true community we must also not be blindsided to the disunity and its sources. For too long have cacikes, bejikes and councilmen steered the path to our "community" and culture - they have failed. With their charismatic voice, institutionalized resume, ordered list of liaisons who do absolutely nothing except sell our artifacts and ancestors bones on eBay, who proclaim to have a people behind them and teach people in the name of themselves, self proclaimed cacikes and plastic shamans- i am not easily as impressed and neither are the ancestors. With all their charm they lack a crucial element, those persons do not make up the people! and they have forgotten that, they do not have ownership over culture or hold any bearings to its future, a few people do not control the fate of the Taino. Community hmm, It seems as if this word to will become as meaningless to the taino society as cacike or beijike. Fret lightly people of those who claim confederation, or nation look deep and ask questions, some are very good actors.
Comment by Maximilian Forte on March 4, 2009 at 2:03am
As someone who is not a Taino, and has no vested interest in any Taino communal body or Taino representative, my own impression of the post/essay was that it is an eloquent document that speaks to numerous desires and concerns simultaneously. As someone who has read many of the works of contemporary researchers that most of you have read, this was a refreshing kind of retort to those who would cast Tainos as some kind of lunatic con artists out to cash in on culture (as if academics do not cash in on culture).

Over these next two to three years I will be completing some of my last projects concerning indigenous Caribbean themes, in some cases just tying up some loose ends, in others finally outputting what has been on the shelf for a while, etc. This is the kind of statement that I think will be very influential in my own rethinking, so thank you very much for sharing this.
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 3, 2009 at 12:48am
Han Han
Comment by adem medina cardona on March 2, 2009 at 9:12pm
tradition, inspiration and education
in have heard you use this before as well
something we should hear as often as possible
it is the things i heard repeated again and again by my grandparents i remeber best
as always, thank you for sharing with us

i had an experience at a cultural lecture last week where an audience member said the tainos were "extinct", the drummer on stage repeated this

after the presentation i approached the drummer and asked. why did you say that when you continued with your lecture and clearly stated that you knew we were still here. i then turned to my son and asked him, we are alive, no?

the drummer was confused by his own words

i invited him here

perhaps he will join us.
Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 2, 2009 at 5:38pm
Tau again brother
With all due respect to you, I want to clarify that this is the last comment that I am going to make in this particular exchange. You and I both know very well how these back and forth give-and-takes can degenerate quickly into total nonsense and I don't think it is fair to either you or me, or to those reading these words to allow that to happen here. You made your point andI I made mine and after I'm done here you are free to have the last word but please don't expect another response from me.

That said, allow me to make the following observations on the points you brought up:
First, please interpret my use of the word "real" in whatever manner that you feel is most appropriate. I don't think I need to make any more clarifications on that particular term.
Second, as for any perceived "indirectas", know that I am not reffering to you but that the folks that I am reffering to when I speak of "smear campaigns" and "computer screen pontificating" are and have always been the same people and If there is a whole universe of people that got seriously bored of, and fed up with them in the Tainomakana discussion group, now there will be another whole universe of new people who will have the opportunity also to get bored of and fed up with them elsewhere.
In the meantime the majority of the community will get on with our lives and stay just as busy, and the sun will continue to rise and set on all of us in spite of these folk's endless posturing and pontificating.

As for the matter in Boriken. Let me start out by saying that although we are all Tainos, I am a Cuban and these people that I am taking sides with are your countrymen. How about a little love? You and I both know that you are one of the people that has been most vocal about the so-called "re-enactments". This is all that I am saying brother. Is it too much to ask not to viciously tear into these relatives who may not be doing the right thing now, but who may be open to suggestion if the suggestion is done with respect. What possible good is to be gained by alienating them with anger and negativity? What positive change might be effected by sitting down with a brother or a sister and respectfully suggesting that their dramatization of a spiritual ceremony is offesnive to those of us who actually believe in that tradition? One might say: "Hey brother I love the dances and the music but maybe you can ease up on the stereotypical representation of the cohoba ceremony. There are some of us here in the audience who feel that it is not respectful to do that. Can you and your crew find a way to change that part of the act?"
Is this too much to ask? After all they are not our enemies. They are our relatives!

What possible harm can be found in approaching people with love instead of anger?

Praying for blessings to you and all of yours
Your relative
Comment by Caracoli on March 2, 2009 at 1:42pm
Taino Ti

It seems that you throwing an Indirecta at someone else cuz I read a post that sounds like this in Taino Macana over a year ago.

I know that you live in Pittsburgh and have travelled thousands of miles to be with your brothers & sisters and I commend you for that.

I wish the Beikes in your Caney followed your example as it pertains to your travelling. Not thousands of miles but a short train ride to Taino events

What do you mean by "real naborias" ?

or maybe real sheep

Are you implying that some naborias are not "real"

Or real Behikes ?

Are you implying that some Beikes are fake ?

this word "real" can really be taken the wrong way

maybe its about people who you just don't agree with

The Boriken matter I will comment on later

Comment by Miguel Sague Jr on March 2, 2009 at 11:22am
Absolutely correct brother! It is only by ACTION and example that we are going to achieve real unity.

that is why real beikes are going out of their way to attempt moves of reconciliation with individuals with whom they have had dissagreements even when those individuals stubbornly insist of carrying out continuous on-going smear-campaingns against them. That is why real beikes get out of the confort zones of their own homes and travel hundreds of miles every year to be with the real Naborias and celebrate the traditions of the people with them instead of wasting hours behind the anonymity of a computer screen pontificating on the values of their brothers and sisters like infallible popes or bad-mouthing their brothers and sisters like children in a play-ground. That is why real beikes attend the events of those whith whome they have had issues with in the past to show their brothers and sisters that even the worst dissagreements can be brought to an end. That is why real beikes do not sit far away from the homeland and arbiratrily judge their brothers and sisters over there who genuinely believe that they are expressing their tradition, but instead they travel there in person and sit with these relatives and speak to them quietly making suggestions on their so called "re-enactments" and talk to them like a relative instead of callously disparriging and ridiculing them in a public forum.

I guess we all have a different concept of what it is to be a leader. I respect yours and I pray to Yaya that you can respect mine.
Taino Ti
your relative
Comment by Caracoli on March 2, 2009 at 10:49am
I think its better for Beikes to lead by example

Good words mean nothing without Action


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