29 November 2005

APA in Guyana Responds

Statement from the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana:

In response to the proposed revision of the Amerindian Act and the refusal of the Government of Guyana to apply the term "indigenous" to the Amerindians of Guyana.


"Indigenous’ cannot refer to Afro-Guyanese:
The term ‘indigenous’ can only be applied to Amerindians in Guyana. During the debate in Parliament, the Minister stated that the term ‘indigenous’ cannot be used in the Bill because it could apply to Afro-Guyanese in addition to Amerindians. She cited decisions of the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, and the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as evidence to support this statement. She also stated that international definitions of the term ‘indigenous peoples’ may include Afro-Guyanese because they were present prior to colonization in 1803. Both of these assertions are incorrect and, under international law, Amerindian peoples are the only groups that can be considered to be indigenous to what is now called Guyana...." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Guyana Challenges Indigenous Definitions

The Government of Guyana Attacks Ideas of Amerindians as "Indigenous":

Thanks to Fergus MacKay, the following information bulletin is presented here, dealing with how the Government of Guyana, in its proposed revision of the Amerindian Act, refuses to class Amerindians as "indigenous," arguing that all Guyanese are indigenous. In the following posting, a commentary produced by the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, condemning this approach, will be attached.

The following was sent by Fergus MacKay:

Information from booklet prepared by the Government Information Agency (GINA) and distributed to Indigenous Communities in Guyana.

Title of Booklet.
The New Amerindian Act.
What it will do for Amerindians.
Answers to your questions.

Why is it still called the “Amerindian Act” and not the “Indigenous Peoples Act?”

“Indigenous Peoples” is a very wide term that means different things to different people. Everybody has a right under international law to define themselves as “indigenous.” In addition, the Government looked at many international definitions and found that some of them include not only Amerindians but also other sections of the Guyanese community.

Some people suggest that we define “indigenous” so it only applies to Amerindians but then it means that other Guyanese would no longer be able to call themselves indigenous and this would breach the principle set by international law.

All people have a right to call themselves “indigenous peoples” if they want. Indeed, earlier this year a French delegation made a presentation to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva as the Indigenous Peoples of France.

Fergus MacKay
Coordinator, Legal and Human Rights Programme
Forest Peoples Programme
Ph/Fax: 31-20-419-1746

11 November 2005

Canadian First Nations in Trinidad: Continued

For more coverage in Trinidadian newspapers of the recent Canadian First Nations visit to the Caribs of Trinidad, see the following link:


05 November 2005

New Book: America is Indian Country

America is Indian Country
The Best of Indian Country Today

Edited by: Tim Johnson, Jose Barreiro

The dominant issues in both Indian and national public life in the first four years of this century have been met head-on by contemporary Native thinkers and writers. America Is Indian Country goes way beyond the usual litany of complaints about historical injustices and atrocities. The book is replete with nuggets that crisply and passionately explain many current issues facing tribes, from preservation of traditional culture to the defense of precarious new economic potentials based on tribal sovereignty. It is a book that reflects Indian perspectives and becomes, in fact, a Native critique of American life.

Binding Information: Paperback
ISBN: 1-55591-537-X
Pages: 352
Size: 9" X 6"
See: Fulcrum Publishing at http://www.fulcrum-books.com/

01 November 2005

Amerindian Heritage Day in Trinidad

Caribs Celebrate
Thursday, 13 October, 2005
Trinidad Express



"Tomorrow, members of the local Carib community will celebrate Amerindian Heritage Day in Arima. This year marks the fifth anniversary of their celebrations and the Caribs will be joined by overseas delegations of indigenous peoples from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean for the big occasion. At a press conference held last Tuesday at the Arima Town Hall, Ricardo Bharath, deputy Mayor of Arima and president of the Arima Carib Community, announced plans for this year's celebrations..."

Canadian First Nations Visit Trinidad Caribs

Canadian First Nations' Mission to Trinidad & Tobago

See entry for October 18, 2005, at http://www.anishinabek.ca/anish/blog.htm, from which the following is an extract:

ARIMA, TRINIDAD – There were a lot of early mornings and a lot of hard work, but my experience last week in Arima, Trinidad was certainly the time of my life. I have never felt such a close kinship with any other Indigenous Nation that I felt with the First Peoples of Trinidad. I arrived in Trinidad on a red eye from Toronto, landing in Piarcos International Airport south of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. I was fortunate to be travelling with Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, his son Falcon Skye, and Professor Nuhim Kanhai who were also a part of the delegation from Canada. Our diplomatic mission was put together very hastily by the representatives of the Santa Rosa Carib Community and my office and details had not been forthcoming until late Friday afternoon. My information didn't indicate any accommodations for the first two days, nor did it indicate that someone was to meet us at the airport. Obviously, I had some concerns over our first 48 hours. I was certainly relieved and pleased to see that Santa Rosa president himself, Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernendez was at the airport early on October 10 to greet us warmly at the airport and lead us to our accommodations in St. Augustine.

Venezuelan Amerindians Protest Expulsion of US Evangelists

"Venezuelan Indigenous Tribes Protest Chavez Government Order Expelling U.S. Evangelists," Natalie Obiko Pearson, The Associated Press, October, 28, 2005.

Hundreds of indigenous Venezuelans marched Friday to protest President Hugo Chavez's threat to expel a group of U.S.-based evangelists, amid intensifying government scrutiny of foreign missionaries operating in the country. The protesters - including some who traveled for days by boat from their homes in the dense Amazon jungle - showed their support for New Tribes Mission, which Chavez has accused of 'imperialist infiltration' and exploiting indigenous communities. Luis Rodriguez, a Piapoco Indian, said the missionaries helped indigenous tribes during hard times when aid from government authorities was scarce or nonexistent. 'The government didn't arrive here to do anything important for us,' said Rodriguez, 41, as he marched with fellow demonstrators, some of whom sang hymns. Two weeks ago, Chavez ordered the New Tribes missionaries to leave the country, accusing the Sanford, Fla.-based organization of links to the CIA and gathering 'strategic information' in the country's Amazon rainforest. Government officials and other critics of the evangelist group have since backed Chavez's decision, accusing the missionaries of destroying indigenous culture and using their presence in remote, mineral-rich tracts of Venezuela to conduct reconnaissance work for foreign mining and pharmaceutical interests. New Tribes has denied the accusations and is seeking a meeting with Chavez to try to resolve the matter, said a New Tribes spokesman, Ronald Van Peursem. He said the group believes the president has been misinformed about its work in the country. Supporters say the missionaries have brought much-needed medical, educational and other assistance to impoverished indigenous communities who have long been neglected by the authorities.

South American Indigenous Leaders Back Chavez Plan

"Foro Indigena Sudamericano Analiza Propuesta De Hugo Chavez," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12 Octubre 2005.

QUITO: La Cumbre de Legisladores y Lideres Indigenasde Sudamerica, con la asistencia de Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru y Venezuela, arranco hoy en Quito con el analisis, entre otros temas, de la propuesta del presidente venezolano Hugo Chavez de la Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas (ABPA). El encuentro, al que asisten como observadores nueve legisladores del Pais Vasco, fue inaugurado oficialmente con la presencia del presidente del Congreso de Ecuador, Wilfrido Lucero, mientras el jefe de Estado ecuatoriano, Alfredo Palacio, se excuso de asistir a ultima hora. La ABPA, propuesta por Chavez y que centra la atencion del encuentro, es una alternativa al Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) andino que negocian Ecuador, Colombia y Peru con Estados Unidos y que ha recibido la oposicion de grupos de izquierda e indigenas en la region.

Venezuela: Indigenous Land Grants

"Chávez Entrega 160 Mil Hectáreas De Tierra A Etnias Indígenas,"
Xinhua News Agency - Spanish, 12 Octubre 2005.

CARACAS: El presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, entregó hoy 160 mil hectáreas de tierras a 15 comunidades indígenas de cuatro estados venezolanos. En el marco de la celebración del Día de la Resistencia Indígena, desde el estado llanero de Apure, el mandatario venezolano indicó que los indígenas recobraron la libertad y el derecho al progreso. Vestido con uniforme militar, Chávez entregó tractores, 160 mil hectáreas de tierras y títulos de propiedad colectiva, a 15 comunidades indígenas provenientes de los estados venezolanos de Apure, Anzoátegui, Sucre y Delta Amacuro. Los indígenas recobraron la libertad y el derecho al progreso con la entrega de varias maquinarias y la titularidad colectiva de terrenos en donde se desarrollarán programas internos, destacó el presidente. Durante el acto, transmitido en cadena nacional de radio y televisión, el mandatario venezolano donó tractores, camiones, motores y ganado a etnias de la comunidad Barranco Yopal del estado Apure.

21 October 2005

New Book on Guyana

The Rupununi Savannas of Guyana : A Visual Journey
By Lal Balkaran

"Rupununi Savannas of Guyana: A Visual Journey is a book for all readers with an interest in Guyana. The book is essentially a photojournal of the southwestern part of the country that borders its neighbour Brazil. See the story of the land, the people, their everyday life, and the flora and fauna captured in over 100 photographs of this scenic part of Guyana. The book is divided into ten chapters that include photographs and text..."

For more information see:

14 October 2005

Moreau de Jonnes--text now online

Karl Eklind (see http://svgblog.blogspot.com/), has generously devoted his time to preparing a copy, now online of:
Adventures in the Wars of the Republic and the Consulate (1858)
by Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes,
translated by A. J. Ardy.
(John Murray, London, 1920)

Chapter 6: Martinique - St. Vincent - The Caribs
You can see the full text of the chapter at:
As Karl explained a while back:
"I have known for several years that there was some writing about the Caribs on St. Vincent in 1795 in the memoire that Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes wrote in 1858 but the translation I got had nothing in it. Recently I got a 1920 translation by General Arby that does. I've put those 5 chapters on my St. Vincent blog at http://svgb.karleklund.net. It is a very exciting story. Almost too exciting to believe, but it makes sense and De Jonnes turned into a very respected scientist in his mature age. At worst it is like George Washington at Valley Forge--if it has been touched up for the sake of making it more interesting it is no worse than any other history. I think every Garifuna kid, especially young Garifuna girls, should read it; which is why I spent a fair amount of money to buy the book and why I put it on the internet."

5 Amerindian Communities get Land Titles in Guyana

Five Amerindian communities get land titles -Orealla's area extended

Friday, September 23rd 2005

Five Amerindian communities were on Thursday presented with land titles.

The land grants were made to Weruni (located on the Berbice River), Malali, Muritaro and Great Falls (on the Demerara River) and Orealla (which is on the Corentyne River) at a ceremony at the Office of the President (OP). President Bharrat Jagdeo handed over the titles to the village Toshaos and Minister of Amerindian Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues described the occasion as "a positive step in the road of Amerindian development" and "a tangible demonstration of the commitment of the government to resolve Amerindian land issues."

According to her, many of the communities have recognized that the only way forward is to work together with the government and she noted that a number of them came forward in order to advance the process under the PPP/C Government's policy. She said this policy was observed in the granting of the titles, particularly for the Region 10 communities. Orealla, which has been extended as a result of the grant, is in Region Six.

The policy is a two-step process involving the demarcation of lands that are already titled and, secondly, addressing extensions of titled lands and titling of untitled communities.

Rodrigues said government has adopted an approach to move to the second stage after all titled communities in a sub-region have been demarcated, since more than one community may be claiming the same area of land as has happened in some instances. She noted that demarcation is necessary because although communities were granted legal ownership of lands in 1976 and 1991 these lands were never surveyed. As a result, she said this has seen encroachment by miners, loggers and others, in the absence of clear boundaries and as a result the communities cannot enforce their laws.

Additionally, Rodrigues said that in several cases descriptions that are listed in the Amerindian Act do not match the reality on the ground. To illustrate her point she cited some communities that are located totally out of the legally recognized areas. She said they have been there since before the titles were issued, indicating that mistakes were made. She said some others have the wrong creek names.

Minister Rodrigues noted that the process of granting titles to the four untitled communities began more than two years ago. She said that with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission and the communities, a situational analysis was conducted on seven communities with a specific focus on land use. These were Kimbia, Sandhills, Riversview, Weruni, Muritaro, Great Falls, Malali and River's View. However, after consideration only four were then invited to submit their requests for lands and these areas were mapped and other stakeholders were identified. She said these included persons who had transports to plots of land within the areas requested and also mining and logging concessionaires. She also noted that while Great Falls was mentioned in the Lands Commission Report of 1969, according to the report no request was received from the community that numbered approximately 50 Akawaio persons back then.

The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission were consulted and through negotiations with all of these stakeholders a final decision was arrived at. Rodrigues said although the titles are now being issued, the communities were managing the lands as any other titled community since early 2004.

She mentioned that the process involved some concessionaires relinquishing land so that the communities could receive their titles, while in others she said it was agreed to have them continue work with fees being paid to the Village Council. She added that to ensure adherence to the Constitution, transported plots of land, which are owned by individuals, have been saved.

With respect to Orealla, the Minister said it was the first community to be surveyed in 1991. However, in early 2003, the Orealla Village Council made a report to the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs that a logging concession was granted by the Guyana Forestry Commission on their titled village lands. She said checks with Lands and Surveys and the Forestry Commission found a number of discrepancies. Among these was the fact that the area surveyed and represented on the Map and State Lands Grant that was presented to the community, includes two tracts of land titled "Tract A" and "Tract B." However, Tract A is not described in the Amerindian Act, while Tract B includes the area described in the Act and an additional portion of land. It was also discovered that the Grant presented by then President Desmond Hoyte to the community was not signed. As such, she said legally the community had no ownership of the lands that were demarcated, except that part described in the Amerindian Act.

She said the matter was considered at Cabinet and approval was subsequently granted. The total area of Orealla will now be 266 square miles, while the total area of land that will be received by the five communities, whose combined population is approximately 1500 persons, is approximately 601.5 square miles (Muritaro 102, Malali, 95, Great Falls 31.6, Weruni 107, Orealla 266 square miles).

The Minister urged the villages to exercise good judgment in managing their lands, saying it must benefit not only those who are here now but future generations as well.

"As you are aware, your close proximity to markets makes you prime targets for logging ventures. Please ensure that you make agreements that will benefit your communities now and in the future," she told the Toshaos who were present. (Andre Haynes)

Fergus MacKay
Coordinator, Legal and Human Rights Programme
Forest Peoples Programme
Ph/Fax: 31-20-419-1746

Amerindian Act in Guyana

Amerindian bill unacceptable - says indigenous coalition

Stabroek News, Tuesday, October 4th 2005

A joint indigenous NGO coalition says the new Amerindian bill is unacceptable as some of its provisions represent a step backwards for indigenous people.

In a joint statement, the Amerindian Peoples Asso-ciation (APA), The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) and the Guyana Organisation of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP), are urging against enactment of the bill without major changes.

"Discrimination against indigenous peoples remains entrenched and manifest in the draft, and our rights to lands, territories, and resources and to self-determination are neither adequately recognised nor protected," the statement, which is signed by APA President Tony James, TAAMOG President Peter Persaud and GOIP Chief Mary Valenzuela, said.

The coalition said it had hoped that the new bill would fully recognise the rights of the indigenous peoples, and in particular, their rights to traditional lands and resources. However, after a review of the bill it has concluded that the bill is in some ways regressive and does little other than institutionalise government policies that have been rejected by the people.

To illustrate the point, it cited S59 (3) that requires demarcations prior to the grant of extensions to titled areas. In other areas, the coalition said, there is weakening of existing policy statements. "While we do acknowledge that there are some improvements in the draft Act, these improvements are for the most part obvious and minor."

As such, the coalition said, it held the bill to be insupportable in its present form. And while it noted that the Minister (Carolyn Rodrigues) had said that there had been 46 changes to the draft that was presented for consultations, it said the improvements were minor and failed to address the serious flaws in the draft of the bill.

"Where the draft Act failed to account for and secure our rights and interests, the bill does the same," the coalition pointed out, adding that "Where the draft Act vests arbitrarily and draconian powers in the Minister, the Bill, with a few minor exceptions does the same."

Another major contention was that enactment of the bill without substantial changes will contravene Article 154 A of the Guyana Constitution, which guarantees the international treaties that are incorporated into domestic law.

The group said that on certain issues, including rights to land, territories and resources, the bill is incompatible with international human rights laws, including those specified under Article 154A. It added that in other areas, the bill fails to address certain rights at all.

"Due to the incompatibility with the constitution and international human rights laws, the bill, assuming it is enacted in its present form, may be challenged in the courts and international human rights bodies," it said.

It also pointed out that Guyana's implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimi-nation - which is one of the treaties incorporated into law under Article 154A - will come up for Committee review next February. The coalition urged that the new bill not be enacted until the comments and observation of the Committee on the compliance with the convention.

On the issue of the use of the term "indigenous", the coalition said the majority of indigenous communities recommended this change and it felt that the exclusion of this recommendation in the bill was unjustifiable. "The Minister rejects our right to define ourselves and be recognised as indigenous peoples on the specious grounds that everyone is indigenous to Guyana and that because the term Amerindian is unique to Guyana - which it is not - we should continue to use this term." It also pointed out that the Constitution itself uses the term "indigenous peoples" to refer to the Amerindian people, and only them. In this regard, they urged that there be consistency with the Constitution. The bill is expected to come up for debate later this month.

Fergus MacKay
Coordinator, Legal and Human Rights Programme
Forest Peoples Programme
Ph/Fax: 31-20-419-1746

Taino Lecturer to Speak at Yale University

The following is the October itinerary for Taino/NativeAmerican lecturer, storyteller and poet Bobby Gonzalez:

October 2 Blessing of the Animals, Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx
October 5 Westfield State College, Massachusetts
October 6 Brooklyn YWCA
October 12 University of Massachusetts, Amherst
October 17 Boston College
October 19 Yale University, Connecticut
October 25 William Patterson University, New Jersey

Visit Bobby's website at: http://www.BobbyGonzalez.com/

03 September 2005

Cannibalism: Interview with Neil Whitehead

The following link will take you to an archived radio interview with anthropologist Neil L. Whitehead, speaking on the subject of allegations of Carib cannibalism. In addition, you will find links to pages on the history of cannibalism in myth, folklore, and even European medicine. Finally, an edited transcript of another interview with Prof. Whitehead is available, on the topic of kanaima in Guyana.

UN Body Criticizes Suriname on Indigenous Rights


CERD International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination

18August 2005
Original: ENGLISH

Sixty-seventh session
2-19 August 2005


Decision 1 (67)



1. The Committee recalls that in Decision 3 (66) of 9 March 2005, it expressed concern about the fact that a revised version of the draft Mining Act, which was approved by Suriname’s Council of Ministers at the end of 2004, may not be in conformity with the Committee’s recommendations adopted in March 2004 following the consideration of the first to tenth periodic reports of Suriname. (A/59/18, paras. 180-210).

2. The Committee deeply regrets that it has not received any comment under the follow-up procedure from the State party on the above assessment of the draft law, as requested in Decision 3 (66).

3. The Committee expresses deep concern about information alleging that Suriname is actively disregarding the Committee’s recommendations by authorizing additional resource exploitation and associated infrastructure projects that pose substantial threats of irreparable harm to indigenous and tribal peoples, without any formal notification to the affected communities and without seeking their prior agreement or informed consent.

page 2

4. Drawing once again the attention of the State party to its General Recommendation 23 (1997) on the rights of indigenous peoples, the Committee urges the State party to ensure the compliance of the revised draft Mining Act with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well as with the Committee’s 2004 recommendations. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to:

- Ensure legal acknowledgement of the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples to possess, develop, control and use their communal lands and to participate in the exploitation, management and conservation of the associated natural resources;

- Strive to reach agreements with the peoples concerned, as far as possible, before awarding any concessions;

- Ensure that indigenous and tribal peoples are granted the right of appeal to the courts, or any independent body specially created for that purpose, in order to uphold their traditional rights and their right to be consulted before concessions are granted and to be fairly compensated for any damage.

5. The Committee recommends once again that a framework law on the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples be elaborated and that the State Party take advantage of the technical assistance available under the advisory services and technical assistance Programme of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for that purpose.

6. The Committee recommends to the State party that it extend an invitation to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people.

7. The Committee urges the Secretary-General of the United Nations to draw the attention of the competent United Nations bodies to the particularly alarming situation in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples in Suriname, and to request them to take all appropriate measures in this regard.

18 August 2005

Death of James Petersen

International Association for Caribbean Archaeology
Association Internationale D’Archaeologie De La Caraibe
Asociación Internacional De Arqueología Del Caribe

Office of the President: Dr Jay Haviser
e-mail: jhaviser@hotmail.com

Secretary and Press & Public Relations (London): Quetta Kaye, 5 Little Brownings, SE23 3XJ
Tel: 020 8699 2115, e-mail: quettak@compuserve.com or quettakaye@hotmail.co.uk


The archaeological world was shocked to learn of the murder on Saturday, 13 August 2005, of Dr James Petersen, Associate Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at the University of Vermont in Maine (UVM). Dr Petersen, who was on a research trip in the rainforest with colleagues, was shot after being robbed while in a restaurant in the small town of Iranduba, near the Amazon River, in the Manaus region of Brazil. He died shortly afterwards.

Before joining UVM, Petersen founded the Archaeology Research Center at the University of Maine at Farmington, where he was also a professor from 1983 to 1997. He was also a graduate school professor at the University of Maine in Orono.

Petersen had graduated from UVM in 1979 and completed his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He then returned to the University of Vermont as a visiting professor and it was one of his students, Michael Heckenberger, now an assistant professor at the University of Florida, who introduced Petersen to work in the Amazon.

A generous and popular teacher, whose resumé includes dozens of papers, articles, book chapters and presentations, Dr Petersen had worked extensively in the Caribbean region, including archaeological investigations in Montserrat before the volcanic eruptions and latterly in Anguilla and was visiting Brazil to assess ongoing research relating to prehistoric agricultural practices. He had recently been re-elected to the Board of the International Association for Caribbean Archaeology (IACA) at the 21st Congress meeting in Trinidad on 27th July.

Dr Jay Haviser, President of the IACA, commenting on the death of Dr Petersen, said:

“Jim was a dear personal friend and truly loyal to IACA and our goals; always there to help, both as a Board member and for his colleagues, he was a kind and generous man. Our hearts feel the pain, but his memory will never fade from our minds nor will his contributions to Caribbean Archaeology. Our deepest sympathies are extended to his family at their tragic loss.”

London, 18 August 2005

16 August 2005

Black Seminoles in the Bahamas


Published by H-LatAm@h-net.msu.edu (August 2005)

Rosalyn Howard. Black Seminoles in the Bahamas. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. xvii + 150 pp. Maps, figures, notes, bibliography, index. $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8130-2559-1; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8130-2743-8.

Reviewed for H-LatAm by Steven C. Hahn, Department of History, St. Olaf College

I Never Knew ...

"I never knew that there were Black Seminoles in the Bahamas!" (p. xiii) Such has been the near unanimous response to Rosalyn Howard's revealing book, which (I must confess) elicited the same response from the present reviewer. While at one level a curiosity, Howard's historical and cultural analysis of the residents of Andros Island in the Bahamas raises issues concerning identity, ethnogenesis, and race that transcend the boundaries of the tiny island community and widens our present view of the Black Seminole diaspora. Though her work is wanting in some respects, Howard nevertheless succeeds in her stated task of contributing to "a more inclusive perspective of 'American' ethnohistory" (p. xiii) that connects the experiences of Africans and Native Americans in a variety of New World landscapes.

As with many works that venture into new territory, Howard's "mission" is one of giving voice, for the first time, to a people that have yet to be acknowledged as subjects worthy of historical inquiry. As Howard puts it, her aim is "to address the historical, structural amnesia that obscures African and indigenous peoples' interactions and negates their integral roles in the historiography of the Americas and the Caribbean." (pp. xvi-xvii). Also inherent to the project is Howard's quest to "present for the first time an in-depth rendering of the essence of social memory that sustains Black Seminole heritage in Red Bays."

Toward this end, Howard begins with a brief historical account of the "holocaust of European colonialism" (p. 2), including overviews of the rise of New World African slavery and the devastation that epidemic disease wrought upon the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Her analysis then turns to the southern frontier of the British southern colonies, which developed plantation economies centered upon rice production and slave labor. While she notes that African slaves in North America tended less often than their counterparts elsewhere in the New World to employ marronage as a resistance strategy due to climate and geography (one might add demography), Howard rightfully identifies conditions on the southern frontier of North America that made marronage--and thus the formation of Black Seminole communities--possible. For one, while the majority of maroon communities consisted of Africans and Creoles, they could also take the form of alliances between African and indigenous peoples, who were numerous in the American south at that time. Moreover, the Spanish regime in Florida, beginning in 1693 with a Royal Decree promising protection and freedom to all enslaved who reached St. Augustine, drew escapees southward throughout much of the eighteenth century, leading to the formation of the first "legally sanctioned" free African community at Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose.

The focus then shifts to the formation of the Seminoles and their later alliance with African runaways. The Seminoles, composed of "dissidents" from the Creek nation, began migrating from their traditional homes in Alabama and Georgia as early as the 1730s to form new communities in northern Florida. African-American slaves, seeking solace in Florida to escape plantation slavery, later began fleeing to Seminole territory. Though former slaves acted in concert with the Seminoles, assumed some of their manners, and became "an integral part of the Seminole people" (p. 18), Howard is careful not to overestimate the degree to which the Black Seminoles became culturally "Indian." Black Seminoles tended to live in separate communities, maintained the tradition of patrilineal descent, and retained African naming practices. Moreover, the integration of African and Indian peoples was forged in a climate of mutual hostility to the U.S., which saw Spanish-held Florida and its free Black Seminole communities as a threat to the institution of slavery. This fear among white Americans was in part responsible for the outbreak of the Patriots War of 1812, and three successive Seminole wars that ended only in 1855, after which the vast majority of the tribe were removed to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

While the majority of Seminoles--Black and Indian--were busy rebuilding their lives in Indian Territory, or fleeing from the U.S. military in the swamps of Florida, groups of Black Seminoles embarked upon what can only be described as a heroic migration to the Bahamas, which began as early as 1819, with the majority of immigrants arriving between 1821 and 1837. Initially classified in official British documents as "slaves" and detained in Nassau for one year, the Black Seminoles were eventually allowed to return to their landing place at Red Bays, Andros Island, to live as free people. That they were allowed to do so suggests that their destination was well chosen. As Howard explains, the experiences of African peoples in the Bahamas "deviated from the norm of West Indian plantation life" (p. 63) in a variety of ways that made the Bahamas--and Andros Island in particular--fertile ground for the establishment of free Black (and Black Seminole) communities. Thinly populated, Andros Island received an influx of Loyalist refugees who fled the American Revolution in 1783 and arrived at Andros in 1787. Many were slaveholders and initially the Loyalists sought to reestablish the plantation system they had enjoyed in North America. They failed to do so, however, due to Andros's "rocky land, unyielding soil, and devastation caused by the chenille bug" (p. 62). After 1807, the island began receiving an influx of liberated Africans, the beneficiaries of British captures of Spanish slaving ships on the high seas. Though liberated African and white Loyalist communities remained strictly segregated, and many of the "liberated" Africans continued to work under open-ended indenture contracts akin to slavery, the presence of liberated African peoples set a precedent for African freedom, which was sanctioned legally in 1834 by the passage of the Abolition Act prohibiting slavery in all of the British colonies.

Among Howard's more interesting contributions are the oral histories that document the Black Seminoles' collective memory of this migration and their Seminole roots. Many of her informants adeptly recall the harshness of the slavery from which they fled. One elderly informant, for example, recalled hearing her elders describe the work regimen under slavery: "in slavery time, they have a white boss, like the master. So they would go out and they work and they do all they master's work and sometime they be beaten" (p. 40). The lucidity of Black Seminole memories also applies to family genealogies. Many of Howard's informants recall specific ancestors who made the voyage to Andros Island, and while memories are sometimes vague, virtually all members of the Black Seminole community can relate family oral traditions that affirm some degree of biological ("blood") relationship to the Indian Seminoles. A feeling of kinship persists, as one of Howard's informants, Alma Miller, relates "when I be young and be traveling [in Florida] and the Indian they begin owning me, as a part of them. Sometime I see them right here in Nassau. They come over on trips and I go in the States the same thing" (p. 40).

Upon establishing themselves on Andros Island, for the next century or more the Black Seminoles tended to live as they preferred: in isolation. Accessible only by boat or footpath until 1968, the Black Seminoles subsisted primarily by harvesting sponges, fishing, making grass baskets, and raising small crops such as corn, sesame seed, peas, and beans. They remained shadowy elements of the Bahamian population, earning the distinction "wild Indians" of Andros Island. Integration into the greater Bahamian community appears to have begun, however, in the 1950s and 1960s; first in 1953 with the formation of the first black majority Bahamian political party, the PLP (Progressive Liberal Party), which began drawing Andros islanders into the political process, and later in 1968, when a logging company cut a road to the principle Black Seminole community at Red Bays.These developments foreshadowed the soon-to-be-felt effects of national independence (gained in 1973) and globalization. Black Seminole communities today boast a thriving school system, the proliferation of small shops that sell dry and canned goods, and an enhanced subsistence economy generated by the sale of produce to members of the logging companies, which also employ members of the Black Seminole communities. Phone lines, of which there had been only one in 1998, have now been installed in many homes, and the Black Seminoles' traditional wood-frame, thatch roof houses have been replaced by cement block or frame houses, complete with ceramic tile floors, and satellite dishes.

These developments have certainly transformed the lives of many people, but not all members of the community have benefited equally. Politically, this division can be seen in the rise of a new political party, the FNM (Free National Movement), which pursues economic uplift through integration into the global economy and draws much of its support from the black middle class. Interestingly, the Black Seminole communities that had formerly backed the PLP are now divided politically, and the FNM gained a majority of the votes in the 2002 election. This development, Howard suggests, signifies the beginnings of what is likely to be a continuing debate on the scope and nature of Bahamian integration into the global economy.

Howard's historical narrative then shifts into a more ethnographic mode in chapter 5, where she discusses demography, kinship and social structure, gender norms, subsistence, and recreation. Especially valuable here is Howard's discussion of marriage and kinship, which provides a basis for comparison with Black communities throughout the Western Hemisphere. Howard finds that the Black Seminoles' kinship system is a rather flexible one. The islanders tend to confer kinship status--as brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts--to many men and women who are unrelated by blood or marriage, and the "adoption" of outsiders as members of family casts a wider net of kinship. Extramarital relations are also common; Howard finds that a majority of women in Red Bays have borne children from multiple unions and that the majority of men have extra-residential relations with women whom they dub "sweethearts." Howard attributes this pattern in part to African traditions of polygamy and to slavery, whereby masters promoted the conception of children to increase the labor force. As a result, though a double-standard of sexual activity persists in this patriarchal society, women who bear children out of wedlock are generally not ostracized, nor do the men disown the children from extramarital unions, called "outside children" by the locals.

Howard's final chapters (6-8) take up the important question of Black Seminole identity, which she rightly regards as a contextual problem. Bahamians in general tend to reject the label of "West Indian," and many Afro-West Indians persistently deny the "African Presence" (p. 106) as being central to the region's ethos. The Bahamas are therefore a "world between worlds" and its residents tend to identify themselves simply as "Bahamian." The Black Seminoles, Howard finds, are no different, arguing that the fact of their Seminole heritage is "essentially a nonissue" and that they "unfailingly consider themselves to be 'Bahamian'" (p. 109). Moreover, the Black Seminoles, while assertive of their Seminole heritage, currently have expressed little interest in becoming recognized members of the Seminole communities of the United States, suggesting the importance of place in the formation of their identity.

Howard's book is most certainly eye-opening and a worthwhile read, but it is not without its shortcomings. While Howard rightly points out that this tendency on the part of Black Seminole Bahamians to emphasize the "Bahamian" aspect of their identity is evidence for the fluidity of identity formation, this same fact tends to call into question the extent to which these communities can justly be called "Seminole." The Black Seminole Bahamians retain cultural traditions such as patrilineal descent and African naming patterns that are contrary to Seminole Indian practices, nor does any syncretism in religion or language appear to have occurred. What has been preserved, Howard argues, "is not necessarily tangibly evident, but is, rather, epistemological--a complex of knowledge, beliefs, and ways of knowing that derive from the synthesis of heritage and adaptation" (p. 119). Howard's account, somewhat ironically, put me in mind of many white southerners who claim some form of "Indian" ancestry, but who do so in a nostalgic way that betrays the fact that they do not generally share in the wider culture and history of the Southern Indians. Therefore, it might have been equally, if not more fruitful for Howard to investigate the more tangible "African" elements of the Andros Islanders' culture rather than their nostalgic recollection of their "Indian" past.

Moreover, scholars with expertise in Seminole and southeastern Indian history are likely to find her historical research into the formation of the Seminoles and Black Seminoles of the eighteenth to nineteenth centuries to be wanting, as her evidence is based on somewhat dated secondary materials and could have been buttressed by recent works by Claudio Saunt, Brent Weisman, and others. Howard also could have done a better job of pinning her historical narrative to a stricter chronology. She has a tendency to slip into the ethnographic present when discussing Black Seminole culture, leaving her discussion of it somewhat detached from the changes wrought by a century of life in the Bahamas and recent integration into the wider Bahamian and global communities. At times, important topics that might have allowed for her to delve deeply into that culture are overlooked, such as religion, to which she devotes less than one page. A fuller analysis of religious practices might have enabled her to find connections (or not) to Seminole belief systems, and, given the apparent importance of Christianity in the lives of her subjects (her most important informant, in fact, is a Baptist minister) would have allowed for fuller investigation of the Black Seminoles' world view and identity.

These shortcomings aside, Howard's book is valuable in that the story is compelling, presented succinctly, and it succeeds in its stated goal of giving voice to a people "without history." Furthermore, her case study will certainly prove valuable to anyone doing comparative work in Caribbean ethnic history, and the histories of the African, Black Seminole, and Seminole diasporas, of which we can only expect more in the future. Howard sums it up best, stating that her book, "hopefully, provides a point of departure for future research into the unwritten stories of African and Native American encounters in the New World" (p. xvii). Indeed! Black Seminoles in the Bahamas is sure to leave readers eager to learn more and generate further studies about these intriguing peoples. We can only hope that Professor Howard will be among the first to take the challenge and delve more deeply into this interesting subject.

Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles

Published by H-LatAm@h-net.msu.edu (August 2005)

Julian Granberry and Gary S. Vescelius. Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004. xiv + 153 pp. Maps, tables, bibliography, index. $42.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8173-1416-4; $19.95 (paper), ISBN 0-8173-5123-X.

Reviewed for H-LatAm by Lynne Guitar,
CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange) program in Spanish Language & Caribbean Studies, Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra, Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Following Linguistic Trails across Half a Millennium Provides New Answers to Old Questions

Not too long ago, only a few Caribbean archaeologists and historians knew who or what the Taino were. Today, hundreds of descendants of these indigenous peoples of the Greater Antilles--a people long said to have been wiped off the face of the earth--are fighting the extinction myth, fighting for recognition of their Taino inheritance and for a deeper understanding of where their ancestors came from, how they lived, and what they believed in. Today's Taino descendants are also attempting to reconstruct as much as possible of their ancestral language. Julian Granberry and Gary S. Vescelius's book helps to accomplish several of these multiple goals. It tracks the immigration of indigenous peoples from the American mainland and their various settlements in the Caribbean via their linguistic traces. In so doing, the authors also provide the most complete Taino/English "dictionary" available anywhere, as well as a list of known words in other indigenous languages of the Caribbean. If it weren't for this, the book would have a very limited audience.

Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles is, first and foremost, a linguistic analysis of the seven different "language communities" that were extant in the Greater Antilles at the time of European contact, which the authors call: Classic Taino (the most widespread of the seven), Ciboney Taino, Macoris (both Lower and Upper dialects), Ciguayo, Guanahatabey, Eyeri or Kaliphuna, and Karina Carib. The authors make extensive use of concepts and terminology that are specific to the field of linguistics, which makes their work extremely heavy reading for non-linguists. This is the book's most significant weakness, along with the fact that it is a mostly-cohesive-but-not-always collection of essays written at different times and for different purposes by either Granberry (who is the Language Coordinator for Florida's Native American Language Services and a prolific author/linguist) or Vescelius (now deceased, he was a state archaeologist for the U.S. Virgin Islands), or sometimes by the both of them together.

The book is far more than just a linguistic analysis, however, for the comprehensive linguistic comparisons within it that focus principally on the three main languages used by the indigenous peoples of the Greater Antilles (Cuba, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Virgin Islands), are correlated to historical and archaeological evidence in order to identify the various groups who have been erroneously lumped together as "Tainos" (or previously as "Island Arawaks"); where and when each group originated; where, when, and why they moved about or settled within the islands; and how and why they interacted with each other as well as with the indigenous peoples of the Lesser Antilles. The authors clearly state that their study is not an end in itself, but yet another step, along with archaeological, ethnographic, genetic, biological, and historical studies, that will eventually help correct the many errors that have been made in the past about pre-Columbian Caribbean peoples. Granberry suggests that the study "provides a beginning, not an end, to language and archaeology studies of the pre-Columbian Antilles" (p. 6).

The book's first chapter, "The Pre-Columbian Antilles, An Overview of Research and Sources," is one of the most succinct yet complete summaries available. It covers the works of the early Spanish chroniclers, but focuses on the research of those whose interests were sparked by the 400th anniversary of the "encounter" between Europeans and the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, which corresponded with the first growth spurt of the new science of archaeology (Jesse W. Fewes, Mark R. Harrington, and Sven Loven were among the most prominent of the archaeologists working in the Caribbean at that time) and the work of those archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists who have followed in their footsteps: Froelich Rainey, Irving Rouse, Douglas Taylor, Samuel Wilson, Antonio M. Stevens-Arroyo, and William Keegan, among others. Chapter 2 explores in depth the often biased information that was left to us by the Spanish chroniclers. Six subsequent chapters explore and compare the traces of the Arawakan-, Waroid-, and Tolan-based languages of the Native peoples of the Greater Antilles, correlating them with archaeological and historical research as well as with geographical factsâ€"the chapters that deal with place names are particularly interesting. Another chapter deals specifically with "The Languages of the Lesser Antilles and Their Archaeological Correlates," and there is one chapter (10) that is "A Short Lexicon of Taino Morphemes and Lexical Forms." Chapter 11 summarizes the indigenous peoples' migrations to and within the Caribbean.

The book is loaded with excellent maps, which help explain the linguistic-jargon-ridden text, and has twelve tables which, together with chapter 10, combine to provide the comprehensive "dictionary" of Caribbean indigenous words and their English equivalents that were mentioned earlier. In the long run, the "dictionary" may be the book's most valuable contribution, or at least the element in it most valued by the largest number of readers. A dear friend who is involved in the Taino restoration movement (which aims to restore the Taino to their proper place in the histories and societies from which their supposed extinction has erased them) gave me added insight about this book and its value: "It helps eliminate all the arguments over things like, was Hispaniola's indigenous name Quisqueya, Haiti, or Bohio? In fact, Granberry and Vescelius show that it bore all three names in three different indigenous languages." It is insights like this that make _Languages of the Pre-Columbian Antilles_ a "must have" for the reference shelf and a thought provoking study for a growing number of people who are interested in finding out all they can about the Taino and other indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, and not just a book for Caribbean linguists, archaeologists, and historians.

12 August 2005

Indigenous Land Titles in Venezuela

Chavez Gives Land Titles to the Indigenous
By THAIS LEON, Associated Press Writer Tue Aug 9,10:02 PM ET

KARI'NA LA ISLA, Venezuela - Six of Venezuela's indigenous communities received title to their ancestral lands on Tuesday in a ceremony that Venezuela's president said reversed centuries of injustice.

President Hugo Chavez said he hoped the government would be able to turn over titles to 15 other indigenous communities by the end of the year.

"What we're recognizing is the original ownership of these lands," Chavez said during the ceremony. "Now no one will be able to come and trample over you in the future."

He was joined by Kari'na Indians wearing traditional dress, face paint and strings of colored beads.

But Chavez warned that the process of granting legal ownership must respect Venezuela's "territorial unity," and he urged other indigenous groups not to ask for "infinite expanses of territory."

"Don't ask me to give you the state's rights to exploit mines, to exploit oil," Chavez said. "Before all else comes national unity."

The documents recognize land ownership by six indigenous communities with some 4,000 people and territory covering 314,000 acres in the eastern states of Anzoategui and Monagas.

One woman from the Kari'na community thanked Chavez, saying: "He has been the first president who has kept his word to a people who have been stripped of their lands."

An estimated 300,000 Venezuelans belong to 28 indigenous groups, many living in the country's sparsely populated southeast.

South American countries have made various efforts to grant indigenous groups legal ownership and control over their traditional territories.

In neighboring Colombia, indigenous groups in officially recognized communities can administer justice, receive state funds and have their own government.

Brazil has set aside more than 12 percent of its territory for indigenous communities, and in Peru various laws declare the rights of indigenous groups to ancestral territory in the Amazon.

But problems have arisen in some countries as miners and loggers have moved onto Indian lands. And in various countries, a key debate has revolved around the state's rights to what lies underground, such as oil and mineral wealth.

26 July 2005

Trinidad Caribs in Caribbean Beat Magazine

See the latest issue of Caribbean Beat Magazine, available online, with a feature article by Tracy Assing titled, "The Long Walk Home"

Preamble from the article:
"What does “indigenous” mean in contemporary Trinidad? How has the island’s Amerindian heritage survived? Tracy Assing, a member of the Carib community of Arima, compares her own family traditions with historical accounts, and asks herself crucial questions about the meaning of the past and the nature of home...."

Taino Sacred Site Protest

Today in Puerto Rico, elders are taking back the Taino sacred site known as the Caguana Ceremonial Center. Currently, the NPS has closed the site to perform renovations, without any consultation with the Taino community. Elders have decided to camp out at the site, against the NPS closure order.

After numerous requests for meetings with Puerto Rico's governors -- past and present -- and witnessing their indifference to the lack of cooperation between the NPS and the Taino communities, these elders have decided to make a stand for what is right, with or without the approval of the government.

The Caguana Ceremonial Center is the site of many ancient Taino petroglyphs (stone carvings) where ceremonies have been held for many centuries. The Puerto Rican government has ignored repeated pleas for cooperative efforts to preserve what is left of this sacred site and others.

In an effort to stop the desecration and bring attention to the issue, these elders are out there TODAY... Tuesday, July 25th making their voices heard. It is very likely that there will be police involvement. For this reason we need your help to make sure their statement is heard.

You can show your support by calling Governor Vila in Puerto Rico @ 1(787)721-7000 (English or Spanish is fine) and saying you support the effort of these elders, or you can e-mail the governor a message at: portal@ogp.gobierno.pr

Please don't let these elders' efforts be fruitless because of our silence.

Thank you,

DeAnna M. Rivera
United Confederation of Taino People
Director, Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange Program
UCLA School of Law
Box 951476
Los Angeles,
CA 90095-1476
Location: 1609 Hershey Hall
Phone: 310-794-5216Fax: 310-825-3108

25 July 2005




A new documentary site offered from the website of the Santa Rosa Carib Community of Arima, Trinidad.

Click here to see the movie, or click here to enter the first page of the site.

Caribbean Native nations join U.N. Permanent Forum

This article has been reprinted with the kind permission of the editors of Indian Country Today. The CAC Review's Creative Commons license does not apply to this article, where all rights are reserved by Indian Country Today. The original article was published on July 22, 2005, at http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096411286.

Caribbean Native nations join U.N. Permanent Forum
© Indian Country Today, July 22, 2005. All Rights Reserved
Posted: July 22, 2005
by: Jose Barreiro / Indian Country Today

A group of Caribbean indigenous nations gathered for special ceremonies and events in late May during the 4th United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, held in New York City. The indigenous movement in the Caribbean represents one of the lesser-known currents of Native cultural and political resurgence. This spring at the United Nations, the various delegations of Caribbean indigenous peoples coalesced in interesting and welcome ways.

For the first time in many years, Caribbean indigenous representatives were able to meet, share food and culture, and get down to the hard work of U.N. resolutions, interventions and document reaffirmation that marks much of international work. The Taino Nation of the Antilles, with primary bases in Puerto Rico and New York City, organized events for Caribbean delegates. It fund-raised the costs of one delegate from Dominica and coordinated presentations. Roberto Borrero, a Taino who serves on the NGO committee of the Indigenous Permanent Forum, also helped fund delegates to the event and has been active in hemispheric organizing. An Indigenous Peoples Caucus of the Greater Caribbean has been formed.

Carib cultural activist Prosper Paris, among others, joined the U.N. events. Prosper is from the Carib Territory in the north coast of the small Caribbean island of Dominica. He was one of several presenters on a panel on Indigenous Education and Cultural Survival organized by the Taino Nation. This writer chaired the panel, held at the customary indigenous gathering place in New York City: the United Nations Church Center at 777 United Nations Plaza, where several dozen Taino, Carib, Arawak, Guajiro and other indigenous peoples gathered.

The notable event, ably organized by Vanessa Pastrana, Inarunikia, among other volunteers from the Taino Nation, featured a dance presentation from young Taino people and recitations in the Taino language that are the product of a vigorous reconstruction and relearning of the insular Arawak language by members of that nation since the 1980s.

"From Cuba, in the mountains of the Sierra, from Dominican Republic, from our own Boriken [Puerto Rico], we have met relatives, holding on to our identity and retaking our indigenous roots,'' said Cacique Cibanakan, of the Taino Nation. ''Our hearts pound with excitement that our people are coming together."

Indigenous delegates from all over the world arrive in New York City every spring for the now-permanent U.N. forum on Indigenous peoples' issues. There are always dozens if not hundreds of important and fascinating stories - both positive and negative - on the conditions of tribal peoples and on the always tortuous and troubled trajectory in the world of highly exploitative industries, with their rapacious hunger for indigenous lands and natural resources.

In too many cases, the political contentions of land and resources are accompanied by attacks on Native leaders and political and social structures. Quechua and Aymara from Bolivia and Ecuador, Kuna from Panama, Maya from Guatemala, northern Canadian Cree leaders, Lakota treaty chiefs and Haudenosaunee traditionalists from the United States and Saami from Norway, among many others, sustained a necessary dialogue on human rights and development through the work of U.N. gatherings.

In New York representing the Arawak community at Joboshirima in Venezuela, Chief Reginaldo Fredericks found a not-so-distant relative in Daniel Rivera, Wakonax, one of the active leaders in the Taino movement in Puerto Rico and the diaspora. The Arawak chief, who is Onishido Clan and lives mostly in the rain forest, was very happy to meet Taino relatives.

Among the messages carried by Fredericks from his people is the need to preserve and restore indigenous language. He commended the Taino language recovery program, developed by the nation's elder language advocate, Jose Laboy, Boriquex, and offered to help bring together the Arawak (Lokono) peoples wherever possible. ''It is wonderful we are more and more recognizing each other; we have a lot to offer each other,'' Rivera, who made an intervention at the United Nations on behalf of Caribbean Indian peoples, responded.

Of the many currents of indigenous movement across the Western Hemisphere, the Caribbean is the most hidden and marginalized. As communities, clans and nations coalesce, however, encounters such as the one at the United Nations in New York, provide common ground for exchange and mutual education. The shared cultural history is fascinating.Fredericks narrated stories of his people to the Taino Nation elder, which tell of six original Lokono (later Arawak) nations, which the chief called ''clans.'' Of the six ''clans,'' three are unaccounted for while Taino is in the process of vigorous cultural and social recovery.

According to Fredericks, the ancient Lokono tribes or clans were called Oralido, Cariafudo, Onishido ''rain people,'' Gimragi, Way'u, and the ''good people'' from the great islands (Taino). Today, ''as far as we know,'' the chief reported, only Onishido and Way'u survive on the mainland. The chief was most intrigued that hundreds and perhaps thousands of Taino descendants from the islands of the Greater Antilles are reaffirming themselves. The chief pointed to his headdress, which shows six feathers, symbolizing the six tribes or clans of the Lokono. ''The good island people, the Taino, are one of the six feathers,'' Fredericks reminded the other Caribbean delegates.

From La Guajira, Colombia, Karmen Ramirez represented the Way'u Morerat ORJUWAT organization. She pointed out not only her Native Way'u nation, but also four tribes from Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta as Arawaks who originate with the Way'u of the Guajira Peninsula. It was another instance of people from common ancestors and linked contemporary identities meeting and recognizing each other as a result of an indigenous international movement. The Way'u, who also reside in neighboring Venezuela, are one of those peoples hurtfully divided by an international border.

Caribbean indigenous delegates, in the shadows for decades if not centuries, put their statements into the record at the annual U.N. event. The Caribbean indigenous caucus signaled the following major goal: ''That the collective rights of the indigenous peoples of the Greater Caribbean to lands, territories, resources, and traditional knowledge be enshrined in the Constitution of all Greater Caribbean countries and in other states where indigenous peoples exist.''

10 July 2005

Carib Community Online Store

I am not normally one to engage in commercial spam, but I am hoping to "get the word out" regarding a newly redesigned online shop for the Santa Rosa Carib Community (see: http://www.cafepress.com/srcc/).

It was first established three years ago, and it has made a little money, very little, but still something. The way it works is that a purchaser pays CafePress online through their secure site, and of course CafePress extracts its own share. The markup on the product is then paid directly by CafePress to the Santa Rosa Carib Community, with cheques made payable to that account name.

What struck me though is that the limited revenue came as a result of numerous transactions and purchases by several individuals across the US and the UK, and it showed that there was some interest. Having seen that, I invested more time and energy into revamping the products of the store, and creating new "floors", new themes, new products, etc.

That's right! I am an anthropologist, merchant and graphic designer all in one! Perhaps this merits the attention of a psychiatrist.

Have a look if you can at the store. If you know people who might be interested, perhaps you can let them know about it. A lot of the new material should appeal to a wider variety of tastes, especially nationalistic Trinis overseas, people who prefer educational items, and fans of ecology.

08 July 2005

Seminoles With African Ancestry: The Right To Heritage

This article has been reprinted with the kind permission of the editors of GBN: Global Black News. The CAC Review's Creative Commons license does not apply to this article. Normal copyright restrictions apply. The original article appeared at http://www.globalblacknews.com/SeminolesBakariAkil.html.

Seminoles With African Ancestry: The Right To Heritage
By: Bakari Akil II
Date: December 24, 2003

There has been an ongoing debate among Seminoles with African ancestry and Seminoles with Native American ancestry regarding the legitimacy of the "Black Seminoles." The arguments have reached crisis proportions as families have split along racial lines, Blacks Seminoles have been voted out of tribal councils and can no longer fully participate in life as a Seminole and some have even lost rights altogether in the Seminole nation.

These happenings have truly become crucial due to recent actions in the Seminole nation's favor such as the $56 million dollar settlement granted due to loss of land and forced relocations by the US government. In addition, as the case with many Native American groups who have been able to profit from "reparations" resulting from restitution granted due to US governmental persecution through the 17th - 20th centuries, there has been reconsideration on who has the right to claim to be a Native American, especially those with African ancestry.

As I have written on this issue previously, instead of writing a full column arguing the merits of Black Seminoles right to exist, similar to my article "Seminoles, Native Americans and African Bloodlines," I will instead cite powerful testimony of a prominent American individual who lived during the early 19th century. It is my contention that his account can lend a clear and credible voice on the debate of who is and who is not a "Seminole."

In the book, published in 1858 entitled, The Exiles of Florida: The Crimes Committed By Our Government Against The Maroons Who Fled From South Carolina and Other Slave States, US Congressman Joshua Giddings authors a powerful account which weighed in on the discussion of the plight of the Seminoles in the United States. He clearly outlines their origins and history up until that point in the middle of the 19th century. Here are his words:

The constant escape of slaves, and the difficulties resulting therefrom, constituted the principal object for establishing a free colony between South Carolina and Florida, which was called Georgia. It was thought that this colony, being free, would afford the planters of Carolina protection against the further escape of their slaves from service.

These Exiles were by the Creek Indians called "Seminoles" which in their dialect signifies "runaways" and the term being frequently used while conversing with the Indians, came into almost constant practice among the whites; and although it has now come to be applied to a certain tribe of Indians, yet it was originally used in reference to these exiles long before the Seminole Indians had separated from the Creeks.

The Indians that removed themselves from the Creek confederacy that Congressman Giddings referred to were a relatively large group residing within what is now Alabama and Georgia. Opting for self-rule they migrated to Florida Territory and were able to reside under an area which Spain claimed ownership. He further explains:

From the year 1750, Seacoffee and his followers rejected all Creek authority, refused to be represented in Creek councils, held themselves independent of Creek laws, elected their own chiefs, and in all respects became a separate tribe, embracing the Mickasukies, with whom they united. They settled in the vicinity of the Exiles, associated with them, and a mutual sympathy and respect existing, some of their people intermarried, thereby strengthening the ties of friendship, and the Indians having fled from oppression and taken refuge under Spanish laws, were also called Seminoles, or "runaways."

Here we have powerful testimony from a US congressman who in 1858, had no future stake in the claim of who has the right to be called a Seminole, whether African (Black) or Native American. What he did have an interest in was ensuring that there was an account of what happened to these "Exiles" who were Black and trying to enlighten and raise the consciousness of others to their plight. As he did in the past, I believe his words do the same now.

To demonstrate the loss Black Seminoles experienced, then and now, we will conclude with these passages from his book:

The Exiles thus free from annoyance, cultivated the friendship of their savage neighbors; rendered themselves useful to the Indians, both as laborers and in council. They also manifested much judgment in the selection of their lands for cultivation-locating their principal settlements on the rich bottoms lying along the Appalachicola and the Suwanee Rivers. Here they opened plantations, and many of them became wealthy in flocks and herds.

He further writes that by 1815:

Their plantations extended along the river several miles, above and below… Many of them possessed large herds, which roamed in the forests, gathering their food, both in summer and winter, without expense or trouble to their owners…..Here were the graves of their ancestors, around whose memories were clustered the fondest recollection of human mind. The climate was genial. They were surrounded by extensive forests, and far removed from the habitations of those enemies who sought to enslave them; and they regarded themselves as secure in the enjoyment of liberty.

In closing, this testimony by Mr. Giddings provides justification for the re-evaluation of the removal of those of African ancestry from the ranks of the Seminole nation and also to remember what sparked the relationship of Africans (Blacks) and Native Americans in the first place. The current destitute conditions that Seminoles of both African and Native American ancestry have been forced to endure as a result of oppression and persecution both past and present should not create a divide that causes either group to make decisions and take actions based on the lowest of human values but based upon the values and morals that guided their initial cooperation and brotherhood in the first place.

To deny Seminoles with African ancestry the right to exist, to claim their birthright, to prosper with the Seminole nation and to "break bread" with their history and heritage is not only a travesty of justice, but is inhumane as well.

To Read More About the Seminoles Refer To:
Seminoles, Native Americans and African Bloodlines By Bakari Akil and
The Christmas Eve Freedom Fighters Of 1837 By William Loren Katz


Giddings, J. (1858). The Exiles of Florida: The Crimes Committed By Our Government Against The Maroons Who Fled From South Carolina and other Slave States (Republished 1997). Baltimore, MD: Black Classic Press.

Akil, B. (2002, May 17). "Seminoles, Native Americans and African Bloodlines." Retrieved December 23, 2002 from , Global Black News Web site: http://www.globalblacknews.com/SeminoleBakari.html

06 July 2005

New Taino-Related Movie

In a message received from Innova Entertainment, we were informed of the release of a new commercial film that is fictional in character but deeply enmeshed with visions of Taino history. The following is a synopsis provided by the advertising agents for the film:

Tainos La Ultima Tribu
"The film Tainos: The Last Tribe is a story about a young female archaeologist who organizes a secret cave expedition with friends to investigate Taino petroglyphs in a remote and isolated place in the interior of the island of Puerto Rico. Taking them 500 years into the past, they discover a lost tribe of Taino Indians who have been hiding isolated from civilization in a remote cave. During the expedition there are a series of situations, suspicions and friction specifically between two characters that initiate tension and conflict. It is in history books that we learn the Tainos were exterminated. How is it that this secret has been kept for over five hundred years? Can it be true? Who are the Tainos? Is it legend or reality? Who is this tribe they call the Tainos? Innova Entertainment presents history and adventure that will transport you vividly into the past. How you look and think about history will be forever changed."

Website for the film: www.tainoslapelicula.com

Film Details:
Duration: 1 hour, 49 minutes
Genre: Action
Writer/Director/Editor: Benjamin Lopez
Producer: Eduardo Correa
Music Score: Enrique Cardenas
Film Format: Digital video
Release date: 6/23/05 in Puerto Rico
Film Language: Spanish
Setting: Interior of Puerto Rico
Rating: PG

30 June 2005

Website on the Caribs of Dominica

The following link will take you to a site with some interesting essays and current news from the Dominica Carib Territory:


The Indigenous People and Their Place in Dominica

Follow the link below to an essay by Dr. Emanuel Finn, titled "The Indigenous People and Their Place in Dominica", posted on May 31, 2005, at http://www.thedominican.net/articles/caribs.htm.

The following is an extract from the longer piece:

"Not too long ago there was an inherited ideology in Dominica about the backwardness and ‘otherness’ of the Carib Indians. This way of thinking continued unabated for some time. Contributing to this long-standing syndrome is the ‘lip service’, empty promises and disrespect (especially at election time) displayed by elected and powerful politicians of not including Caribs in the decision making process or having any meaningful Carib agenda or policy. In addition, the history books depicted the Caribs in very unfair ways. Of course, we know the reasons for such poor portrayal were because the Indians put up a fierce fight against the Europeans when they were tossed off the fertile lands all over (Waitikubli) Dominica. The European history books saw it fit to portray them as uncivilized, unloving, uncaring, ruthless and rugged. These history books, which are part of our schools curriculum, also taught us that Admiral Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus) discovered Dominica. Some progressive scholars and thinkers hold the view that the Admiral did not discover this island...."

Disney and Carib "Cannibals" Continued

The following is from an article in The Los Angeles Times reproduced on http://www.williams.edu/go/native/caribs.htm.

'Pirates' sequel raises ire of indigenous leader
Movie to portray Caribs as cannibals
Los Angeles Times
April 29. 2005

BATAKA, Dominica - Sabers rattled and epithets rang across this lush tropical island long before the first crew arrived this month to film the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel.

Somewhere in the middle of the movie, natives are supposed to capture Johnny Depp's character, Captain Jack Sparrow, and spit-roast the swashbuckling pirate with fruits and vegetables "like a shish kebab," said Bruce Hendricks, the Walt Disney Pictures executive in charge of production.

"It's a funny, almost campy sequence," he said of a film also populated by ghost pirates and zombies.

But some of Dominica's Carib inhabitants are offended by what they consider an insinuation that their forebears were cannibals. They have called on the 3,500-strong population that is the last surviving indigenous group in the Caribbean to choose between fleeting fame and tribal honor. Chief Charles Williams asked his community to boycott the project, but most have welcomed the financial infusion.

The group is a minority on Dominica, whose 70,000 people are mostly of African descent. Disney argues that the film is fiction, but Williams says it draws on history. "Pirates did come to the Caribbean in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries," he said. "Our ancestors were labeled cannibals. This is being filmed in the Caribbean."

History books still cast the Caribs as cannibals during the time of the European settlement of the Caribbean that began in the 15th century but didn't reach Dominica, a tiny island in the eastern Caribbean, until 200 years later. But the indigenous people, the chief argues, were defending themselves. "Today, that myth, that stigma is still alive," Williams said, denying that the Caribs ever ate those they vanquished.

As newly elected chief of the Carib Territorial Council, Williams was approached by a delegation of Disney executives in October to discuss Carib collaboration on the film, for which about 400 locals have been hired as grips, caterers, drivers and extras. When the chief learned of the scene depicting Depp's character on the barbecue spit, he said the Caribs would boycott the production.

Other Caribs say the chief is taking offense where none was intended. "He didn't have the right to make that decision for the entire community," said Christabelle Auguiste, the only woman on the seven-member tribal council. She regards the filming of a potential blockbuster in her homeland as an opportunity to show off the island's stunning natural attractions and to raise international consciousness about the Caribs and their traditions.

"Throughout the years, there's been this picture painted of us as cannibals. The fact that some people might have had an arm or a leg in their homes didn't mean they ate people. They were kept as tokens of war," Auguiste said of her ancestors and their clashes with European invaders.

05 June 2005

Freedmen descendants use DNA to show Indian blood

About 100 descendants of the Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes have taken DNA tests that show they have Indian blood, The Oklahoman reports...............

Freedmen's descendants discover past By Judy Gibbs Robinson
The Oklahoman

When a cotton swab scraped a few cells from the inside of Rhonda Grayson's cheek last June, she was pretty sure what she would find. Like most of those at the conference sponsored by the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized tribes, Grayson wanted ironclad proof she is part American Indian. She got it. "It showed I had 9 percent Native American blood," said Grayson, a black woman who has traced her lineage to a great-grandmother on the Chickasaw freedmen rolls. "I was not surprised ... but I didn't know what percentage I would have." Others were surprised by the findings, including Rick Kittles, the Ohio State University geneticist whose assistant swabbed about 100 cheeks that day in Norman. Kittles returns Saturday to report on his findings at the association's third annual conference at the University of Oklahoma. The conference starts at 9 a.m. in Dale Hall. Intrigued by the plight of Oklahoma's black Indians, Kittles came to Oklahoma to test his hypothesis that descendants of Oklahoma Freedmen today would be about 20 percent American Indian. The figure was 6 percent. "It was shocking to see it was so low," Kittles said in a telephone interview from his office. His findings came as a blow to some study participants who trace their ancestry to tribal members and expected a stronger genetic stamp. "That's how science is," Kittles said. "When you start looking into things like this, you should be aware and be ready to deal with the unexpected." European genesAnother surprise was the percentage of European genes -- about 20 percent -- in the study participants. "That was much higher than I thought, but in talking with some of the anthropologists, they say many of the Native Americans in that area were already mixed with whites before mixing with the blacks," Kittles said. In other words, they could have gotten some European genes from their Indian ancestors. LaMona Evans-Groce of Edmond, whose grandmother received a 140-acre allotment of Creek land, said she was disappointed to learn she is 29 percent European and only 11 percent American Indian. "I thought it was more because my grandmother is so American Indian," Evans-Groce said. But she and other members of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes said the findings will not deter them from seeking citizenship and equal rights in the tribes their ancestors once embraced. Pre-Civil War rootsTheir battle has its roots before the Civil War, when the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Creek tribes brought African slaves with them when they were removed from their Southern homelands to Oklahoma. In addition, most Eastern tribes had adopted and intermarried with blacks over generations of contact, historians say. Treaties signed after the Civil War required tribes to emancipate their slaves and either adopt them into their tribes or the U.S. government would relocate them. By the end of the 19th century, more than 20,000 Africans had been adopted into four of the Five Civilized Tribes of Oklahoma --the Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole, historians say. The Chickasaws refused to adopt blacks and the government failed to relocate them as promised. In the 1890s the Dawes Commissioncreated tribal membership rolls, preparing to divide up communally held tribal land. Based on appearance, many black Indians were listed as "freedmen" with no blood breakdown noted. Still later, some tribes revised their membership requirements to require a certificate of degree of Indian blood, making those descended from freedmen ineligible. Marilyn Vann, president of the descendants' group, said Cherokee freedmen voted in tribal elections as recently as 1971. "We're not wannabe people who are pretending to be Indian people or pretending to have Indian rights," Vann said. "We have documents to prove who we are and we know who we are." Citizenship requirementsMike Miller, spokesman for the Cherokee Nation, said the Cherokees as a sovereign nation determine their citizenship requirements, which includes an ancestor who traces back to the Dawes Rolls as a Cherokee. "What it boils down to is the Cherokee Nation has determined that to be a member of our Indian nation, you need to be at least part Indian," he said. Miller acknowledged that the Dawes Rolls were probably flawed, but he said there is no recourse for descendants of freedmen who can trace their ancestry to a blood Cherokee some other way. "That's a law. We can't bend a law. It's not at anyone's discretion," Miller said. The descendants understand today's tribal leaders are not personally responsible for past discrimination, Vann said. "We're not asking for an apology or reparations. We are asking for the same treatment as other people who are descendants of people on the Dawes Rolls," Vann said. "What we want is what has been promised." Kittles said the jury is still out on whether genetic testing like his will help the descendants of freedmen. He said he hopes it does. "For them to change the criteria by which you are a member of that group because of power and finances, that's really sad," Kittles said. "That has to be reconciled."
Information provided To Jorge Estevez by Bobby Gonzalez (Taino).

03 June 2005

Taino Children's Poetry

On May 19th, the Taino Nation of the Antilles and U.S. hosted a dinner, panel discussion and a cultural presentation by the children of the nation for the delegation members of the forth session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. The children played music, danced, sang and recited the following poetry;

We're Here to Stay! By: Erica Karayaru Velez,14 year old High School Student
A nation believed to be extinct and never coming back Now rising to the surface and slipping through the cracks Coming together to celebrate life Columbus could not take away Because he thought he could invade our lands and stay But we fought back and let Mother Earth be our guide And listen to the voice that we heard inside The voice telling us that they're greedy and what they're doing is wrong And instead of fighting we should be coming together to sing a song But that was the past and this is now And we are bring our nation to life the best way we know how We have a lot of elders who are wise and mature And a lot of young ones who will carry the nation to the future So if anyone tries to tell you we don't exist You'll look back and remember this We are the Taino Nation and we're here to stay So no matter what you do we won't go away

Dakia Kuyaya(Kuyaya is my name)By: Alejandro Kuyaya Pastrano, 10 years old
I speak the language of Columbus, I wear European style clothes. My shoes are from ChinaAnd my socks are from Japan.I like pizza and I play basketball, But there are things about me that you don't know.You see I'm a Taino, My ancestors left me a culture that is still alive today. My people sailed in big canoes,And played the scared drumsAnd if you would listen to my heart,You would hear how it sounds.So even if you see a change in what I wear today. My heart, my mind and my spirit are Taino, Kuyaya is my name!The future of the Taino Nation will firmly rest in the hands of our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, brothers and sisters. After all the hard work and sacrifices throughout these last 12 years, since the resurgence and restoration of our nation. It will ultimately lie in the hands of our children. Who will inherit what we've worked so hard to restore and take us into the coming Millenniums. It is up to you to immerge your children into our culture. So they can learn the language, we have restored, so that they can learn the customs, traditions and culture that will prepare them to take their rightful place in the future of the Taino Nation. The Wanakan Cultural Center is now sponsoring classes in language, dance, music and all aspects of our culture, in order to better prepare both you and the children to continue the work we have initiated. After 500 years of silence and the declaration of our ancestor's extinction. We have fought our way back destroying the myth of extinction by our colonizers. It is your duty and responsibility to leave this inheritance to your children, as we are leaving it to ours. So for those of you in registry all you need do is show up for the classes, for those of you who have not requested registry into the Taino Nation of the Antilles and U.S. and would like to attend, what are you waiting for? The registry is living proof of our existence as a nation both now and for future generations to look back on and know that we existed, and that we loved and cared enough about them to insure that we never go back into obscurity. The prophecy of our return has been forfiled; it is now up to you to keep it alive for future generations to come.
Reprinted with permission by Tomas Waribonex Gonzalez of the Taino Nation of the Antilles.
For more information please e-mail, Waribonex@hotmail.com

01 June 2005

Being conscious of origins in Indian affairs

Reprinted with permission from Indian Country Today (The Creative Commons License for The CAC Review does not apply to this article)

© Indian Country Today May 26, 2005. All Rights Reserved

Posted: May 26, 2005

by: Editors Report / Indian Country Today

In Indian affairs, consciousness of identity origins and tribal histories is essential. Without clear tribal definitions or their memberships, lands, histories and cultures, the concreteness of American Indian rights dissipates easily.

It is easiest to define Native status in the United States when the tribe is recognized, historically and legally, within the federal system. This is a complicated and historically paternalistic system, steeped in colonialist doctrine. Yet, for tribal nations to survive as distinct political entities as the American union enveloped them, sovereign definition over membership has always been a crucial issue.

The principal goal of a sovereignty model is tribal control over membership, tribal title (ownership) to lands, both in aboriginal title and as ''trust land.'' For each Native nation, large or small, the preferred nation-to-nation relationship with the United States is governmental. For the tribes, this is the relationship that is most reflective of their reality as the first self-governing societies and peoples of this land.

The defense and sustenance of the Indian tribal membership in this context has substantial history. Most always, the documented record of any tribe is rich with cases of real property dispossession and outright battles against extermination, characterized by the always strong (if not always successful) struggle to hold on to lands and territories rightfully owned by the tribe.

Beyond the status within recognized tribes fall various ranges of indigenous and tribal identities. Some of these concern disenfranchised folks from recognized tribes who are actual relations but whose circumstances fall outside legal definitions of membership. Many genuine stories of relations in this context give evidence of cultural exchanges of the most varied and interesting connections. Families long urbanized often have the most intimate, as well as distant, relations in reservation origins.

There are also the many tribes that are not federally recognized but maintain membership records that have been sustained and substantiated over time. Some of these are recognized by states and by local and regional tradition, but were separated from the historical record or from a federal-Indian relationship. Some were completely relocated; others completely Christianized, their distinct spiritual cultures dissipated.

Others were splintered by a large percentage of intense inter-marriage into non-Native cultures from which emerge people of great talent who occasionally become important Indian leaders.

Then there are Indian people in the United States, quite a few, who originate from Central and South America and the Caribbean. The Mayan nations of Central America estimate about one million of their people now reside in the United States. There are now large permanent Maya communities in Florida (Indiantown, Immokalee), as well as in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California.

Add to that the many Zapotecas and Mixtecas from southern Mexico, and the large range of still-related and close-knit groups from Ecuador and other Andean regions.

In New York, Florida and Puerto Rico, people of Caribbean indigenous ancestry have re-organized related families of the Taino Nation of the Antilles, giving way to a growing cultural revitalization movement that counts many prominent representatives. Whereas in times past, immigrants to the United States were only too happy to leave behind the ''old country,'' to Americanize themselves into the new ''melting pot,'' the new immigrants from Latin America are not only sustaining their ties to their country of origin, but the indigenous among them are keen to maintain and consciously revitalize their ancestral identities.

Terrific kinship recognitions, friendships and alliances are possible in the healthy interaction of the three above-listed circles. This was in evidence this week at the United Nations, as Indian peoples from north and south met and discussed the many issues facing their communities throughout the hemisphere and the world.

The problem of holding on to tribal lands and resources, and the retention of intellectual properties, are important ongoing testimonies. As always, Native nations and their delegates found resistance from nation states and great sympathy from peoples and organizations at large, nationally and internationally. In the hallways and over coffee, friendships and alliances connected and developed that will last generations. Many of these small meetings were facilitated by urban Indian groups that networked Native delegations with foundations and human rights organizations.

The Indian context is complex and while alliances depend on shared identities, the respect of specificity within the context of peoples and place is equally crucial. In the United States, the recognition of American Indian nations has its own legal strictures that follow significant, if not always welcome, definitions. Of singular importance are the tribal rolls and tribal membership offices, as well as the ancient clan counts of longhouses and kivas. All have tried-and-true ways of determining their own membership and recognizing the identity of community participants.

These principles of time immemorial have their rationale, even when placed into federal stricture. This is most important because these days those most intent on destroying tribal rights claim to be Indian.

For example: One Nation, Inc., a national alliance wholly dedicated to the eradication of Indian tribal rights, issued this statement a year ago at the National Press Club: ''Do we wish to destroy our cherished American dream - a harmonious melting pot of all cultures, colors, and creeds? The current drive to revere tribalism among American Natives suggests the answer to be 'yes' to resurrecting the divisive apartheid we once deplored. With 562 federally recognized tribes, 291 tribal recognition applications pending, and 400 monopolistic Indian casinos supplying
outrageous funding to political parties, elected officials, and lobbyists, a new domestic crisis is exploding across America.''

One Nation Inc., United Property Owners and Citizens Equal Rights Alliance - three national coalitions of community groups, trade associations and local governments - are a growing advocacy base that is politically targeted to destroy the original peoples of America. But here is how One Nation defines its base: ''[Our] ... concerns lie not with American Indians, as many of our members claim this proud heritage.'' Their enemy is not Indian ''heritage'' per se; in fact, they already claim the identity, as they pretend to like ''Indians'' (i.e. themselves) while detesting ''federal Indian policy and out-of-control government bureaucracies assigned to serve the tribes - and some tribal leaders who don't serve the interests of their own people.''

Considering that these days even those who avow to destroy tribal sovereignty pretend to speak for American Indian identities, a clear scrutiny of brazen claims is crucial. It is a good thing that the tribes know who they are and who their actual members are. It is equally important that Indian nations establish and formally publish their policies on all such matters so that the manipulative and deceptive practices of anti-Indian hate groups can be laid bare.

Definition is crucial in this day and age. People who support a free-for-all with respect to Indian identity might consider how they usher in the Trojan horse that seeks the destruction of all American Indian freedoms.