29 March 2008


The new Indigenous Caribbean Network was first established as a replacement for the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink's current Directory of Researchers (which will no longer be updated in its current state). In addition, it would serve as a useful place for the current CAC editors to communicate and collaborate. It has now been opened up to everyone with interests in the indigenous peoples of the Caribbean. It is free to join.

Click here to join:

This network, which some of you will recognize as a less restrictive form of Facebook and a more refined version of MySpace, allows you to post photos, music, videos, create slideshows, maintain your own blog on the site, keep a "comment wall" on your profile page, create sub-groups of your own, initiate and participate in collective discussions, invite friends, add various widgets, and so forth. Feel free to experiment.

All readers and subscribers to The CAC Review are invited to join.

Visit Indigenous Caribbean Network
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28 March 2008

Rick Kearns: Indigenous roots inform author's latest work

[Apologies for this long overdue post. As with Jorge Estevez's piece below, both articles will be republished in Issues in Caribbean Amerindian Studies]

*reproduced with the permission of the author*

Indigenous roots inform author's latest work
by: Rick Kearns

Indian Country Today May 02, 2007

An interview with novelist Tina Casanova

OLD SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - In 2004, a DNA study of a sample of present-day Puerto Ricans found that nearly 70 percent had indigenous mitochondrial DNA. The results would force historians and others to re-examine Puerto Rican history and, eventually, Puerto Rican identity. A new fictional narrative examines this indigenous legacy.

Novelist Tina Casanova's ''The Last Sounding of the Conch'' traces a Puerto Rican family 20 generations back to their Taino roots in the context of a modern mystery. In Old San Juan, at the Center for Advanced Caribbean Studies of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, she spoke with Rick Kearns about her research into the indigenous history of the island and of her own family.

Rick Kearns: Ms. Casanova, how did you come across the theme of your latest novel?

Tina Casanova: My background is in historical novels. In them I am recreating our histories in a fictionalized form. They are basically not novels, but fictionalized history. What I was missing was the reconstruction of our indigenous heritage that I didn't want to touch because it's such a difficult subject. These ideas were in conflict with me because I was raised as indigenous. Nevertheless, I heard in school that Indians hadn't existed for some time [in Puerto Rico]. But then, I was born in a bohio [a traditional Taino dwelling] made of straw, I slept in a hammock, I ate yucca, malanga, nyame and calabasa. My mother made casaba bread for breakfast. I played with archaeological pieces that my father found when he was planting bushes on the farm. He dug up a stone hatchet and he said, ''Here is a stone of sunlight'' [a Taino phrase coming from the idea of stones coming out of sunrays]. I played with all those things but I had no awareness of my mother being indigenous. I had no awareness that I was Indian, because they had been ''destroyed.'' That's why it was a little hard for me to work on this theme.

Rick Kearns: Tell me about the story in this most recent work.

Casanova: ''The Last Sounding of the Conch'' is the novel in which I try to recreate what I have just been talking about: taking real historical facts as a foundation. I create a society that conforms to the historical data and I travel through it by following 20 generations.

Rick Kearns: How was it that the indigenous came to be the Boricua that you encounter in the 21st century here in Puerto Rico in Borinquen, and where does the title come from?

Casanova: I set the novel in Chimborazo, which is a place that does exist. It sits between [the towns of] Florida, Ciales and Manati. It is in the calcareous zone because that's where the Enchanted River runs. It is the longest, most completely explored subterranean river in the world. I recreate a mythic, magical place, because it has all these elements, the mountain, the calcareous zone; it has a drain that goes into the Enchanted River. It is the ideal site, with so many caves, for a culture to hide itself and wait, and to wait for a victory. So it is that they can live there or that they could leave and be absorbed. What happens is that they survived. ''The Last Sounding of The Conch'' then is the following.

Chief Aracibo - which is for whom the town of Arecibo is named - decides that the Spaniard is not God, but it wasn't he who [first] decided this. That was found out 15 years beforehand in Hispaniola, now Dominican Republic and Haiti, because it was there that some of the first Spaniards died in Fort Nativity and then [the indigenous] knew immediately that the Spaniard was not God. That was a myth that had to be broken.

It had been 15 years that the Spaniards had been dying like flies, first from the diseases and second from when the Indians started attacking them. Then Aracibo decides, in 1508, ''We know for what they have come, we will declare guasabara,'' which is to declare war. He has a cemi [ancestor statue] of gold that the greedy Spaniards wants. Aracibo says the war will start, but first he engages a medicine man to take the cemi to the Chimborazo Mountain and hide it. Then, when they have won the war - when they have killed off all the Spaniards - he would sound the conch again and the cemi Yucahu, his god, will return again to Arecibo. The conch never sounded that last time. They did not win it in the way one wins a conventional battle; but there are many ways to win ...

And now, when we find out from this study that we have 60 percent indigenous DNA in our blood ... well, then I believe we have won. It is a triumph.

Remember that the Spaniard stole our history from us on top of stealing our gold, because they wrote the history that was convenient to their purposes.

Rick Kearns: Why did they say the indigenous were exterminated?

Casanova: For many reasons, but for me there are two very important ones. One was religious; the other, economic. First, they had decided that the Indians - the indigenous - were people. The blacks, no. The black man had no soul, according to the Catholic Church, so he was not a person. For the Christian, he was not a person.

Rick Kearns: That concept of the indigenous as a human being, did that come from las Casas? [Bartolome de las Casas was a Spanish priest sent to the Antilles who was the first European to assert that ''Indians'' were human.]

Casanova: Yes. Remember that we had the Catholic kings who were closely linked to Rome. Rome named them as such by a series of deceitful maneuvers that were not very clear. They were beginning to unify Spain and they were beginning to win lands for the crown. The last thing the Catholic kings wanted was a scandal because here they were massacring Indians and it was because of that that they sent this friar, Bartolome de las Casas, whose integrity was also questionable as he had black and Indian slaves. He had a black slave given to him as part of his property. While history did not note this in any written form - there were records of de las Casas' slaves elsewhere - the chronicles say he came here and he did protect the Indians because, by then, the Indians were people to the Catholic Church. Whatever they did with the black African slave was not a problem because they were not people; they were even considered a little less than an animal. Because of this we have, all through the generations, blood on our hands.

That's how we have a clear view of that scene; when I go to the chronicles I read them with a very critical perspective ... with a perspective that is very, very selective, looking for the history behind the history. I say that I am recovering our history from the erasures of that official history.

Rick Kearns is a freelance writer of Boricua heritage who focuses on indigenous issues in Latin America.

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27 March 2008

Garifuna Press Release: New Date for Garifuna Community Forum

Contact: Cheryl L. Noralez
President & Founder
P.O. Box 10054
Long Beach, CA 90810
Phone 562 366-9396

PRESS RELEASE – For Immediate Release
GAHFU, Inc. has set new date for The Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008 for Saturday, May 31, 2008.
The committee led by Mrs. Cheryl Noralez, and Rony Figueroa along with our liaison Mr. Alfonso Cayetano announce the change of date for the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY 2008.

· Los Angeles, CA March 18, 2008: GAHFU, Inc. makes a public announcement to all Garifuna organization involved including Garifuna Coalition, USA in New York, The Garifuna Association in Brooklyn and all of the entertainers, keynote speakers and participants that the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum has been moved a week after for Saturday, May 31st, 2008 from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at Medgar Evers College Auditorium. Please remember that the admission is free and every one is welcomed to attend.

Due to the unforeseen Memorial Day Holiday, Campus will be closed and unavailable for the previous date

Mr. Alfonso Cayetano, GAHFU, Inc. liaison in New York, has lobbied all along to try to keep the original date for the 4th Annual Garifuna Community Forum NY ’08; however, all efforts have failed and a new date has been set for Saturday, May 31st, 2008.

GAHFU, Inc.is still working with the West Coast Garifuna Artists and Performers UGALA (United Garifuna Artists LA) to travel to New York for the upcoming forum at Medgar Evers College Auditorium.
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Jorge Estevez's article in Indian Country Today: "Batu: The ancient game lives on"

For the complete article with illustrations, please see:



Batu: The ancient game lives on
Posted: March 26, 2008
by: Jorge Estevez / Guest columnist

Imagine traveling back in time, 500 years to be exact, to the islands of the Caribbean. There you find beautiful sandy beaches with turquoise waters, palm trees, warm weather, soft winds and green mountainous landscapes.

In the distance, you hear the sounds of drums and maracas. You follow the pulsating music and reach the outskirts of a village. The people you meet are moving about excitedly in preparation for a ball game they call batu.

The game is played in a rectangular playing field called a batey. The batey is surrounded by huge stone slabs with carvings that bear a semblance to those found in other regions of the Americas, yet these are distinctly unique to the Caribbean. Two teams of players enter the batey. The teams have come together from different communities - perhaps to cement their political or social bonds, or just simply for the love of the game.

In any event, these games are central in the Taino social structure. The villagers begin praying and chanting to Koromo, Achinao, Rakuno and Sobaoko, the four directions. The rules of the game have long been established, but the players are reminded once again that one cannot touch the ball with their hands or feet. Only hips, elbows, shoulders and head are allowed. A heavy rubber ball is tossed in the center ... and the game begins.

After contact with the Spaniards in 1492, the Taino Indians of the Caribbean were enslaved and prohibited from continuing this ancient tradition. Just as our North American cousins who were forced into boarding schools, our people were forced into missions by the Catholic priests. Our Native customs and traditions were subsequently denied to us. Hence, our ancestors were unable to continue playing.

How and why we competed was gradually forgotten. Only in historical records do we find descriptions of how this Native sport was played. Today, archaeologists are continually finding remnants of these playing fields.

Huge bateys have been found in Kiskeya (Dominican Republic), Haiti and a few of the lesser Antilles. But the island of Boriken (Puerto Rico) has yielded the highest number of bateys found to date. It is quite possible that the most important tournaments were held on this island.

In addition to playing fields, stone collars carved with motifs of religious significance have also been excavated. Batu and ulama (ball game played by the Mexica Indians of Mexico) and other similar games were played throughout Mesoamerica before the arrival of the Europeans.

One would assume that these Native games were lost forever, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the descendants of the first people to meet Columbus are reviving the game. In fact this revival has been going for quite sometime....CONTINUE

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New book on Taino Mythology/ Nuevo libro sobre mitologia Taina

Mitologia Taina o Eyeri. Ramon Pane y la Relacion sobre las Antigueades de los Indios: El primer tratado etnografico hecho en America, edicion bilingue ... de la version en italiano del siglo XVI. (Perfect Paperback)

by Ramon Pane (Author), Angel Rodriguez (Editor), Theodore de Bry (Illustrator), Fewkes (Illustrator), others (Illustrator)

List Price: $21.95

Available at:


Editorial Nuevo Mundo

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Facebook group on Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean

For those who have an account in Facebook, you may be interested in viewing and joining this group:


The officer is Damon Gerard Corrie (President of the Pan Tribal Confederacy and Lokono Chief), and the Admin is Leilani Steuart at York University.

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Welcome to Wendy Guevara

It was my pleasure to correspond with Wendy Guevara, a Carib descendant from Trinidad, who has earned recognition as a wonderful jazz singer. You can learn more about Wendy Guevara and her music at:


Welcome again Wendy and very best wishes!
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Caribbean Beat & Caribbean Review of Books: Free, Open Access Archives

From Caroline Neisha Taylor:

We've got some great news -- the CRB (Caribbean Review of Books), which was incorporated as a nonprofit in Trinidad & Tobago last year, has received a substantial grant from the Prince Claus fund to develop the magazine,

That includes increasing the magazine's size and scope, as well as a pilot translation project to make the magazine available in multiple languages throughout the region.

The latest issue of the CRB (No.15: February 2008) now has excerpted articles online, and all past issues -- including the last November 2007 issue -- are now available in our ONLINE ARCHIVE, free of charge. For articles over 500 words, you'll need to set up a free online account with us.

Thanks as always for your support, and don't forget to check us out online:



[see a review of RUINS OF ABSENCE, PRESENCE OF CARIBS, in the CRB archive]
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Foro: para el aprendizaje intensivo de la cultura y etnohistoria taina

Liga Guakia Taina-ke, Inc.

Quedas cordialmente invitado al Foro Re-educando a un Pueblo: El Caso del Programa de Inmersión Cultural Lingüístico. El foro se celebrara el 10 de abril a las 5:30pm en el Vestíbulo de la Biblioteca Lázaro de la Universidad de Puerto Rico -Recinto de Río Piedras.

Esta actividad pretende crear un espacio donde académicos y escritores puedan reunirse para presentarle al publico (estudiantil, académico y general), puntos de vista variados e informativos sobre la cultura taina en su contexto etno-histórico cultural y lingüístico. El foro dará a conocer el Programa de Inmersión Cultural-Lingüístico (http://guailiguakia.blogspot.com/), implementado en las escuelas publicas de la región sureste de Puerto Rico por la Liga Guakia Taina-ke.

El Programa de Inmersión Cultural-Lingüística es un programa específico para el aprendizaje intensivo de la cultura y etnohistoria taina. El programa piloto promete crear las bases para un mejor entendimiento de nuestra cultura y lenguaje indígena. Dentro de este marco etnohistórico cultural se persigue, afanosamente, la reconstrucción del idioma taino (arahuaco). Esta iniciativa, de rescate ertnohistórico y lingüístico, será el primero en la isla a nivel escolar y comunitario. Con este programa queremos concienciar a nuestros jóvenes sobre su herencia indígena y ofrecer una nueva perspectiva de la cultura autóctona de Puerto Rico – la cual brilla por su ausencia en los textos escolares.

Nuestro invitado especial, Dr. Edil Torres Rivera, nos presentara su ponencia: Herencia Taina: Identidad liquidad. En esta ponencia el Dr. Torres, nos “mostrara evidencia de como la cultural Taina mantiene la reconciliación sicológica entre culturas opuesta en términos de actitudes, valores, y creencias.” También contamos con las ponencias de maestras que participan en el Programa en los distritos escolares de Yabucoa y Maunabo. Las experiencias de estos maestros(as) servirán para desarrollar un plan de trabajo dirigido a la revisión de materiales escolares que tratan la temática etno-historica cultural de Puerto Rico.

Adjunto envió el Programa tentativo. Próximamente estaremos enviando el programa actualizado del foro. También le invito a que visites nuestra pagina Web: http://www.tainakepr.blogspot.com/ para obtener mas información de otros eventos y actividades de la Liga.

[see a PowerPoint overview of the program: click here]

Carlalynne Meléndez, PhD

Liga Guakia Taina-ke, Inc.
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Garifuna Symposium and Concert in Honour of Andy Palacio

Below is the final version of the public service announcement and the itinerary for "A Symposium: Garifuna Popular Music and Arts as Identity" and the Tribute to Andy Palacio concert to be held April 14 - 20, 2008 in Atlanta, GA.

These events are being sponsored by the School of Music, the Office of Student Life and Leadership/Intercultural Relations, and the Rialto Center for the Performing Arts at Georgia State University, the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History, and the Georgia Humanities Council. The Tribute to Andy Palacio concert will be held at the Rialto Center (Box Office: 404-413-9TIX/9849). The symposium will feature a film series on Garifuna history and culture, a discussion and demonstration on Garifuna music, a drumming master class, lecture-presentations on music and culture by invited scholars, a visual arts exhibit, and a panel discussion on the Garifuna arts as a commodity. All symposium events are free and open to the public.

Tribute to Andy Palacio: Concert & Symposium on Garifuna Music and Arts

Week-Long Celebration of Garifuna Culture at Georgia State University

ATLANTA – Georgia State University’s School of Music, Rialto Center for the Arts, Office of Student Life and Leadership/Intercultural Relations, and the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History are partnering for an exciting week of Garifuna culture and a tribute concert to Andy Palacio April 14 through April 20, 2008. The Symposium on Garifuna Popular Music and Arts and the musical Tribute to Andy Palacio will be held at various venues on the campus of Georgia State University and at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. On April 19th the Garifuna Collective, Umalali, Adrian Martinez, and Aurelio Martinez will perform a concert in honor of the celebrated musician Andy Palacio at the Rialto Center for the Arts at 8 PM.

For tickets to the Tribute to Andy Palacio concert contact the Rialto Center Box Office at 404-413-9TIX (9849). All symposium events are free and open to the public. For information on specific symposium events contact the School of Music at 404-413-5900, the Office of Student Life and Leadership/Intercultural Relations at 404-413-1580, the Auburn Avenue Research Library at 404-730-4001, ext. 303 or visit www.rialtocenter.org/garifunasymposium.html.

The late Andy Palacio, Cultural Ambassador of Belize and a UNESCO Artist of Peace, was the Garifuna musician whose 2007 critically acclaimed and award winning CD “Watina” (BBC Radio 3 and World Music Expo awards) brought international attention to Garifuna traditional and popular music. The Garifuna are an African and Native American people who live along the coast of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua and in urban centers in the US. The symposium will feature a film series on Garifuna history, music, and ritual arts traditions, a discussion and demonstration on Garifuna music, a drumming master class, lecture-presentations on music and culture by invited scholars, a visual arts exhibit, and a panel discussion on Garifuna arts as a commodity. This project is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. The evening will conclude with a concert to commemorate the music and legacy of Andy Palacio.

The Tribute to Andy Palacio, featuring the Garifuna Collective and Umalali, will include guest artists Aurelio Martinez, a guitarist, vocalist, and congressman from Honduras, and Adrian Martinez, a rising Belizean Garifuna musician. The collective features Garifuna musicians selected specifically by Andy Palacio. Umalali, a vocal ensemble of Garifuna women, performs songs typically sung by women.


A Symposium: Garifuna Popular Music and Arts as Identity –
Contemporizing the Traditional
Monday, April 14 – Sunday, April 20, 2008

Monday – Sunday (April 14 – 20) Garifuna Art Exhibit (Rialto Center Lobby)
(Watercolor paintings by Greg Palacio.)

Tuesday - Thursday (April 15 - 17) Film Series (Auburn Avenue Research Library)
Tuesday: The Garifuna Journey by Andrea Leland, 12:00 pm.
Wednesday: Play, Jankunu Play: The Garifuna Wanaragua Ritual… by Oliver Greene, 12:00 pm. Thursday: The Garifuna – An Enduring Spirit by Robert Flanagan, 12:00 pm.
(Films on Garifuna history, cultural practices, music, and processional rites.)

Friday (April 18) Demonstration and Discussion (Rialto Center Lobby)
Garifuna Collective & Umalali with Aurelio Martinez and Adrian Martinez, 1:10 – 2:00 pm.
(Garifuna Musicians perform various styles of traditional music and explain how such music is transformed into arrangements of popular music.)

Drumming Master Class (Haas Howell Building, Room 150)
Garifuna Percussion Music, 2:15 – 3:15 pm.
(A master class for students of Georgia State University and the general public.)

Saturday (April 19) Lecture Presentations (Rialto Center Lobby)
“It’s a Global thing, Now”- Cultural Iconicity and Transnational Garifuna Identity - Preserving the Traditional through the Popular
Oliver Greene – Punta in Office: The “Politics” of Garifuna Popular Music, 11:00 am.
Michael Stone - Garifuna Global Groove, 11:30 am.
Joe Palacio (Keynote address) – UNESCO Proclamations & Popular Identity, 12:15 pm. (Lectures by researchers of Garifuna culture and music will examine how popular music and musicians help preserve cultural identity locally and across national borders.)

Lunch Provided (Reservations required.) 1:00 pm.
Contact Rialto Box Office: 404-413-9TIX (9849)

Panel Discussion – (Rialto Center Lobby)
“Reflections on Andy Palacio,” 1:30 – 2:00 pm.
“The Commodification of Culture: Punta as Preservation and Profit,” 2:00 – 3:00 pm
Moderator: Leslie Gordon (Rialto Center), Participants: Oliver Greene, Ethnomusicologist (Georgia State University), Andrea Leland, Independent Filmmaker (Chicago/Virgin Islands), Greg Palacio, Painter (Los Angeles), Joe Palacio, Cultural Anthropologist (Belize), Michael Stone, Cultural Anthropologist, (Princeton University).
(Reflections on the life and influence of the late Andy Palacio will be followed by a dialogue on the performing arts as a commodity and as a tool of cultural preservation).

Pre-Concert Discussion: Michael Stone, 7:00 – 7:30 pm.

Rialto Series Presents:
A Tribute to Andy Palacio featuring the Garifuna Collective & Umalali
Guest Artists: Aurelio Martinez and Adrian Martinez
Afro-Caribbean Soul
Saturday, April 19, 8:00PM
The Garifuna Collective pays tribute to the late Andy Palacio with Afro-Caribbean rock and soul. Palacio dedicated his life to presenting Garifuna culture, unique in its blend of West African and Native Caribbean heritage. The sound is undeniably soulful – nodding to its African origins – with Caribbean swing and echoes of Jamaican, Haitian, and even coastal-Mexican styles. The April 19th concert also features Umalali, a female singing group, in addition to guest artists Adrian Martinez and Aurelio Martinez.
Venue: Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University
Cost: $26/$36/$52 – Free Parking
(Group and Georgia State University faculty, staff, and student discounts available)
Contact: 404-413-9TIX (9849) or www.rialtocenter.org

Sunday, April 20, 2:00pm. Reception: Meet & Greet Garifuna Musicians & Film Makers
A reception for members of the Garifuna Collective, Umalali, Aurelio Martinez, Adrian Martinez, and film makers whose works have been presented during the symposium.

Venue Locations:

Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University
80 Forsyth Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303 (on the southwest corner of Forsyth and Luckie Streets)
Box Office Phone: 404-413-9TIX (9849)
For directions see: http://www.rialtocenter.org/directions/index.html

Haas Howell Building, Room 150
75 Poplar Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30303
(Ground floor, on the northwest corner of Forsyth and Poplar Streets)

Auburn Avenue Research Library on African-American Culture and History
101 Auburn Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30303. 404-730-4001
(On the southeast corner of Courtland Avenue and Auburn Avenue)
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