Saturday, August 17, 2019

Areito is Taíno

Members of the Kasibahagua Taíno Cultural Society shared a contemporary areito
 at the 2019 Bear Mountain Pow Wow in New York. 
Did You Know: The term areito (also spelled areyto) is a Taíno word that describes a socio-ceremonial blend of dance, music, song, and poetry. The areito played a significant role in the social, political, and religious life of the Taíno People. In the 15th and early 16th century, Spanish chroniclers in the Caribbean noted that the arieto were presented in the main plaza of the iukaieke (also spelled yucayeque) or village. Sometimes areito were conducted in a designated area in front of the home of a kasike or chieftain. These plazas or ceremonial grounds called batei had their borders defined by standing stones, often decorated or carved with various images, or by earthen embankments. Dances during an areito could vary a great deal. Sometimes there were step-patterns moving along specific pathways. Walking patterns that went no more than a step or two in either direction were also used. According to a few of the descriptions given by Spanish chroniclers, some dances were comparable to what would be called line dances today. All the dances were lead by a tekina (a guide, teacher or dance master) of either sex who would use a call and response pattern of song and steps. Areito leaders determined the steps, words, rhythm, energy, tone, and pitch of a dance sequence. The dances could be based on ancient clearly choreographed steps or new choreography could be presented in this evolving art form. 


Maestri, N. Areitos: Ancient Caribbean Taíno Dancing and Singing Ceremonies, ThoughtCo., 

Atkinson L-G. 2006. The Earliest Inhabitants: The Dynamics of the Jamaican Taino. Kingston, Jamaica: University of West Indies Press. 

León T. 2016. Polyrhythmia in the Music of Cuba. Polyrhythmia in the Music of Cuba. Diagonal: An Ibero-American Music Review 1(2). 

Saunders NJ. 2005. The Peoples of the Caribbean. An Encyclopedia of Archaeology and Traditional Culture. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. Scolieri PA. 2013. On the Areito: Discovering Dance in the New World. Dancing the New World: Aztecs, Spaniards, and the Choreography of Conquest. University of Texas Press: Austin. p 24-43. 

Simmons ML. 1960. Pre-Conquest Narrative Songs in Spanish America. The Journal of American Folklore 73(288):103-111. 

Thompson D. 1983. Music Research in Puerto Rico. College Music Symposium 23(1):81-96. 

Thompson D. 1993. The "Cronistas de Indias" Revisited: Historical Reports, Archeological Evidence, and Literary and Artistic Traces of Indigenous Music and Dance in the Greater Antilles at the Time of the "Conquista". Latin American Music Review / Revista de Música Latinoamericana 14(2):181-201.  

Wilson SC. 2007. The Archaeology of the Caribbean. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Caribbean Jade

Did You Know:
Jade is a generic term often used to describe various greenish gemstones found around the Greater Caribbean region, from the islands to the Caribbean-coastal areas of the continent. Archeologists, gemologists and others note there is a distinction between what is termed “true jade” and other stones, sometimes termed “social jade.” True jade includes nephrite and jadeite, which is harder and denser. Jadeite has a range of colors, but nephrite is found in cream and green colors. A related 
term jadeitite refers to rocks that consist mostly of jadeite, which is used as a carving material.  Social jade varies among serpentine, quartz, agates, turquoise, and radiolarian limestone. In the Antilles, these stones were used by the Indigenous Peoples of the region to produce and or distribute adornments and tools (utilitarian and ceremonial) that had temporal and spiritual significance. While jadeite items are relatively commonly known, serpentine items seem to be the most widely distributed. The lack of documented jadeitite quarries on the islands indicates that it was a valued trade item in ancient times
from island to island and or from the continent to the islands. - (c) UCTP Taíno News 2019


What is the Caribbean? An Archaeological Perspective, Reniel Rodriguez Ramos, Universidad de Puerto Rico, Utuado Campus, Caribbean Journal of Archaeology, 2010 

What is Jade?, Hobart King, Ph.D.,

Thursday, January 03, 2019

El Grito de Koaiuko (Coayuco)

Contemporary representations of Taíno kasike Mabodamaka and Agueibaná "el Bravo" in Borikén (Puerto Rico)
Did You Know: January 3rd is the anniversary of “El Grito de Koaiuko (Coayuco)” also known as the Taíno Rebellion of 1511 in Puerto Rico (Borikén). Two of the main leaders or kasike (chief/s) associated in this uprising were Agüeibaná "el Bravo" and Mabodamaka. According to local history, the kasike (chieftain) Agüeibaná "el Bravo" convened a council with the main chiefs where they decided to launch a military offensive against the Spanish invaders. An associated attack against Villa Sotomayor was organized and most of the Spaniards who had settled there were killed. Other offensives were not as successful and both Agüeibaná "el Bravo" and Mabodamaka were killed by the Spaniards during other battles taking place in Aimako (Aymaco) and Yagüesa (Yagüeza/Yagüeca). - UCTP Taino News (c) 2019

Thursday, September 13, 2018

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)

Photo taken right after the adoption of the Declaration on 13 September 2007
Did You Know: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) was adopted by the General Assembly on Thursday, 13 September 2007, by a majority of 144 states in favor, 4 votes against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States). The Declaration is the most comprehensive international instrument on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. It establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples of the world and it elaborates on existing human rights standards and fundamental freedoms as they apply to the specific situation of Indigenous Peoples. The United Confederation of Taíno People was among those indigenous organizations consistently advocating for the adoption of the Declaration and was a regional leader galvanizing support from the Caribbean States and Caribbean Indigenous Peoples communities, groups, and organizations. - UCTP Taíno News (c) 2018 

Thursday, August 09, 2018

UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

Roberto Múkaro Borrero, holding the
microphone serves as master of ceremonies
for the UN International Day
 of the World's Indigenous Peoples
at UN Headquarters in 1998.
Photo: Holder Thoss
DID YOU KNOW: On 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided, in its resolution 49/214, that the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations. The first official observance took place in 1995 at United Nations Headquarters in NY. A Taíno, Roberto Múkaro Borrero, served as the first Master of Ceremonies for the event, representing “El Consejo General de Tainos Borincanos.” Borrero, filmmaker Alex Zacarias, the Kasibahagua Taíno Cultural Society and other Taíno have since continued to participate in subsequent commemorations of the Day for over 20 years helping to raise the visibility of Taíno and other Caribbean Indigenous Peoples at the international level. – UCTP Taíno News 2018 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Múkaro is Taino

Múcaro comun, Puerto Rican Screech owl (Megascops nudipes)

Did You Know: In the ancient language of the indigenous Taino People, the term múkaro (múcaro) identified several species of owl including the Puerto Rican Screech owl (Megascops nudipes) and the Short-eared owl (Múcaro Real - Asio flammeus). A subspecies, M. n . newtoni, is endemic to the Virgin Islands, is more recently referred to locally as the "cuckoo bird." The múkaro (pronounced mOO-kah-roh) is a small-sized owl possessing a brown upperside, a light-brown to white underside, white brown lines and white eyebrows. The main diet of the species consists of large insects and is complemented with small birds, geckos and small rodents. The species calls throughout the year while hidden in thick foliage, typically at dawn. The múkaro makes a loud coo-coo call, which is the reason for its common name in the Virgin Islands. Contrary to modern folklore giving owls a negative reputation, most owls were traditionally revered by the Taino and they are one of the most popular bird motifs depicted via petroglyphs (rock carvings). Taino names for other owls include “Siguapa” (Stygian Owl - Asio stygius) and “Sihú (Sijú)”, which is used to identify the Cuban Bare-legged owl (Sijú Contunto - Margarobyas lawrencii lawrencii) and the Cuban pygmy-owl (the Sijú platanero; Sijucito; Sijú - Glaucidium vittatum). – UCTP Taino News © 2014