Tau Ah Taiguey Guaitiao - Hello And Good Day Friends
By Xavier Sonnerat

Providence is a funny thing. One of my good friends left town about a month ago, and as I was helping her to move out of her place she found an old pendant at the bottom of a box. Two symbols were drawn on it. She said she did not know what they meant, but that it looked like something I would like so she gave it to me and I've carried it around my neck ever since. Then, on a trip to Florida, I had the chance to talk to a very nice Native American woman who inquired about the symbols on the pendant. I told her that I did not know what they meant, but that it was made in Puerto Rico. She told me it probably came from the Tainos then.

I love tribal people. I think we have many things to learn from them, so there I went on the internet to do some research on the Taino culture with hopes to find out what my pendant was about. I was very surprised to find tons and tons of information about these people, who turn out to be the first people who interacted with Christopher Columbus when he came to (not discovered) America. I did find the symbols that were on my pendant, but their meaning was not indicated so I decided to e-mail a Taino craftsman who lives in NYC to learn more.

As he replied to my questions and thanked me for my interest, he also gave me more resources to read and asked me whether I would be interested in taking part of an educational project to raise awareness about the Taino community, their fight for the independence of their nation, and the preservation of their traditional values and lifestyle. So here I am, trying to do just that.

Roger (the Taino craftsman) is very active for his people, and is the proud sponsor of the Caribbean Indigenous Cultural Resources website. There, you can find the videos he produces, as well as information on music and books on the Tainos. The cool thing is that he can send these videos FREE to organizations that are interested and make their request on letterhead. Of course, he's also looking for sponsors to help offset expenses associated with providing these free resources.

Roger is also the editor of La Voz Del Pueblo Taino - The Voice of the Taino People which provides information (in English) on the Tainos, as well as on various activism opportunities and peace gatherings. It's very well written and informative, and you're invited to check it out. Comments and contributions are always welcome and appreciated.

In addition to all of this, Roger has a Public Access television show every Monday night at 10:30 pm EST on Channel 67 (and Channel 16) if you live in the NYC area. Otherwise, the show can be viewed simultaneously via videostreaming by logging onto http://www.MNN.org and tapping into Channel 67. You'll need the Quicktime plug-in to see it. It's only a 30-minute show, but very informative; don't miss it! This week's show was about the refusal of the US Navy to stop using Vieques as a bombing site and on brainstorming about what people can do about the situation.

Finally, if you want to learn more about the Tainos than you ever dreamed possible, we invite you to visit their official tribal government website. It has a lot of information on the history, culture, and heritage of the Taino people, as well as many other resources such as a Taino-English/Spanish dictionary and words of wisdom from their elders. Have fun exploring and learning!

Please take the time to educate yourself about the issues indigenous people have had to face for the past hundred years as they have been exploited by Westerners. I believe it is important to help indigenous people to maintain their independence, heritage, and ways of life, and to learn from them how to live in harmony with nature and with each other. Please share what you learn with others, and be part of this educational project. My goal is to have the entire country buzzing about the Tainos and other Caribbean natives, so that we can make a positive difference in the world!

If you are an organization interested in receiving the free videos, or if you want to be a sponsor to help offset expenses associated with providing these free resources, please contact Roger.

Bo matum (Thank You).

Taino'ti - May the good spirit be with you,

Xavier Sonnerat


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Last Updated: July 24, 2002