Taíno Symposium – Session 3 – Audience Questions

And with that said, we'll open it up for questions from the audience. You can line up in the front, and please try to keep your questions as succinct as possible, one to two sentences long. We want to make sure that as many people can participate as possible. [Crosstalk] Hello, all right, our first question over here. Hi, my name is Kevon, and I'll talk fast. I'm a black shotokan karate. I'm the founder of the Entheogen Integration Circle, international visionary plant medicine man, poet, psychedelic panelist. Part of my presence in mostly all-white space has been a voice for the lack of black and brown people in psychedelic trauma healing, in clinical research. My question is since we are on the topic of the conversation of extinction, and what happens to people rendered invisible, going forward, what place do people like me, LGBTQI, two-spirit gatekeepers, what place do people like me have in the community, and particularly at the medicine table? Is now the right time for us to be visible and respected as human beings? Yes. I will say… Yes, yes. I will say as Taíno people… Yes. You have always been welcomed. [Crosstalk] You have always been accepted. Yes. That has been, that is not something of now or a few decades ago or when Taíno people started organizing 40 years ago. I want you to know that historically, ancestrally, our people were very accepting of people that were gay or… Or two-spirit. Two-spirit. Right. Well some Indigenous peoples go even beyond two-spirit. You know, like they could have several sexes, like five sexes or genders, rather, okay. But I want you to know that as Taíno, and this is a Taíno– [Interposing] Yeah. –exhibition and symposium, our people have always been embracing, so… Yes. You're in the right place. You're in the right place, yes. Absolutely, yes. Yes. Don't even ask permission, yes. My interest is not so much a question. I'm here from Borikén. I am one of the grandmothers on the Grandmothers Council of Boyotabey [phonetic], which is an all-women Taíno circle. And all of the grandmothers are like grandmother Shashira. We are the grandmothers of all, that you come to Puerto Rico, you can visit me. I will gladly share. I do artisan work. I do plants. I do, if it's Indigenous, I grew up with that, and I'm happy to share it. My husband is a storyteller, and we're in the process of writing down the stories. My family yucayeque, which is Yucayeque Agüeyní [phonetic], is an affiliate member of the United Confederation of Taíno people. So at one time, I was the Secretary at the General Council of Taínos Borincanos, in Borinquen. I pretty much have communicated and maintained ties with just about all the groups because I don't play favorites. And that's something that Boyotabey [phonetic], wanted to make clear to everybody, that anyone that wants to learn face to face, because we won't do it over the Internet, we're here. We can be reached through our blog. We can be reached through Facebook. We have grandmothers here in New York as well as in Borinquen, and other states. And we just wanted to put it out there because we know a lot of people are seeking. And we just want to say mabrika, welcome. Yes, and welcome, thank you so much. Let's give her a round of applause. All right, our next. [Taíno greeting]. Greetings and thank you, brothers. Greetings and thank you, sisters. [Taíno greeting, continued]. I don't see any subdivisions or derivations of people of the Taíno village of the diaspora. My question is, and I'm sorry for not introducing myself, [Taíno greeting], I'm Maxwell Fredo Rivera, born here second generation. My question is to the panel. F or the young people who are present, how can we bring the medicine back to our cities? How can we bridge the gaps between tribes and groups? How can we move toward progression and away from regression? How can we readopt our communalism and get away from our Eurocentrism that we have been imposed on? That's three questions. I'm just saying be real. That's like three, four plus one division A. Well answer one. Yeah. How? You have to learn. There's a new drive in this new age kind of thinking where I just read a book, and I'm good, and I'm a shaman now. No, I don't buy into that. You must learn. You must, you must encounter as, I'm so sorry I do not know your name. She says face to face, you cannot do, you cannot learn through the Internet. You cannot sit there and read a column and go oh, I'm all being. It is dangerous to guide people and call yourself a leader if you don't have foundation, foundation, foundation, foundation. Talk to people. Experience elders. And then that is your job, to document and disseminate that information. If you want to help the youth, then you've got to know where you are. And I'm very honest. I come from very traditional spiritual houses, and they don't play. I come from a Cuban and a black woman. Like they don't play. And they're like some things cannot be written down, because that's not for you to learn until– [Interposing] Yeah. –you have passed that initiation. And I see things on the Internet. I see things on YouTube that is offensive, that is offensive to even spiritualism, even to Taíno culture. Why are you broadcasting spiritual ceremonies that you are not supposed to see until you pass that door? So right now to me, that's offensive when I see people just oh, I read this book, so I'm going to have, I'm going to be a leader, I'm going to, and they're going to follow me, and I'm going to heal people. That is a deep responsibility. And if you're ready to take that responsibility, then you must deal with eldership. You must deal face to face with that kind of learning. You must like I say, get in the blood and dirt of it. It's not all pretty. You're not going to walk out all, I'm modeling, no. It's not about the look. 'Cause the Indigenous lived in the dirt, and they would get dirty in the dirt, and that’s for them was sacred. So if you ain't getting dirty, then you ain't learning, okay. [Taíno expression] One point I'd like to make, especially to the elders, and to our community at large. We need our young people. That's right. We need that energy. Many of us are elders, and other who are round the, you know where. But it's necessary that [cossstalk] look, they say– She looked at me. [Crosstalk]. [Chuckles]. [Crosstalk]. But this exchange of intergenerational knowledge is necessary. You will take the lead. Partially, it's your responsibility to get to where your grandfather got. And the grandparents, it's part of us to reach our youth. But that knowledge, in order for our community to live on, has to be shared. And we have to use all possible means to make that dialogue possible. And it's more than the performance of it. There's a performed spirituality, and then there's the real deal spiritualty, so don't tell me you want to be a real deal and not want to sacrifice all your hair. Don't talk to me, because then you're not real deal. Then you are performance of self, okay. Have another question? So we'll have our young person, and then we'll have time for one short closing remark by Abeula. I have a question that I was wondering about. I just thought of it. Back before there was actual buildings in New York and stuff, what did like hospitals, and where would they get like medicines and stuff? Like what was it called, and what were they usually made of, and like how quickly was it used? Like would they be closed sometimes, and would it be one person that always just stayed there like 24 hours? Or like what things would they do in it? Was it big, or was it like certain important people had to be in charge of it? My godfather taught me that the woods, the mountain, is the church, it's the medicine cabinet, it's the counselor, it's the therapist, it is everything. So the woods were the place where people would make medicine. And it's always open. But when you take something from the woods, you also leave something, in exchange. You ask permission, and you leave. And to this day, I do that. So the woods, nature, that was the hospital. That was the medicine cabinet. And that's where you would go. And it was always open. Thank you for your question. It was very beautiful, thank you for offering it. Thank you. And following traditions, children and elders. So, we follow the way of our ancestors. I have, not questions, first of all, I'm very proud to be a woman today. [Applause]. When they used to say that there were barely women; well, yes, there were cacicas. This is another one. I have a petition. Today, this servant here wanted to understand everything that was said, but because my heart was jumping, but I didn't understand English because when it is translated into our supposed language, when we mainly come from our country, because with pain in my soul, I tell my companions there, the warriors of this country, of that country, that I could understand very little. I appreciate those courageous ones who could because they know that many don't know Spanish either. To be done in our language, and the woman has a very important role, and we will keep on having it. Those 20 years they gave me yesterday when I was arriving, I replied, no, I don't hope to make it, and perhaps [Unintelligible] but I have to get ready for this time I have because I might not be with you tomorrow. So, Taíno lives and will live on while every woman keeps on giving birth to Borikén people, one more Taíno will be born. [Applause]. Thank you, grandmother. We're going to have one brief final question, and we'll have closing remarks, thank you. Blessing, everyone. We speak about violence against the Earth, and we talk about this movement, that Taínos have to do with the foundation of women. The question is: if we are making visions for a Taíno moment in the future, how are we going to stop violence in the Taíno movement against the [domestic] partners? How are you going to fight that everyone reads Las Casas, and then, they say that Las Casas is what's Taíno. Las Casas was a monk, that his vision of the Taínos comes from the Roman Catholic religion, okay? This does not support women. But everyone, I don't say throw out Las Casas. I'm not saying that. But we have to change the vision, we have to place the women where they go. And not give lip service. And not give, the violence, the trauma of our community is horrendous. Maria did some cleaning. We have to do some cleaning. Stop with the abuse. Stop with the abuse. [Applause]. [Crosstalk] I'd like to use these words of Grandmother Espi for something that's very close to me, and a little while ago, some of the ones who are in contact, online, saw. When I teach, whether children who are not necessarily Native -they don't have to be Taíno- or I'm with our people or in general, I always like to explain that although we come from a matrilineal culture, I love to teach the pride of our men, what really means to be guaribo. As the grandmother says, we struggle with this mental fog, with that historic, intergenerational trauma. As we have nice things in that cell memory, things that are not so good come out. But our men have an example that is written, and it was used against our true guaribos. And I call all the men, brother Taínos present here, look that when the invasion started, they take these women with some children, kidnapped, and the women are yelling loudly. And this man, a relative of theirs, comes in canoeing, and goes, take me, okay? Obviously, he is signaling everything. I will deliver myself. And they realize that the second they take this man and comes in, those women and children calmed down. That man sacrificed his life. But do you know what the invader learned? Look, if we take the women, it will be this easy because these men will come looking for their women to defend them. That's the example that each of you as men have to follow. We are warriors, we have big mouths, we are Boca Grande, as Peggy said, but you are also a necessary strength that balances this feminine force. Get your number and elevate as it must be. Do not let anyone dare to offend a sister of yours. And we, as women, likewise, we have to defend our sisters. [Applause]. Let's give a big round of applause to our panelists. Let's give a big round of applause to our panelists, Tai Pelli, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, and Balana'ni Marilyn Díaz, and José Barreiro is going to offer…

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