Reclaiming the Taínos Culture
We all have roots and most of us know our family tree or at least we think we know where we came from. And there were those who were born on the island of Puerto Rico but never felt comfortable with the typical Boricua profile. Deep, down inside, they knew their customs and traditions were different. The secrecy that help the Taíno's in Puerto Rico survive complete annihilation by the Spaniard also left its future indigenous population without a culture and religion.
In my opinion, there is a similarity between the Taíno Indians and the annihilation of Jews at different times in history but with one important difference, even in secrecy the Jews retained their traditions and their religion guarantying the survival of future generations.
This dilemma changed in the early '90's when the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez was asked by the government's Cultural Department to conduct DNA testing to see if there were any Taino's left in Puerto Rico. Professor Juan Manuel Delgado conducted the test and found in a certain part of the island people who showed a 78% - 80% Taino marker. In addition, this research showed that 61% of the general population living in the island had the Taino marker. Finally, scientific proof that the Taíno race was not extinct.
In 1992, Martin Veguilla aka Caciba Opil along with other Taínos organized the tribe Guatu Ma Cua Borikén with the intention of reclaiming their lost heritage. They named Cacia Oil as their Cacike (Chief) to guide and bring awareness to their plight. This was only the beginning of a long uphill journey.
In a couple of weeks I will be interviewing Caciba Opil, the Chief of the tribe Guatu Borikén Ma Cua.
Posted by: M. Rivera aka Maguida
Date: March 28, 2014