In 2005, a group of “Taino” reclaimed the Caguana Ceremonial Center, in Utuado Puerto Rico, in the name of their ancestors demanding, “End the destruction & desecration of our sanctuaries, sacred places, archeological sites, coaibays (cemeteries) & ceremonial centers now!” The Taino had used the site for years to celebrate traditional rituals, but due to changes in the Center’s policies, were now restricted to certain hours. For the Taino, this was the final straw in an ongoing and escalating patrimony conflict with the site managers, The Institute for Puerto Rican Culture, charged by the Puerto Rican Legislature in 1955 with the task of “conserving, promoting, enriching & disseminating the cultural values of Puerto Rico.” The result was a 17-day occupation and hunger strike that brought to the fore issues regarding Puerto Rican identity that had long lay dormant. The period of European colonization in the Americas was one of cultural disruption/loss. As a result of Spain’s assimilationist policy, concubinage with native women was widespread. As a result, indigenous culture/spirituality survived. Taino society was based on a matrilineal system. Women were artisans, warriors, healers & chieftains. The primary deity of the Taino cosmology is Attabeira, the Great Mother. Many years of colonialism served to relegate the female descendents of the Taino to a subservient status. But recently there has emerged a Taino movement that seeks to restore the feminine aspect to it’s once revered and respected status. My research explores how these groups are rewriting the story of the Taino Woman.
Dr. Rosalina Diaz has taught Anthropology, Women's Studies and Education with various colleges of the the City University of New York for over 20 years. Additionally, she served as Supervising Anthropology Instructor, with a focus on Caribbean and African cultures, for the world renowned American Museum of Natural History. She received her doctorate in Urban Edcuation, with a minor in Anthropology, from the CUNY Graduate School in 2006. She is currently an Associate Professor with the Multi-Cultural Education Department at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, where she focuses on imparting her knowledge and expereince of cultually responsive pedagogy and social activism to future educators. She has written various articles, books and chapters on the intersecting subjects of culutre, education, gender and indigeneity. Her most recent research on the Taino, "El Grito de Caguana", will be published in 'O Brave New World: The Archaeolog of Identity in contexts of Dissonance', D. F. George and B. Kurchin (Eds.), University of Florida Press.