11 January 2013

St. Thomas, Virgin Islands Celebrates Taino Heritage

The Voice of the Taino People Online

St. Thomas, USVI (UCTP Taino News) - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands residents recently experienced an exciting, full day of Taino-related activities organized by local indigenous organization Opia Taíno International, Inc. 

Activities took place adjacent to the well-known historic building, Fort Christian, and at the nearby Emancipation Garden from 10am – 5pm, Saturday, December 1, 2012. The program featured an impressive list of speakers as well as an interactive, educational exhibition entitled “A Walk in My Moccasins.” The daylong program was free to the public and supported by the Virgin Islands Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"We are here to dispel the myth of Taino extinction in the Caribbean" stated Maekiaphan Phillips, President of Opia Taino

Some of the interactive features of the program included a Taino-inspired village with a batey (ceremonial plaza), Taíno artifacts and crafts, photographs, native foods, and results from Maekiaphan Phillips’s family genealogical exploration. 

Members of Opia Taino and other special guests were on hand throughout the day to answer questions concerning Taino and Carib heritage. Featured speakers included Phillips, Roberto Mukaro Borrero of the United Confederation of Taino People, and Senator-elect, the honorable Myron Jackson. Discussion topics ranged from family genealogy to DNA testing; Taino history past and present; the United Confederation of Taino PeoplesInter-Tribal Registry; and the importance of honoring the Indigenous legacies of the Virgin Islands.