A new beginning!

Everybody Dance! photos by Rafy Velez
Rafy and Behike Runningcloud
Rafy Velez and Behike Anakachi
Tomas Baibramael sporting Tatoo by Rafy
Estevez Clan, Photo by Tureiyari
Tureiyari and Baracutei
Susan Alvarez
The Circle grows bigger and stronger!
Choco, Tomas, Acayaguana and Gypsie Runningcloud
Sylvan Vargas-Estevez photo by Yrene Rodriguez
cacike Jorge Baracutei and his wife Valerie Turiyari
Higuayagua Taino Abinaki

The Higuayagua Abinaki (Dancers) are a new group of Taino dancers. We come form all walks of life with nearly 100 dance enthusiasts in our group. Many of our members learned Taino dances while participating in other Taino organizations. Some bring with them traditional dances that continue in the Caribbean rural areas. Many however are brand new to dancing Taino style.

So why are we dancing?

As the Taino movement gains more acceptance, modern Taino people who are active in restoring  our traditions  are drawn to dance. Dance connects us to our ancestors. The sound of the Mayowakan Drums drums, maracas, guiros and conch shells brings our ancestors and us back to life! It also helps awaken those still asleep. Those who believe that our Native ancestors all died out 30 years after contact with the Spaniards as we hvae been left to beliveve.

Science (via genetics) has confirmed what our oral traditions have always maintained, what many historians, anthropologists etc, had often wondered, did the Taino leave decendants? certainly our rural people and  those living in the diaspora from Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico and many other islands knew of our Indigenous ancestry.  But the extinction pardigmn was said to be solid and our notions of "Indianess" were said to be romanticism at best, delusional and racist at worst. That has all changed now.

 

With the opening of Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean  exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, as well as the aformention Ancient DNA studies :

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/02/genes-extinct-caribbean-islanders-found-living-people


we now have solid evidence of who we are. It is sad indeed that many of us in the past went  to our graves believing that we would forever remain "extinct"!

Now what is left for us is to catch up and dance is one of the most important vehicles for this.

Our dance group is only a year old but highly motivated!  Our goal is to take our dances to schools, museums, festivals, pow-wows etc to inspire new people while preserving both our contemporary and traditional dance styles such as , Karaya'an dance (moon dance), Cuyaya (sparrow hawk), and Yuca Dances (Manioc planting and harvest dances). 

Dance outfits, feathers, drums, maracas, gourds, however are expensive. We hope that you will be motivated to help us in our endeavor with a small donation. Help the Taino reclamation grow. It is not often that a people long declared dead, rises up, like the phoenix from ashes. This is history in the making!