Viva Puerto Rico!

Oscar Lopez and Monika Ponton Arrington at the United Nations Special Committee on Decolonzation of Puerto Rico


In silence.

That’s how the members of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization expressed their unanimous support Monday, approving a resolution that calls for the United States “to shoulder its responsibility to facilitate the right of Puerto Ricans to self-determination.”

The international panel agreed to refer Puerto Rico’s case to its General Assembly without the need for a vote.

Yes, silence was charged with meaning during the day-long session in which more than 40 petitioners denounced Puerto Rico’s colonial status. Many highlighted the United States’ government’s inability to properly address the island’s needs after the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Originally populated by native Taino people, Columbus claimed Puerto Rico for Spain late in the 15th century. It endured various forcible takeovers by other European nations, but Spain again controlled it in the late 19th century. Meanwhile, after the introduction of African slaves and waves of Iberian immigrants, the culture had become creole Hispanic. After the Spanish-American war, the United States took it over.

MONIKA PONTON-ARRINGTON, Higuayagua Taino of the Caribbean/ Indigenous Women's Knowledge, spoke as a Taino woman whose land had been under foreign colonial rule since the fifteenth century. Noting that those rulers had worked to take away their basic human right “to be who you are”, she voiced support for the 2014 Petition by the National Sovereign State of Boriken to the Secretary-General for full membership in the United Nations, recalling that the Organization’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples guaranteed the rights to self-determination and autonomy, among others. “We cannot trust the colonizer to protect the interests of the colonized,” she stressed, calling for a representative mechanism to facilitate access to the highest authorities and forums of the international community. “We must have a voice in the international arena, to speak truth to power, and to hold powerful interests accountable to the basic standards of common decency and human rights,” she said. 

MONIKA PONTON‑ARRINGTON, Higuayagua Taino of the Caribbean/Indigenous Women's Knowledge, said that the ongoing imposition of restrictive laws and regulations on Puerto Rico by the United States, as well as that country’s careless and cavalier approach to the death and damage occasioned by the recent hurricanes, were continued proof of the colonial relationship between the Territory and the United States. Puerto Ricans were taxed and regulated by the United States, but not permitted representation within that country’s Government — the very definition of colonialism. Whether the damage done to the Puerto Rican people was the result of malignant intent or benign neglect was of little consequence to the people who suffered in silence, having neither a voice nor recourse, she said. 

Puerto Rico is now known as a “free associated state”, a change, which occurred in 1952, following an uprising for independence in 1950 and international pressure. Individuals are U.S. citizens, and some have fought and died in U.S. wars, but many Puerto Ricans believe the island still exists under colonial rule. Taxes are imposed on imports that make consumer goods two to three times more expensive than on the U.S. mainland. Corporations do not pay taxes on the profits they extract from the island. While the Puerto Rican government is $73 billion in debt, corporations have extracted over $600 billion in profits in recent years. Even a modest tax would have eliminated the debt. GPUS calls for forgiving the debt and ending the tax on imports. Though Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they cannot vote in the presidential election and they are not represented in Congress.

In June, Elias addressed the U.N. Committee on Decolonization, severely criticizing the “establishment of the Financial Oversight and Management Board, otherwise known as the Junta, [which] is just a measure put in place by the U.S. to ensure that its benefactors continue to prosper from the predatory lending practices of its banks and corporations under the guise of helping the people of Puerto Rico.”

That was before the island was devastated by storms. Now it is even more obvious that debt repayment will not be possible. However, the foot-dragging repair efforts seem to be pointing to another nefarious solution. Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have given up and have migrated to the U.S. mainland. Some suspect that the goal is to simply wait until many leave.

Monika Ponton Arrington, who met Elias as the U.N. committee meeting and who has initiated Indigenous Caucus, addressed the motivation behind the U.S. actions: “[Puerto Rico is] treated as resort island for the wealthy and famous, yet our island has a population of Boricuas who have lived there for generations and are poor with the lack of medical and schools for the people.”

While the Puerto Rican government is $73 billion in debt, corporations have extracted over $600 billion in profits in recent years. Even a modest tax would have eliminated the debt.

Resilient Voices + Sacred Spaces

On April 16th, 2018, Klamath Henry hosted a public anthropology event with Dr. Monika Ponton-Arrington on Indigenous Feminism and Sacred Space. The event ran in Cannon Chapel, room 106 from 6-7:45pm. Around 10 people from the Emory community and the greater Atlanta area were in attendance.

This event was received well by the Commision on Racial and Social Justice, as well as some staff members in the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life. It was cosponsored by the Emory Department of Anthropology and Office of Spiritual and Religious Life, and sponsored by the Commision on Racial and Social Justice Internship Program.

Attached are the two presentations from the night:

introduction to

21st century Indigenous Women 


Golden Rule International Award- Taino Among honorees at Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum

Grand Rapids, Michigan Representatives of the Taino People, Monika Zuimaco Ponton-Arrington were among the honored recipients of the Golden Rule International Award on August 30, 2013. This prestigious humanitarian honor was presented to these individuals, who for the organizers exemplified the Golden Rule – “treat others the way you want to be treated” - and demonstrated a sincere commitment, working toward a culture of peace, harmony, and constructive dialog among peoples.
The awards were presented by the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative (IPI), a United Nations accredited non-governmental organization, and the Committee Leaders of the Golden Rule International. The event was held at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Ponton-Arrington stated, “It was an honor to be among so many distinguished humanitarians from around the world, and it was truly a humbling experience to be included among this esteemed group.” Ponton-Arrington 
Monika Zuimaco Ponton-Arrington, Cedric Blackeagle, Audrey Blackeagle, and his mother Mrs. Mary Blackeagle at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum
Other award recipients included Claudia Sanchez (Michigan), Michael Daniels (Michigan), Cedric Black Eagle (Crow Nation, Montana), John Hulet (Michigan), Karen Spano, Jose Milla French (Honduras),  Jorge Mejia Sequiera (Honduras), Valentin Rey Molina (Michigan), Dr. Pepe Ramnath (Florida), Dr. Brian Walter (Michigan), Dr. Stacey LeMay (North Carolina), Dr. Martin Williams (Nebraska), James Garner (California), Krysten Cathers (California), Jorge Pena (California), and Dr. Kevin Storr (Texas). The award recipients are now designated as Goodwill Ambassadors for Golden Rule.
Ambassador Clyde Rivers, the North American Division Leader for the Golden Rule International said, “The aim of the Golden Rule International is to establish cultures of peace around the world.” Dr. Rivers, who was the event's host and Master of Ceremonies, is also the Ambassador at Large for the Republic of Burundi. 


Additional presentations were made on behalf of Kayiwa International University in Uganda, which awarded Honorary Doctorate Degrees to former Crow Nation Chairman Cedric Black Eagle 


The Golden Rule International Award is now established in 120 nations of the world. Golden Rule International continues to seek out top achievers that “live the Golden Rule in their everyday life.” This is a global ethic that the leadership of the Golden Rule International Award, such as Patron, and current President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde and Ambassador Mussie Hailu have embraced and are promoting globally. Golden Rule International is also affiliated with the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative (IPI), African Union, the United Nations as well as the United Religions Initiative (URI).


American Indian Women meet in Cherokee Territory

Cherokee, NC - The Conference for American Indian Women of Proud Nations (AIWPN) held a successful gathering September 16-17, 2010 at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel in Cherokee, NC. The conference, held annually, was organized collaboratively by AIWPN, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the Western Carolina University - Cherokee Center.

This year’s conference theme was “Nurturing and Empowering Our Communities Through Leadership.” The organizers noted that “women are increasingly taking on the mantle of leadership in a variety of ways. Although the rate of participation by women in tribal government and community leadership is still less than men, women play a significant role in tribal politics and community building.”

Native women from throughout the nation were welcomed to attend this conference, which offered statewide and national applications.

Among the attendees was Monika Zuimaco Ponton-Arrington

Expressing her feelings about the successful gathering Ponton-Arrington stated “I found that we [Native Women] are not that different, being indigenous and having our lands, languages, ceremonies, and housing destroyed. Our peoples were lied to, taken away, murdered, and sometimes even forced into various types of servitude. Our actions, thoughts, and feelings were very similar.”

Ponton-Arrington, a Boriken Taino also stated “there was so much to speak about and not enough time.”


Chief Principle Bill Baker (center) Monika Ponton Arrington (far right) With Award Recipients
The Golden Rule International Award is now established in 120 nations of the world. This organization seeks out top achievers that live the Golden Rule in their everyday life. This is a new global ethic that the leadership of the Golden Rule International Award, Patron, former President of Ethiopia, Girma Wolde and Ambassador Mussie Hailu has embraced and is promoting worldwide. Golden Rule International is also affiliated with the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative (IPI), African Union, the United Nations as well as the United Religions Initiative (URI).
In Tahlequah, Oklahoma at the Cherokee Nation Head Quarters, Chief Principle Bill Baker, leader of the Cherokee Nation, was involved in presentations at a Golden Rule International Award Ceremony. He and Monika Ponton Arrington, Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative Representative, beautifully represented the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative and the Golden Rule International Award with members of the Cherokee Nation.
Ambassador Clyde Rivers says, “We are so honored to have the Sovereign Cherokee Nation embrace the Golden Rule International Award. It is very significant to have the leadership of a nation embrace the Golden Rule Global Ethic, ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.’ This shows the world that their nation is heading in a direction of peace that the world has never seen before.”
Chief Principle Bill Baker, the leader of the Cherokee Nation also received the valued iChange Nations Global Leadership Award. With its collaborative partners, iChange Nations has implemented an International Honorary Award infrastructure. This infrastructure empowers and equips our citizens and alumni members with the tools needed to effectively pursue and transform the world.

2015 Speaker Monika Ponton Arrington -  Presenter : Monika Ponton-Arrington ~ Heart of Indigenous Woman    

Monika Ponton-Arrington joins Wellness Center staff

Monika Ponton-Arrington, a Native American healer, has joined the staff at the Natural Wellness Center of Ellijay.

Monika is an enrolled member of the Taino Nation and has lived in the north Georgia mountains since 1973. The first-born of a family of long ceremonial standing, she knew from an early age that her lifepath would be one of health and counseling. The teaching and guidance of the family's elder women, as well as being a caregiver to younger siblings provided her with a solid foundation for this path.

Married to a Cherokee, Monika studied the "mountain medicine" as well as the traditional ways of her husband's people for many years before returning to the Caribbean isles to study more closely the ways of her own people, under the guidance of the Taino Abuellas, or "grandmothers."

Armed with the understanding that all wellness is holistic in nature, Monika has sought formal knowledge as well. A graduate of the Native Wellness Institute, she is blessed with "book learning" as well as the intuition of a native healer.

Monika has worked and continues to work with physicians, therapists and counselors since the late 1990's.

She is the mother of four grown children, and lives near Fort Mountain and the Cohutta Wilderness near Ellijay, Georgia.

Top US Women to Receive International Golden Rule Award.

op US Women to Receive International Golden Rule Award.

iChange Nations™ has selected its top US women to receive the Golden Rule International Award. These Women have are among the chosen few who possess  the leadership and ability to articulate a common vision to inspire all Cultures from around the World. They stand among other great women who have been selected before them.

We are honored to recognized Claudia SanchezDaphne CampbellKaren SpanoMonika Arrington and Krysten Cathers as part of our Elite Global Network of Women into the iChange Nations™ Alumni. Their core values and ethics will be an inspiration to all women looking to make a difference in our world today.  

The Golden Rule International Award is now established in 120 nations of the world and it is affiliated with the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative (IPI), African Union, the United Nations as well as the United Religions Initiative (URI).  

Once again Congratulations to their success.

Monika Arrington-of  the Taino People & Krysten Cathers founder of Create-A-Vision are Golden Rule International Award recipients.  

A Champion Voice to the Indigenous People Receives the Golden Rule Award

Monika Arrington with Golden Rule Delegation: (left to right) Jorge Pena, Dr. Pepe Ramnath, Dr. Byron Walter, Jorge Mejia Sequeira and Jose Guillermo Milla French.

From the Mountains of Georgia to the Great Lakes of Michigan, iChange Nations™ proudly recognized Monika Mamona Ponton-Arrington with the Golden Rule International Award presented by Dr. Clyde Rivers the Executive Director of the North American Division of the Interfaith Peace Building Initiative to the United Nations in New York and African Union.

We all can be inspired by this true champion as she is a leading example on how to develop lasting relationships and stay selfless to a humanitarian cause by giving a voice to a forgotten people.

Monika Ponton-Arrington brings new light to a Nations through her ability to understand cultures of Indigenous People as well as to carry on the Cherokee Heritage.

Her compassion and heart has given her a pivotal voice in our modern day society as she address humanitarian concerns among the Elders and Chief’s within the Indian Country.  Today she brings great honor the Taino People and herself as she receives the International Golden Rule Award.

Speaker puts students in touch with heritag

Many students attending Dr. Monika Ponton-Arrington's presentation on the University of North Georgia's (UNG) Gainesville Campus left with a thirst for more information about their heritage and a better understanding of Native Americans.

Ponton-Arrington is executive liaison of Indigenous Affairs-North American Division for the Interfaith Peace-Building Initiative to the United Nations in New York, and is a descendant of the Taíno culture. She spoke in honor of Native American Heritage Month, an event that she said is often overlooked at a time of year filled with holidays and events.

Ryan Molina and Dr. Monika Ponton-Arrington.

"I wanted to speak to students because not many people know about Native American Heritage Month. I chose to speak with them about the history and misconceptions of Indians and who we are," Ponton-Arrington said. "Many of the students in attendance were of Latino heritage, so they could identify with some of these groups when I painted the differences between Spanish and indigenous peoples. For example, the words iguana, maraca and huricán (Spanish for hurricane) are not actually Spanish words — they are from the Taíno, an indigenous people of the Caribbean."

Ponton-Arrington said many students approached her after the presentation with questions about tracing the history of their own families. She also talked about Columbus and the conquistadors, and the progression of Native American culture in the U.S.

"I explained the true history of Columbus and the conquistadors," she said. "Many of the students were unaware of the extent of the violence exhibited by these groups against the natives they encountered. I also pointed out to the students that Native Americans are the only group in the U.S. required to have a card confirming their heritage if they wish to be identified as Indian. Overall, the event was about raising awareness, and I was gratified to hear many students expressing their wish for me to spend more time speaking or to come back."

Ponton-Arrington was invited by UNG student Ryan Molina, a sophomore communications major with Taíno and Lakota heritage. Molina is an advocate for Native American culture and indigenous sovereignty, and frequently participates in pow-wows around the state and the nation.

"These meetings are about preserving and spreading our culture; sometimes thousands of people show up from many different races and ethnicities," Molina said.

Molina has organized events at UNG for Native American Heritage Month for the past three years. The events have included many speakers from nations such as the Cherokee, and hands-on events such as setting up an authentic teepee.

"Through these events I hope to change perceptions to help improve our reality," Molina said. "There are many students with Native American heritage who don't feel like they should be proud or participate in these events just because they don't practice the culture. We want them to be proud of the blood they have, be it 50 percent Native American or 2 percent."

Molina, who often speaks about these topics as a member of the UNG Debate Team, has also received three awards for musical performance. He was named Debut Artist of the Year at the 2013 Native American Music Awards, and this month received the award for Best Instrumental Recording at the 2014 awards ceremony. He also was the 2013 winner of the Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards for Best Flute CD.

Molina and Ponton Ryan Molina and Dr. Monika Ponton-Arrington.