Native Heritage Month

In November, the Libraries were proud to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with a talk by Marianela Medrano, Afro-Taína Poet, who read, presented, and discussed her work on Taino Goddesses of the Caribbean.

Marianela Medrano was born and raised in the island of Quisqueya, also known as Ayiti, in the country today called Dominican Republic. A poet and a writer of non-fiction and fiction, she holds a PhD in psychology, a professional counselor’s license, and certification as a poetry therapist. She has researched and written many publications about Taíno heritage and has also served as an educator for her people.

Also in November, the Libraries hosted a special presentation about Taino survival and continuance by two national and local Taino leaders, Valerie Tureiyari Vargas and Jorge Baracutei Estevez.
Taínos, inhabitants of Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas, were the first Native American people to experience,as well as resist, European colonization beginning in 1492 and continuing to this day. Yet many of us were taught that Taínos became extinct. Knowledge about Taíno culture survived and in some places thrived, but it was also constantly threatened by violence, the myth of extinction, and policies of physical genocide as well as “paper genocide.”

These events were co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Caribbean and Latinx Studies and the Josephine White Eagle Cultural Center through the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success, and was made possible with Mellon Foundation funds via a Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies mini-grant.