Monday, December 29, 2008

Colibri/Hummingbird


© 2008 Michael Auld
Image: (1) Huitzilopochtli, the Mexica’s hummingbird-warrior and sun-god. (2) Jamaica’s national bird, the Streamtailed or “doctorbird”. (3) Cuba’s bumblebee-sized hummingbird superimposed on an image of the biggest hummer, the swif-sized South American Patagonia gigas. (4) Jamaican Taíno sculpture of what appears to be a hummingbird man. (5) A Victorian woman wearing a hat with stuffed hummingbirds attached to it. (6) Gigantic image of a hummingbird from the famous Nazca of the Pampa region of Peru, South America. This etching is one of 300 large linear earthwork designs created between 200 BC and 600 AD. The images were made by scraping away the top layer of iron-oxide coated surface pebbles to reveal the lighter color underneath in order to create drawings that are only recognizable from the sky. (Nazca Lines and Culture, http://www.crystalinks.com/nazca.html).
(7) Hummingbird Magic for attracting the opposite sex. Like Polvo de Chuparrosa or "powdered hummingbird " this is an image of a premixed cologne or perfume, one of the items along with votive candles and amulets, sold in Mexico and South America.


Colibrí /ko-lee-bré/ n. 1. Taíno name for a small brightly colored bird of the Caribbean, North, Central, and South America that can beat its wings rapidly, making a zum-zum or humming sound. 2. the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and Dutch (kolibrie) words for hummingbird originating from the Taíno language. Family: Trochilidae 3. also Zum Zum, (from Cuban Taíno) apparently from the sound made by the bird’s wings while in flight.
4. Called the hummingbird in English


Hummingbird /húming bird/ n 1. an English word which is derived from the humming sound made by the bird’s rapidly beating wings. 2.the tiny hovering bird called colibrí by the Taíno.
3
. a small jewel colored bird found only in the Americas related to swifts and having narrow fast beating wings, a long slender bill, and extended tubular tongue for drinking nectar. 4.also called a “hummer” by some American bird lovers.


The Western Hemisphere
Through out the western hemisphere indigenous Americans have almost as many local names as they have myths about the tiny revered hummingbird. For example, in the Nahuatl language of Mexico its name means “rays of the sun” or “tresses of the day star”, while in some South American local dialects it is a “house cleaner”, “flower sucker” or “flower kisser”. Believed to be reincarnated warriors, or emissaries to deities, they are identified with a supreme god of the sun and war. They are also worn as earrings by chiefs, sought after for their jeweled pelts by Aztec royalty, shamen and Victorians, used as love potions (“Polvo de Chuparosa”), and the major character of many indigenous American mythologies. These are only a few of the descriptive qualities of the world’s smallest bird. This indigenous native of the Americas was called (1)colibri and zum zum by the Taíno and hummingbird by English speakers. The name colibri is still used in Spanish since they were the first non-natives in the Americas to see a bird to which they also gave mythical qualities.

The Eastern Hemisphere
Soon after their arrival in the America’s Caribbean the Spanish reported back to Europe about a fantastic bird in the “New World” that never landed and who made its nest in the sky. The Spanish, upon their return from the Caribbean told Queen Isabella of Spain, Columbus’ benefactor, that the hummingbird was a cross between a bird and an insect. It was in the 15th century that Castillians (Spanish) in the Caribbean saw the hummingbird for the first time. They were fascinated with its diminutive size and brilliant, iridescent colors. The birds were (2)"compared to precious stones and gems which have given rise to such names as ‘topaz’, ‘sapphire’ and ‘ruby’." Specimens were taken to Europe as part of the curious objects from the “New World”. This unusual bird captivated both scientists and the public. Stuffed hummingbirds were in great demand throughout the Victorian era. In 1888, four hundred thousand hummingbird skins were sold as clothes decoration and for jewelry in London alone. Ironically, this was one of the ways that the variety within the hummingbird specie was scientifically counted. During this era having encased specimens to adorn one’s home was the rage. The exportation of millions of hummingbird skins from the Americas has dramatically slowed but contemporary habitat destruction has endangered the species. Live specimens are difficult to keep and some that were hardier in captivity have been exported to aviaries outside of the Americas

The Habitats of Select Species
Hummingbirds are the second largest family of birds in the Western hemisphere. They are found throughout the Americas from Tierra del Fuego in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north and Barbados in the easternmost Caribbean. There are 338 species. Eighteen of these are found in North America while16 live in the Caribbean. They are most numerous in Columbia and Ecuador where 130 species exist. Most of North America’s hummingbirds travel up the west coast (some journey 2,000 miles). The Ruby-throated (Archilochus colubris) winters in the Caribbean and Central America and in the spring migrates to eastern North America (from Labrador to eastern Mexico and westward to central South Dakota) where it breeds. During the Fall the Ruby-throated return south in swarms. Since hummingbirds often return to the same branch or nest, they are being acutely affected by loss of habitat. Organizations like Nature Conservacy (nature.org) “must think globally [to] protect areas throughout the world to come together to form a large mosaic of protective lands and waters.” They “have created strategies to help all along the migration routes.” Some hummers like Cuba’s bumblebee-sized hummingbird and Jamaica’s national bird, the Streamtailed or “doctor bird”, are endemic to only those islands. Cuba’s hummer is the smallest member of the of class of Aves in the world while, although Jamaica’s doctorbird can measure up to ten inches from its beak to its two tail feathers. The swift-sized Patagonia gigas of South America is the biggest.

Mystical Warriors
Known as “feathered jewels” the hummingbird has had a mystical reputation since ancient times in the Americas. The light reflective qualities of its tiny feathers turns to dark hues in the shadow and become brilliant faceted colors in the sunlight. The Taíno associated the colebri with the glitter of their highly prized 14k gold called guanin. The reflective sheen of the hummingbird’s feathers was like the bright copper-yellow guanin used to render the eyes of some sculptures. Metallic brilliance was associated with a spiritual gate between two worlds. The reflective sheen provided a crossable bridge into the (3)cohoba world of the (4)cemis . To the Taíno the hummingbird was seen as an important crescent shaped symbol and was associated with similar forms such as the quarter moon and the rainbow. An image of this geometric shape was also achieved when the male of some specie fly in a perfect arc during its mating ritual.

(5)"Aruacs (Taíno) regarded the Humming-bird as the incarnation oftheir dead warriors, and the name God-bird also applied to it, and the supernatural awe attached to it suggests that the Indian belief has been taken up by the [Jamaican] blacks in a modified form, and that ‘doctor-bird’ is ‘medicine man bird’."


The Jamaican national bird is the specie Trochilus polytmus which is the unique Streamtailed hummingbird called a doctorbird. One Jamaican folk song warns (6)"Doctor bud a cunny bud, a hard bud fi dead”. A similar belief by the Mexica (Me-shee-ka) (Aztecs) was that (7)Huitzilopochtli (Whits-ill-low-poach-lee), the warrior sun-god, was associated with the hummingbird. They believed that four years after dying in battle, or as a sacrifice, the spirit of the warriors left the brilliant retinue of the sun god to forever live in the bodies of hummingbirds. Therefore, hummingbirds were placed on the graves of their warriors.

This association with warriors reflects the ferocious spirit of the hummingbird who will attack an intruding hawk or a human. The added solitary habit of this territorial bird is also identified with Huitzilopochtli, the Mexica sun god. The first part of this Mexica god’s name Huetzilin means hummingbird and he is sometimes depicted as this bird. The second half of his name means “from the deep south” or the spirit world. In his nahuat (spiritual) disguise he also appears as an eagle. He is the sun, a relentless warrior-god who each morning rises in the east to subdue those siblings (his sister the moon and his brothers the stars) who had plotted his death while he was still in his mother’s womb. He was born fully grown and vanquishes them each day. Among the Maya there is also a god who is in the form of a hummingbird.

Reincarnation
To conserve the high energy used for darting and flying the hummingbird is the only bird that can become torpid. This habit of going into a deep sleep of suspended animation when resting at night and its reinvigoration by the morning sun’s rays is associated with attributes of “reincarnation”, a belief shared by the Mexica. The use of its beak to penetrate flowers is associated with powers of healing and love. Amulets were made from body parts of the hummingbird and worn in medicine bags (that are still used as love potions in some areas of Central America). The Arawaks of Venezuela, who are related to the Taíno, believed that their ancestors obtained their first tobacco seeds from Trinidad through the ploy of a hummingbird. There are hummingbird tales from the Taíno, Apache, Aztec, Maya, Mohave, Chayma, Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Cherokee, Cochti and many more peoples of the Americas.” A traditional myth of the Cherokee tells of a pretty woman who was wooed by the Hummingbird and a Crane. She preferred the hummingbird because he was so handsome, but the Crane was very persistent, forcing her to challenge the suitors to a race around the world”. The Crane won since he did not have to stop to rest at night. She disregarded the result of the race and chose the Hummingbird. (Hummingbirds, A Wildlife Handbook by Kim Long)

There are many books and Web sites on the Internet with stories and information on hummingbirds.

Click on to the link to see a satellite view of the Nazca hummingbird image as compared to the Empire State Building. http://agutie.homestead.com/FiLEs/incas/nazca_hummingbird_1.htm

Footnotes:
1. The word colibri was also adopted in other non-American languages.
2. The Birds of Jamaica, Frank Bernal O.D., p. 64
3. A powdered snuff-like hallucionogen used by the Taino shaman and cacique (chief) to transport them to a separate spiritual reality.
4. Religious Taino objects made in various liknesses of spiritual beings and made from materials such as stone, wood, cotton, shell, bone, etc.
5. A 19th century spelling of Arawak, the term used in the English-speaking Caribbean to refer to the Taino. From 1847, Geosse, p. 89, Dictionary of Jamican English, Cassidy and Le Page, p. 152

6. "Doctor bird is a cunning bird, a hard bird to die."
7. Huitzilopochtli (from Nahuat huitzin, "hummingbird", and opochili," left" or "south"

Sunday, November 23, 2008

SUPER FRUIT


IMAGES: (1) Guava fruits and branch. (2) & (3) Stone sculptures of Maquetaurie Guayaba from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. (4) Shell amulet of Opiyelguobirán. From the Dominican Republic. (5) Jar of guava jelly. (6) Packet of guava paste or cheese. (7) A bat-like vomiting stick made from manatee bone and used prior to the sacred cohoba trance ceremony.


SUPER FRUIT


Guava (gwa-va) n, English via Spanish from Taíno. 1. from the Taíno word guayaba. 2. from the name of the Lord of the Dead, Maquetaurie Guayaba (Ma-kay-taw-ree Gwa-ya-baa); “Associated with sweetness and delight; symbol of the guayaba berry; bat symbols” (Cave of the Jagua, Antonio M. Stevens-Arroyo). 3. opposite of Yucahuguamá, god of the yuca, of life and the sea 4. any of numerous tropical and subtropical American trees or shrubs belonging to the genus Psidium, of the myrtle family bearing round to pear-shaped green or yellowish to deep red, oval fruit. 5. the fruit used for the making of jam, jelly, Cuban guava paste or Jamaican guava “cheese”, etc. 6. source of Bob Marley’s song “Guava Jelly”, made popular by Johnny Nash.

The Taíno, from whom we got the name guava via Guayaba and from whose culture the fruit first entered [1]Eastern Hemisphere cuisine, related this “super fruit” to the God of the Afterlife. Since 1492, the fruit, originating in South America wild and later domesticated, has spread around the tropical and subtropical world.


I grew up eating a variety of fresh guavas from the tree, watched my mother make guava jelly and as a schoolchild, bought cellophane-wrapped guava cheese candy from vendors who hawked their goods outside buses at Cross Roads in Kingston, Jamaica. I have even planted guava seeds and reared the trees as exotic plants in these Northern climes. One can find packaged guava items in the international section of Shoppers Food and other supermarkets. Some Latin American stores sell large fresh guavas and there are fruit bearing specimens next to the Capitol in Washington, D.C.’s Botanical Garden. Two of my favorite desserts are cream cheese in stewed guava shells and a cream cheese slice with a guava paste wedge on a toothpick, served to guests as a hors d’ouvre. I first tasted these complementary flavors in a Cuban restaurant in Washington, D.C. Now the food establishment has deemed guava as a super fruit. What did the Caribbean’s Taíno people think of this berry that Spanish explorers and Portuguese traders inadvertently introduced to the wider world?


Taíno Dualities: Death and Sweet Life


The international names for this Tropical American tree and fruit are guayaba, guava, goiba, govier, gouyave, goyavier, djamboe, djambu, dipajaya jambu, perla bayawas, bayawis, petokal, and tokal. The fruit of the guava tree was associated with sublime delight as well as with the lord of the spiritual island-underworld. This association by the Taíno makes it one of their most highly esteemed fruits. The value placed on the guava fruit reveals the Taíno attitude towards life and death. They believe in dualities in the universe, that opposites always existed together. Maquetaurie Guayaba, the Lord of the island of Coabay and of Sweetness and Delight, is the Taíno lord of the dead. It is from his name that the English word "guava" was derived.


On some Jamaican mornings, one can find bitten guava fruits on the ground dropped by bats from the previous night. To the Taíno, bats roaming the nights were the spirits of the dead called opias or hupias. Some opias came out of the woods at night to feed on the sweet guava fruit. Therefore, the Taíno left out guava pulp for these recently dead spirits. During the day, in caves, opias would take the form of sleeping bats. Another feature of the Taíno spiritual world was the barkless spirit-dog Opiyelguobirán, (oh-pee-el-gwo-be-rán) the Watchdog of the House of the Dead. One of the twin deities associated with Guayaba and the island of Coaybay. His name is a composite of opie, "spirit of those absent". Opiyelguobirán belonged to one of the two types of dogs that the Taíno had; a specie that could not bark (similar to the basenji a barkless breed of hunting dog that originated in central Africa). The living could not hear the bark that Opiyelguobirán used to guide spirits back to their dwelling place before daybreak. According to the Taíno, “at night he runs through the forest to guide the recently deceased on their journey to Coaybay, the Island of the Dead. His bark would drive spirits back to their underworld dwelling before daybreak when the sun would turn them into wandering ghosts.”


Guava (A better fruit than the orange)

Why is the guava a better fruit than the orange? “One cup of guava has nearly five times as much skin-healing vitamin C (it's a key ingredient in collagen production) as a medium orange (377 mg versus 83 mg)--that's more than five times your daily need. Women who eat a lot of vitamin C-packed foods have fewer wrinkles than women who don't eat many, according to a recent study that tracked the diets of more than 4,000 American women ages 40 to 74. You'll also get...bacteria-busting power. Guava can protect against food borne pathogens such as Listeria and Staph, according to research by microbiologists in Bangladesh. Also, a cooperative study by the USDA and Thai scientists found that guava has as much antioxidant activity as some well-known superfoods like blueberries and broccoli (though every plant contains a different mix of the healthful compounds). Shop for guava using your nose. A ripe guava has a flowery fragrance, gives a bit to the touch, and has a thin, pale green to light yellowish rind. Serve by adding to fruit cobbler recipes (the tiny seeds are edible) or simmer chunks in water as you would to make applesauce. Guava also makes a super smoothie: Blend 1/2 banana, 1/2 ripe guava, a handful of strawberries, 1/2 cup soy milk, and a few ice cubes.”-- Health & Cooking, October, 2008

For beautiful skin

According to Skin MD Natural for a natural skin care treatment, “mash a guava fruit and stir it well with an equal mixture of oatmeal and lemon juice. Apply this paste on the face for about 20 minutes and wash it off with warm water to see a better glow on the face.”

The advertized Carnaval Rejuevanation Rub is a “Guava Extract 98% Natural Unique creamy paste formulated to transform into a light lotion while rinsing Indulgent ingredients of Brazil Nut oil, Passionfruit oil & Cocoa Butter to nourish and pamper the skin. Leaves your skin remarkably soft and supple without an oily mess.”


The guava tree is a native Tropical American plant. The Spanish and Portuguese took the fruit to countries in Africa, to India, Australia, Taiwan and the southern United States. A member of the extensive myrtle family, it shares a relationship to the clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and eucalyptus. The Taíno grew the guava tree and the Inca widely cultivated it. The tree reaches a height of 30 feet tall and has spreading branches that grow close to the ground. It sometimes has a scaly bark and smooth branches are khaki-brown to a greenish-brown in color. Its oblong leaves are 3 to 7 inches in length with prominent veins. The fragrant white flower appear singly or in bunches and can be self-pollinating but achieve a higher yield of fruit when cross-pollinated. The 150 species of guava bear sweet smelling fruits that vary in shape, size, color and taste. The fruit has a thin edible skin that can be yellow to red, white, black, or green with many or a few seeds. The flesh can be surprisingly sweet to highly acid and may vary in colors of white, yellow or salmon. It has a distinctive aroma that can be from mild and pleasant to penetrating.


Today the guava tree still grows in a semi-wild state or is cultivated for its fruit. It is one of the most widely used fruits in many tropical and sub-tropical countries. Eaten as a fresh fruit it is also stewed with sugar or used to make nectars, mixed with other juices, made into sorbets, ice cream, pies, and cakes or into a guava cheese or paste. York Castle Tropical Ice Cream, (http://www.yorkcastleicecream.com/) a Jamaican store in Silver Spring, Maryland, sells an ice cream mixed with chunks of stewed guava “shells”. The fruits are difficult to store and are best eaten straight from the tree. They are sold in markets near where they are grown, or transported to some Caribbean or Latin American stores near areas where populations from those countries have settled. Nutritionally guavas contain a high degree of vitamin C and potassium. They also contain niacin, vitamin A, with some phosphorus and calcium.


In Cuba, Haiti Trinidad, Mexico, Ghana, Malaya, and the Philippines the guava is valued for its astringent and laxative properties. Although it is not sure how effective the remedies are, according to one report, some folk practitioners in these and other countries utilized parts of the guava medicinally. Uses are as an astringent, bactericide, for the bowels, bronchitis, cachexia, catarrh, cholera, chorea, colic, cough, convulsion, deafness, diarrhea, dysentery, epilepsy, hysteria, fattening, fever, gingivitis, hemorrhoids, itch, jaundice, nausea, nephritis, repertory ailment, rheumatism, scabies, sores, sore throat, spasm, a tonic; for toothache, ulcer, vermifuge, vulnerary and wounds.


Click on to the link and press the play icon to listen to American singer Johnny Nash backed up by Bob Marley’s band and who popularized Marley’s “Guava Jelly” in 1967. http://www.last.fm/music/Johnny+Nash/_/Guava+Jelly


[1]
Eastern Hemisphere n, 1. Africa, Asia, and Europe. 2. continents and islands on the opposite side of the globe from the continents and islands of the Americas. 3. opposite to the Western Hemisphere from which at least 60% of the food eaten in the world originated.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

CELEBRATE COLUMBUS DAY?


IMAGES (1) Top: The Spanish and other Europeans in the Americas learned the technology of panning for gold from the Taínos of Hispañola. [Drawing by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo y Valdéz of Taínos in the Caribbean’s Queskeya or Haiti Bohio (Hispañola) mining and panning gold in a river. From Historia general y natural de las indias, 1539-1548]. The Spanish brought the indigenous Caribbean technology to North America where independent prospectors still use it to find gold nuggets. (2) Bottom left: European royalty quickly enhanced their wealth with Caribbean-derived riches. [A painting of Queen Mary, by Flemish artist Hans Eworth.] In the painting, the monarch is wearing a giant pearl - known as La Peregrina - which was bought by actor Richard Burton for actress Elizabeth Taylor, 400 years later. It is one of the world’s largest and most perfectly shaped pearls, named La Peregrina (‘The Wanderer’), since an enslaved Native American pearl diver found it outside of its shell. As a reward, he was given his freedom.
Father Bartolomé de las Casas, the “Defender of the Indians” railed against the cruelty and resulting devastation of Lucayan Taíno population due to the use of many conch divers exploited as enslaved pearl divers off the deeper, cooler coastal waters off Venezuela’s Margarita Island. As “the people who welcomed Columbus”, he described that they had now “looked like deformed dogs suffering from the bends and covered with sores that would not heal.” He recommended the use of enslaved Spanish-speaking Africans in Spain (called Ladinos) as a means of saving the remnants of surviving Amerindian populations. This resulted in the second round of European slavery in the Americas¬ the African slave trade. The first Spanish sailors to arrive off the Caribbean coast of Venezuela encountered an ancient trade in pearls. At its height, the Caribbean pearl trade dominated the traditional market in the Middle East. Although Margarita Island still sells Caribbean pearls, overfishing of oysters and Japanese development of cultured pearls contributed to the end of this dominance.

(3)
Bottom center: A contemporary beneficiary of indigenous American enslavement. [A photo of actress Elizabeth Taylor wearing La Perigina]. In 1969, Richard Burton bought it as a present for her in New York. She once temporarily lost the pearl that she later found in her dog’s mouth.

(4)
Right: Digitally enhanced sculpture with a mask-like face of the Taíno epic hero Guahayona in his canoe, by Michael Auld.

Should we celebrate Columbus or Thanksgiving Day?
“What will it avail you to take that by force you may quickly have by love, or to destroy them that provide you food [?]” Powhatan’s speech to Captain John Smith, Virginia 1609
holiday, n. from Old English hâligdœg “holy day” (1): HOLY DAY (2): a day of freedom from work; especially: a day of celebration or commemoration fixed by law (3): a period of relaxation. Webster’s New Encyclopedic Dictionary

What does Columbus Day mean to Native Americans?
“Arguably America’s most controversial holiday, ‘Columbus Day’ was created 100 years ago in Colorado and later became a National holiday.” Indigenous Peoples Across the Americas Say No to Columbus, Voice of the Taíno People Online, 10/11/08

The Columbus holy day is now over. Most Americans are now looking forward to another controversial celebration to Native Americans, Thanksgiving Day. Are these holy days times for rejoicing by everyone? The answer depends on with whom you identify. Since both of the above holy days are peculiar to North America, we should examine alternative points of view.

Anti-Columbus Day Rally
DENVER -- With signs reading "Don't Celebrate Genocide," "Don't Celebrate Racism," and "The Americas' First Terrorist," the preview to the annual Columbus Day parade seemed to have the same passion that lead to conflicts in previous years.
But 2008 was the year without arrests.--The Denver News, October 12, 2008

“Almost everything that you and I learned in grade school and high school about Columbus is BS, bad sociology. I think that today needs to be renamed to ‘Native American Day,” Sociologist James Loewen said. “Columbus not only raped American Indian women, but killed their youth, women and elderly,” he said. He spent two years at the Smithsonian Institute examining 12 leading high school American history textbooks before writing his book. The award-winning lecturer and author speaks about 50 times a year about misconceptions in American history. He spoke at the second annual Anti-Columbus Day Rally in the courtyard between Anspach Hall and Pearce Hall Monday, Central Michigan University. --Linsey Wuepper - Central Michigan Life, October 16, 2002

On October 13, both The United States and Canada publicly celebrated a very holy day. In the USA, this holiday for bargains and sales was rightly a day for commercialism. In Canada, October 13th was Thanksgiving Day. Not all indigenous Americans think of these governmental set-aside times as holy days. On the contrary, to indigenous Americans these are dates for mourning the gigantic and unnecessary loss of life, homeland, culture, language, and wealth. “Since 1970, a growing group of Native Americans and their supporters have gathered on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass., at the top of Cole's Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock, for the ‘National Day of Mourning’ protest.” On Columbus Day, the Sons of Italy have parades in honor of their “heroic” homeboy. For example, last year in Long Island, New York “The 2007 Sons of Italy Columbus Day Parade, held in conjunction with the Town of Huntington’s Annual Long Island Fall Festival in the town of Huntington on Sunday October 7th 2007 at 1 p.m. was the largest of its kind in the Northeast.”—Sons of Italy Long Island’s Constantino Brumindi Lodge. “The Columbus Day Parade has been a tradition in New York since 1929 and takes place every year on the first Monday of October. The parade celebrates the friendship between Italy and the USA, as well as the mutual respect and cooperation between the two countries.” One person’s saint is another person’s demon.

Columbus’s motives live on
What were the goals of Christopher Columbus? Who benefitted most from his 1492 voyage to the sun-fun and white sandy beaches of the Bahamas? From his writings, utmost in his mind on that fateful October 11th day were royal titles, land and financial enrichment from lucrative spice trade, gold and the enslavement of indigenous American populations.

“And I was attentive and laboured to know if they had gold, and I saw that some of them wore a small piece hanging from a hole which they have in their nose, and from signs I was able to understand that, going to the south or going around the island to the south, there was a king who had large vessels of it and possessed much gold.” Saturday, October 12, 1492

“However, when your Highnesses so command, they [the Taíno] can be carried off to Castile [Spain] or held captive in the island itself, since with fifty [Spanish] men they would be all kept in subjection and forced to do whatever may be wished.” Saturday, October 12, 1492.
The Journal of Christopher Columbus, Translated by Cecil Jane
True to Columbus’ words, the Spanish did control American territories with small numbers of exceptionally armed men with war dogs and had their way with Native men, women, girls, and boys. After eying the youthfulness, well-proportioned (his words) physical beauty of the Bahamas’s Lucayan Taíno of Guanahani (Iguana Island), Columbus turned to a local epic Caribbean myth that included an island of women (Matinino) and one of solid 14k gold (Guanin). This myth fed the strongest urges in men, the insatiable drives for sex and riches. The Spanish had already believed in a myth of an island of women since the earlier travels of Marco Polo. He told of a similar Female Island in the Indian Ocean. Columbus used the Taíno’s Matinino to support the proof that he had indeed arrived in India. The Taíno myth was about their epic hero and first shaman, Guahayona (Gwa-ha-yo-nah = “Our Pride”) and his travels from the cave of “Cacibajagua [on the island of Haiti Bohio/ Queskeya or Hispaniola] in which all mankind hitherto had lived.”

Women and Gold!
“Guahayona departed with all the women and went in search of other lands, and he arrived in Matinino [meaning, “Without Fathers”], where he immediately left the women and went to another region, called Guanin [meaning, “14k Gold”).” Chapter IV, An Account of the Antiquities of the Indians, by Fray Ramón Pané (from the long-lost original manuscript and via Columbus’s son Ferdinand who included it in the biography he wrote in defense of his then disgraced father). Pané gathered this intelligence from the Taíno cacique (chief) Guarionex’s (Gwa-ree-own-nay) territory between spring 1495 and the end of 1496.

The above tale recorded by Father Pané on Hispañola “by order of the illustrious Lord Admiral and Viceroy and Governor of the Islands and Mainland of the Indies” (i.e. Christopher Columbus) unwittingly led to the ravenous search for gold and the wanton destruction of thousands of indigenous communities in the Americas. After 500 years, these communities are still suffering from selfish European profit and continued misbehavior in the Americas.

Amazon n 1. Mythological Warriors in Greek mythology, members of a group of women warriors who lived in Scythia or elsewhere in the northern limits of the world. 2. River a river in South America. 3 the world’s second longest river (About 4,000 mi/6,400 km). Named by the Spanish after “one of Gonzalo Pizarro's [whose brother had just conquered the Inca empire] lieutenants, Francisco de Orellana, during his 1541 expedition, east of Quito into the South American interior in search of El Dorado and the Country of the Cinnamon [who] was ordered to explore the Coca River and return when the river ended. He finally arrived to the Amazon River, and so named it because they were attacked by fierce female warriors like the mythological Amazons.” Amazon River, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.
California, n the U.S. state thought by some to be named after Queen Califia a legendary *black Amazon warrior queen, associated with the mythical Island of La California. 1 from the most popular 16th century Spanish novel Las sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), written around 1510 by the Spanish writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. 2 believed to have been derived from the Taíno epic myth of Guahayona that combined his travels to Matinino and Guanin. Like Guahayona, Esplandián traveled to an isle of women and gold in the Indies. After conquering the Mexica (Aztec) in 1619, Hernán Cortés saw the California Mountains from Baja California and believed it to be the fabled steep-sided “La California”.
“Know that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very close to the side of the **Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons. They were of strong and hardy bodies of ancient courage, and great force. Their island was the strongest in the world, with its steep cliffs and rock shores. Their arms were of gold, and so was the harness of the wild beasts they tamed to ride, for in the whole island there was no metal but gold.”
* “black” does not necessarily mean African. As with the Chinese and Indians in England today, the color was used to designate anyone not “white”. ** The idyllic Caribbean.

El Dorado, n (Spanish for "the golden one") 1. is a legend that began with the story of a South American tribal chief who covered himself with gold dust and would dive into a lake of pure mountain water. The legend began in the 1530s, in the Andes of present-day Colombia, where conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada first found the gold rich Muisca, a nation in the modern day Cundinamarca and Boyacá highlands of Colombia, in 1537. According to contemporary Spanish beliefs based on the Guahayona tale, when one found Amazons gold was not far behind. Ironically, both in California and South America Europeans did find gold after seeing the abode of “Amazons”.
Following Taíno myth, the Spanish not only found and appropriated millions of dollars worth of gold but also silver, pearls, emeralds, diamonds, exotic woods, and spices, medicinal, and agricultural products that enriched Europeans beyond their widest dreams. One can say that in the US the California Gold Rush was the tangible result of the Taíno’s epic Guahayona myth. The inequitable difference between First, Second and Third World economies today is directly linked to unparalleled and continued looting of indigenous American traditional territories. Tangible proof of this is that thousands of Native Americans are still confined to reservations and must carry apartheid-like identity cards. As some indigenous people say, “When the Europeans came, they had the Bible and we had the land. Now we have the Bible and they have the land.”
Should indigenous Americans celebrate their demise?
Although Powhatan, “Pueblo, Cherokee, Creek and many other indigenous American societies organized thanksgiving harvest festivals with ceremonial dances and other celebrations centuries before the arrival of the first Europeans in the Americas”, their reason for giving thanks to the Supreme Being did not include the underlying reality of the unbridled destruction of a people through ethnic cleansing. Celebrating Columbus and Thanksgiving Days…I don’t think so!