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  • By : Lalu
  • April 9, 2019


Chapter 7 – Soy Taina


It’s August of 1979. I’m 16 yrs old and it’s the first day of class in my senior year of high school. Shawn and I were smoking a dubby at the baseball dugout. We both are running late for our next class, Puerto Rican History. When we enter the room, everyone is already seated and we grab a couple of desks at the front of the class.

Mr. Henry Amador  starts his lecture for the day. He looks right at me and I’m thinking, oh crap, he can tell I’m stoned. He points to me and asks me, “What is your name?”

I respond, “My name is Lalu.”

He says, “Lalu. Can you stand up please?”

I look at Shawn with eyes that are freaking out. He responds with a complete look of “I don’t know, what the fuck!”

Mr. Amador says, “You see this young lady. This is what a Taina looks like. They were slim, with dark hair and dark skin.”

I chuckle to myself. What is he talking about? I’m not Taina! I’m tanned but doesn’t he see all the freckles. There is nothing Native American about me.

After class I was telling Shawn that I was Spanish from my mom’s side and European Jewish from my dad’s side, how did he come up with Taina?

At the same time, I loved the idea. Since very young I was obsessed with Native Americans and I used to read all types of stories about them. But in the stories I read, they were the heros. So when he called me a Taina, I felt a bit of pride and disappointment because in reality I didn’t have a genetic link to this culture.

Now lets fast forward to 2003. I’m 40 years old and I’m visiting my Grandmother Adelina. I’m in the living room looking at all the pictures and I see one that catches my eye. It’s this dark skinned woman that has a definite Native American look to her. Who is that? I grab the picture and go to the terrace to ask my grandmother.

“Abelita, quien es esta mujer?”, I asked (“Who is this woman?”)  

“Ella? Ella es mi mama.”, she said (“She? She is my mother.”)

“Pero Abuelita, ella aparenta ser como india.” (“But grandma, she looks native.”)

“Pues, lo era. Mami era Taina.”, she responded (“Well, she was. Mom was Taina.”)

What? I found out 24 years later that my great grandmother was half Taina. Surprise, surprise. Well, not really. It all made sense. Spiritually and physically I was always connected to the Native American people.

In 2008, everything came full circle when I was designated an elder. My elder name is Mariposa de Flor en Flor.

 

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