Current Affairs


Abuelas, Ancestors and Atabey: The Spirit of Taíno Resurgence

Speaking through Taíno spiritual leaders in trances, Puerto Rico’s ancestors repeatedly warned before last year’s devastating hurricanes to take care, algo viene, something is coming. These spiritual phenomena are an important strand of the Taíno resurgence, as descendants of the supposedly extinct Caribbean Indigenous peoples recover from the hurricane of European colonialism. This important movement is the focus of a new exhibit Taíno: Native Heritage and Identity in the Caribbean at the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian – Smithsonian in lower Manhattan.

The Persistence of Chicha

From dank chicherias in small towns to gourmet big-city restaurants catering to tourists, the traditional fermented-corn beverage chicha is still being drunk throughout the Andes. It is no longer the medium of reciprocity that oiled pre-colonial social bonds, but it is still a standard for Indigenous identity.

Celebrating Native Innovation

The new imagiNATIONS Activity Center opening in May in the New York National Museum of the American Indian offers hands-on experience of the many discoveries of Indigenous Americans as they learned to thrive in their environment. Staples developed through generations of crossbreeding, such as potatoes, tomatoes and maize, have spread worldwide.

Many Roads to Tribal Rights

A mile-marker arose in 2016 in the middle of a camp of “water protectors” protesting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, covered with signs showing how far tribal supporters had travelled to the North Dakota site. When state authorities dispersed the camp, the signpost was donated to the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C, where it is now part of the Nation to Nation exhibition on Indian treaties.