Category: Taíno Ancestry

Taíno Petroglyphs for Kids



If you’ve been following me for a while you’ve probably read my series  Discovering our Taíno Ancestry.  It is a four part installment series that you can find here:  El Cemí y Dujo: Discovering Our Taíno AncestryDo It Yourself Petroglyph: Discovering Our Taino Ancestry, and Story Time with Kiki Kokí: Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry.

So today, I have a treat for you I’m over at Kid World Citizen sharing our experience on a family visit to the Tibes Indigenous Ceremonial Center (Centro Ceremonial Indígena de Tibes) and a fun activity for kids!

Taíno Petroglyphs: Rock Art for Kids





Categories: Taíno Ancestry

Story Time with Kiki Kokí: Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry


This is our last and fourth installment of our series Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry.   In our recent trip to Puerto Rico we bought a great selection of books in Spanish. Our favorite is Kiki Kokí La Leyenda Encantada del Coquí (Kiki Kokí The Enchanted Legend of the Coquí).  It’s fully in Spanish which is a perfect complement to our son’s language learning.  This book is also available in English.  
The story tells of a Taíno boy who does not cooperate or help his tribe. He prefers to play then to help his around the tribe. Therefore, since he didn’t help the tribe he wasn’t allowed to participate in the festival. He is really upset, and storms out into the jungle upset. However, the moon goddess to teach him a lesson turns him into a golden tree frog. Kiki Koki redeems himself when he saves a village of frogs from rat pirates earning his right to become a boy again. This is a beautiful story of redemption, and of making things right.  To finish off our story time, we made coquí crafts out of small paper plates.  Little one painted them, and glued on the eyes.
Our coquí craft, and little one insisted on making one as an alien coquí with four eyes. 🙂 
During our stay in Puerto Rico this past summer every night we would hear the coquíes sing. It was music to my ears, and little man enjoyed the beautiful song that they sang.   I recorded them singing. Just click on the video below. It’s dark, because it was recorded during the night time.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

To read more about the coquí click here. I hope you’ve enjoyed our series Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry as part of our Hispanic Heritage Month activities. Don’t forget to check out my initial post here, and to participate for a chance to win some wonderful prizes in our giveaway!  How are you celebrating with your family? Please like, comment, pin or share!

¡Hasta la próxima!

Do It Yourself Petroglyph: Discovering Our Taino Ancestry


During our past summer vacation I really, really wanted to take little man, and my husband to the La Cueva del Indio to see first hand the Taíno petroglyphs. Unfortunately, due to time constraints we weren’t able to go. 
This is a picture of a petroglyph in La Cueva del Indio. Photo credit:  Neyda S. 
However, on our return back home we had a lesson on Taíno petroglyphs. Little man even made his own Taíno petroglyphs. 

Petroglyphs (or ‘stone symbols’) were carved on rocks all over Puerto Rico by the Taíno indians to record their lives, and daily life.  For our lesson,  I printed a sheet with Taíno symbols from here so little man can draw the symbols for  the petroglyph.

He practiced before drawing the petroglyphs on the rocks. 
Taino Symbols
Taíno petroglyphs found in different places in
Puerto Rico. 
We had lots of fun making the petroglyphs, and we learned the meaning of some of the symbols, too.  We’re looking forward to our next installment about our beloved coquí.  
In the meantime take a look at our previous post on Discovering our Taíno ancestry here, and here. How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?  Please like, comment, pin or share! 

El Cemí y Dujo: Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry

This is the second installment of Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry series.   In our first installment little one learned about his Taíno culture with a sensory “yucayeque” village that we made. Today’s post is all about learning more in detail about the cemíes and dujos that were in his yucayeque.  Luckily I was able to purchase small replicas during our visit to Puerto Rico this past summer, and he used those to make his own. 
Little man had fun making the cemíes and dujos with play dough. He tried to make it to look like the replicas, and I think he was pretty close. 😉  Taíno indians carved the cemí from wood, stone, and/or clay. It was a three pointed sculpture that was the physical representation of Taíno deities (gods). Cemíes were said to invoke the spirit of the god Yucahú.
The Taíno religion was centered around the divine character or nature representing Yucahú the god of the yuca (cassava) and conservation, and Atabey the goddess of rain, river, and the sea. There were other minor gods governing the natural forces, and they were all conceived as a cemí. For example, Boinayel was the giver of the rain. Therefore, the cemí had the power to make it rain. The cemíes came in all sizes and mostly were three pointers.

Nitaínos carved elaborate cemíes and some were painted and decorated with gold and precious stones. Most of them had human facial or animal features carved on them representing a divine creator or a force of nature. 

Little one also made dujos. The dujo is made from stone or wood with a raised tail used as a tall backrest, and they were short seats with four short legs with feet.  The caciques and bohiques were the only ones allowed to sit on it.  They were a symbol of prestige.

Little one’s dujo and cemí made out of play dough. You can see on the replicas the facial human and animal features. 

For more information about the Taínos click here, and here. Hope you enjoyed today’s installment of our series Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry. In our upcoming installments the coquí the unofficial mascot of Puerto Rico, do-it-yourself petroglyphs, and more!

How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with your children? Please like, pin, comment or share. 

Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry

I’m very honored to be a member of the Multicultural Kid Blogs. Together with 15 of our member blogs we are hosting the Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 through October 15.  See details below for the chance to win prizes, and participate in our celebration. 

Also, through out this month I will have a special series called:  “Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry.”   This is the first installment of our series. We will be celebrating our Hispanic heritage, and teaching little one about his Taíno ancestry. 
This past summer we visited Puerto Rico. However, this visit was unlike any other it was our son’s first “real” Spanish immersion trip, and  I was also on a quest to teach our son about his Taíno heritage.
We had the opportunity to see “La Cara del Indio” it’s a rock sculpture of a Taíno indian located in the entrance of the town of Isabela and El Tunel de Guajataca. This impressive sculpture pays homage to the Cacique Mabodamaca who was a heroic chieftain  from the 16th century who protected his people, and way of life from the European invaders. This sculpture is visible from the main road, and a vivid reminder of every Puerto Rican’s  Taíno heritage. 
Taíno rock sculpture of Cacique Mabodamaca. Picture taken during our visit during the summer. 

La Cara del Indio. Rock sculpture of the Chieftain Mabodamaca.
This picture was taken years ago when it was first sculpted. Between 2001 or 2002.  
Once home I focused on doing fun learning activities about the Taínos with little man. We read the book, On this Beautiful Island. We also referenced the activity book Habláme de Puerto Rico. 
We practiced key words in Spanish: 
  • Taíno:  native indigenous inhabitants descendants of the Arawaks 
  • Cemí:  three pointed stone that was the physical representation of Taíno deities (gods)
  • Borikén: Taíno name of Puerto Rico
  • Coquí:  Small tree frog native to Puerto Rico 

We also created a mini-sensory small village called yucayeque with bohíos, and a batey. The batey was a special plaza surrounded by stones with petroglyphs in which the Taínos celebrated their ceremonies and played the game bato with a ball made out of roots, herbs, and tree gum, and the areytos, a celebration of big events with music, dance, and story telling.   For the mini-sensory village. We used rocks with petroglyphs that litle one made, and I had purchased in Puerto Rico Taíno figurines, and cemíes.  Little one also made some bohíos, and we cut some greenery from the yard.
Little one also learned about the Taínos different social classes, and how they were divided. 
  1. The nitaínos were the noble class, and this is where the chiefs or caciques came from. The cacique wore a guanín (a gold medal around his neck) as a symbol of his status. 
  2. The bohíques were the priest, wise men, and doctors. 
  3. The naborias were the lower class. They were the farmers, and fishermen. 
La Cueva del Indio, Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
Photo courtesy of my niece’s mom Neyda Soto. 

Shortly after our trip, a dear friend of mine posted the following video on Facebook.  She was very kind to let me post it here.  It’s a reenactment of a Taíno calling out to the goddess of the wind in La Cueva del Indio in Arecibo.  Very impressive, and my son enjoyed watching it. Since he did ask to play over, and over again. 

Hopefully, on our next trip to Puerto Rico little man will be older, and we’ll be able to visit la Cueva del Indio.  It’s a rocky and not very comfortable walk.

In our upcoming installments of “Discovering Our Taíno Ancestry” we will learn about the cemí, the coquí the unofficial mascot of Puerto Rico, do-it-yourself petroglyphs, and more!

This post was part of the 2nd Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop.

Hispanic Heritage Blog Hop - MulticulturalKidBlogs.comWelcome to the Second Annual Hispanic Heritage Month Blog Hop, hosted this year by Multicultural Kid Blogs and 15 of our member blogs! Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15 to October 15 every year, “celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America” (from Be sure to visit all of the participating blogs (listed below) and follow our related Pinterest boards:

Categories: Taíno Ancestry

En esta Hermosa isla


English version at the bottom of this post. Please scroll. Thanks!

Una manera chévere de que mi pequeño chico aprenda más de su cultura y ancestros es a través de libros para niños.  Recientemente compré el libro titulado en Inglés:  On This Beautiful Island  (En esta Hermosa Isla)  por Edwin Fontánez.   El libro también está disponible en Español.  
El libro cuenta la historia de Guanín un niño Taíno quien vive En Esta Hermosa Isla llamada Borikén.  (Los Taínos eran los primeros habitantes de Puerto Rico). Guanín narra las bellezas de la isla mientras el la explora con su mascota la cotorra Tahite.  El escucha el océano, y luego va al bosque tropical donde encuentra al coquí.  
Mientras leo el libro con mi chico hablamos sobre las bellas ilustraciones que vemos: los bohíos, el bosque tropical, y el coquí. Para hacer el cuento más interactivo y divertido utilizamos caracoles para escuchar el océano, y escuchamos a un coquí cantar (gracias a que pude bajar a mi celular una aplicación de la canción). También dejé que mi chico jugara con un pequeño coquí (recordatorio o en mi spanglish un “suvenir” jajaja).  
Después que terminamos, mi chico coloreó una página con el dibujo de Guanín y su cotorra Tahite que encontramos aquí. Como estamos en época de Navidad decidimos hacer unos ornamentos de bohíos para nuestro arbolito.   
Para hacer los bohíos utilice rollos vacíos de papel sanitario*, los corte a la mitad. De otro rollo vacío de papel toalla corte los techos de los bohíos. Luego utilice rafia para colgarlos y con pega caliente pegue el techo y la rafia. Brillo y pega blanca para decorar. (*Las instrucciones requiere que utilice papel corrugado, pero como no tenia use los rollos de papel sanitario). 

El nene quería decorar los bohíos con brillo como hicimos con los ornamentos anteriores que hicimos (ver la estrella en la foto superior derecha). Así que dejé que decorara a su gusto con el brillo. 


A great way to teach little one about his culture and ancestors is through children’s books. I recently purchased this awesome book: On This Beautiful Island by Edwin Fontánez.
The story is about Guanín a Taíno boy who lives On This Beautiful Island called Borikén. (The Taínos were the first inhabitants of Puerto Rico). Guanín narrates the beauties of the island as he explores it with his pet Tahite the parrot. He listens to the ocean, and goes off to the rain forest where he finds the coquí.
While reading the book little one and I talked about what he saw in the beautiful illustrations of the book: the bohíos, the rainforest, and the coquí.  As we continued to read we made the story interactive, and fun by using shells to listen to the ocean; and we listened to the coquí (thankfully I found an app with the song of the coquí that I downloaded on my cell phone).  I also let little one play with a small coquí (souvenir) that we have. After we finished I gave him a coloring page of Guanín with his parrot Tahite for him to color that I found here. Since it’s Christmas season, we decided to make the bohío ornaments for our tree.
To make the bohío ornaments we used empty rolls of toilet paper*. I cut the rolls in half, and from another empty roll of paper towel I cut out the roof. Then I used raffia to hang it and hot glue to put the roof of the bohío. White glue and glitter for little one to decorate. (*Per the instructions it requires corrugated paper, but I didn’t have any, so I used empty rolls of toilet paper).
Little one wanted to make the bohíos (huts) sparkly since the last ornaments that we made we used glitter (see the top right star). So I let my baby decorate the huts with glitter.

This is by far the best children’s book that I have purchased about Puerto Rico, and my son really enjoys it! He had fun coloring, and decorating the bohíos.

What fun cultural book have you read with your child lately? I would love to know! Please share, like or comment! Thank you!


Este ha sido el mejor libro de niños que he comprado sobre Puerto Rico y los Taínos, y mi hijo realmente lo disfruta. 

Embracing Your Roots and Culture


As I look at my son, and see the beauty within him: that he’s a child born out of love, and brought into this world with the richness and greatness of having three cultures: Black, Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian. I reflect upon my own life; my roots and culture. I was born in New York, to a Puerto Rican mom, and an Ecuadorian dad. As far as I can remember I was always proud of roots, my culture; heck I was even more thrilled that I had another culture other than being Puerto Rican. As an adult, I am still proud of my roots, and continue to embrace where I came from. So now that we have a son, I want to instill in him this same pride.

Unfortunately, not everyone embraces their roots and cultures; and most of the time deny it. Puerto Ricans are mixed race of Spaniards, African slaves, and Taíno Indians (native indians). Even my own aunts and uncles (on my Mom’s side) denied that there could be any “black” in them; but science came back to prove them wrong.

My Grandmother participated in The Origins of the Mitochondrial DNA of Puerto Rico Project, sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus. They were conducting a series of DNA study and interviews about issues related to heritage and race in Puerto Rico. The professors Dr. Anayra Santory and Dr. Luis A. Avilés, were leading the investigation and visited my Grandmother at home, and requested her authorization to conduct a DNA testing with a strand of her hair to determine her race.

Every member in the family kept saying that my Grandmother was Spaniard, and my Grandmother herself said she was a Taíno Indian. She has a elongated face, light-caramel skin, straight hair, long nose. The test results came back, and the results were in “drum roll please” she was African. Wow, I was happy that I was Puerto Rican, Ecuadorian and now African! My other family members, not so much (I even mailed them a copy of the report! {giggles}); even my Grandmother wasn’t thrilled with the results, oh well! It is what it is, right?

Which brought me to think of phrase that I often heard back in Puerto Rico: “¿y tu abuela aonde ‘ta?” Which means “and where is your grandmother?”

This my beautiful Mother with my beloved Grandmother.

These are the DNA results:

In Puerto Rico, there’s a lot of racism amongst the Puerto Ricans. The dark-skinned Puerto Ricans will ask “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?” (where is your grandmother?) to the lighter-skinned Puerto Ricans to remind them of their mixed heritage: African. Especially when they deny their roots, and the color of their skin. At the end of the day, there is no denying your Abuela (therefore, your ancestors).

A good friend of mine shared this poem with me (that I had long forgotten). You can find the Spanish version here.

English translation:

Dinga and Mandinga By Fernando Fortunato Vizcarrondo

And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, And today I will respond to thee: My mom sits in the living room, And your grandma, where is she?

My hair is kinky, Yours’ is like silk, Your father’s hair is straight, And your grandma, where is she?

Your color came out white, And your cheeks are pink; Your lips are thin, And your grandma, where is she?

You say that my lips are big And they’re always red? But tell me, in the name of the Virgin, And your grandma, where is she?

Since your girl is white, You take her out a lot… And I feel like yelling to you: And your grandma, where is she?

You like Foxtrot, And I like ‘Bruca Manigua’, You display yourself as white And your grandma, where is she?

You are white on the outside and got into High Society Fearing that someone may get to know The mother of your own mami. Here, who does not have Dinga has Mandinga ha ha ha haaa! So again, I ask you, And your grandma, where is she?

Yesterday you called me Negro, Wanting to embarrass me. My grandma steps out to the living room, And yours hidden from everybody. The poor woman is dying Seeing herself so abused. Even your dog barks at her If she ever steps out to the living room. And I know her very well! Her name is Mrs. Tata You hide her in the kitchen, Because Negro is really… she.

The English translation was found here.

We’re not the only race that has a mix of different races, and sadly enough many deny their race, or where they come from; therefore, not embracing their roots and culture. I encourage you to look deeper into your family roots, you’d be surprise where you really come from.

And your grandmother where is she? “¿Y tu agüela, aonde ejtá?”

Would love to hear about your own experiences and thoughts. Please comment and share!