Best wishes on Indigenous Peoples’ Day! I blog to recount a Taíno story of the sea’s origin—postscript to last year’s blog about mankind’s origin (October 8, 2018).

The spirit Yaya had placed his son Yayael’s bones in a gourd to remember him. When Yayael’s mother poured from the gourd to visit her son, the bones had turned to fish and she planned to eat them with Yaya. But a boy, Deminán Caracaracol, and his brothers came to take the fish because they were hungry. Deminán had been born with sickness and dropped the gourd in fear of Yaya’s return. It shattered, releasing a great flood on the earth, creating the sea and the fish in it, and sweeping the boys away.

The sketch of Deminán below is contained in Encounters Unforeseen, and the ceramic original regularly is on display at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City.

Deminán would face more hunger, sickness, and adversity, but he steadfastly persevered to prosper, a resilience exemplary to his people.

 

 

Punishment at the Yaque