Census Data Continues to Shed Light on Boricua Identity
Tuesday, 13 September 2011
Borikén/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - Puerto Rico's Institute of Culture, a governmental agency, has historically promoted the island's demographic heritage as a blending of three cultures – American Indian, Spanish, and African – forming one a national identity. Many Puerto Rican scholars continue to highlight 'cultural' blending as officially they have erroneously claimed the local indigenous population was exterminated in the first 50 years of colonization. Data released from the 2010 U.S. Census documents a different perspective as more “Puerto Ricans” are defining themselves as American Indians.

In a recent release of 2010 demographic data for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Census Bureau recorded 35,753 individuals identified themselves as ‘American Indian and Alaska Native’ alone or in combination with another “race”. While 350 identified themselves with specific North Native American or Alaska Native Tribes, others either did not specify a particular tribe or were lumped into several ambiguous categories such as “South American Indian” or “Spanish American Indian”.

“The issue here for Indigenous Peoples of Boriken (Puerto Rico) is that the U.S. Census has been historically discriminatory with regard to our self-determination” stated Roger 'Guayacan' Hernandez, a representative of the United Confederation of Taíno People.

Hernandez continued noting “Small tribes of no more than a few hundred in the U.S. mainland can retrieve their specific data with no difficulty but Taíno people are placed in ambiguous categories that seek to dismiss the affirmation of our ancestral heritage”.

The Confederation was an official U.S. Census Partner for the 2000 and 2010 campaigns urging indigenous Taíno descendants to not only identify themselves as American Indians but as Taíno specifically. The 2010 census survey forms included a space where individuals could write in their tribal affiliation.

In a communication to the United Confederation of Taíno People, the U.S. Census Bureau confirmed that in 2000 those identifying as Taíno were placed in the “South American Indian” category.

“Our campaign in 2000 impressed the U.S. Census Bureau enough for its representatives to state that the 2010 census would allow for us to see exactly how many peoples are identifying as Taíno on and off the island.” said Hernandez. “This is why we felt that it was important to once again partner officially with the U.S. Census Bureau”.

The Confederation is still awaiting the data specific information on Taíno from the U.S. Census Bureau even as demographic data is already released for other hundreds of other ancestries, ethnicities, nationalities, tribes, etc. in Puerto Rico and in the U.S. mainland.
UCTPTN 09.13.2011
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