I, for one, welcome the efforts of Latinos to rediscover their indigenous roots. It is clear that many of them are descendants of Central and South American tribes. As long as they don’t try to identify as my tribe without asking a clan leader for permission, first!
It had taken her more than 30 years — plus research and genetic testing — to discover her ties to the indigenous Taínos of Puerto Rico, to claim her identity and re-learn what she thought she knew of her history.
She’s not the only one. Since 2000, the number of Hispanics who identified themselves as Native American grew from 407,073 to 685,150, according to the 2010 census.
Some attribute the increase to immigration from parts of North and South America where there are large indigenous populations. In some cases, it’s because of recently discovered ties to native cultures.
Growing up in the Bronx, New York, and spending summers in Puerto Rico, Maynard said she had no words to identify who she was. She just felt “different.”
Ana María Tekina-eirú Maynard’s grandmother is pictured in Puerto Rico about 1938.
“It is one thing to know that you have indigenous blood,” Maynard said. “And I have always known it. I look at the faces of my mother and grandmother, and that reality is undeniable.”