In 2006, Tekina-eirú began a project with Cacike Cacibaopil Veguilla of Concilio Taino Guatu Ma-Cu in Boriken for her Puerto Rican Cultural Center (PRFDance) that would forever change her life, intensive research to build a solid foundation for a "Taino Project" that PRFDance would execute in 2008. For her, this project was a lifetime dream to learn more about her own family ancestry she thought was forever lost.
In February 2007, she journeyed to Puerto Rico to begin her education with the Cacike and his people in what she thought would be a study of Taino petroglyphs and ancient artifacts. When they begin to sing in Taino, she experienced an "awakening," the opening of a door that could never be closed again. She finally had the words to express what her heart already knew.
In March 2007, she danced in her first Areyto where she received her Taina name Tekina-eirú (maestra dulce/sweet teacher), an "efecto de Dios" (from God) Martin explained. Her name was later consecrated in a beautiful Naming Ceremony in March 2008 in the mountains of San Lorenzo where her Taina grandmother was born.
Of the many gifts Tekina-eirú has inherited from her Taino Ancestors -- the one that has meant the most in her life -- is the deep Taino spirituality that is present in every aspect of life. With that she rediscovered the same deep connection she has always felt to Semign (God), a visibly-active and constant presence in her life. In the years to come, she would awaken in a profound way to a deep connection to Ataabey (La Madre Tierra).
Tekina-eiru was very blessed to have been trained for 15 years in ancestral Taino traditions through oral teachings and life experiences with Cacike Cacibaopil. In 2008 Tekina-eiru began returning to Boriken annually, sometimes multiple trips in a year. That set the stage for the growing presence of education, culture, and community of Tainos in Texas under Tekina-eirú's advocacy and leadership. Through her work, a reviving of Taino consciousness is underway; many have awoken and are embracing their Taino heritage beyond the educational.
Tekina-eirú was consecrated an Elder (Naguety) in 2011 and continued growing the Taino mission in Texas that had been ongoing at her cultural center since 2008. On Sunday, February 5, 2023, her great mentor, Cacike Cacibaopil, joined the Ancestors in Soraya. She will be forever grateful to this lion of Taino heritage who changed the course of her life.
Today Tekina-eirú continues the mission of her Taino lineage by dedicating her life to serving her community, and preserving and handing down Puerto Rico's cultural traditions to the next generation, through her nonprofit Puerto Rican cultural center (founded 1997). In March 2009, Dr. Maynard received an AREITO AWARD FOR DANCE AND THEATRE from the Taino community in recognition of outstanding achievement at a ceremony at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York City. But her mission goes beyond the preservation and teaching of Puerto Rico's cultural arts traditions.
Tekina-eirú is the Spiritual Leader of -- Yara Taino & Guaytiao -- the cultural center's active, spiritually-minded indigenous community who celebrate living traditions and share how we live in relationship with Nature everyday! She is a consecrated Naguety (Elder) and a Tekina -- a Teacher of Taino traditions and writer of ceremonial music and dance.
Enjoy these photos of her ongoing lifetime journey, including a visit to the forest preserve, El Bosque del Charco Azul, in the mountains of Cayey!