Remembering Dr. Carlalynne “Yarey” Melendez d. 2021
Since 1995 I have been on the road in search of a Taino community. After reading the complete works of Bartolome De Las Casas for a term paper for a Systematic theology class at Seton Hall University Seminary in 1995, my life change forever. Inspiring to be Roman Catholic Priest as a Capuchin Franciscan, my goal was to be a advocate of the Indigenous culture like De las Casas. How did my life change? I realized that De las Casas was trying to preserve a tragic history of my people thinking that they will be wiped out of existence and “his”tory. My new vocation was to help restore the great Taino Nation.
I was introduced to Dr. Yarey Melendez in the summer of 2017. We first met in January of 2018. Hurricane Maria was still causing havoc in the lives of the Boricua. Yarey grew increasingly worried about the conditions of her beloved Boriken and the people of Naguake. She was also mourning the death of her mother. Like thousands of Boricuas, mourning was a living reality. Yarey was an Anthropologist and taught many years in the University of Puerto Rico, Bayamon Campus. She left the academy and the memories of mentoring hundreds of Anthropology PhD Students. She left it all to follow a calling to help form an Indigenous community. She became the administrator of the Naguake Indigenous Base Community in Yabucoa and continued her mission from 2004-2021.
I was privileged to walk and learn from Dr. Yarey, and we both created Naguake Radio. It saddens me that she is gone in the flesh but excited to share what I learned sitting with her for hours and many trips to the homeland from NYC.
Naguake lives on.