The Amerindians in Colonial History, an article in Guyana Under Siege: an online reprint of an Editorial from Stabroek News, dated Sept 2, 2001—“ Yesterday marked the beginning of Amerindian Heritage Month, the thirty days in the year when we remember the contribution of the indigenous peoples to Guyanese culture, and their role in our historical evolution as a nation….”
The Arawak Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Arawaks who were food producers settled at Hosororo Creek on the Aruka river around 3550 years ago. On the hilltop they planted manioc (Manihot esculenta) which they baked into bread on ceramic griddles. Arawaks also occupied the Corentyne river around 2000 years ago leaving their unique type of rock engraving, timehri. Because of the rich supply of protein along the coastal swamps, these Arawaks moved hundreds of tons of earth with wooden shovels, to build habitation mounds and raised Fields for farming…”
The Arekuna Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Arekuna are so far, archaeologically unknown. They occupied the upper and central Kawarang river at least since 1839 and are presently concentrated at Paruima. Their outstanding contribution to Guyanese culture is the blowpipe, described as the most mysterious and awe-inspiring weapon in the world…”
Call from the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples: “There seems to be an inherited ideology in Guyana not to consult with the Amerindians when woods are cut through their lands, when mining, forestry and petroleum exploration concessions are negotiated with outsiders, for this trend continues unabated. This is especially so since the Morvika Peoples’ plight is brought to light so soon after our so called ‘Amerindian Heritage Month’, September last, during which we had the full payment of the long-standing syndrome of lip service, such as ‘accelerated development for Amerindian in Guyana….”
Clarinet Ensemble (Guyana, Upper Oyapock): “Like other Amazonian populations, the Wayã Indians use ensembles of clarinets, called tule, for entertainment at village gatherings. These instruments are composed of two separate elements, a reed and a resonator. The reed, a long narrow tongue cut out of a segment of cane, is inserted through the upper knot of a broader and longer stem of bamboo that serves as the amplifier…”—music sample included
Dominican Caribs visit Guyana in canoe—“Dominica Caribs complete historic 700-mile journey, by Miranda La Rose: “A 10-MEMBER group of Dominican Caribs yesterday arrived aboard the Gli Gli – a 60-foot dugout canoe, in the Pomeroon River in a symbolic gesture to reconnect the 3,000 strong Caribs of Dominica with surviving Carib communities in Guyana. The `Gli-Gli’ is a small aggressive hawk revered by ancient Carib warriors as a totemic symbol of bravery.” (link is no longer available)
The Eden Project in Guyana, from the Internet Archive: Excerpt—“ The team met with government officials, the Environmental Protection Agency, other NGOs, field workers at the Iwokrama Field Centre and local villagers in the rainforest. Nadia Ferreira, a student from Guyana, is working with Eden to interpret the true stories from the people of the forest…”
Encyclopaedia Britannica, “Guyana: The People”: Excerpt—“ The indigenous peoples of Guyana are collectively known as Amerindians and constitute about 4 percent of the population. Indian groups include the Warao (Warrau), Arawak, Carib, Wapisiana (Wapishana), Arecuna, the mixed ‘Spanish Arawak’ of the Moruka River, and many more in the forest areas. The Makusí (Macussí or Macushí) are the most prominent of the savanna peoples. Sizable concentrations of Amerindians inhabit the far west along the border with Venezuela and Brazil. They are rarely seen in the populated coastal areas, although a few have interbred with blacks and East Indians. Since 1970, traditional Amerindian lands near the international borders have come under government control, although Amerindians continue to hold village lands informally throughout Guyana’s interior….”
ETHNOLOGUE: Guyana— Co-operative Republic of Guyana. Formerly British Guiana. 754,000 (1995). 43,000 Amerindians (1990 J. Forte). Literacy rate 91%. Also includes Chinese 1,500. Information mainly from SIL 1995, D. Wall WC 1982. Christian, Hindu, Muslim, traditional religion, secular. Blind population 1,300 (1982 WCE). Deaf institutions: 6. Data accuracy estimate: A2, B. The number of languages listed for Guyana is 14.
FOREST PEOPLES PROGRAMME INFORMATION UPDATE, 19 February 1997, Little progress in the recognition and demarcation of Indigenous lands in Guyana: The Government of Guyana recently approved its budget for 1997. Included therein is 50 million Guyana Dollars (approximately 365,000 US Dollars) for the demaraction of titled Indigenous territory. This amount may be sufficent to demarcate 2 or 3 titled areas, assuming that non-essential overhead costs are minimized. The World Bank has offered a further US200,000 for demarcation and is prepared to make aditional financing available. However, the Government of Guyana has failed to respond to the offer, raising serious questions about their willingness to legally recognize and demarcate Amerindian lands.
Guyana Mission: “Our ministry in Guyana mainly consists of evangelism through team ministry and the Jesus film to the Amerindian people. The primary emphasis is on those who live in remote villages surrounded by dense rain forest and swamps. One of the first trips made in this area over 1,500 people gave their hearts to Christ….” (information no longer made available online)
Guyana: Transnational mining companies’ impacts on people and the environment: “Inner land in Guyana consists of a 150 kilometre wide tropical rainforest, mostly untouched. However, the official perception since the ‘70s of mining as essential for “development”, and the opening of the country’s economy –with the subsequent promotion of the exploitation of natural resources, especially timber and minerals– to face the increasing foreign debt and satisfy the conditions of the 1991 structural adjustment programme imposed by the IMF and the World Bank, have paved the way to transnational companies. Thanks to the generous grating of huge areas for timber and mining exploitation, they are making big business and, at the same time, destroying the environment and causing severe problems to indigenous peoples….”
Guyana tries to save indigenous languages by Bert Wilkinson: Georgetown, Oct 21 (IPS) – University of Guyana researcher Desrey Fox knows that with each passing day, the battle to save major Amerindian languages is being lost, mainly through increased contact with English-speaking Coastlanders, teachers and religous leaders.
Guyana, Wai-Wai Indian Project, by the Scientific Exploration Society: “Since 1988 the Scientific Exploration Society (SES) has at the request of the Guyana Government, been carrying out projects in Guyana…During a visit to the Wai Wai in March / April 2000, Elessa, the tribe’s priest asked Colonel John Blashford-Snell if a grand piano could be obtained for their church. Although the Wai Wai could not play one they are musical people and it was felt they could soon learn. Whilst consideration was being given to this request the Essequibo burst its banks flooding Gunns village. Major General Joe Singh, former commander of the Guyana Defence Force has always taken a keen interest in the Wai Wai’s affairs. He is also the SES representative in Guyana and alerted the Society to the fact that the Wai Wai were in a desperate state. Immediately funds were sent out to enable a powerful chainsaw to be purchased and used to clear a site for a new village on higher ground. At this time the Millennium Copthorne Group whose Chairman, Mr Kwek Leng Beng is a classical music enthusiast, kindly agreed to provide a grand piano and BWIA West Indies Airways offered to fly it to Georgetown, the capital of Guyana….”
Guyanese Amerindians Fight for Land: “WASHINGTON, Nov 1 (IPS) – Indigenous leaders are suing the government of Guyana to gain title to a large block of land for their communities – the first such lawsuit to be brought before the courts in that South American nation. Six indigenous Amerindian chiefs filed their claim last week with the Guyana High Court. They are seeking title to about 7,700 square kms of land, only about half of which is recognised as beloning to indigeneous groups. ‘Our communities have been requesting title to these lands, which we know to be ours’ since 1967, the AmerIndians said in a statement, distributed by the Washington-based Coalition for Amazonian Peoples and Their Environment….”
Indigenous Peoples of Guyana: This site offers an introductory overview, with photos, of the Amerindians of Guyana, their current situation, challenges and prospects.
Indigenous peoples fight for territorial rights in Guyana: “The opening of Guyana to foreign companies from the mid-1980s has caused destruction in the country’s tropical forests -a rare case of virtually untouched ecosystems until then- and the complete disregard of the Amerindians that have lived in these forests for centuries using their resources in a sustainable way. This process continues to the detriment of Guyana’s forests and indigenous peoples, who are carrying out actions to revert such situation….”
The Karinya (Carib) Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The earliest Karinya inhabited the upper Pomeroon river between 3000 and 2000 years ago. They were unique in their mastery of painted ceramics. Occupying only the coastal areas, Karinya pottery is distributed as far as the mouth of the Amazon. Certain traits of their material culture seem to suggest an association with the Karinya of Colombia…”
Main Amerindian Groups in Guyana: A short introduction on each of the main Amerindian groupings in Guyana–“By the nineteenth century, the principal Amerindian tribes inhabiting Guyana were the Caribs, the Akawois or Waikas, the Arawaks and the Warrous or Guaraunos. Interestingly, the Arawaks, Caribs and Akawois called themselves ‘Lokono’, ‘Carinya’ and ‘Kapohn’, respectively – all meaning ‘the people’ in their respective languages”.
The Makusi Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Carib-speaking Makusi appear to have been pushed into the north Rupununi savannas by the Arawakan Wapisiana of the south sometime toward the end of the 18th century. Their ultimate affiliation is with the Rio Branco savannas of Brazil where their characteristic burial urns date to around 1000 A.D…”
National Development Strategy and Amerindian Policies–DRAFT October 15, 1996-Contents: I. Basic Features of the Sector, A. Geographical Distribution, B. Socioeconomic Conditions; II. Past Evolution and Current Policies of the Sector, A. Past Evolution of Policies, B. Current Policies Towards Amerindians; III. Description of the Principal Issues and Constraints Facing the Sector, A. Issues, B. Constraints Affecting the Development of Amerindians; IV. Sectoral Objectives, A. General Objectives, B. Specific Objectives; V. Alternative Policies for Achieving Stated Objectives, A. Amerindian Representation, B. National Security, C. Amerindian Lands, D. Hereditary Rights, E. Intellectual Property Rights and Cultural Heritage;VI. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justifications, A. General Policy Recommendations, B. Specific Recommendations; VII. Recommended Legislative Changes, A. The General Issues, B. The Specific Issues
Oxfam, “Amerindian Communities in Guyana are Mapping their Future,” by Michelle Beveridge, from the Internet Archive: Excerpt—“The river is everything to the community; it is the only form of transportation linking people to each other.There is no electricity or plumbing system. In the village of Santa Rosa, there is only one road which leads from the river wharf past the secondary school and to the farm land. Homes in the forest are joined together by narrow red clay paths. The Amerindian people living along the Moruca River in Santa Rosa and Wamaruri are mostly Arawaks, Warrau and Carib Indians. They are subsistence fishers and farmers – growing coconuts, peanuts and cassava, and gathering wood from trees such as the troolie palm for their building material. Santa Rosa was established in 1818 as a Catholic mission by priests and Arawak Indians from Venezuela, a few years after the British colonizers had just abolished slavery in Guyana. Of Santa Rosa’s 15,000 residents, 8,000 are looking for jobs. ‘We have a large population here and the unemployment is very, very high,’ explains Sharon Atkinson, Vice President of the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) which has a membership unit in Santa Rosa. “We just have teachers. They are the biggest work force. Most people do subsistence farming because we can’t go into the commercial market still using hoes.’…”
Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Amerindian Tribal Nations. Damon Gerard Corrie – On 31 December 1999, Damon Gerard Corrie was elected unopposed to the position of Sovereign Chief of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Amerindian Tribal Nations. On January 1, 1999, a 25-year-old Barbadian by the name of Damon Corrie became the second most influential Amerindian leader in the CARICOM when he was elected to the position of vice-sovereign chief of the 53,000 citizens of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Amerindian Tribal Nations.
The Patamona Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Patamona are known archaeologically from pottery collections in the Yawong Valley and the upper Siparuni liver. The upper Siparuni was exploited until recently for suitable farm lands, hunting and fishing. These collections suggest an affiliation with Akawaio groups in the 19th century…”
Timberhead Eco Resort: “Located within an Amerindian reservation and reached only by boat, the Timberhead offers an unforgettable vacation experience. You live in the jungle lodges, bult by native craftsmen using handcrafted local timber and thatched roofs. Each lodge offers double or twin rooms with all conveniences. An Amerindian family will be your hosts as you relax in the spacious open area with hammocks and window seats affording spectacular views of jungle and savannah”.
The WaiWai Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “Also archaeologically unknown, the Waiwai seemed to have moved into Guyana from Brazil during the late 19th century, and occupied the upper Essequibo river with the Carib-speaking Taruma who were there around 1925. The Waiwai still use their traditional dress…”
The Wapisiana Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Wapisiana appear to be the linguistic descendants of the Central Arawaks whose earliest occupations at Kurupukari Falb on the upper Essequibo river date to 1000 B.C. Fish trap petroglyphs on the upper Essequibo and Kassikaityu rivers date back to 4000 years ago. These traps continue in use among present day Wapisiana…”
The Warau (Warao) Indians of Guyana (Walter Roth Museum): “The Warau were food collectors. Gathering their protein from crabs and other shellfish species, they have occupied the northwest coast of Guyana for well over 7000 years. The ite or moriche palm (Mauritia flexuosa) provided them with flour, fat from the larvae of the Rhyncophorus beetle, drink, fruit and leaves for thatching and hammock making. To the Warau the ite palm is the Tree of Life. Around 5300 years ago, Warau on the Moruka river developed the dugout canoe, making possible the peopling of the Caribbean…”
World Resources Institute: “Challenges to and Opportunities for Profit Without Plunder: Conflicts over Amerindian Lands and Rights”-“Like many countries, Guyana has yet to resolve certain Amerindian land issues. Some indigenous people live in logging and mining concessions or in areas where these activities have been proposed and rely on threatened forest resources for subsistence….”
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