17 June 2011

Cristo Adonis, Speaking on Amerindian Heritage Day in Arima, Trinidad, in 2008

Cristo Adonis is one of the key figures at the heart of Arima's Santa Rosa Carib Community, a shaman, a nationally noted parang singer, a builder of Amerindian thatched huts, a hunter, a gardener, and much more. In a series of interviews below he expounds on the meaning of Amerindian Heritage Day, the problems of recognition and survival, and the continuing challenges to the viability of the Carib Community.

Some notes on the first in the series of video segments of an interview between Tracy Assing and Cristo Adonis (Tracy Assing is a member of the community who would later produce a film, to be discussed in future posts on this site):
  • Adonis says the "day of recognition" (Amerindian Heritage Day), is an important day for young people of indigenous blood to become more aware of where they came from--then interrupted...

In the second video segment, these are some points to note:
  • Resuming from before, Amerindian Heritage Day will help raise awareness among the young people of the indigenous community itself, and to him personally, to give him more strength to carry on a fight begun long before;
  • After eight years that this Day has been instituted has there been any "measurable progress," Tracy Assing asks? Adonis says he is not satisfied, that the Day is not doing anything, it is only a show for people;
  • He says there is a need for land, for more educational events, and for greater youth involvement--there is a need to teach people in the Community, especially young people, respect for the elders, and also to teach elders how to pass information on to the young people;
  • Adonis remarks on the growing age of those who regularly attend meetings in the Carib Community, and what will happen tomorrow when we are gone? "Where do we go from here?"
  • Indigenous People have something to contribute to this country (Trinidad & Tobago) and the world; protection of the environment, self-sufficiency, etc.
  • "Do you feel recognized in your country?" Assing asks, saying that on the street he looks like everyone else, so how does he make his presence felt as Amerindian? He begins by answering, before being interrupted, about being more vocal and more visual.

In the third video segment, these are some of the main points expressed by Adonis:
  • Resuming from before...the Caribs have to be more vocal and more visual, and they need to do that themselves;
  • He says they cannot only depend on the authorities to announce a day of recognition...and is then interrupted again...

Some interesting points to note from this, the fourth and final video in the series of segments:
  • Adonis speaks of the three members of the Santa Rosa Carib Community on the Government's Cabinet-appointed Amerindian Projects Committee, as having a unique take on events;
  • He says that when the Caribs depend on being showcased, certain unspecified impositions are placed on the Carib Community, one of them seeming to be the constant request for information from schools.

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