17 June 2011

Vel Lewis, Head of the Amerindian Projects Committee, Speaking in Arima in 2008

The video below dates back to Amerindian Heritage Day, 14 October 2008, in Arima, Trinidad, and the week of events surrounding it. The speaker opening the event is Vel Lewis, the head of the government-appointed Amerindian Projects Committee, one of whose main purposes was to reach a decision on the allocation of lands to the Santa Rosa Carib Community.

Some interesting points to note:
  • Lewis, using terminology adopted from the Canadian context, refers to the local community as the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community;
  • He says that "we all know what happened" since the days when Trinidad was populated entirely by Amerindians--in actuality, it is that history of what happened since the arrival of colonizers that has been the subject of great dispute, especially as "we all what happened" has usually prefaced the assertion that the Amerindians became extinct;
  • Lewis salutes the Santa Rosa Carib Community for maintaining the Carib culture, which in itself is just one of very many statements that serves as acts of routine, everyday official recognition;
  • Lewis praises the work of the Carib Community on the international front, in hosting international indigenous gatherings during CARIFESTA V in 1992, and again in 1993, and then becoming the chair of the Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples;
  • He promised that during 2008-2009 there would be an intensification of the work of the Amerindian Projects Committee, and a campaign to raise public awareness--he refers to two films and a book to be used in schools (no further information provided), plus the work of the National Museum and National Trust to develop the exhibits at the Carib Community Centre;
  • Lewis talks about the development of a "model heritage village" which would be like an "outdoor museum"--this refers to the Amerindian village the Carib Community has long sought to establish; and,
  • In 2008, Trinidad and Tobago would be represented for the first time at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and Lewis draws attention to other aspects of UN work to develop awareness of local indigenous communities, as well as mentioning the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

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