By Wayne Bowman
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Mar 7, 2013 at 10:01 PM ECT
Work is expected to begin soon on the construction of a model Amerindian village on the Blanchisseuse Road, Arima, on lands provided to the Santa Rosa First Peoples Carib Community and other indigenous peoples of the island.
The land was granted to the organisation by the Government through the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.
Minister Clifton de Coteau on Wednesday visited the site, where a smoke ceremony was performed by members of the organisation as a thanksgiving for the land.
The 25-acre parcel of land is situated on a plateau off the Blanchisseuse Road, and the intention is to build a model of an Amerindian village as it would have been in the time before the colonists wrested possession of the land away from the First Peoples.
Carib Chief Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath, in his address, thanked the Government for granting his people the land, but made it clear that for the organisation the land is not a gift because it was theirs in the first place before the colonists came and took it away.
Bharath also said they deserved more than 25 acres, and he is hoping the acreage will expand beyond what it is at present as the Government understands more what was taken away from his people.
He expressed concerned over the construction of a housing development by a private developer on a parcel of land bordering the site of the proposed Amerindian village. He said a housing development will not fit well with the village, and he is hoping the development will not take place.
De Coteau said the creation of the Amerindian village will cost about $1.9 million and will feature, among other things, dwelling huts, a restaurant, a gift shop and a cassava processing plant, where visitors will be able to see how the root crop was processed into farine and other products.