By JULIEN NEAVES | Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday | Saturday, July 13 2013
LOCAL indigenous peoples group “Partners for First Peoples” says if Government does not agree to make the Red House a national historical site, they will take their case to the United Nations.
“Here is a Government that is taking a sacred site, and depriving the first peoples of their claim to it,” said one of the group leaders, Roger Belix.
First Peoples groups believe that skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts unearthed on March 26 last during excavation work at the Red House, which is to undergo restoration works, were that of their ancestors.
At a press conference on Tuesday the various groups called on Government to turn the Red House into a national historical site, and consider the permanent removal of Parliament, which has been housed temporarily at the International Waterfront Centre, since October, 2011.
Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration, Clifton De Coteau, had described the request as “a very tall order”, but reported that he would meet next week with Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez of the Santa Rosa First People’s Indigenous Community.
Yesterday Belix noted that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was “quite clear on burial sites of indigenous peoples that they should be protected and returned.”
Partners for First Peoples was one of the groups that had been engaging with the Red House Cultural Heritage Team, a Cabinet-appointed committee to manage aspects of the historical find.
Meantime, members of the Santa Rosa First People’s Indigenous Community plan to perform today, a spiritual ritual at the Red House in Port-of-Spain to “appease the spirits” of bones disturbed during works at the Red House site.