29 November 2005

APA in Guyana Responds

Statement from the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana:

In response to the proposed revision of the Amerindian Act and the refusal of the Government of Guyana to apply the term "indigenous" to the Amerindians of Guyana.


"Indigenous’ cannot refer to Afro-Guyanese:
The term ‘indigenous’ can only be applied to Amerindians in Guyana. During the debate in Parliament, the Minister stated that the term ‘indigenous’ cannot be used in the Bill because it could apply to Afro-Guyanese in addition to Amerindians. She cited decisions of the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights, and the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as evidence to support this statement. She also stated that international definitions of the term ‘indigenous peoples’ may include Afro-Guyanese because they were present prior to colonization in 1803. Both of these assertions are incorrect and, under international law, Amerindian peoples are the only groups that can be considered to be indigenous to what is now called Guyana...." CLICK HERE TO READ MORE.

Guyana Challenges Indigenous Definitions

The Government of Guyana Attacks Ideas of Amerindians as "Indigenous":

Thanks to Fergus MacKay, the following information bulletin is presented here, dealing with how the Government of Guyana, in its proposed revision of the Amerindian Act, refuses to class Amerindians as "indigenous," arguing that all Guyanese are indigenous. In the following posting, a commentary produced by the Amerindian Peoples Association of Guyana, condemning this approach, will be attached.

The following was sent by Fergus MacKay:

Information from booklet prepared by the Government Information Agency (GINA) and distributed to Indigenous Communities in Guyana.

Title of Booklet.
The New Amerindian Act.
What it will do for Amerindians.
Answers to your questions.

Why is it still called the “Amerindian Act” and not the “Indigenous Peoples Act?”

“Indigenous Peoples” is a very wide term that means different things to different people. Everybody has a right under international law to define themselves as “indigenous.” In addition, the Government looked at many international definitions and found that some of them include not only Amerindians but also other sections of the Guyanese community.

Some people suggest that we define “indigenous” so it only applies to Amerindians but then it means that other Guyanese would no longer be able to call themselves indigenous and this would breach the principle set by international law.

All people have a right to call themselves “indigenous peoples” if they want. Indeed, earlier this year a French delegation made a presentation to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples in Geneva as the Indigenous Peoples of France.

Fergus MacKay
Coordinator, Legal and Human Rights Programme
Forest Peoples Programme
Ph/Fax: 31-20-419-1746

11 November 2005

Canadian First Nations in Trinidad: Continued

For more coverage in Trinidadian newspapers of the recent Canadian First Nations visit to the Caribs of Trinidad, see the following link:


05 November 2005

New Book: America is Indian Country

America is Indian Country
The Best of Indian Country Today

Edited by: Tim Johnson, Jose Barreiro

The dominant issues in both Indian and national public life in the first four years of this century have been met head-on by contemporary Native thinkers and writers. America Is Indian Country goes way beyond the usual litany of complaints about historical injustices and atrocities. The book is replete with nuggets that crisply and passionately explain many current issues facing tribes, from preservation of traditional culture to the defense of precarious new economic potentials based on tribal sovereignty. It is a book that reflects Indian perspectives and becomes, in fact, a Native critique of American life.

Binding Information: Paperback
ISBN: 1-55591-537-X
Pages: 352
Size: 9" X 6"
See: Fulcrum Publishing at http://www.fulcrum-books.com/

01 November 2005

Amerindian Heritage Day in Trinidad

Caribs Celebrate
Thursday, 13 October, 2005
Trinidad Express



"Tomorrow, members of the local Carib community will celebrate Amerindian Heritage Day in Arima. This year marks the fifth anniversary of their celebrations and the Caribs will be joined by overseas delegations of indigenous peoples from North America, Latin America and the Caribbean for the big occasion. At a press conference held last Tuesday at the Arima Town Hall, Ricardo Bharath, deputy Mayor of Arima and president of the Arima Carib Community, announced plans for this year's celebrations..."

Canadian First Nations Visit Trinidad Caribs

Canadian First Nations' Mission to Trinidad & Tobago

See entry for October 18, 2005, at http://www.anishinabek.ca/anish/blog.htm, from which the following is an extract:

ARIMA, TRINIDAD – There were a lot of early mornings and a lot of hard work, but my experience last week in Arima, Trinidad was certainly the time of my life. I have never felt such a close kinship with any other Indigenous Nation that I felt with the First Peoples of Trinidad. I arrived in Trinidad on a red eye from Toronto, landing in Piarcos International Airport south of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. I was fortunate to be travelling with Perry McLeod-Shabogesic, his son Falcon Skye, and Professor Nuhim Kanhai who were also a part of the delegation from Canada. Our diplomatic mission was put together very hastily by the representatives of the Santa Rosa Carib Community and my office and details had not been forthcoming until late Friday afternoon. My information didn't indicate any accommodations for the first two days, nor did it indicate that someone was to meet us at the airport. Obviously, I had some concerns over our first 48 hours. I was certainly relieved and pleased to see that Santa Rosa president himself, Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernendez was at the airport early on October 10 to greet us warmly at the airport and lead us to our accommodations in St. Augustine.

Venezuelan Amerindians Protest Expulsion of US Evangelists

"Venezuelan Indigenous Tribes Protest Chavez Government Order Expelling U.S. Evangelists," Natalie Obiko Pearson, The Associated Press, October, 28, 2005.

Hundreds of indigenous Venezuelans marched Friday to protest President Hugo Chavez's threat to expel a group of U.S.-based evangelists, amid intensifying government scrutiny of foreign missionaries operating in the country. The protesters - including some who traveled for days by boat from their homes in the dense Amazon jungle - showed their support for New Tribes Mission, which Chavez has accused of 'imperialist infiltration' and exploiting indigenous communities. Luis Rodriguez, a Piapoco Indian, said the missionaries helped indigenous tribes during hard times when aid from government authorities was scarce or nonexistent. 'The government didn't arrive here to do anything important for us,' said Rodriguez, 41, as he marched with fellow demonstrators, some of whom sang hymns. Two weeks ago, Chavez ordered the New Tribes missionaries to leave the country, accusing the Sanford, Fla.-based organization of links to the CIA and gathering 'strategic information' in the country's Amazon rainforest. Government officials and other critics of the evangelist group have since backed Chavez's decision, accusing the missionaries of destroying indigenous culture and using their presence in remote, mineral-rich tracts of Venezuela to conduct reconnaissance work for foreign mining and pharmaceutical interests. New Tribes has denied the accusations and is seeking a meeting with Chavez to try to resolve the matter, said a New Tribes spokesman, Ronald Van Peursem. He said the group believes the president has been misinformed about its work in the country. Supporters say the missionaries have brought much-needed medical, educational and other assistance to impoverished indigenous communities who have long been neglected by the authorities.

South American Indigenous Leaders Back Chavez Plan

"Foro Indigena Sudamericano Analiza Propuesta De Hugo Chavez," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 12 Octubre 2005.

QUITO: La Cumbre de Legisladores y Lideres Indigenasde Sudamerica, con la asistencia de Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia, Peru y Venezuela, arranco hoy en Quito con el analisis, entre otros temas, de la propuesta del presidente venezolano Hugo Chavez de la Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas (ABPA). El encuentro, al que asisten como observadores nueve legisladores del Pais Vasco, fue inaugurado oficialmente con la presencia del presidente del Congreso de Ecuador, Wilfrido Lucero, mientras el jefe de Estado ecuatoriano, Alfredo Palacio, se excuso de asistir a ultima hora. La ABPA, propuesta por Chavez y que centra la atencion del encuentro, es una alternativa al Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) andino que negocian Ecuador, Colombia y Peru con Estados Unidos y que ha recibido la oposicion de grupos de izquierda e indigenas en la region.

Venezuela: Indigenous Land Grants

"Chávez Entrega 160 Mil Hectáreas De Tierra A Etnias Indígenas,"
Xinhua News Agency - Spanish, 12 Octubre 2005.

CARACAS: El presidente venezolano, Hugo Chávez, entregó hoy 160 mil hectáreas de tierras a 15 comunidades indígenas de cuatro estados venezolanos. En el marco de la celebración del Día de la Resistencia Indígena, desde el estado llanero de Apure, el mandatario venezolano indicó que los indígenas recobraron la libertad y el derecho al progreso. Vestido con uniforme militar, Chávez entregó tractores, 160 mil hectáreas de tierras y títulos de propiedad colectiva, a 15 comunidades indígenas provenientes de los estados venezolanos de Apure, Anzoátegui, Sucre y Delta Amacuro. Los indígenas recobraron la libertad y el derecho al progreso con la entrega de varias maquinarias y la titularidad colectiva de terrenos en donde se desarrollarán programas internos, destacó el presidente. Durante el acto, transmitido en cadena nacional de radio y televisión, el mandatario venezolano donó tractores, camiones, motores y ganado a etnias de la comunidad Barranco Yopal del estado Apure.