18 October 2010

Legacy Lives On.

Legacy Lives On.
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Oct 18, 2010 at 11:32 PM ECT

Cristo Adonis, shaman of the Arima Carib community in Trinidad.

...of the Spaniards against his people in St Joseph. Hyarima is considered by the Santa Rosa Carib Community as this country's first national hero.

The week of activities included educational school tours, a taste of Amerindian cuisine, lectures, a smoke ceremony and heritage fair. The fair featured interactive games, dances and a petting zoo.

For Cristo Adonis, shaman of the Arima Carib community in Trinidad, the spirit of the indigenous people is as vibrant today as it was centuries ago.

"We are strong," he said. "We have remained with the knowledge of medicinal plants, although (these plants) are being destroyed every day when the hills are cut down. But we remain strong."

Adonis wished to remind the public that there were still people of indigenous descent here in this country, that they were strong and can contribute a lot to this land which was originally theirs.

"We can do a lot education wise because a lot of the history that was written, we know for a fact that those things were written by the European people from their point of view. So we can teach our young people the proper history of indigenous people. We can also teach a lot about the environment because that is our legacy. That is what we know. We are part of nature. I think the powers that be could adopt some of the principles of the indigenous people."

Adonis says that before Christopher Columbus landed in Trinidad there were over 40,000 people living here but the descendants of these peoples have since dispersed across the region.

"Trinidad was always a melting pot," he said.

Some of the things which have survived, he added, were the spiritual smoke ceremony, foods, and certain implements. Unfortunately, he said it has been a challenge for these people to gain recognition in modern society.

"It has been an uphill climb. I think it all started when people started saying that the Caribs were cannibals. There were a lot of young people who did not want to be associated with that. Although we were here first but in a minority, people hardly placed focus on us. The proper documentation on our way of life need to be placed in a proper perspective."

He lamented that whilst many traditional crafts have been lost over the passage of time, he is satisfied that those which have endured are being kept alive.

"We have lost the language because our people were forced to learn Spanish then forced to learn English." He added: "But we have survived for over 500 years so our (traditions) will carry on."

11 October 2010

Govt promises more land to Amerindians.

Govt promises more land to Amerindians.
By Miranda La Rose | Trinidad Express Newspapers | Oct 11, 2010 at 10:43 PM ECT

The Amerindian community in Arima is to get "an appropriate parcel of land on which we could faithfully recreate the living conditions, customs and traditions of the first people," Minister of Multiculturalism Winston Peters said.

Launching the week of activities to mark Amerindian heritage at the Arima Town Hall yesterday under the theme, "Survival of a People" Peters said he has directed that "a brief (on the issue) be brought forward at the shortest possible time for consideration".

He said, "I am not speaking about a meagre five acres that somebody else may have promised you some time ago."

Pledging "to work as hard as I can to ensure that you all get the lands that you deserve," he said that the People's Partnership Government takes the issues of indigenous people's seriously. To this end, he said that the Government ratified two United Nations Conventions to protect the heritage of indigenous peoples in July.

Through the Amerindian Project Committee and in collaboration with the Santa Rosa community, Peters said that the Government was working on several proposals for the long-term development of the indigenous community.

In his address, chief of the Santa Rosa community, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, said that while the community was grateful for the five acres of land given by the previous People's National Movement government, it was not enough.

"We humbly submit at this point that this is not enough for a people to whom this entire nation belongs and in particular for a community that was granted 1.320 acres or the mission of Santa Rosa. That is how Arima started," he said.

He noted that the UN recently adopted the declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which speaks of the protection of their cultural heritage and land rights issues, and that Trinidad and Tobago supported it.

"It is on this basis that we ask that this matter be reviewed by the present administration and that we be given a fair portion of land on which to establish a modern Amerindian village in a manner of our ancestors and that it be both a source of economic sustenance for our people and a tourist attraction for which Arima and the whole country could be proud," he said.

He said, too, that the past four administrations he has dealt, have all been sympathetic and have given some level of recognition and financial support for heritage activities.

"But we are seen as just another cultural group lining up for a subvention. That should not be so," he said.