Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 2013 Contents A26
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, July 17, 2013
As a society we deny part of our-
selves when we fail to give full
recognition to the indigenous
Amerindians, the First Peoples of T&T.
And we do so, preoccupied as we are,
with the sometimes inflamed, and always
foolish and destructive contest between
Afro-and Indo-T&T for political, cultural,
economic and social hegemony.
The reality is that as a society we have
ignored the legitimate claims of the
indigenous Amerindian peoples of T&T
and the Caribbean for land, cultural
recognition and an opportunity for those
left behind to gain a measure of pride in
It must therefore have been satisfying
for the community that a representative
group of the Amerindian peoples---mainly
those of Arima, led by Chief Ricardo
Bharath-Hernandez and Carib Queen Jen-
nifer Cassar---was allowed onto the com-
pound of the Red House last Saturday to
perform a burial ritual, Purublaka, to
sanctify the remains of their ancestors
buried there reportedly between AD 0-
The precursor to the ceremony of last
Saturday was the archaeological find
under the Red House in March this year
of what are said to be human bones of
the Amerindian peoples and artefacts of
their civilisation. For many, such a ritual
over the remains of people who are esti-
mated to have died over 1,700 years ago
may have seen silly and meaningless; but
for the descendants of a people who have
little to remember their past by, being at
the ground of their ancient ancestors
must have been an exciting psychological
and spiritual contact with it.
For what must now be decades, suc-
ceeding governments here have denied,
equivocated or at worst simply ignored
continuing requests of the Amerindian
descendants for a physical base to gather
together to begin the task of what
amounts to an archaeological search of
their cultural past.
It is a search necessary to deal with the
sense of anomie which has been the
experience of the descendants of the
Amerindian peoples, their ancestors hav-
ing been brutalised in their hundreds of
millions by European settlement looking
for lands and precious metals in North,
Central and South America and the
The 400-year-old genocide of the
Amerindian populations in the Americas
has left the descendants scattered on
reservations (the most barren of lands) in
the USA, on the fringes of societies in
South and Central America and almost
obliterated from Caribbean societies.
It is easy to understand why north
American society keeps it quiet and spins
propaganda around what Prof David
Standard (historian) calls the "American
Holocaust: Columbus and the Conquest
of the New World," it would have been
expected that a post-colonial society and
peoples, ie T&T, which also suffered
through the colonial experience, would
have displayed greater sensibilities and
sensitivities to avoid perpetuating what
British and American colonial society did
to rob people of their humanity and cul-
By procrastinating and politicising the
requests for land and state assistance to
establish an Amerindian village, complete
with the facilities needed for economic
self-sufficiency and the regeneration of
cultural pride, we as a post-colonial peo-
ple have exercised a form of oppression
over our First Peoples.
We have become (as Lloyd Best would
have said) the new governors and colonial
secretaries. It is unbelievable that a people
who once had control of all of Trinidad,
have for decades been denied a 25-acre
plot of land.
To continue to deny all Amerindian
groups here the right to an identity will
mean that the government and people of
T&T would have contributed significantly
to the gradual dispersion and eventual
disappearance of the cultural remains of
our Amerindian ancestors.
Today in many parts of the world,
indigenous peoples are being brutalised
out of existence: "Indigenous peoples
continue to suffer discrimination, margin-
alisation, extreme poverty and conflict.
Some are being dispossessed of their tra-
ditional lands as their livelihoods are
being undermined. Meanwhile, their belief
systems, cultures, languages and ways of
life continue to be threatened, sometimes
even by extinction," states the 2009 UN
report on the State of Indigenous Peoples.
As indicated last Saturday by Chief
Bharath-Hernandez, this country is a sig-
natory to Article 11 of the UN Declaration
which demands that: "1. Indigenous peo-
ples have the right to practise and revi-
talise their cultural traditions and cus-
toms. This includes the right to maintain,
protect and develop the past, present and
future manifestations of their cultures,
such as archaeological and historical sites,
artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies
and visual and performing arts and litera-
I well remember the feeling on the
300th anniversary of the event at Arena
in the San Rafael forest when a small
group of Amerindian descendants gath-
ered to mark the 300th anniversary of the
occasion in December 1699 when the
Amerindians, tired of the brutality of the
Spanish, descended upon the governor
and his party and killed them all but one.
Of course the response by the Spanish
colonial oppressors was deadly, and did
not take into consideration that the
Amerindian peoples, tired of being
pressed into servitude in their own land
by outsiders, were fighting for their lives
and their way of life.
6 cops to face trial
This will be an interesting trial, I look
forward to hearing more details and the
different accounts of what really happened.
Justice at work.
charge and take to trial 6 members of our
protective services for the alleged murder of
3 of our citizens.
I do hope that they will receive a fair trial,
as any other citizen should, and if found
guilty of the charges will receive the
punishment they deserve, no hold bars.
500 more traffic
Letting loose 500 traffic wardens on the
streets of T&T is asking for trouble. Most of
our citizens are too hot tempered and need
years of education in the field of civic
responsibilities and self discipline.
This is not going to work here. We are not
yet ready for this type of public control. We
need people with already accepted and
recognised authority to deal with the public
where violations of traffic rules and
regulations are concerned.
What do these traffic wardens do other
than talk on their mobile phones? There are
usually six or so of them standing on a
corner and who is not on their phone is in a
group huddle talking, even though chaos is
happening with the traffic.
I have not seen a traffic warden take any
action since these people were employed.
They also have to learn to communicate
better with the public, a lot of them have no
Speaking from experience.
Since these new traffic wardens are to be
paid out of public funds and 500 of them is
not an insignificant number, I would think a
follow up article focusing on the performance
of the existing traffic wardens would be of
greater value in educating the public.
FULL RECOGNITION OF OUR
FIRST PEOPLES LONG OVERDUE
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