It is now more than two decades since the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Administration announced in 1995 that henceforth, the month of September would be designated “Amerindian Heritage Month” and that the Guyanese State would launch a series of activities annually to bring to the consciousness and weave into the rich tapestry of Guyana, the heritage of our Indigenous peoples. Locked away in the hinterland from the plantation-colonised coastal region, it was a case of “out of sight, out of mind” to the 90 per cent of the populace resident here.Every year since 1995, Amerindian Heritage Month was given a theme, with “Guyana’s first peoples – Sustaining a rich cultural environment,” being the one for 2017. This theme is rather ironic since the “cultural environment” of the Indigenous peoples is inextricably bound up with their land, and their rights to the latter have been subjected to extremely gratuitous attacks from members of the present administration.Unlike the descendants of Columbus and those they colonised and hegemonised, the Indigenous peoples view the land they occupy as sacred since they are sustained in every way through the crops they can grow, the animals they can hunt or fish, the shelters they can build, the cotton fabric they can cover their nakedness with and the herbs from the forest that provide medicines to cure their ailments. Like most modern men, our coastlanders can learn the true meaning of “environmental consciousness” from our Indigenous peoples who have not been completely brainwashed as most of us are into believing the earth is to be raped and ravished.What the Government is attempting to undermine – through stratagems such as attempting to subsume Amerindian Land Rights under a Commission of Inquiry into “African Ancestral Land Rights” and wild claims that some Indigenous peoples are not actually “indigenous” to Guyana – is the authoritative legal acknowledgement of Amerindian Land Rights. Unlike what one presidential advisor asserted, the lands which Indigenous peoples have been given, can be given title to and are not “reparations” for any past actions of the departed European powers, but an acknowledgement of their rights over land to which they are spiritually and culturally connected. The Dutch, whose rights the British assumed, never conquered but made treaties with the Indigenous peoples.In 1965, the first Amerindian Member of Parliament, Stephen Campbell accompanied the People’s National Congress (PNC) delegation, headed by Forbes Burnham, to London to negotiate the terms of Guyana’s imminent independence. Annex C of the Independence Agreement stipulated that the independent government provide legal ownership or rights of occupancy for Amerindians over: “areas and reservations or parts thereof where any tribe or community of Amerindians is now ordinarily resident or settled and other legal rights, such as the rights of passage, in respect of any other lands they now by tradition or custom de facto enjoy freedoms and permissions corresponding to rights of that nature.”By 1976, the Amerindian Act4 passed by the then PNC Government to give effect to Annex C, resulted in some Amerindian villages obtaining title to their lands. But it was not until a new Amerindian Act was passed by the PPP Government in 2006 that the full meaning of Annex C was given meaning. Unlike the allusions as to when any particular Amerindian tribe arrived in Guyana, Article 60 (1) of the Act declares simply, “An Amerindian Community may apply in writing to the Minister for a grant of State lands provided – (a) it has been in existence for at least twenty-five years; (b) at the time of the application and for the immediately preceding five years, it comprised at least one hundred and fifty persons.”Emphasising the spiritual and cultural nexus with their lands, Article 62 (2) states, “In making a decision the Minister shall…consider the extent to which the Amerindian Village or Community has demonstrated a physical, traditional, cultural association with or spiritual attachment to the land requested.”It is hoped the Government will use the State apparatus to educate the Guyanese people on the above.