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.
SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold PLAY LIST 06:27SEA Games 2019: No surprises as Gilas Pilipinas cruises to basketball gold02:43Philippines make clean sweep in Men’s and Women’s 3×3 Basketball02:43Philippines make clean sweep in Men’s and Women’s 3×3 Basketball02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award03:05Malakanyang bilib sa Phivolcs | Chona Yu Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “Yes,” he said about being one game away from a championship. “But we know San Miguel. They won’t go down that easily.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next MANILA, Philippines–Magnolia coach Chito Victolero had little to say about his team’s loss to San Miguel two nights ago.ADVERTISEMENT The Witcher series prompts over 500,000 reprints of Andrzej Sapkowski’s books ‘Spider Man’ storms court during PBA Finals, hits June Mar Fajardo “It was a miracle shot. I know that when they have some runs, we just needed to weather the storm,” he said. “This is the ballgame we wanted—as close as possible—to just have that chance in the end.”AdChoices广告Ads by TeadsThe roller-coaster game hit fever pitch when a spectator in Spider-man costume stormed center court and accidentally hit June Mar Fajardo.READ: After game 4 guarantee, Arwind Santos confident San Miguel can finally pull aheadFrom thereon, the Beermen moved closer to the Hotshots all thanks to Terrence Romeo’s triple that knotted the game at 86.The Hotshots have a chance to dethrone the four-time defending champions this Sunday at the same venue.ADVERTISEMENT Duterte lambasts Catholic Church anew in curse-laden speech before Filipino Baptists Will you be the first P16 Billion Powerball jackpot winner from the Philippines? Eduard Folayang gets new opponent for ONE Manila card LeBron James stretches lead in NBA All-Star Game fan voting Pagadian on tighter security for 100,000 expected at Sto. Niño feast Phivolcs: Slim probability of Taal Volcano caldera eruption Solon urges Solgen to reconsider quo warranto petition vs ABS-CBN His team would rather let their game speak—especially Mark Barroca—in the Hotshots’ stunning victory over the San Miguel Beermen, 88-86, to take a 3-2 Philippine Cup Finals series lead Friday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.Barroca tied his sterling performance in Game 4 in most impressive fashion, sinking a mid-range jumpshot to win the game and put his team on the brink of the championship and cap what had been an eventful night in one fell swoop.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGolden State Warriors sign Lee to multiyear contract, bring back ChrissSPORTSCoronation night?SPORTSThirdy Ravena gets offers from Asia, Australian ball clubsREAD: ‘Spider Man’ storms court during PBA Finals, hits June Mar Fajardo“I love that guy. He’s not afraid to shoot,” coach Victolero said. “Saktong, sakto ‘yung tira.” MOST READ View comments Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard LATEST STORIES