Sep 23, 2020 Letters
The current pandemic is causing turbulent times for people in Guyana, particularly the Indigenous and rural population that are facing vulnerable survival situation. There are crucial issues to be dealt with for example, ongoing academic learning for our children that was halted because of the closure of schools in the country to contain the spread of COVID-19. I hope authorities come up with alternative initiatives to assist our children who are being left behind in formal learning, just as how there is that obsession to invest and reinstate community support officers (CSOs) in hinterland communities.
Nevertheless, we are still in Indigenous heritage month an opportune time to discuss the trajectory of Indigenous people and Stephen Campbell, the trailblazer, who is the genesis of September activities. Editor, it’s great to remember Mr. Campbell going to the queen to present his petition on behalf of us for our lands to be recognized in the advent of Guyana’s independence. However, to juxtapose colonial and pre-Columbian history, the former represents a subordinated system or in simple terms top downwards approach to us. Hope I am not sounding subversive.
Reading literature on pre-Columbian history by Brazilian Archaeologists like Pedro Mentz and Guyanese Dennis Williams, among others, they documented that Indigenous people inhabited the South American continent for thousands of years prior to 1492 when Columbus set foot on it. Their study further highlighted that that time there was no Brazil, no Guyana, no Venezuela, etc., only a huge expanse of inhabited territory by native people. This understanding showed that Indigenous people inhabited the wild land of modern day Guyana which eventually evolved into a nation state by the latest colonial power, the British that UNITED the three colonies of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo which became known as British Guiana in 1831.
Analyzing pre-Columbia history, in my opinion, the inverse situation should have occurred with Mr. Campbell granting permission to the British to use the first inhabitants’ lands. This system should also be practice by modern state governments in Guyana and other countries to Indigenous people where they seek land permission from us, rather than we make formal requests and pleas to get authorities to demarcate and grant us land titles and extensions.
Happy heritage month to all!
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