Community President: Ricardo Hernandez
This year 2013, the community celebrates the 13th year of Amerindian Heritage Week, which runs from October 11-17.
Participants at this year’s celebrations include the First Peoples delegates from the neighbouring countries of Guyana, Suriname, Belize, Venezuela, Dominica, St Vincent, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Ecuador, Canada and the USA—to participate in various activities on a daily basis.
This year the indigenous community is collaborating with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT), the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration and other members of Civil Society to commemorate the occasion.
One of the major events is the observance of the Day of Recognition of this country’s Amerindian Heritage. The day begins with the traditional smoke ceremony at the Statue of Hyarima in Arima.
President of the Community, Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, told the Sunday Express that the Hyarima is key to the history of the first peoples, since he was the War Chief of the Nepuyo Nation who, with the help of the Dutch settlers in Tobago, completely burnt the Spanish settlement of St Joseph thus chasing the Spaniards out of Trinidad for a short time.
A formal ceremony is planned from 3 p.m. that same day, October 14, at the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s (UTT) O’Meara Campus, to commemorate the Day of Recognition. Representatives of various First Peoples of Trinidad and Tobago who trace their ancestry to pre-Columbian times would be in attendance.
Jennifer Cassar, is the current ceremonial Queen of the Arima-based community.
The Minister of First Peoples Development of the Government of Venezuela and The Australian Deputy High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago, Leona Landers, who is herself of First Peoples’ ancestry of Australia, are expected to be in attendance.
This year, as well, a significant component of the heritage Week activities would be an International Conference entitled “Exploring heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating a Legacy” to be held at the UTT O’Meara Campus on October 11.
It is expected to run for three days.
Also included in the week’s events would be a spiritual intervention at the Red House in observation of the recent Amerindian find; an Indigenous Water Ritual at Lopinot River, an educational school tour and activities and a Heritage Fair at the Santa Rosa Park.
The final day, September 19, concludes with an meeting by the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, and a thanksgiving ceremony at the Carib Centre at Paul Mitchell Street, Arima, which has been recently refurbished and expanded to include a meeting room, several offices and an archival room.
Author: Irene Medina