At official launch of Amerindian Heritage Month
HEAD of State President Donald Ramotar last evening said that besides the many praiseworthy Amerindian achievements and development, there is also their culture.The President, while addressing the traditional Amerindian Heritage Month opening at the Amerindian Village in the Sophia Exhibition Complex, said that very important to the heritage of Amerindian peoples are their languages.
According to President Ramotar, the Government of Guyana has always supported the preservation of indigenous languages. The President asserted that, another important Amerindian contribution to the work the Government has done with the Amerindian peoples is the compiling and publishing of a dictionary of Amerindian words and languages.This was done in collaboration with international groups.
There was also the promotion and development of the Arawak language with Arawaks in Suriname and other neighbouring countries, the head of state told the gathering. Mr Ramotar did not fail to mention the move by the Government of Guyana to launch the Amerindian language revival programme.
That programme however was not supported in the 2014 National Budget by the combined Opposition in Parliament, thus forcing the abandonment of the programme. The initiative, Ramotar assured the audience, would have been expanded to Region 2 and other villages.
Meanwhile, Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai, who also addressed the gathering before the President did, spoke briefly about the importance preserving the languages of the indigenous peoples of Guyana.
The minister said that there is now greater awareness of how tremendous and attractive the cultures of Amerindian peoples are; and this must now be translated into willingness to proactively engage in waves of cultural enhancement in each of their lives.
Again on the issue of the languages, she singled out Arawak and Warraus as the two most threatened with extinction, and urged all that necessary measures be taken to preserve the languages.
Minister Sukhai made it clear that the loss of languages affects the individual identity of Amerindians and by extension, damages the community extensively. She pointed to villagers losing their sense of identity and connections with their communities and cultures.
She added that if Guyana does not do what is necessary to preserve the indigenous languages, all persons at some point in the future will realise what a disservice has been done to the Amerindian peoples and the nation as a whole.
She added that the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs will remain steadfast and stand by the policies, programmes and projects which seek to benefit the Amerindian peoples with the purpose of enhancing the conditions of Amerindians and advancing their cultures.
The Minister also added that the loss of land also contributes to the erosion of Amerindian cultures and their traditions along with their way of life. She said that Amerindians in Guyana are in the strongest position for the protection and advancement of their cultures.
Yesterday evening also, President Donald Ramotar did make reference to the work and achievements of Ministers Rodrigues and Sukhai, who are serving members of the Cabinet of Ministers and who are also serving in the National Assembly, as two intelligent Amerindian women.
Ramotar said that the launching of the Amerindian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of Amerindians and there has been truly much to celebrate about Amerindians over the last two decades during colonial rule and a period of undemocratic rule.
Among the benefits the Amerindian persons have been enjoying under the present government include: the construction of schools with living accommodation; the facilitation of housing development; legislation to protect Amerindians and their properties, as well as veto power to allow small and medium-scale mining in their respective communities.
Amerindian Heritage Month 2014 is being celebrated under the theme: “Traditional Embodiment for Amerindian Development.”
Yesterday’s launch also saw cultural performances and Amerindian foods and beverages, which went on sale from yesterday.
Upon his arrival President Donald Ramotar was saluted by an Amerindian Guard of Honour, as Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and several other Government Ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps graced the occasion with their presence.