Eyewitness: Coming together…Indigenously

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

In this month – designated as “Amerindian Heritage Month” to honour them – isn’t it time we jettison that colonial moniker and name it “Indigenous Peoples’ Month”?? What’s stopping us?? Those sourpusses who want to deny what being “Indigenous” implies in the modern world – and stress that SOME of the Indigenous aren’t really Indigenous since they migrated here later than the colonials – have shown their hand?? It isn’t just some pedantic exercise to “set the record straight” – but actually one to deny the Indigenous Peoples their land!!

But the sourpusses are too consumed by jealousy and envy to acknowledge that it’s not just their “indigenousness” that gave the Indigenous People 18% of Guyana. It’s the same positivist law Europeans used to arbitrarily take over entire continents like Australia – by declaring them to be “terra nullis” (empty land) but couldn’t repeat it here because they acknowledged the existence of the Indigenous Peoples by signing treaties with them!!! Like treaties to trade or hunt down escaped African slaves, for instance. Couldn’t very well then turn around and say as they peered into the jungle, “Nobody there!!!”

So when Burnham and crew went up to London – with Indigenous Leader Stephen Campbell – to negotiate for independence, the British acknowledged the Indigenous Peoples’ right to the land they occupied in Annex C of the independence agreement!! The Indigenous Peoples’ right to their lands in Guyana are on par with the Guyanese state’s rights to its Crown Lands!! How about THAT??!! All we can do is argue about “usufructuary rights” like mining and such like – as is happening at Chinese landing. How about the irony of that latter name?! In the meantime, the powers-that-be should get on with giving title to the Indigenous Peoples’ villages once they satisfy the criteria of the law laid down!!

Now one of your Eyewitness’s pet peeves about Indigenous Peoples’ Month (see?? The sky didn’t fall!!) is that most of the activities focus (pruriently?) on Indigenous youths dancing around in grass skirts and feathered headdresses. That’s all well and good….but how about their cosmology?? Or pharmacology?? So you didn’t think their healing herbs constitute “pharmacology”?? Have you forgotten that quinine – which can cure malaria – was first isolated in 1820 from the bark of a cinchona tree, which is native to Peru and the Andes?? And known to the Indigenous Peoples??

With the all-weather highway to Lethem finally looking like it’s gonna be completed, this will be the equivalent of the railroads that opened up the US. Within a few decades, folks are gonna be living all over the interior – and perhaps even sooner because of rising seas.Our Indigenous Peoples should decide how they’ll “integrate” (?) with the coast-landers!!

…in Opposition??Your Eyewitness had his popcorn out and thoroughly enjoyed the United Opposition Rally at Golden Grove on the East Coast. That it went on and on and on (and then some!!) didn’t faze him. He had some cold ones to wash down the popcorn. While it wasn’t quite the spectacle he’d been conditioned to expect after the rebooted Game of Thrones in the “House of the Dragon” – and its silver-haired, incest-loving Targaryens – his expectations were tempered, what with Guyana just coming off COVID-19 and skittish with Monkey Pox!!

All the speakers were predictable and it was only the local adaptation of TV’s flashing “Applause” sign – the boom boxes suddenly exploding with some upbeat songs that added some energy. The one surprise of the evening for your Eyewitness was some small parties made two presentations. From the AFC were sole, undisputed leader (Raphael’s gone, isn’t he??) – Ramjattan and the inimitable Cathy Hughes. They were allowed TWO speakers after signalling they’ll be saying “sayonara” come December??Inducement to stay on??

…but excluding??

Your Eyewitness waited in vain for Sarabo-Halley who’d founded the “Guyana Nation Builders Movement (GNBM), Jailall Sharma from the “Equal Rights and Justice Party” (ERJP), and Keith Scott from NFA!!Aren’t they still members of APNU?