EYEWITNESS: Tone deaf…to Indigenous Peoples’ history

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

With us adopting the American “Thanksgiving” to such an extent that we were awash in “Black Friday sales, it reminded your Eyewitness of our predilection for adopting anything and everything foreign. And in this instance, we are evidently totally oblivious to what exactly the Americans are giving “thanks” about – to wit, the arrival of their Pilgrim Fathers in America, where they met and were feted by the friendly peoples they met there, but promptly turned around and not only took over their land, but pretty much exterminated them in the process.

The same thing had been done to its logical conclusion by the Spaniards in the West Indies – and just a tad less in what became “Latin” America. There are so many Guyanese who’ve migrated to the US – especially in the New York and Atlanta areas – but do we ever think why we don’t see any “Red” Indians? Well, it’s for the simple reason, that they’ve been either killed off or hauled out to reservations in the American West. During our Colonial era – and even afterwards – we were “educated” about the “savage Red Injuns” whom the poor White settlers always had to be on the lookout for, lest they be attacked and scalped! Never mind that the said “settlers” were taking over land that had been occupied for thousands of years by the said “Red Indians”!! They presumably shouldn’t have resisted, but assisted in their demise by rolling over and playing dead.

Now, pretty much the same thing could’ve happened here in Guyana against our Indigenous Peoples. They were saved from extermination mainly because the Dutch, who opened up our wild coast, didn’t see much value in the interior jungles in which the former lived. And also, by the time they got here, the Spanish had already normalised the use of enslaved Africans to produce the tropical crops like sugar and coffee. In fact, the Dutch actually signed treaties with the Indigenous Peoples for them to hunt down Africans who ran away from the sugar plantations. This obviously didn’t engender much goodwill between the two groups – which suited the plans of the Dutch to a “T”!

This doesn’t prevent us from conceding, however, that this land – from the Pakaraimas to Orealla, and from Point Playa to Lethem – belongs to our Indigenous Peoples. We should be thankful that at Independence they were only granted some 18% of the land by the British. And, as such, we should stop this nonsense of celebrating “Thanksgiving” to commemorate the loss of their homelands!

It’s just rubbing salt into open wounds. It’s like celebrating our enslavement, so that we could enrich the Europeans by labouring for hundreds of years free.

Just not cool, man!!

…to a Brooklyn White Christmas

Your Eyewitness’s attention was caught by a small item in one of the dailies: several envelopes addressed to someone in Brooklyn were intercepted at the GPOC and found to contain cocaine. Spare a thought for the poor (Guyanese?) soul in Brooklyn who was expecting to have a White Christmas this year!! But your Eyewitness isn’t THAT sympathetic.

Whoever was hoping to brighten the year-end festivities in Brooklyn should’ve known that, nowadays, letters through the Post Office are a thing of the distant past!! It’s just not done anymore!! They’ve been replaced by email, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media out there in hyperspace. Christmas (and other) cards are now sent electronically!!

So, if you’re going to send anything in a letter-sized envelope overseas, know that it’ll stick out like a sore thumb wrapped in thick white swaddling!! And if you think that a box would’ve drawn less attention, just understand that care packages come FROM America.

Not go TO!!

…to gender-based violence

The “16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence” runs from Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, to Dec. 10, the International Human Rights Day.

But it’s too symbolic: we need some real action.