19 October 2013

‘Indigenous Guyanese youth facing racism, human trafficking challenges.’

‘Indigenous Guyanese youth facing racism, human trafficking challenges’
By Michelle Loubon
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Oct 19, 2013 at 9:27 PM ECT

Unemployment and human trafficking are two of the major issues confronting indigenous youth in Guyana.

Michelle Williams, a youth leader among Guyana’s First Nation Peoples, made this comment during a 2013 panel discussion on International First Peoples at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) campus, O’Meara Road, Arima, campus earlier this month.

The theme of the conference was “Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating A Legacy”.

The theme of the panel was “Youth, Gender and Elders of the First Peoples Communities”.

Williams said: “Our youths are finding it hard to get a job. There is human trafficking. Some of them are lured away with promises of good jobs. And they are often faced with a different dilemma when they are far away from home. Some opt to leave their homes and the capital of Georgetown and they are exposed to different threats.”

They face other challenges like racism. They are called ‘bucks’. They do not mean Reebok. The Dutch called them buck because they are fleet footed. They say they move fast as a buck,” she added.

Apart from unemployment and human trafficking, Williams said there was the social problem of incest.

Incest is taboo in Guyana. Cousin to cousin and they are having relationships. The Village Council has a role in ensuring it does not happen. Some youths feel there is no shame in doing it.”

Despite the challenges, Williams said: “It is important to work towards leaving a lasting legacy and creating a fortified regional approach to the treatment of First Nation peoples.”

At the end of her presentation, Williams presented documents on data about Guyana’s First Nation Peoples to Chief Ricardo Bharath, from the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Community.

17 October 2013

First Peoples hold the key: Protection of our natural environment.

First Peoples hold the key. Protection of our natural environment.
By Heather Dawn-Herrera
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Oct 17, 2013 at 12:58 AM ECT

As the events of Amerindian Heritage Week unfold we continue to be privy to smoke ceremonies, water rituals, and ceremonies to ancestral spirits of Anaparima or San Fernando Hill and much more. From the just concluded conference we learned much about the relationship between man and nature, how God manifests in all things natural.

The life of First Peoples the world over revolves around nature. In Central and South America, even as far as Australia, First Peoples are heavily dependent on nature. Here in Trinidad and Tobago, First Peoples have adapted to some extent to ways of life set upon us by our colonial past. Yet that is just on the face of things. Our First Peoples still practise their traditional ways of life as is evident in their contribution to our cuisine, spirituality, health and wellness of our natural environment, and much more.

My question is, is our natural environment being taken for granted in this modern day world even by our First Peoples?

As Dr Brinsley Samaroo observed at the conference, Nature was abundant before the coming of Europeans into the Caribbean. There was never a problem with lack of natural resources. There was generation and regeneration in the circle of life that our First Peoples lived.

Ricardo Bharath Hernandez Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community spoke of the intimate connection that First Peoples have with nature.

First Peoples culture and spirituality is nature-based. God manifests through nature. We cannot exist without fire and water because we have these elements in us. Without them we cannot survive.”

My question is are we taking these basic gifts for granted in today’s world?

Because we live on two small islands Trinidad and Tobago, our lands are limited. We look around and see the extensive quarrying of our watersheds in important places such as Guanapo, Tapana and Blanchisseuse, some of our last remaining pristine areas.

Blanchisseuse is the very area where a minimal amount of land has been returned to our First Peoples. Our watersheds are not as inexhaustible as we may think especially in this period of the onset of climate change and the continuing abuse of man on our natural resources. We need water to survive. Water is life and it gives life.

We look around and see heavy deforestation across our landscape. We need our forested hills and valleys for food, shelter and medicines and much more. The threat of denudation of our natural landscape is very real. The air we breathe, the very survival of life forms that form the chain of life in our support system are threatened. This is far more serious than we think.

Cristo Adonis, Pyai of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community gave some insights into protection of the natural environment as practised by our First Peoples, some of which are no longer present in today’s existence.

We share the earth with other entities; fish, animals plants. We were taught to respond to all these things. Harmony in diversity. We ask permission of the plant when we approach it for medicinal uses. When we hunt, we hunt only for survival. All parts of the animal caught must be used and shared. Nothing is wasted because everything is sacred. This preservation of all things natural was destroyed by the invaders and now they are making more laws and setting boundaries.”

What needs to be done now is for a national call to be made for the protection of what remains of our natural environment. To this column’s mind, this is the most important decision that must be made before anything else. Preservation of what remains of our watersheds, our aquifers, and our rain forested hills and valleys must be enforced by declaring sanctuaries of them all.

The minimal amount of lands returned to the First Peoples does not have that vital presence of life support water, that precious element that is so basic for the activities that have been listed as part of the recreation of the life of the First Peoples Village.

Given the history of sustainable use of our natural environment, respect for nature and co existence with all forms of life, lands returned to our First Peoples must be increased to include a number of sanctuaries that only our First Peoples have the knowledge and practice to preserve.

As citizens struggling for equal importance in Trinidad and Tobago, our First Peoples must be given the chance to contribute to the health, wellness and productivity of our land. Our land must return to one of abundance as we see from the examples set by our First Peoples, examples that must be studied and emulated by all.

15 October 2013

Carib Community want National Holiday.

Carib community want national holiday.
By Camille Clarke
T&T Guardian | Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Amerindians representing different countries during a procession to commemorate
the launch of Amerindian Heritage Week, through the streets of Arima from the Hyarima statue
to the first peoples community centre on Paul Mitchell Street yesterday.
The procession was preceded by a smoke ceremony at the Hyarima statue.

Santa Rosa First People’s Community chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez is calling for a national holiday to commemorate the Caribs, the first people to live in T&T. Hernandez was speaking after the smoke ceremony and street procession in Arima.

"The event today was in recognition of our history and Hyarima’s resistance to the Spanish in October 1637. There is a call for an international holiday on the 14th in recognition of the first people of this land. I know the authorities will have to think for another public holiday long and hard before they consider it,” he said. Hernandez said if the holiday was not possible the authorities could consider a one-day holiday event like the Chinese were granted in 2006, to commemorate 200 years since the arrival of Chinese immigrants.

Speaking about the contingent of Caribs from the Caribbean and South America, he said: “Spiritual leaders from Suriname and the other countries were called in for sanctification and interaction. To guide us in spirituality for this purpose. Some are still practicing the original tradition.” Yesterday, the smoke ceremony began at the statue of Hyarima at Hollis Avenue. Hyarima was said to have been known by the Dutch and Spanish forces who referred to him as “the great Chieftain of the Nepuyo people.

They filled calabash bowls with bay leaves, incense, shells, cassava wine, hibiscus, poui, lilac and other flowers and offered them up to the great spirit. The women and men wore traditional outfits with crocheted tops and feathers in fire-engine red. They beat drums, blew into a large shell and chanted. Hernandez addressed the crowd that gathered to pay homage to the creator.

We invoke ourselves and surrender ourselves to him/her recognising that we as humans are weak. He is strong and we ask forgiveness for our weakness,” he said. During the ceremony, first one, then another of the women had a “manifestation.” This manifestation, another one of the women said, was “an ancestor showing they were still around because the body is dead and the spirit is alive.”

Hernandez prayed for the ancestors, peace, a stoppage to all negativity and for the ancestors to keep coming in dreams before the group headed up Woodford Street to the Santa Rosa First People’s Centre at Paul Mitchell Street.

14 October 2013

First Peoples Conference in Trinidad and Tobago

Two Vincentians are representing this country at the International Conference of First Peoples of the Caribbean and the Americas, which began today, Friday 11th October, and will run until Sunday 13th October, 2013, in Trinidad.

Mr. Edwin Johnson of the Greiggs Black Carib (Garifuna) Community, and Ms. Molena ‘Mel’ Nanton of the Sandy Bay Kalinago community are attending the Conference hosted by the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community of Trinidad, and held under the theme, ‘Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions, Creating a Legacy’.

The Conference is being held in collaboration with The University of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration, Trinidad and Tobago, and carries as its objectives, to: map the cultural continuity of First Peoples communities of the region, including governance systems, gender and the participation of youth; raise awareness of the indigenous spiritual traditions and world views; highlight and propagate the importance of sustainable living practices of First Peoples communities; regenerate the knowledge systems of First Peoples communities in preserving natural resources; revitalize the traditional skills associated with First Peoples culture for the larger usage by different communities; explore governance systems, politics and international affairs.

The Conference will be held at The University of Trinidad and Tobago, O’Meara Campus, and features seven working Panels, covering the areas of: Youth, gender and elders; Indigenous World Views; Approaches to Spirituality, Rituals and Festivals; Governance and Relationship with the Natural Environment.

In addition, there will be two Performance Panels, showcasing the music, song, dance, handicraft, cuisine and literature of the First Peoples.
St. Vincent’s Nelcia Robinson serves as the Conference Administrator.

October 14, Amerindian Heritage Day: Keeping Up to Date on the Indigenous People of Trinidad & Tobago

Today is Amerindian Heritage Day in Trinidad and Tobago, part of Amerindian Heritage Week celebrations, and in that spirit I am posting just a few glimpses of the many developments and activities taking place with what is now called the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, formerly the Santa Rosa Carib Community.

First, the much-awaited new website of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community. Also see and follow (by "liking") the active Facebook page of the Community.

Second, as some may already now, right now taking place in Trinidad under the auspices of the University of Trinidad and Tobago, is the International Conference of First Peoples of the Caribbean and the Americas. Also see here for more details on the conference.

Third, the new video introduction to the community: A Vision for the Indigenous People of Trinidad and Tobago.

Fourth and last, Amerindian Day of Recognition--Stills from the Amerindians:

That Statue in Siparia.

That Statue in Siparia.
By Marion O'Callaghan
T&T's Newsday | Monday, October 14 2013

What could be more simple a subject for a Trini film documentary than the statue Catholics call La Divina Pastora (The Divine Shepherdess) and Hindus call Siparia Mae (Siparia Mother)? There is the presence of Catholicism and of Hinduism as objects of devotion, in the same statue.

There is the illusive dream of a real Ganges meeting the real Nile of Rudder’s calypso. So it must have seemed to the two university students: a photographer and one of the M Phils in film.

We cannot be certain of how the statue arrived in Siparia. It is already an object of devotion for Amerindians of both Trinidad and Venezuela, and Siparia, a relatively important pilgrimage site in the early nineteenth century.

La Divina Pastora belongs to a number of miraculous statues, visions and miracles in Latin American of the time, the best known being Guadalupe in Mexico and the Crucifix in Ecuador.

These all include some feature that is clearly Amerindian: the peasant cloak at Guadalupe, the black Jesus on the cross, in Siparia a black Madonna.

It must be underlined however, that there is a tradition of black holy statues in medieval Spain and in medieval central France.

That statues in Catholic churches and shrines in Trinidad, with the exception of St Martin de Porres, are white, is explained by the fact that they often represent vision and/or piety of a later age and that they are mass produced in Paris by what has been called St Sulpician art.

The Latin American statues also mark the dislocation of internal colonisation and the integration of Amerindians into the commercial economy of the country, largely through religious fairs.

By the last half of the nineteenth century, the Amerindian population in Trinidad had declined and a Venezuelan vision and statue has emerged. La Divina Pastora becomes the place of pilgrimage of a Catholic population of former slaves, freed men and of a new population: Hindus.

The End of the World

It is the nineteenth century. It is a century of full-blown colonialism, of the emancipation of slaves, the colonisation of India and colonial wars in Africa. Racism is hammered into a biological theory which permeates from religion to popular culture to linguistic categories.

The end of the world was believed to be near. The coming of the Christ was held to depend on the acceptance of Christianity by all people.

As in many periods of religious hysteria there is sometimes the suspicion of the work of Satan where there is refusal to believe or to be baptised. This was one of the reasons for anti-Jewish pogroms in parts of Europe.

It has also been used against African religions. Was this at work with the Kali myth?

The Kali Myth

The name of the documentary: The Madonna Murti, was at best misleading.

It artificially links two traditions: the Madonna of European feudal courtly love, and the Hindu Murti by which the spirits of deities are within their representations. More worrying is the assumption that in Siparia Mae, Hindus at Siparia worship Kali.

This is presented as a fact by both commentaries in the October 6th Catholic News.

There is no evidence whatsoever that Hindus worship Kali in Siparia Mae. The written demands presented at the statue are presented only to Mother. Mother is a term of respect often given to Hindu female deities. Kali is the goddess of both destruction and of protection.

The same qualities are there in Durga, a deity being worshipped at this time in pujas around the country. Why, then, is there no outcry or fear of Durga? There is no concept like the Catholic belief of Mother of God and therefore Mother of the Universe as pertains to deities in Hinduism.

There is absolutely no evidence of satanic worship at Siparia Mae nor of the calling down of evil on enemies of Shiva.

The offering of body parts mentioned in one article is extremely rare in India. Kali worship did include animal sacrifice – usually a fowl – in the past.

This would be very rare today. Rather, fruit, flowers, coconuts are the usual offering, as indeed they are in India.

That some Hindus share with some Catholics the belief that this is some form of “evil” worship is not strange. Siparia Mae escapes the Hindu Trini orthodoxy established largely by the Maha Sabha but shared by say, Raviji.

This is a conservative strand of North of India Brahmanic Hinduism. Within this Siparia Mae is likely to be seen as a deota or lesser deity that is not linked to the major Hindu deities.

Or perhaps some Hindus now share the Trini dislike and suspicion of Black religious representations. This has a long history here and is illustrated by action in 1970. It is there I would start research.

Call for Honour for First Carib Chief Hyarima.

Call for honour for first Carib chief Hyarima.
By Michelle Loubon
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Oct 13, 2013

Dr Satnarine Balkaransingh, chairman for the International First Peoples Conference 2013, has said the first Carib chief who was named Hyarima should be given a posthumous award and the major aspects of the Parliament should be shifted from the Red House at St Vincent Street, Port of Spain.

He made these comments during his presentation “The Wounded Nation of the First Peoples of Kairi - Miscegenation, Race, Politics and Marginalisation”. This was day three of the Santa Rosa First People’s Community of Arima Heritage Week which runs until October 19 at UTT Campus, Arima.

He was among the panellists who spoke on the theme Governance and Politics: Contemporary Perspectives. These included Julie Guyadeen, Dominica’s Chief Garnette, Tommy Isaac, past principal of St Augustine Senior Secondary School, and Andrew Klauty.

On the issue of Parliament’s relocation, Balkaransingh said: “Give consideration to have the National Parliament shifted. We can’t move the bones because you are moving a whole cemetery. But you can move Parliament or the major aspects and leave other aspects and convert it to a natural museum and a national art gallery of international standards. Keep the register of births and deaths. These are alternatives. We are continuing to make decisions in the national interest sitting on a cemetery.”

Amerindian artefacts and bones were discovered recently at the Red House during renovations.
Parliament is currently located at Tower D of the International Waterfront Centre, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain due to ongoing renovations at the Red House which traditionally has been the seat of Parliament.

Moving to Chief Hyarima, Balkaransingh added: “ Recognise Hyarima as T&T first national hero for his courage and action in fighting foreign aggression and provide the highest award (Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) posthumously.

Hyarima was the first person in 1637 with his warriors and with the help of the Dutch who sacked St Joseph and burned it to the ground actually chasing the Spaniards out of Trinidad. Nobody thinks about the people fighting and therefore Hyarima must be considered the first national hero.” Chief Hyarima’s statue is at Arima.

Asked for an update on the Conference, Ricardo Bharath, Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, said: “President Anthony Carmona is expected to attend celebrations today. Nine people will be awarded and I will be making the call for three major things. The first is a call for a public holiday on October 14. I will speak about the other two today.”

The conference continues today. Below is the schedule
Today is First Peoples Heritage Day:
Dedicated to the Great Spirit Tamushi
6:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.
Smoke ceremony
Procession from Smoke Ceremony to the Carib Centre
Venue: Streets of Arima
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

10 October 2013

First Peoples-Heritage Week begins Tomorrow.

First Peoples-Heritage Week begins Tomorrow.
By Newsday Reporter
T&T's Newsday | Thursday, October 10 2013

The First Peoples indigenous community in Trinidad and Tobago will be hosting their 13th annual Amerindian Heritage Week, which runs from tomorrow (October 11) to October 19. Heritage Week will feature special events, including a conference themed “Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating A Legacy”.

Tomorrow, Amerindian Heritage Week will be launched with an opening ceremony at the UTT O’Meara Campus from 6 pm - 9 pm. The opening ceremony will include a speech by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, greetings from a Nation Representative of the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, musical performance by the First Peoples of Suriname, as well as a cocktail reception with live entertainment by Los Alumnos de San Juan.

The week of activities will then continue with its inaugural International First People’s Conference on October 12 and 13, also at the O’Meara Campus. The two day conference will feature seven academic and performative panels and is being hosted by the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community of Arima (formerly known as the Carib Community) in conjunction with the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration. Arima is home to the largest number of descendants of the Caribs, who were among Trinidad and Tobago’s first inhabitants, therefore home to the First Peoples.

According to Aurora Herrera, event coordinator of the Amerindian Heritage Week, the conference will feature a wide array of activities and honoured presenters.

We have chiefs and other Indigenous representatives coming from all over the world for the conference,” she said.

According to the detailed conference calendar, conference attendees will be privy to presentations from countries such as Belize with Garifuna Songs, St Vincent’s basketry, Guyana’s presentations on youth and gender issues faced by the First Peoples and more from Dominica, USA and of course Trinidad and Tobago.

The International First People’s Conference’s press release states that the conference will deal with “the burning issues confronting First Peoples in an environment that remains ambivalent and hostile.” Such issues include the discovery of human remains beneath the Red House in Port-of-Spain, which, according to the First Peoples, indicates that it is a First People burial ground. “How the immigrant state deals with this question will say a lot about the future direction of relations between our First Nations community and their welcome or not so welcome guests,” said Herrera. She also noted that at the conference, “There will be presentations and discussions concerning First Peoples cosmology, philosophy and the various aspects of their way of life. We are also addressing questions of governance.”

The Heritage Week events also include a Smoke Ceremony at the Hyarima Monument, Arima and the Spiritual Sanctification of the Parliament Building at the Red House on Monday (October 14), as well as the Indigenous Water Ritual at Lopinot River, Arouca on Tuesday (October 15) and much more. The Conference is free to the public and it includes meals, however pre-registration is required before Wednesday 16 October. To register, go to www.santarosafirstpeoples.org

First Peoples Heritage Week Calendar of Events

Friday October 11:
6 pm - 8 pm - Launch of the First Peoples Heritage Week 2013

8 pm – 9 pm - Inauguration of the International First Peoples Conference, “Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating a Legacy”
Cocktails with live entertainment by Los Alumnos de San Juan
Venue: UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium

Saturday October 12:
8 am – 4 pm - International First Peoples Conference, Panel Presentations/Discussions
Venue: UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium

Sunday October 13:
8 am – 4 pm - International First Peoples Conference, Panel Presentations/Discussions
Venue: UTT O’Meara Campus Auditorium

Monday October 14:
Dedicated To the Great Spirit Tamushi
6.30 am – 8.15 am - Smoke Ceremony
Venue: Hyarima Monument, Arima

8.15 am - Street Procession from the Smoke Ceremony to the First Peoples Community Centre
Venue: Streets of Arima

3 pm – 5 pm - Formal Ceremony to commemorate First Peoples Heritage Day
Venue: UTT, O’Meara Campus Auditorium

8 pm – 10 pm - Spiritual Sanctication of the Parliament Building, the Red House
Venue: Red House, Port of Spain

Tuesday October 15:
Dedicated To the Ancestors
7 am – 9 am - Indigenous Water Ritual
Venue: Lopinot River, Arouca

4 pm - Ceremony to the Ancestral Spirits of Anaparima
Venue: San Fernando/Anaparima Hill

Wednesday October 16:
Dedicated To The Indigenous Traditions
9 am – 3.30 pm - Open House Visits to the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community Centre, For School Children, Groups and Families**
Venue: 7 Paul Mitchell St Arima.

Friday October 18
Dedicated To Indigenous Traditions of Music, Dance, and Traditional Handicrafts
10 am – 5 pm - Heritage Cultural Fair

6 pm - 9 pm - Cultural Show
Venue: Santa Rosa Catholic Church Park

Saturday October 19:
Dedicated To the Indigenous Traditions on Local Self Governance
10 am – 12 noon - Meeting of the Caribbean Organisation of Indigenous People
Venue: Carib Centre

5 pm – 8 pm - Closing Ceremony and Thanksgiving
Venue: Santa Rosa First Peoples Centre

08 October 2013

Indigenous groups return to Red House to pray.

Indigenous groups return to Red House to pray.
Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday | Tuesday, October 8 2013

AS indigenous groups plan to return to the Red House next week to pray for the peace of the ancestors they believe are buried there, no decision has yet been taken on declaring part, or all of the original seat of Parliament a heritage site.

Chief Ricardo Bharath Hernandez of the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Indigenous Community informed Newsday his group, along with the Partners for First Peoples and the Warao indigenous groups, met about a month ago with the Red House Cultural Heritage Team chaired by House Speaker, Wade Mark.

On March 26 last, a number of skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts were discovered during initial excavation work as part of the restoration of the Red House. The bones date from 430 AD to 1390 AD.

The Red House Cultural Heritage Team, which includes Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith and representatives of the National Trust, was appointed by Cabinet to manage aspects of the historical find.

The First Peoples groups believe the remains and artifacts are from their ancestors, and have written the team asking that the Red House be declared a heritage site.

Hernandez reported that the proposal was discussed at their meeting with the team and certain aspects were agreed upon, such as the treatment of the remains — they should be reburied and not exposed or displayed though the cultural artifacts can be — and that an insignia of the First Peoples would be included in the renovation.

He also reported that no decision had been taken on whether part or all of the Red House would be declared a heritage site.

They were informed that the process should be completed by the end of the year, and there were still more tests to be done.

He said, speaking for the Santa Rosa group, certain things were kept “secret” from them, recalling that when they asked to see remains they were told they are “well taken care off”’. “While on one hand we are talking, we still feel as First People we should play a more integral role in what is happening there,” he said.

The team informed them that they will contact them again when they are ready. Hernandez said as descendants of First People according to the United Nations declaration they have a right as it relates to the remains of ancestors but “we are not really given that opportunity fully, (it) still seems as the property of someone else”. “We are hoping at the end of it we will be satisfied,” he added.

He noted that they that they plan to write the Red House Cultural Heritage Team and the police today to request permission to hold a spiritual ceremony on October 17 at 5pm at the Red House. The ceremony is part of the 13th annual First Peoples Heritage Week which will be held from October 11 to 19.

06 October 2013

‘Stop Orange Grove aquatic centre’ ...historian calls for archaeological probe.

‘Stop Orange Grove aquatic centre’...historian calls for archaeological probe.
By Charles Kong Soo
Trinidad and Tobago Guardian Online | Sunday, October 6, 2013
Topsoil being removed in the Orange Grove Savannah.

Historian Angelo Bissessarsingh says all construction work should be halted on the Government’s aquatic centre in the Orange Grove Savannah (also called the Eddie Hart Grounds) so that an archaeological investigation can be carried out. This was to determine if the area contained priceless historical and cultural artefacts dating back to Spanish colonial times or the First Peoples and can be declared an indigenous protected area.

Bissessarsingh said, “These spaces are very important to the history and culture of the area and by extension T&T. “When projects like these are undertaken, there should be an archeological investigation before anything is done given the lack of consultation with the community.

“When those construction equipment went in, I grieve for what might have been lost. My experience has taught me that when public spaces have existed for as long as the Eddie Hart Grounds has, there are usually artefacts such as coins and ornaments in the subsoil and topsoil.”

Approximately two lots of topsoil was removed from the Eddie Hart Grounds during excavation on September 20. Residents said they were told that the excavation was done without the knowledge of officials at the Sports Company of Trinidad and Tobago or the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation. Bissessarsingh said there were First Peoples’ settlements spread across that corridor leading into Arima.

He said during the 18th century onwards, there were Spanish encomiendas or plantations given to conquistadors along with an allocation of semi-enslaved First Peoples. Bissessarsingh said there were encomiendas at Tacarigua, Arouca and Caura and that certain spaces existed in perpetuity, especially cemeteries and public spaces such as the old Spanish Square in St Joseph, since 1595.

He said Palmiste Park in South was not as old as the Eddie Hart Grounds and treasures such as 19th-century coins, gun flints, pottery bottles and objects of great antiquarian value to the history of the Republic can still be discovered there.

Bissessarsingh said many people knew the savannah as the Eddie Hart Grounds but it was known long ago as the Orange Grove Sugar Plantation. He said the plantation was owned up to 1850 by William Hardin Burnley, who was the richest man in Trinidad, quite possibly the richest man in its history. Bissessarsingh said upon Burnley’s death, his net worth was probably millions of pounds.

When he died, the property was inherited by his son William Frederick who lived in England and could not come to Trinidad, so it was managed in trust by William Eccles, who founded the St Mary’s Anglican Church and the St Mary’s Orphanage in Tacarigua. He said parts of the estate were sold off to various private entities such as Caroni 1975 Ltd, parts became Trincity, Blue Waters, Trintoplan and Belgrove Funeral Home.

Bissessarsingh said the ground itself was not just a space, it was a social structure and gathering space where generations of people from the time of slavery to the present day met. He said he understood the need for growth and development, but he believed that more consultation with the people had to be done before the aquatic centre was built and not in an ad-hoc manner.

Belix: Protect indigenous peoples’ sites
President of the local indigenous peoples group Partners for First Peoples Roger Belix said the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted by 144 member states, including T&T, stated quite clearly that burial sites and artefacts of indigenous peoples should be protected and returned.

Belix said, “These sites are sacred and also historical to the peoples of indigenous blood. While they would want to say we don’t exist, they should be preserved and be recognised as indigenous peoples’ sites and returned to the indigenous peoples by the people who now occupy our land.”

Resident: We were not adequately informed
Vernon De Leon, 63, a resident of Arouca for the past 43 years, said there was still no meaningful response from the Government, and the community was still at square one since consultation was limited.

De Leon said while the residents were not against the Ministry of Sports or the Government, appreciating that they had noble intentions, they believed, however, that they were not adequately informed about the implications of converting a section of the savannah into a car park for 300 vehicles, a swimming pool and a road running through the savannah. He said since the car park area was paved there was an increase in flooding on the southern side of the savannah.

De Leon said paving over and destroying the aquifer in the savannah will cause even more flooding in the area and negatively impact the water supply for a significant part of the country as it served WASA’s eight water pumps around the savannah and provided water to north, east and central Trinidad.

He said the low crime in the area was a result of having access to the facilities in the savannah for activities ranging from picnics, sporting events and elderly people coming from as far as Arima to walk leisurely in the outdoors. He feared that this may reverse. De Leon, whose children, Melissa and Marlon represented T&T in track and field, said they were part of “Buggy” Haynes’ football club before they went into athletics, and he used to take his daughter jogging on the field.

He said the area had a rich sporting tradition with the likes of Stern John, “Buggy” Haynes, Eddie Hart, Ellis “Puss” Achong and Keith Aqui and he feared the demise of that legacy with the loss of the savannah. De Leon said of historical significance was a Chinese Pistash tree that still stands in the savannah that dates back to the 1800s to the time of William Hardin Burnley. He said there were alternatives for the location of the aquatic centre and other facilities to be considered such as Trinity College East.

De Leon said there was enough space to accommodate all the proposed facilities in one location south of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway, opposite Pan Trinbago and Blue Waters without “ripping out the heart of the community.”

23 September 2013

First Peoples getting ready for Heritage Week.

First Peoples getting ready for Heritage Week.
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Sep 22, 2013 at 10:28 PM ECT

President/Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ Community Ricardo Bharath says the community is gearing up for its annual Amerindian Heritage Week of Activities from October 11 to 19.

According to a news release from the Community, Heritage Week will feature special events, including a conference themed Exploring Heritage, Consolidating Traditions and Creating A Legacy.

The conference is being held in conjunction with the University of Trinidad and Tobago and the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration. It comes on the heels of the month-long celebrations for the Santa Rosa Festival de Arima. A highlight was the procession of the Santa Rosa statue through the borough on August 25.

Arima can lay claim to being home to the largest number of descendants from the Caribs, who were among Trinidad and Tobago’s first inhabitants.

The release said: “The Community has gone one step further than in the past. It has engaged technical and professional expertise to assist it in planning and implementing various aspects of the Heritage Week. It is also engaging the business community, civil society groups and academic institutions in and around Arima to partner with it in making the week of activities very successful.”

Both Bharath and Carib queen Jennifer Cassar have enlisted the help of Arima businessman Balliram Maharaj, who has been working to influence other commercial entities to help.

Citizens can visit the Community’s new office and secretariat at 7 Paul Mitchell Street, Arima; call 664-1897, 776-0210 (c); or e-mail@santarosafirstpeoples.org.

19 September 2013

Give Red House bones proper burial.

Give Red House bones proper burial.
By Miranda La Rose
T&T Newsday | Wednesday, September 18 2013

MAKING HER POINT: Deborah Koylass of Penal, makes a point 
at a meeting of the First People in Arima on Monday night...

A United Nations advisor to the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is advising that the State turns over the remains of bones found recently under the Red House to the local indigenous people for a proper burial.

The advisor, St Lucian-born Albert Deterville is also advising that the remains should not be placed in a museum.

Addressing members of the Partners for First People’s Development on Monday evening at the Photo House building in Arima, Deterville said,

“Normally what happens, when the remains of indigenous peoples are found, the State turns over the remains to the descendants of the remains, or to indigenous peoples. I would hope that the State in its wisdom would do so.”

Stating he does know what the State will do, he said, “I hope that a proper burial would be executed for the remains that were found, and that they are not be placed in a museum.”

He has always questioned, he said “why anthropologists and archeologists are so interested in the history and past of the indigenous peoples, and like to keep their bones, but they do not take the bones of other ethnic groups.”

The bones of the dead, he said “are sacred and it is disrespect for the bones to be kept by somebody who has no relationship with it.”

Noting he will support the decisions of the indigenous community on what should be done about the historical remains, he said he intended to hold discussions yesterday with officials of the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism on the implications of the find, as well as, to raise a number of issues with respect to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

On March 26, 2013 during initial excavation work undertaken as part of the restoration of the Red House — the country’s seat of governance — a number of skeletal remains, cultural and historical artifacts were found on the site. Subsequently, a composite of material comprising human bones, fragments of animal bones, shells, pottery and other artifacts were discovered and extracted from the soil in other areas at the Red House.

Another indigenous group, the Santa Rosa First People’s Indigenous Community on July 14 performed a spiritual ritual to “appease the spirits” of bones disturbed during works at the site. They were given approval by officials of the House Cultural Heritage Team, a Cabinet-appointed committee to manage aspects of the historical find.

The issue of land and land titles to indigenous communities, Deterville said was another “vexing problem” faced by indigenous communities, not only in TT, but in other parts of the region, and the world. He was surprised, he said, when last year, the UN representative in Geneva boasted that TT had granted 25 acres of land to the indigenous community in Trinidad.

The statement made by the representative in Geneva, he said, was made against the background that the Government of TT was protecting the rights of the indigenous peoples of TT, and as such gave them 25 acres of land. His statement evoked some laughter from the audience.

Noting that he was concerned about the dignity and respect for indigenous peoples, he said he questioned if the lands were titled and vested with the indigenous community and the response was in the negative.

“How many hundreds of thousands of acres of land are in Trinidad and Tobago for the Government to be handing over only 25 acres to the rightful owners of the country?” he asked.

11 September 2013

A Matter of Survival.

A matter of survival.
By Heather-Dawn Herrera
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Sep 11, 2013 at 10:45 PM ECT

We visited the domain of one of our nocturnal species of avian wild life at a period when newborn chicks as well as those half grown are trying to adapt to the habitat into which they were born.

As we entered the cavern hundreds of pairs of red eyes peered down at us. The large white dots forming a distinguishing line at their sides were prominent in the darkness. Large birds squawked and click clicked as they flew around using echo location in the dark recesses of the interior. The roof and walls were just crowded with birds. This was the sanctuary of the oilbird steatornis caripensis and we were but mere disturbances of their peace at the moment.
Personally I wondered how a person coming here with the sole intention of poaching this harmless species felt when this colony guarded its territory so fiercely. Our visit alone felt like sinful intrusion.

We explored a part of the cavern wall that curved further inward to a series of ledges where a number of birds had built their nests. In the past we had retrieved gear used for ensnaring the birds here. Today all was well.

Presumably this would have been one of the caverns that the First Peoples had visited centuries ago to gather oil from the fat of the oilbird. At that time, it was a matter of survival.

Nearby, we found one shallow nest with three eggs in it and another with two tiny newborns that spun round and round in their limited space. Quite close by, a large bird snarled an apparent warning to us. We believed that this was the parent of these chicks.

There was a third nest with an extremely large ‘fatty’ ‘half grown’ that had feathers only on his head, wings and tail. We could see how our First Peoples got enough oil to satisfy their needs.

This larger chick spun round and round on his nest too. This seemed to be the typical behaviour of this species as we had noted the same spinning trait of the newborns.
On nests where adult oilbirds sat, we could see the usual rocking movement of their heads from side to side that we had come to be so familiar with. Someone called this a ‘Stevie Wonder move’.

On the other side of the cavern, another half grown got our attention as he landed with a loud thump and a flurry of half feathered wings having unsuccessfully tried to fly like his elders. Just about four months old, this bird was beginning his own quest for survival. He remained motionless for a while until regaining his initial will to try his wings again and again.

Our oilbirds are perhaps the least observed of our avian species in this part of the world because of their nocturnal life and the fact that their colonies thrive off the beaten track in the cavernous terrain of our mountains. When Alexander von Humboldt first discovered these birds in a cave in Venezuela’s north eastern mountains in 1799 their existence was virtually unknown to people other than immediate natives. This location eventually became Venezuela’s first national monument.

Today some caverns in northern South America have become tourist attractions. In Trinidad, this is so to a lesser extent because of the lack of manpower to effectively protect and manage these remote locations. So far, only the Asa Wright Nature Centre has been successful in protecting, promoting and maintaining its oilbird cavern as a tourist attraction.

It is always an amazing sight to see a large colony of oilbirds fly out from the home cavern in mass exodus at sunset. Their feeding grounds are sometimes located miles away from their home they being the only nocturnal fruit eating bird in the world and must find bearing palms and laurels.

On their return to the home cavern, we could well imagine the eager reactions of their dependent offspring to sustenance being served after spending a night alone. Soon, these chicks will follow in the habits of their parents as they too will continue the cycle of survival of this species.

23 August 2013

Who Is An Indian? Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas

“A significant addition to research, Who Is an Indian? provides an extended examination and a clear picture of Indigenous identity issues in the Americas. Among the book’s important contributions are its examination of the site of interface between the modern state and Indigenous peoples, as well as its analysis of how state discourses of identities are interpolated by Indigenous peoples and come to be important sites of tension.” --David Newhouse, Department of Indigenous Studies, Trent University
“Who Is an Indian? makes a strong and distinct contribution to the literature on Indigenous identities. The contributors examine imposed markers of distinctiveness, particularly those racial categories that have often been formulated by experts and imposed by dominant societies. This is a topic that is rife with controversy, but it is handled here with directness and historical acumen.” --Ronald Niezen, Department of Anthropology, McGill University
Who Is An Indian? Race, Place, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas  is my newest edited collection, published by the University of Toronto Press. It completes a trilogy of edited volumes on indigeneity in the Americas that I began in 2006 with Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean: Amerindian Survival and Revival, and in 2010 with the publication of Indigenous Cosmopolitans: Transnational and Transcultural Indigeneity in the Twenty-First Century.

About this Book

Who is an Indian? This is possibly the oldest question facing Indigenous Peoples across the Americas, and one with significant implications for decisions relating to resource distribution, conflicts over who gets to live where and for how long, and clashing principles of governance and law. For centuries, the dominant views on this issue have been strongly shaped by ideas of both race and place. But just as important, who is permitted to ask, and answer this question?
This collection examines the changing roles of race and place in the politics of defining Indigenous identities in the Americas. Drawing on case studies of Indigenous communities across North America, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, it is a rare volume to compare Indigenous experience throughout the western hemisphere. The contributors question the vocabulary, legal mechanisms, and applications of science in constructing the identities of Indigenous populations, and consider ideas of nation, land, and tradition in moving indigeneity beyond race.

Genesis of the Project

This latest volume is probably the longest I have worked on any one publication project. It first began to take shape in 2006, as an effort exclusively focused on race, motivated by recognition of the fact that there were no volumes, treating the Americas as a whole, that compared and contrasted different ideas and applications of race in the definition of Indigenous identity. This was the basis for the first symposium in 2006, “Indigeneity and Race: ‘Blood Politics’ and the ‘Nature’ of Indigenous Identity,” organized under the auspices of the Canadian Anthropology Society’s annual conference, held at Concordia University on May 13, 2006. The same theme carried over into a following seminar, “Who Is an Indian? Race, Blood, DNA, and the Politics of Indigeneity in the Americas” involving 14 participants and hosted at the Clarion Hotel in Montreal, August 2-5, 2007, with the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. However, as a result of the discussions held at the second symposium, we came to the realization that race alone could not be the exclusive subject of our concerns in addressing who people have historically answered the question, “who is an Indian.” The role of place, land, and territoriality, and resistance to neoliberalism, figured prominently in a number of the papers to the extent that we concluded that both race and place should be our dual, framing concepts.

The original impetus for this project came from a very particular context of concern. My research in the Caribbean alerted me to the extent to which notions of “purity,” “blood,” and lately even DNA analysis came to figure prominently not just as ways of ascribing Indigenous identities, but also as means of claiming them in light of widespread, categorical assertions by colonial rulers and scholars that these peoples had vanished. To my surprise, similar politics of identity were being instituted in North America—indeed, the interest in DNA studies had spread from the U.S. to the Caribbean, and in North America as well I found a concern with blood, purity, and the stigma faced by “Black Indians” who were being rejected as claimants to Cherokee citizenship. In Canada, First Nations residents carry cards indicating what degree of Indigenous “blood” they possess. Also in Canada, I repeatedly hear Euro-Canadians refer to this or that Aboriginal figure as “not a real Indian…he looks white”. (I had encountered similar purist prejudices during my years in Australia, directed at some of the most prominent Aboriginal activists who, phenotypically and superficially appeared to be “mixed” if not “almost white”.) If race, blood, and DNA were so prevalent, could we find similar concerns spread out across all of the Americas? If so, why? If not, why not? Are race, blood, and DNA essentially the same thing? These were the very first, seemingly very simple questions that led to the emergence of this project.

Taking together all stages of this project, it included a total of as many as 21 scholars from across the Americas and from across the disciplines, only some of whom appear in this volume. In particular I would like to thank and acknowledge the advice, support, varying degrees of participation and interest, and correspondence of individuals who were involved at different stages of the project, including: Kimberly Tallbear, José Barreiro, Phil Bellfy, Marisol de la Cadena, Alice and Dennis Bartels, and the late Melissa Meyer who sadly for us passed away mid-way through the development of this project. We also benefited from the participation of Indigenous scholars, who comprised half the number of participants in the overall project. With an immense amount of research and writing taking place in the U.S., there was often a tendency to have greater American representation, more than Canadian, Latin American, and least of all, from the Caribbean. The result of this struggle, the constant revision and reinterpretation, we hope will offer some critical insights into the processes of making “race” out of (or against) Indigenous identity and the role of “place” in debates about Indigenous identity. The final product strikes some geographic balance, with two chapters on Canadian cases, two dealing with American Indians, two focused on Central America and the Caribbean, and two pertaining to South America.

What about DNA Testing?

The previous concern with DNA, represented by as many as four participants early on in the project, largely diminished and then vanished altogether, especially when we no longer had the same participants as in earlier stages of the project. This is not to say that DNA debates are absent in the volume as a whole, but rather that they no longer structure the volume as a leading focus, which in any case would be more relevant to the North American situation than elsewhere. Yet even that is not entirely accurate, as the use of DNA testing to determine Indigenous ancestry has traveled to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and to my great surprise to the very community I studied for four years in Trinidad & Tobago, as the result of the work a team from the Molecular Anthropology lab at Pennsylvania State University and the National Geographic Genographic Project. In the past, similar studies have also been conducted among the Garifuna in Central America and recently in St. Vincent & the Grenadines, in the latter case again by the Penn State team.

Sidebar on U.S. "Science": DNA Testing for Indigeneity Comes to Trinidad
DNA testing comes in for severe questioning and criticism in the volume, and I would also add here to my public objections to the DNA research done in Trinidad. Aside from the more than just questionable merits of using genetics to prove cultural identities and political constructs such as tribal affiliations, I also pointed out that, "given the harvesting of biometric data by U.S. universities with research ties to the Pentagon, there is always the risk that this information could be put to uses of which the Caribs are unaware." Indeed, one of the researchers involved in the Trinidad DNA study, Jada Benn-Torres, from a military family, has conducted research in the field funded by the U.S. Department of Defense. I cannot see any reasonable purpose for conducting the study in Trinidad, as the local Carib community has been officially recognized for decades, and is not possessed by any self-doubts of their identity. Indeed, not all of the Caribs in Arima chose to participate in the study, which raises more questions about the extent to which those examined are representative of the community as a whole, and thus places in doubt even the basic scientific merits of the study. What has also not been made known is what is the ultimate purpose of the research, where the information is stored and for how long, and who has access to the database.

The Historical Importance of a Bad Question

The collaboration that produced this volume through much iteration has been focused on what is arguably one of the worst questions to be posed to or against Indigenous Peoples ("Who is an Indian?"), one that ultimately calls on them to give an account of themselves, for being who they are in the light of foreign invasions and occupations. It’s as if being who they are is a problem, and furthermore, it is a problem that they caused. Worse yet, they may not even be who they think they are.

As with all bad questions, one can expect to get a lot of bad answers. So why address such a question, going as far as making it the leading question of this project? The answer is simple: the question, however one may assess its epistemological qualities, is a politically important question (the most important perhaps), an institutionalized question, a governing question that structures people’s lives, their access to resources, and even their self-perceptions. It is also a key historical question, one that continues to be asked repeatedly, and one that will inevitably lose relevance. That this question has been raised across the Americas, in different forms (substituting, as the case may be, any number of cognate or tribal labels in the place of “Indian”), is due to a shared history of colonization and state-building and the dominance of European theories of citizenship, nationhood, race, and identity. Here we can start to look beyond the constraints and limitations of that question and in seeing past the constraints imposed today by states.

It was not the intention of the contributors of the volume to either advance academic expertise as the ultimate arbiter of Indigenous identities, to provide an easy-to-follow menu for “accurately determining” who is Indigenous, or to provide advice that caters to the functioning of government bureaucracies and their micro-management of Indigenous affairs. Our greater concern was with the politics that work to preserve the dominance of a “bad question,” a very “bad” and yet historically very important question: “Who is an Indian”? Our hope is that readers will come away from this effort with a determination to ask better questions—better in the sense of being more analytically productive and with implications that are more socially just and fair. Among the questions we would like to see posed are those that posit indigeneity as a historically specific type of relationality, that involve issues of power and affectivity, without searching for the elusive “one size fits all” solution. If, however, we overcame the stigmatization of being Indigenous only to then treat it as a category implying “privilege” and uniquely demanding “proof” of belonging, then we will not have gone far past the point of endorsing extinction.

Setting the Stage: Some Opening Quotes to Remember

“When they get off the boat, they didn’t recognize us. They said: ‘Who are you?’ And we said: ‘We’re the People, we’re the Human Beings,’ and they said: ‘Oh Indians,’ because they didn’t recognize what it meant to be a human being. ‘I’m a Human Being, this is the name of my tribe, this is the name of my people, but I’m a human being.’ But the predatory mentality shows up and starts calling us ‘Indians’ and committing genocide against us as a vehicle of erasing the memory of being a human being….Even in our own communities, how many of us are fighting to protect our identity of being an Indian, and 600 years ago that word, ‘Indian,’ that sound was never made in this hemisphere—that sound [‘Indian’], that noise, was never ever made! Ever. We’re trying to protect that as an identity, see, so it affects all of us”. —John Trudell, Lakota poet and activist. 
“It is one of the many ironies of the American experience that the invaders created the category of Indians, imposed it on the inhabitants of the New World, and have been trying to abolish it ever since”. —David Maybury-Lewis, co-founder of Cultural Survival. 
“There’s tremendous racism in Peru. In Lima, brown people, the descendants of Indigenous people, try to live as white as possible. That’s because of the influence of the media and government. If you embrace your Indian-ness, you’re shunned. You’re less than a third-class person. It’s an insult to call someone an Indian. It’s the equivalent of calling someone stupid”. —Benjamin Bratt, actor. 
“The question of my identity often comes up. I think I must be a mixed blood. I claim to be male, although only one of my parents is male”. 
—Jimmie Durham, Cherokee artist. “What does part Indian mean? (Which part?)….you don’t get 50% or 25% or 16% treatment when you experience racism—it is always l00%”. —Joane Cardinal-Schubert.


Preface, pages vii-ix

Introduction: “Who Is an Indian?” The Cultural Politics of a Bad Question, pages 3-51 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)

In this chapter I discuss the genesis, multiple meaning and historical applications of this "bad question," across the Americas. In the process I also defend the thesis that the Americas as a whole serve as the appropriate unit for analysis in understanding the colonial, "scientific," ideological, and (geo)political efforts to define Indigenous identities. While I outline how the racialization of indigeneity spread across imperial domains in the Americas, I also examine the centrality of place, of territoriality, and how place also intersects race. I discuss the emergence of "Indian" as a racial construct, and from there I proceed to build the larger theoretical and analytical narrative which the various chapters help to form. Who is the "real Indian" and issues of "race mixture" and the impact of slavery and the plantation system in North and South America and the Caribbean forms one level of analysis. Another has to do with kinship and science, with blood, DNA, and how these relate to ideas of "race purity." Going beyond "blood quantum" and race, I provide some context and the wider debate around the critically important contribution by Julia Coates in this volume, on the always timely issue of the Freedmen and the Cherokee Nation. Debates around self-identification, and tribal politics, progress toward a discussion of the many cases of "Indian non-Indians" and "Non-Indian Indians". Finally I end with an overview of the problems involved with "recognition", with some discussion of the geopolitics of recognition and then, pointing toward the Conclusion, looking beyond the politics of recognition.

Chapter One Inuitness and Territoriality in Canada, pages 53-70 Donna Patrick (Carleton University, Sociology and Anthropology and the School of Canadian Studies)

“The question of who counts as Aboriginal [in Canada],” explains Donna Patrick (this volume), “has long been linked to the question of who owns traditional Aboriginal lands”. Patrick’s chapter explores “the question of categorizing Indigeneity in Canada by examining the linguistic, political, and judicial processes associated with the notions of territory, ancestry, and belonging that shape Indigeneity today,” with a focus on the Inuit in Canada, situated within a broader analysis of Aboriginal identity in Canada. “Inuitness” in Canada, as Patrick tells us, followed a different trajectory from that of First Nations, in that the construction of Inuit identity has been guided not just by state policy but by Inuit attachments to both land and language. In Patrick’s chapter we learn that for the Inuit “the notion of ‘territoriality’ operates together with the notion of ancestry” in shaping the identities of Inuit living in urban centres of the Canadian South as much as those living in the Arctic. Donna Patrick observes that Indigenous ideas of identity in early colonial Canada “had little to do with race, biology, or ethnicity” and that Indigenous Peoples in fact demonstrated in practice that they were guided by a “notion of inclusivity” whose existence “has been supported by numerous accounts of Euro-American settlers and soldiers being accepted and adopted into First Nations groups”. While Patrick argues that we do not see in Canada a dominant discourse about the bio-politics of Indigenous identities to the same extent that we find in the U.S., she admits that a “‘covert’ or de facto blood quantum” has been part of policies governing Aboriginal, and in particular First Nations, peoples.

Chapter Two Federally-Unrecognized Indigenous Communities in Canadian Contexts, pages 71-91 Bonita Lawrence (York University, Equity Studies)

In her chapter Bonita Lawrence points out the cases of First Nations that span the Canada-U.S. border, where for example “the Passamaquoddy Nation of New Brunswick, or the Sinixt Nation, in British Columbia, have federal recognition in the United States but not in Canada,” which underscores the arbitrary, shifting, and inconsistent standards used by states to “appraise” indigeneity, as Lawrence argues. Bonita Lawrence explores identity issues among two federally-unrecognized groups—the Algonquins of Eastern Ontario and the Mi’kmaqs of Newfoundland—which have been the subject of her research for the last decade, providing a window into how the Canadian state produces unrecognized Aboriginals. As she explains, “most federally-unrecognized bands or nations are created by the nature of the treaty process itself,” while other bands are federally-unrecognized “because Canada has refused to honour historic relationships or has disregarded the traditional boundaries of Indigenous nations”. The primary means for such communities to gain federal recognition, to legally become Aboriginal again, is to assert Aboriginal title through the courts (if there is a treaty governing particular territory), or as Lawrence outlines in her chapter, “to take part in the comprehensive claims process if no treaty has been signed in the territory”. Otherwise, federally-unrecognized Indigenous peoples are “incorporated simply as ‘citizens’ within the wider nation-state dominated by settlers”.

Chapter Three The Canary in the Coalmine: What Sociology Can Learn from Ethnic Identity Debates among American Indians, pages 92-123 Eva Marie Garroutte (Boston College, Sociology) and C. Matthew Snipp (Stanford University, Sociology)

Eva Marie Garroutte and Matthew Snipp in their chapter in this volume titled, “The Canary in the Coalmine: What Sociology Can Learn from Ethnic Identity Debates among American Indians,” devote considerable attention to debating the racialization of indigeneity. As just one example of the kinds of interests vested in the non-recognition of “mixed” American Indians, Garroutte and Snipp point to Donald Trump: as a competitor against the newly recognized Pequots, and their plans to open a casino, he produced a definition of “who is an Indian” in phenotypical terms: “they don’t look like Indians to me. They don’t look like Indians to Indians,” injecting his racial bias by further calling them “Michael Jordan Indians”. This is useful in showing how ultimately one of the most common ways of assigning Indigenous identity in the Americas is focused on appearance, and where racial discourses prevail, a specific type of appearance: phenotype. Garroutte and Snipp  also discuss some of the additional, problematic conceptual issues raised by the quantification of identity, which can apply to both genetic testing and blood quantum. Quantification establishes distance as a prerequisite for measurement, “with the corollary that, at some point, individuals’ connection to American Indian forebears becomes exhausted”. Quantification of identity presupposes distance, and tends toward disappearance. It raises physical standards about ideational and subjective identities, even as it creates new subjectivities around the use of scientific resources. The right to measure involves a power to erase, just as the power to speak for Indigenous peoples, and to assign their identities, is the power to silence them, permanently. The two case studies at the focus of their chapter, the Mashantucket Pequots and Kennewick Man, make for highly engaging and illuminating reading.

Chapter Four “This Sovereignty Thing”: Nationality, Blood, and the Cherokee Resurgence, pages 124-150 Julia Coates (University of California Davis, Native American Studies)

Julia Coates strongly and productively challenges a number of prominent, published perspectives that have been critical of definitions of Cherokee identity by the Tribal Nation’s government. Coates argues that legal definitions are often overlooked in discussions of indigeneity, while race and culture gain greater attention. Yet, as she explains, many tribal governments in the U.S. regard legal definitions, not as artificially imposed from external colonizing institutions, but as internally achieved definitions of nationality and their sovereign statuses. While the Cherokee Nation’s lack of cultural requirements are frequently not understood by non-Indians and derided by other tribal nations, the Cherokee Nation has continued to assert that nationality derived from their specific history of tribal citizenship is a more inclusive category for contemporary times than race or cultural markers. This is almost a reversal of arguments criticizing the Tribal Nation’s exclusion of certain persons. Based on interviews with what Coates calls “a particularly challenging group of Cherokee nationals,” the 60 percent of the citizenry living outside the tribal core in northeastern Oklahoma, her chapter examines the potential of nationality as a basis for self-identification for those in the Cherokee diaspora, and the role the concept of citizen plays in the contemporary Cherokee resurgence. Coates points to problems with a debate that “focuses on identity construction as located in race, heritage, DNA, and cultural attributes and expressions” and that leave out law and sovereignty. She says that one reason why the cultural, racial, and ethnic aspects of identity may be the primary sites for investigation and discussion, for many Indigenous Peoples is the fact that many of them are not formally organized into nominally sovereign political entities with an internal jurisdiction. Speaking of academics, Coates suggest that one reason most academics seem to differ from tribal governments’ rigid determinations of citizenship, is that academics tend to be more inclusive in their view of who is an American Indian, not wanting to serve as identity police and imposing definitions of Indigenous identity on Natives. Her emphasis is on nationality as a potential for retention and resurgence (or what some call resilience), rather than simply acting as a colonialist mechanism of control and exclusion.

Chapter Five Locating Identity: The Role of Place in Costa Rican Chorotega Identity, pages 151-171 Karen Stocker (California State University, Anthropology)

Designating a special place as the locus of persons with an Indigenous identity can be a way for an assimilationist state, one that historically rejected the Indigenous presence as in the case of Costa Rica, to create the illusion that indigeneity is minimal and marginal. As Karen Stocker explains in her chapter in this volume, in Chorotega some residents of what later became the reservation opposed reservation status given their “tremendous resentment at being the only community in the region officially designated as Indigenous when the whole area had Indigenous roots, and aversion to the stigma attached to Indigenous identity in a country that often projected an image of whiteness and European heritage”. The Costa Rican government’s imposition of an Indigenous identity on residents of Chorotega was a convenient way of removing that label from everyone else who resided outside of that particular place, using the assigned indigeneity of some to reassure others of their Europeanness. Karen Stocker’s chapter, based on ethnographic research carried out between 1993 and 2007, addresses how various residents of the Chorotega reservation, those who live just outside the reservation, scholars, legal discourse, historical discourse, those who have resided or studied in other Costa Rican reservations and, more recently, the tourism industry have “defined Indigenous identity in contradictory ways, and in manners that have had varying consequences for those labeled as Chorotega in Costa Rica”. She addresses the history and impact of these multiple competing definitions. Stocker traces the ways in which “one set of customs has gone from Indigenous to non-Indigenous, national custom, and back again, as a result of the shifting of discourses around it”. Stocker spotlights what she finds to be “a common thread through all of these definitions and interpretations of indigeneity,” and that is “the role of place, and how the same concept that mired inhabitants of the Chorotega reservation in discrimination now serves to authenticate its practices”.

Chapter Six Carib Identity, Racial Politics, and the Problem of Indigenous Recognition in Trinidad and Tobago, pages 172-193 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Anthropology)

My own chapter in this volume, based on four years of ethnographic research and ethnohistoric research dating to early colonial times, shares some features similar to both those by Donna Patrick and Karen Stocker. On the one hand, the state’s recognition of only one single, organized Indigenous community in just one of Trinidad’s 16 former mission towns—the Santa Rosa Carib Community in Arima, on the island of Trinidad—makes it seem, however implausibly, that indigeneity was somehow contained and delimited (which instead reflects the state’s bias in how indigeneity ought to be controlled and secluded). On the other hand, in articulating their own indigenous identity, members of the Carib Community point to a multitude of factors, beyond but including race, to include a history of residence in Arima. The structure of this chapter follows three basic lines of argument: first, that the political economy of the British colony dictated and cemented racializations of identity. Second, the process of ascribing Indigenous identities to individuals was governed by the economic rights attached to residents of missions, rights which were cut off from any miscegenated offspring. There were thus political and economic interests vested in the non-recognition of Caribs, and race provided the most convenient justification—a justification that took the form of a narrative of extinction. Third, over a century later, while racial notions of identity persist, current Carib self-identifications stress indigeneity as a cultural heritage, an attachment to place, a body of practices, and recognition of ancestral ties that often circumvent explicitly racial schemes of self-definition. State recognition of the Caribs occurs within this historical and cultural context, and therefore imposes limits and conditions that simultaneously create new forms of non-recognition.

Chapter Seven Encountering Indigeneity: The International Funding of Indigeneity in Peru, pages 194-217 José Antonio Lucero (University of Washington, The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies)

As José Antonio Lucero explains in this volume, “blood” is already incorporated in national ideologies of race-mixture, and is not specific and particular enough to be used as part of the regimes of identifying the Indigenous. As Lucero adds, “in a region where ‘everyone’ has native blood, but not everyone is ‘Indian’ the social category and social fact of Indianness rely, necessarily, less on biology or blood than on the intersecting socio-cultural workings of politics, language, place, class, and gender”. More specifically, Lucero's chapter takes the work of Oxfam America as the focus of his case study, as it has been among “the earliest funders of Indigenous activism”. His chapter examines two different moments in the interactive process of legitimation between organizations such as Oxfam America and Indigenous political organizations in Peru, “as actors on both sides of the development encounter shape discourses over the meanings of development and indigeneity across local and global scales”. The “geopolitics of recognition” is what Lucero conceptualizes as regimes of indigeneity that span local, national and global scales. Lucero discusses how Indigenous people throughout the Americas (and beyond) have often found it inevitable, and sometimes useful, to engage a variety of legal, economic, and political systems. “Since the first contacts with missionaries,” he writes, “the state, and agents of global capital, Indigenous people have found that new systems of domination are not without points of entry within which they can contest the very terms of domination,” and in the present context, “the rising importance of non-state actors in the wake of aggressive neoliberal economic reforms (which shrank already weak states) provided an additional set of opportunities that Indigenous people have been able to use” (Lucero, this volume). However, one of the problems for Indigenous actors bound in relationships with external agencies is that the reconstruction of indigeneity that results is often Janus-faced, where “some discourses are for external consumption and have little to do with the lived ‘social fact’ of indigeneity at the local level”.

Chapter Eight The Color of Race: Indians and Progress in a Center-Left Brazil, pages 218-223 Jonathan Warren (University of Washington, International Studies, Chair of Latin American Studies)

Jonathan Warren begins by telling us that "since the 1990s a large number of Brazilian Indigenous communities have been federally recognized, successfully acquired land, established their own schools, and achieved a higher degree of autonomy and self-determination. Furthermore, anti-Indian violence is no longer condoned by the Brazilian government; racism has been officially acknowledged; race-cognizant government policies, such as affirmative action, have replaced race-neutral ones; and a number of antiracist commissions and initiatives have been established at federal, state and municipal levels. Finally, the first centre-left politicians in Brazilian history, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva (2003–2010) and Dilma Rousseff (2011–present), both of the Workers’ Party, have controlled the executive branch of government for almost a decade. Given these substantial changes, one could be forgiven for expecting a positive report on the state of Indigenous affairs in contemporary Brazil. Unfortunately, the outlook is rather dim. Perhaps most surprising is that many of the culprits are from the centre-left, namely the Workers’ Party, social scientists, and sectors of the movimento negro". Jonathan Warren’s chapter reveals to us that in Brazil, the racial question, and thus conceptions of antiracism—like much of “critical race studies,” he adds—simply removes the Indian from analysis, as if Indian subjectivities were entirely irrelevant. A key example of how this has occurred in critical race studies comes from Howard Winant’s very own analysis of racism in Brazil, which singles out Africans. This is odd, as Warren finds, given that as many as a third of Brazilians have some Indian ancestry. As Warren explains in this volume, Brazilian Indians are removed from the racial question in Brazil: “race is reduced to a question of blackness”. Indeed, throughout Latin America, Warren sees that Indigenous peoples are “not considered germane to race matters,” and quoting Peter Wade he adds: “the virtually unquestioned assumptions [prevails] that the study of blacks is one of racism and race relations, while the study of Indians is that of ethnicity and ethnic groups”. Warren also shows that phenotype is present in Brazilian estimations of “authentic” and “real” Indigenous identities, with those who have African and European features routinely dismissed as “racial charlatans,” in ways that echo experiences both in the U.S. and the Caribbean. Warren’s chapter is critical to this volume’s contention that race is a problem that needs to be studied in connection with indigeneity, not apart from it. His argument is critical not only for developing critical race studies, but also for political practice: the antiracist movement in Brazil cannot be just a Black movement.

ConclusionSeeing Beyond the State and Thinking beyond the State of Sight, pages 234-241 Maximilian C. Forte (Concordia University, Sociology and Anthropology)

Rather than restating or summarizing the contents of this volume, the Conclusion helps to sketch some of the ways in which critical Indigenous perspectives have sought to develop alternative ideas and practices of indigeneity and indigenization. In a hemisphere which sees, in most cases, Indigenous Peoples moving to cities, and an increased decoupling of indigeneity and territoriality, along with the incursion of the industrialization of ethnic ascription--the commerce in genetic identities--these issues become especially important. The volume closes with a sharp reminder of why "Who is an Indian?" is a bad question that produces even worse answers, and what our task as intellectuals ought to be when confronted with such questions.

Contributors, pages 243-246
Index, pages 247-254

A Little About the Contributors

Julia M. Coates (Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah, Oklahoma) is presently at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her title is Senior Writer/ Oral Interviewer in American Indian History for the Center for Oral History Research of the Charles Young Research Library. At the time of writing she was an assistant professor in the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research interests cover Native American diasporas, history, identity, women, and politics. She has conducted participant-observation fieldwork with hundreds of Cherokee citizens in California, Texas, and New Mexico. Coates also helped to form numerous Cherokee community organizations throughout California and in other states. For over six years, she was the project director and lead instructor for the award-winning Cherokee Nation history course, which brought her into personal contact with most of the employees of the Cherokee Nation, along with thousands of Cherokees in northeastern Oklahoma communities and throughout the country. She also serves on the Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation as its “At Large” representative. At UC Davis she teaches the Introduction to Native American Studies as well as classes on race, women, development and history within Native America.

Eva Marie Garroutte (Cherokee Nation) is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at Boston College. She has a background of research and publication related to the study of Native American issues, health and aging, racial/ethnic identity, and religion. She is the author of the influential book Real Indians: Identity and the Survival of Native America (University of California Press) and various articles in sociological and health-related journals. In collaboration with Cherokee Nation Health Services, she has conducted a series of research projects funded by the National Institute on Aging to examine medical communication needs among American Indian elders using tribal clinics. Her current service on editorial advisory boards includes the Journal of Native Aging and Health, American Indian Quarterly, and the University of Arizona Press series Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies. She is a past Area Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Bonita Lawrence (Mi’kmaw) is an associate professor at the School of Social Sciences of the Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada, where she teaches Indigenous Studies and anti-racism. Her research and publications have focused primarily on urban, non-status, and Métis identities, federally unrecognized Aboriginal communities, and Indigenous justice. She is the author of “Real” Indians and Others: Mixed-Blood Urban Native People and Indigenous Nationhood (UBC Press), and co-editor of Strong Women’s Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival, a collection of Native women’s scholarly and activist writing (Sumach Press). She is a traditional singer who sings with groups in Kingston and Toronto at Native social and political gatherings.

José Antonio Lucero is an assistant professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is the author of Struggles of Voice: The Politics of Indigenous Representation in the Andes (University of Pittsburgh Press) and the editor of Beyond the Lost Decade: Indigenous Movements, Democracy, and Development in Latin America (Princeton University Program in Latin American Studies). He teaches courses on government, politics, and social movements in Latin America, among others. His research interests focus on comparative politics, Latin American politics, democratization, social movements, and the politics of race and ethnicity.

Donna Patrick is professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Her current SSHRC-funded research focuses on multiliteracies, identity, and community-building among urban Inuit in Ottawa. Her other interests lie in the broader area of Indigeneity and urban Aboriginality in Canada, as well as in the political, social, and cultural aspects of language use, with a focus on language endangerment discourse and Aboriginal languages in Canada. Her 2003 book, Language Politics and Social Interaction in an Inuit Community (Mouton de Gruyter), examines these issues in Arctic Quebec. She teaches courses in language, culture, and power and in Aboriginal and northern issues, with a focus on the Arctic. In teaching and research, Donna approaches the study of Aboriginal issues, language, and discourse through an interdisciplinary lens, focusing on historical, geographical, and social processes.

C. Matthew Snipp is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Stanford University where, among other positions, he has been the director of the Center for Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity. He teaches courses in contemporary and historical American Indian Studies as well as rural sociology. He is the author of American Indians: The First of the Land (The Russell Sage Foundation, New York), which was selected as an academic book of the year by CHOICE.

Karen Stocker is an assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology at California State University, Fullerton. She is a scholar of applied anthropology with interests in education, the social constructions of race and ethnicity, language, and Latin American ethnography. She is the author of “I Won’t Stay Indian, I’ll Keep Studying”: Race, Place and Discrimination in a Costa Rican High School (Colorado University Press).

Jonathan W. Warren is an associate professor in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he is also the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Contributors Studies Program. Within the broad area of critical race studies he has focused on Whiteness, racism literacy, racial identity formations, and the links between everyday practices and racism in the U.S. and Brazil. He is the author of the highly regarded book Racial Revolutions: Antiracism and Indian Resurgence in Brazil (Duke University Press).

...and myself.