26 March 2013

"TAINO" a Novel by Jose Barreiro.

Uploaded by Alex Zacarias on Mar 26, 2013

"Writer José Barreiro shares insights and his personal journey in the making of "TAINO" a novel. This novel, based on a true story, penetrates the historical veil that still enshrines the "discovery."

"Written" by Guaikán, the elderly Taino man who, in his youth, was adopted by Christopher Columbus and saw history unfold, "TAINO" is the Indian chronicle of the American encounter, the Native view on Columbus and what happened in the Caribbean.

"Presently a senior fellow at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, José Barreiro is a novelist, essayist, and an activist of nearly four decades on American indigenous hemispheric themes. Barreiro is a member of the Taino Nation of the Antilles.

"Smithsonian Forums on the Living Indigenous Legacies of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico."

13 March 2013

Heritage site under threat.

Heritage site under threat. 
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Mar 13, 2013

For more than 20 years, the Santa Rosa First Peoples Carib Community has been requesting lands for the establishment of an Amerindian Village. It took the vibrant stewardship of the Minister of the new Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration Clifton De Coteau to make this a reality.

Minister De Coteau shares with us his vision for the Amerindian Village.

"They were here before Columbus and this is what we are recognising today. According to our records, in 1592 the Amerindian population of Trinidad numbered about 40,000. By 1634, the Amerindian population of Trinidad numbered around 4,000. In 42 years, we lost approximately 36,000 of our people. Descendants of indigenous peoples survive today in all parts of the country, but most notably in areas of Arima and Siparia.

"The Santa Rosa First Peoples Carib Community has over 600 members and today finally has the resources by which to join in economic development through increased employment, heritage tourism, food manufacturing and export, agriculture and sale of handicraft and indigenous art forms.

"For an estimated cost of $1.96 million, this project is seeking to include the construction of a large meeting area, washroom facilities, offices, craft shop, restaurant, visitor accommodation, storage centre and cassava processing plant."

The minister envisages all lands planted with cassava, corn and sugar cane. He uses visual imagery in seeing the bustle of activity and consequent swarms of visitors to the site at 1¾ mm Blanchisseuse Road, Arima.

Vel Lewis, chairman of the National Trust of Trinidad and Tobago and Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, sees the site as very much like a "living museum" and a model national heritage site. These disclosures augur well for the long-awaited village. However, there is a looming threat to these well-meaning plans that could ruin the integrity of the site.

Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Carib Community Ricardo Bharath Hernandez reveals the concern of his community. "Bordering the 25 acres of lands proposed for the site, there are some private lands which were originally Amerindian lands. We understand that these lands are now in the hands of a real estate agent, and that they are making efforts to purchase these lands for a housing project. We are hoping and praying that that development does not take place because it will not complement the indigenous village."

At indigenous sites the world over, any outside land development within close proximity usually marks the beginning of environmental and cultural problems for the people. In this case, this threat is positioned along the immediate border of the heritage site, and what is hurtful to the community is that these are lands that originally belonged to Amerindians. In the eyes of the community, history is about to repeat itself.

"By Treaty rights when the Spanish ceded Trinidad to Britain, it was with the understanding that the rights of the territory of the First Peoples of Arima be preserved. The indigenous people of Arima, the Santa Rosa Mission, owned 1,320 acres of land. That was their inalienable right. But they lost all of it because the British disregarded the treaty. The peoples lost their land because they did not have leaders at the forefront to fight for their rights."

Hernandez has spoken to the parties concerned and informs us there is room for the acquisition of these lands.

"While we are thankful to the State for recognising indigenous peoples, their struggles and their rights, we hope that this 25-acre gesture will be expanded. The granting of this land is not a gift from the State to the descendants of the First Peoples of Trinidad by extension Arima. It is their just due.

"All we are asking for is a space sufficient to develop ourselves with the industry of the indigenous peoples such as cassava, handicraft, animal husbandry and whatever else there might be.

"I am bombarded with calls night and day from students wanting information. The school curriculum calls for these studies. What a good thing it will be that they can come to the village and get first-hand experience of all that is indigenous.

"What a beautiful thing this will be when there is a community that sustains itself with all the cultural aspects of their own. It will be a plus not only for the people themselves but for the Borough of Arima, and Trinidad and Tobago."

10 March 2013

We do not have an equal place in T&T. Santa Rosa chief wants recognition:

We do not have an equal place in T&T.
Santa Rosa chief wants recognition:
By by Julien Neaves
Trinidad Express |  Mar 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM ECT

ANY reform of the Constitution must include the recognition of the status of indigenous peoples, said Chief of the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community, Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez.

He was one of the attendees at the third meeting of the National Consultation on Constitutional Reform on Saturday evening at the Arima Town Hall.

Bharath-Hernandez noted that the United Nations has adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, in September 2007. He said, locally, they have begun to see some form of recognition for the first time.

He pointed out that while the National Anthem of Trinidad and Tobago says "every creed and race finds an equal place", he did not feel the indigenous peoples had an equal place.

Bharath-Hernandez recalled that he served as People's National Movement councillor and deputy mayor for 18 years and had lobbied unsuccessfullyfor indigenous people.

He pointed out in 1982 when Canada had their Constitutional reform they recognised the rights of the aboriginal peoples (Indian, Inuit and Métis). He predicted that his lobbying efforts locally would have been more successful if indigenous peoples were included in the Constitution.

Another attendee noted that late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was being praised for championing the rights of indigenous peoples in his country. He noted that indigenous people have long been marginalised and they needed to be included in this country's reformed Constitution.

Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar, in his remarks, noted that Constitutional reform has plagued this country for many years. He noted that the People's Partnership Government came into office with the promise of Constitutional reform in a number of areas and the consultation was a fulfillment of that promise.

He said for many years people have complained that the only time they get to exercise their democracy is on election day.

"We believe the people of Trinidad and Tobago should say what kind of Constitution they want. That is why we didn't put a Draft Constitution, put it out for comment, put it out for consultation. We believe from the voices of the people we will have the will to come up with a Constitution...that is really a contract between the people and those given the authority to govern," he said.

A total of 17 consultations are to be held from March 4 to May 4 at 14 locations in Trinidad and three in Tobago.

The next consultation will be at the Sangre Grande Civic Centre today at 5 p.m.

07 March 2013

25 acres of land for indigenous people.

25 acres of land for indigenous people.
By Ralph Banwarie
T&T Newsday | Thursday, March 7 2013

AFTER 20 long years of waiting, the Carib Community of Arima has been given 25 acres of land in Blanchisseuse. Carib Chief Ricardo Bharath, said the granting of the land by the People’s Partnership Government, to the indigenous people of Trinidad and Tobago, “is a good and noble gesture.”

However, he reiterated that this granting of land ought not be considered a “gift”, but rather a “just due” to the “first people of this nation.” Most of the land, he said, belong to the “first people”, but over the years no one has stood up to fight for the rights for the land which was eventually sold.

According to Bharath, the land is located next to what he was told will be a parcel of land to be developed into a gated community. Bharath said the first people are not seeking redress and all they were asking for was space to develop and preserve their culture and way of life.

The Carib Chief said he is happy to know that the first people are now getting some recognition and hopes this will not stop with just the granting of land. He thanked all who were instrumental in having the land acquisition successfully completed.

Attending a brief ceremony on the land yestereday Minister of National Diversity Clifton De Coteau, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Rodger Samuel, Arima Mayor Ghassan Youseph, chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation Khadijah Ameen, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Diversity Senator Embau Moheni, that Ministry’s Acting Permanent Secretary Jacinta Bailey-Sobers and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism Vel Lewis.

Work to start soon on model Amerindian village.

Work to start soon on model Amerindian village.
By Wayne Bowman
Trinidad Express Newspapers | Mar 7, 2013 at 10:01 PM ECT

Work is expected to begin soon on the construction of a model Amerindian village on the Blanchisseuse Road, Arima, on lands provided to the Santa Rosa First Peoples Carib Community and other indigenous peoples of the island.

The land was granted to the organisation by the Government through the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration.

Minister Clifton de Coteau on Wednesday visited the site, where a smoke ceremony was performed by members of the organisation as a thanksgiving for the land.

The 25-acre parcel of land is situated on a plateau off the Blanchisseuse Road, and the intention is to build a model of an Amerindian village as it would have been in the time before the colonists wrested possession of the land away from the First Peoples.

Carib Chief Ricardo Hernandez-Bharath, in his address, thanked the Government for granting his people the land, but made it clear that for the organisation the land is not a gift because it was theirs in the first place before the colonists came and took it away.

Bharath also said they deserved more than 25 acres, and he is hoping the acreage will expand beyond what it is at present as the Government understands more what was taken away from his people.

He expressed concerned over the construction of a housing development by a private developer on a parcel of land bordering the site of the proposed Amerindian village. He said a housing development will not fit well with the village, and he is hoping the development will not take place.

De Coteau said the creation of the Amerindian village will cost about $1.9 million and will feature, among other things, dwelling huts, a restaurant, a gift shop and a cassava processing plant, where visitors will be able to see how the root crop was processed into farine and other products.