PPP/Civic administration gave this recognition to Amerindians

by Francis V. De Souza, Minister of Amerindian Affairs
Guyana Chronicle
September 2, 2000

SEPTEMBER 1, 2000, marked the sixth observance of Amerindian Heritage Month in Guyana since the late President of the Republic of Guyana, Dr Cheddi Jagan, declared September `Amerindian Heritage Month' and September 10, `Amerindian Heritage day'.

The official recognition given by the PPP/Civic administration to the Amerindian communities of Guyana affords us each year the opportunity to reflect on our history, or spirituality, our resilience and celebrate with all Guyanese our rich culture and heritage.

Our theme for this year's observance `Promoting Our Culture - Securing Our Future' demonstrates the depth and strength of indigenous tradition and heritage values that in Guyana today. We, the Amerindians, are in the process of becoming totally integrated in the social, economical and cultural fabric of the Guyanese society.

We represent an ancient people as part of this nation's history and through determination ensure that our place and contributions to Guyana's future development is secured.

We must no longer accept the notion of being `children of the forest', but take our rightful place with equal status as all Guyanese and enjoy the freedom and all rights as citizens of this nation.

Our social, cultural and economic development as Guyanese is unique and quite unlike the development patterns of the indigenous people in other parts of this continent and beyond.

We should therefore zealously safeguard against foreign cultures and concepts influencing and dictating the pace of our achieving and advancing the cultural heritage values and aspirations of our peoples.

This year, Amerindian Heritage Day will be celebrated on Sunday, September 10 at Santa Rosa Village in the Moruca River, Sub Region One of Region One. This village is the home town of Mr Stephen Campbell whom we honour as the first Amerindian to represent our people and first Amerindian Legislator. It was on September 10, 1957, that Mr Stephen Campbell entered the Legislative Assembly for the first time.

Santa Rosa is reported to be one of the oldest Amerindian Mission communities that has a recorded history dating back to 1836 when it was first established by Roman Catholic Missionaries.

Within the past eight years in Guyana, significant developments have taken place which reflect the PPP/Civic Government's programme for developing new strategies for partnership with Amerindians.

The contributions of Amerindians to National Development Strategy Final Document `Eradicating Poverty and Unifying Guyana,' offers opportunities for participation and inclusiveness in the decision-making process for advancing the social and economic development of our peoples and this nation.

The deliberations of the Constitution Reform Commission, which included significant Amerindian representation, set out bold initiatives that will contribute to a developmental process which will give impetus to realising the hopes and aspirations of indigenous people of Guyana and empower their social, cultural and economic advancement.

This is an opportunity for us Amerindians to respond positively to these initiatives of Government and support all efforts to be involved in planning the future development of our communities and our country.

We shall pass this way, but once. Let it be in the footsteps of those who struggled for a united and prosperous country. We shall all be proud of as Guyanese.

A happy Heritage Month to all my brothers and sisters!

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