Where are the Amerindians?

asks Fred Fredericks
Guyana Chronicle
September 28, 2000

SEPTEMBER 2000, Amerindian Heritage Month is now at a close. Have you seen the Amerindian man, woman, boy or girl? Have you seen them dancing, singing or reciting poems? Have you seen them celebrating Heritage Month Amerindian style? Sure, you have been to some of those gatherings!

The Guyana Government spent a lot of effort and money on these various shows and gatherings. Transporting dancers and artistes can be costly. Housing and providing for the welfare of these artistes can be somewhat troublesome and costly, money-wise.

I would be the first one to say the Government has done its best in portraying Amerindian Heritage Month. But is this Best the Best for Amerindian Heritage month? Here again, I would be the first one to say a definite `No!' Where are the Amerindians? You have not seen them. You have not heard them.

The public has many a time gone with the wrong impression of us Amerindians. This is sometimes not our fault, not because we have failed, but because we were badly advised, or not advised at all. Many a time arrangements are not properly made for the safe-keeping and proper care of invited groups. Many a time you may have seen these groups perform, but you would not believe what they had to endure. You are given the false idea that all is well. It is not for me to discuss here what sometimes occurs. False ideas are put forward, knowingly or unknowingly. But it happens, year after year. We are pleasing others only.

Where are the Amerindians? They are right here. They are only too willing to help. Sometimes I ask myself, why doesn't the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs ask the right people for help.

The Government is also losing a lot of face, not only the Amerindians. What is the Government afraid of? Surely, they will get a lot of credit for something well done for Amerindians. Government is trying to do a lot for the Amerindians, but I make bold to say, in the wrong way.

Where are the Amerindians? Oh! they are right here. They are all around, just call and we are ready to help. I speak here about true Amerindians. For not every Amerindian is an Amerindian. We all know Amerindians who are not really concerned about their fellow Amerindians. What we have to do is get together with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and plan not only for Heritage Month, but for the future of our people. There are NGOs, APA, GOIP and others. We can offer a lot to good administration of Amerindian affairs. We Amerindians must let our fellow Guyanese know who we are. We are the Amerindians. We know where we are. We are in the world of technology. Therefore we must go along with it or we shall be left behind. We must know where we want to go. We want to go forward. We are no longer children of the forest. We have grown. We are now adults of the forest. We Amerindians are here, and we are here to stay, because we were here first.

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