Canada-based Guyanese Produces A-Z guide on Amerindians Stabroek News
June 16, 2002

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A Dictionary of the Guyanese Amerindians and other South American Native Terms compiled and edited by Canada-based Guyanese Lal Balkaran was launched during Guyana’s recent Independence anniversary celebrations in Toronto, Canada.

The dictionary, described as an A-Z guide to the Amerindian’s anthropology, cosmology, culture, exploration, history, geography, legend, folklore and myth, was published by LBA Publications, Scarborough, Ontario.

The author, an internal auditor by profession, has written several books and articles on a diverse range of subjects, including management, business, corruption, travel, education and music, which were published in various periodicals around the world.

The book features 5,000 entries, and according to Balkaran a number of words in everyday vocabulary, which originate from the languages of the indigenous peoples, including quinine, curare, casareep, balata, corial, hammock, cannibal, barbecue and buccaneer among others.

Balkarran said too that Amerindians have a unique relationship with the forces of nature, the cosmos, environment, forests, rivers, mountains, animals and people of other races. Colourful stories, he said, have been woven to explain all these, such as the creation myths, reason for animals, the forces of nature, the different Indian tribes and races of mankind, the songs and plumage of birds, shapes of boulders and mountains and the origins of strife.

The book also profiles Amerindian organisations and many who defended and promoted Amerindian causes over the years, including the early explorers and missionaries, early anthropologists, and an Amerindian `Who’s Who’.

Guyana’s Ambassador to the United States, Dr Odeen Ishmael, said that "the book provides easy information for anyone who wants to learn about the Amerindians of Guyana, and furnishes enough background data for the serious researcher who may want to indulge in more in-depth research into the history and culture of these proud people."

A sketch of the author says that Balkaran’s very first job was a teacher among the Wapishiana in Guyana between 1970 and 1975 when he developed a profound interest in Guyana’s Amerindians and their South American counterparts. Over the years he has collected a wealth of rare material relating to the indigenous peoples which he has used in his current publication.

Among those present at the launching ceremony, which took place at the Ramada Hotel in Scarborough, was an Amerindian delegation, mainly from St Cuthbert’s Mission, which had travelled to Canada to take part in the Independence celebrations.