Here’s what they’re saying
Why is land important to Amerindian communities?
Guyana Chronicle
March 17, 2004

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Amerindian Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues recently visited a number of Amerindian communities in the Deep South, Rupununi, Region Nine to discuss matters of surveying and titling of land.

Some aspects of the Amerindian Act, do not match what is on the ground. These include boundaries and names of creeks.

Minister Rodrigues engaged people and Toshaos to accept a proposal to have their land surveyed in anticipation that when surveys are completed these anomalies will be corrected.

These are some of the comments villagers in the communities visited had to say regarding the importance of land to Amerindians.

Nicholas Fredericks - For the last century, the Amerindians were mostly relying on land for fishing, hunting farming and medicines.

Right now, we are approaching modern technology, the world is changing a lot and Amerindians seem to be ignoring a lot of technology. They are not really moving forward as fast as technology is moving.

They are still depending a lot on their lands, without that they are not secure. And if we, as Amerindians, can't get our right portions of lands, I mean that is the only thing we see that is right to fight for right now, and without that we are nowhere in this world.

Henry Clement - Because we depend on it for farming, fishing and gathering wherever possible. Because without that we cannot live. Because we depend on that alone to help us to live. We are getting more and more children coming up so it will be beneficial for them.

Paulino Clement - It is important to Amerindians for farming, mining, lumber or use for any kind of crop. Also for planting things and those we know in the mountains, medicines, wood, or any other thing we know. That is why we need our land in the right way.

Margaret Peters - Land is important to Amerindian people because we depend on land for our daily lives and its part of our culture, where we get our food, we rear our cattle, our sheep, and our poultry.

We are not accustomed to just a little square of land. We are accustomed to miles and miles of land.

Also we have our sacred sites, we get our building materials from far distances, hunting grounds at a far distance. And also we occupy and use land, and we also want this land.

It's very important for our young generation to come. That is why we keep repeating we want our land. We get every little thing from there. Without land we will be dead people today.

We also need land because we are deciding to do ranching and rearing of pigs and other livestock.

Faye James Fredericks - Because we are the first people in Guyana, we own the land. Without the land we don't have a life. Our land our life, our life our land. We depend basically on the land to fish, gather, hunt, to get our medicines. But without our land we cannot live. That is how we indigenous people have been living for years and years.

That is why it is a burning issue that we get our land immediately.

The land that they have given to us is exhausted. You go up to the Kanuku Mountains now, and you cannot even have game to eat.

Sometimes the people in the community starve because we need to go further up the Kanaka, and without our land, how can we live? It’s part of our lives. It is our survival. So that is why it is so important to our people.

Alan Fredericks - It is part of our culture. We are not accustomed to living like people on the coast on a little piece of land and you have your neighbour right there.

We are accustomed to roaming, to moving, to getting our game and gathering our materials. That is how we live. Just moving up and down.

The only way now that we can say that we use less land is to change our style of agriculture. But right now we do slash and burn, that is our main source of farming.

They have to introduce probably another way of farming to bring us back to smaller parts of land but we are accustomed to roaming all the time.

Indigenous people are like that.

James Eusebio - Amerindian people need land for food, shelter and clothing. Civilised Amerindians are looking at land for money making, hunting. So I think our land is important for those reasons. (GINA)