GOIP (Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples) and APA (Amerindian Peoples Association) join in Educating Indigenous Peoples concerning their Rights
It is important that ordinary people in the community be familiar with governance issues, as they relate to the 2006 Amerindian Act (referred to as The Act), the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (ADRIP) as well as various climate change issues ranging from the opt-in mechanism to REDD+.
The two most important indigenous organization of Guyana, the APA and GOIP are working together to educate indigenous communities so that they can take their rightful places in today’s world. Issues important to the wellbeing of the indigenous population are being addressed.
The CLIMATE IMPACT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMME UPPER DEMERARA (CIEPUD) WORKSHOP in region 10, on 26TH & 27TH NOVEMBER, 2016 was hosted by Malali and included villagers from Rockstone and Muritaro. Mary Valenzuela of GOIP was the main facilitator.
The workshop ensured that Region 10’s indigenous population was not left out of any enlightening process that the first peoples of other parts of Guyana have been benefitting from.
Revision of The Act is now in progress.
A revised Act should include provisions to:
Indigenous communities need to be catered for in the following areas when the act is revised
Understanding the Opt-in mechanism
by Laura George of APA
Important topics that must be considered:
Governance Issues as they relate to The Act by Colin Klautky of GOIP
Section 14 of part 111 of The Act deal with the powers of the village council to make rules under the governance section. Sections 5,6, 7, 8 and 9 of The Act are also relevant.
Under Section 14, subsection 1 of The Act, there are seventeen governance areas listed under which a village council had the right to make rules.
A four-point list of penalties for violations to the rules of the village council, under the heading “The first schedule” is explicable.
Aboriginal Polynesian peoples of Samoa, South Pacific, effectively enforce their own village rules today as they related to visitors, tourists etc. Similar penalties etc. might also be applied to researchers, visitors etc. when they visit communities like Malali, Muritaro and Rockstone. Toshaos, village councilors and ordinary villagers in Guyana can be both hospitable to visitors and firm in enforcing the rules of the community at the same time, as is done in Samoa.
Credible governance is a demonstration of how effective an elected body is in control of the area they are mandated to govern, and this must be from a position of strength.
Moraro hosts Annual General Meeting of Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP)
With the help of, among others Seaford Fredericks and Ivan Cornelius, Moraro was able to host the AGM of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP). As a 100% indigenous effort, we were honoured to be asked. Our being able to do this, demonstrates that as indigenous peoples, we can manage without the help of outside bodies, and that co-cooperatively, we have what it takes to organise and support our indigenous interests.
“AMERINDIAN” COULD EVENTUALLY BE REPLACED IN GUYANA’s LAWS
Amending the 2006 Amerindian Act
A list of suggestions for amending the 2006 Amerindian Act were amongst several issues that came up at the 17th General Assembly of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) held at Wakapoa Village, Region 2, on 31st July, 2016. Misnomers such as grant of land title and Amerindian in the Act could be replaced with return and 1st Guyanese respectively. The Gathering also condemned the practice of a Cabinet Minister exercising powers to dismiss an entire elected village council, amongst other shortcomings in the present Act. Additional laws, backed up by effective law-enforcement, it was felt, are also needed in Guyana’s Constitution to make life tougher for human traffickers, of which indigenous females are prime victims.
Seismic shift in the GOIP’s leadership
A mild seismic shift in the GOIP’s leadership also took place at Wakapoa, when Mary Valen-zuela of the Warau Nation replaced Colin Klautky as Chief. Others elected to the new female-dominated Executive include Esther Robinson (Secretary), Phyl Osorio (Treasurer), Colin Klautky (PRO), together with Natasha David, Lyn Roberts RN, Ann Payne, Claudette Fleming, Brian Chu, former Region 7 Councillor Victor Lawless and former Wakapoa Toshao Seaford Fredericks, as Committee Members.
Indigenous communities bemoaned the gap between promises and deliveries
The Wakapoa and other lower Pomeroon indigenous communities bemoaned the gap between promises and deliveries made by past and present Guyana regimes in the quality of Education and Health care systems afforded to villagers. However, the community’s conceptualization of a forest preservation/eco-tourism venture at the Moraro area of Wakapoa was widely discussed, with the prospect of much-needed employment for villagers being envisaged.
Walter Roth Museum
Plans to relocate the Walter Roth Museum were also given the “thumbs down”, since this could negatively affect many precious ancient pre-Columbus artefacts stored at its present location.
Land rights, a green economy, self-empowerment and basic human dignity
The GOIP vowed to continue its advocacy for land rights, a green economy, self-empowerment and basic human dignity for Guyana’s first peoples, some of which has achieved measured successes since the Association’s resuscitation almost three decades ago.
GOIP Executive Committee,
18th August, 2016
MR. COLIN KLAUTKY a.k.a. “The Apatoa”
Colin is the eldest son of Claude Klautky. He is a school-teacher by profession, hence his other designated name of “Sir”. However, he doesn’t feel he’s yet reached the status of “Apatoa Sterumeshi” (which means “great teacher” in Carib), a name conferred on him.
In 1990, he was one of five co-founders of the Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP), a leading advocacy group in Guyana, and has since been elected to various positions, such as Secretary and PRO. In March 2014, he was elected Chief of this 3,000-member Association at the Dogg Point Carib village (near Agatash, Essequibo River) in Guyana.
He was also elected Guyana’s Executive member on the Trinidad-based Caribbean Organization of Indigenous Peoples (COIP) in October, 2013.
Colin works as a facilitator at Guyana’s Office of Climate Change and has a small banana farm. He is involved in tennis, swimming and distance running, and is a member of both the Piranha swim club and Roraima tennis club in Guyana. He completed two 18-mile “Malta” marathons in Guyana in 1985 and 1986, as well as one indigenous “Earth Day” marathon in Trinidad in 2004.
He successfully led one of two indigenous Guyanese delegations (the other from Siparuta, Region 6) to the Surinam CARIFESTA in August, 2013. He is well travelled both in and out of Guyana, (to 15 countries on 39 airlines total), attending conferences, seminars, cultural exchanges etc. for both GOIP and COIP over the past 2 decades.
Colin is a member of the prestigious Klautky family. To read more about this interesting family click on Klautky family.
GOIP spearheading Sept 10th as day to celebrate The Life of Indigenous Stalwart Stephen Campbell
An indigenous Lokono, Guyanese Stephen Campbell (1897-1966) a devout Roman Catholic, was born on Dec 26th, in Moruca which straddles Pomeroon and North West District, Guyana, South America.
He became a teacher, but his mark on recent Indigenous Guyana history came when, on Sept 10th 1957, he became the first Indigenous Member of Parliament in Guyana’s colonial history. He was elected on the Legislative Council of British Guiana.
“In the year 1957, I entered politics at the request of the Amerindians who felt that they had no one to represent their interest in the central government,” said Mr Campbell. Today, Stephen Campbell is regarded as an important figure because of his work for the rights of indigenous Guyanese.
Mr Campbell petitioned the UK Government, to ensure the land rights of indigenous peoples were recognised. He set up the Amerindian Association so as to ensure indigenous peoples were represented at negotiations for Guyana’s independence. When Guyana gained its independence from the UK, the legal ownership of indigenous lands was part of the condition.
Sadly, this great indigenous visionary passed away just two weeks before Guyana gained its independence from the UK.
Because Mr Campbell is such a pivotal figure in recent indigenous history, the Guyana Organisation of Indigenous People (GOIP) which is one of two bona fide indigenous organisations in Guyana recognises the importance in marking his work. The group is taking its stance and dedicating Sept 10th to Stephen Campbell.
GOIP CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR THE OCETI SAKOWIN OF THE GREAT SIOUX NATION...4/12/2016
"SOLIDARITY IS HEREBY EXTENDED FROM THE GUYANESE ORGANIZATION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (GOIP) TO THE OCETI SAKOWIN OF THE GREAT SIOUX NATION ON THE JUST DEMANDS THAT THERE BE NO DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE.
GUYANA'S NINE FIRST NATIONS HAVE ALSO BEEN SUFFERING SIMILAR INJUSTICES FROM POWERFUL EXTRACTIVE GOLD AND TIMBER ENTERPRISES IN RECENT DECADES.
THOUGH NO GOIP PERSON WAS ABLE TO ATTEND THE 15TH NOVEMBER RALLIES AT STANDING ROCK, THE GOIP CONTINUE TO BE THERE IN SPIRIT.
THE HARPY EAGLE AND THE BALD EAGLE ARE NOW FLYING TOGETHER. OIL AND WATER DON'T MIX.
INDIGENOUS LIVES MATTER.
CHIEF MARY VALENZUELA,
GOIP (Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples) and APA(Amerindian Peoples Association) Joint Statement to the UN Read more ...
Right to own and control Traditional lands by Claudette De Vieira
With recent increase in demand for world resources, it is easy to understand why lands that were under the control of indigenous peoples are being wrestled from them, especially through laws that native peoples find alien.
When a court in Guyana made a ruling in favour of a miner against a whole indigenous village, this totally ignored the indigenous people who occupied and cared for the land for centuries before the arrival of colonists.
This triggered one indigenous man to say if gold was found in the place where water is sourced, the land would no longer be for the people. And many would see their ancestral homeland for the last time.
Confronting land rights issues is a nightmare.
How many indigenous people in the Roraima area of North Eastern, South America ever heard of the 1750 Treaty of Madrid, where the lands in the watershed of the Orinoco belonged to Spain and those whose waters flowed into the Amazon belonged to Portugal. This totally ignored the indigenous people who occupied and cared for the land.
According to European history, in June 7th 1494, just two years after Christopher Colombus arrived in Taino/ Lokono country, the Treaty of Tordesillas divided the world between Spain and Portugal, giving Portugal claim to eastern portion of the 'yet undiscovered continent of South America'. This totally ignored the indigenous people who occupied and cared for the land.
As indigenous peoples fight to retain control over their lands, they must confront the ingrain rules and regulations that have slowly taken over through the centuries and have made the battles seem insurmountable. These should reinforce the need for stronger communities and leadership. Maybe it is centuries of understanding the environment that makes indigenous people wish to get the message out there - the environment always gets the last say and many believe that the erratic change in our climate is trying to tell us something.
Maybe, those who only want land for the benefit of exploitation would finally discovered what the Cree indigenous people saw when they prophesied that man would only learn when they see that they cannot eat money.
With equitable and sustainable lifestyles valued by caring people all over the world, indigenous peoples have a responsibility to nurture and maintain traditional lands.
The sustainable lifestyle of traditional indigenous peoples has been around for a very long time and is proven, which is why this lifestyle is very relevant in today's world. It is one reason why many of our natural places that we rely so much on are still alive. And also the reason why indigenous peoples must be allowed to own and control their land.
There is the bio-centric way of living where the environment is utilised with concern for the future. Manufactured items are bio-degradable; not overly processed nor extensively packaged. Even in the diet, taste buds have been developed because of the special tastes of natural foods which in turn push people to preserve the places that provide such unique foods.
Indigenous people tend to appreciate small manageable communities where people know each other and look into the welfare of each other. Many traditional communities are non-money dependent.
In comparison with a money based economy, the traditional indigenous way of life, has some similarities with more recently promoted sustainable aspects of money-based economies.
Traditional communities battle to maintain a bio-centric lifestyle. They have contributed so much to the world, yet the world is not educated about these contributions - contributions that many times are ignored and taken for granted.
Indigenous Intelligence has contributed to the areas of world food and medicinal plants. These have been shared with the world. Because of still practising traditions, can still be shared, therefore it is important that indigenous peoples be allowed to own and control their lands.
United Nations back Indigenous People of Guyana after they Appeal
The Associated Press
GEORGETOWN, Guyana — A United Nations agency is urging Guyana to review the practice of granting mining permits and concessions in indigenous communities before obtaining consent from Amerindians who live there.
The letter was issued this week by the U.N.'s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It comes after the Amerindian People's Association wrote the U.N. to complain that although Amerindians received land titles from the government, they have no power to prevent miners from working in or near their villages.
Guyanese Organization of Indigenous Peoples (GOIP) against system of Justice for Indigenous peoples
The GOIP feels the grotesque sentence of 19-year old Rupununi baby-sitter Fatima Martin to five years’ incarceration for allegedly inappropriately hitting an infant in her care is the latest in a string of such iniquities. If reports that the baby was hit the way she was are true, it must be condemned. But in a land where the judicial system is in a total mess, its extremely difficult to oppose the description of Guyana being a “Banana Republic with Kangaroo courts”, as a strong opinion both in and out the country suggests.
This is verified by the fact that for many years not one rich murderous drugs criminal has been brought before Guyana’s courts. It seems only in other jurisdictions will these vermins be sentenced to wear “pumpkin-suits” behind bars, regardless of their wealth and high connections. This promotes the belief that Guyana is a safe haven for such criminals. Is it because Miss Martin is a poor Wapishan female who doesn’t have the high connections her well –endowed employers apparently have that warrants such a Draconian sentence? Is this a case where we’re all equal, but some more equal than others?
The GOIP again chides the deafening silence of state-funded constitutional bodies set up to help the many Fatima Martins suffering from oppressive abuses such as these. Or are such groups merely political puppets? On the other hand, the GOIP salutes those lawyers and others in the advocacy movement for sincerely being there for this powerless teenager. The GOIP is prepared to partake in any civil action that may lead to this case being eventually thrown out of court.
GOIP Executive Committee, 25th February, 2014
The Prophecy of Kaieteur Falls (From A Collection of Indigenous Peoples Traditional Knowledge)
A very long time ago, something historical happened to the people who lived in the Potaro area. Toshau Kai, their leader had a life changing experience.
Kai, the leader of the Patamona, lived with his people in their beloved land, some distance away from one of the greatest falls. All seemed well in their secure world, in the Potaro River area. There was no immediate cause for concern about their future. Kai and his people had everything they needed; fish in the rivers and creeks, game in the rich forests and every other essential in the surrounding locale. However, Toshau Kai was deeply troubled.
He was having a persistent dream and the dream wouldn't go away.
He dreamt of strange people invading the traditional homeland of his people. And, his dream didn't stop there. Not only did those people invade his land, but they desecrated it too. The people were destroyers. They cut down the forests and polluted the waters. In their wake, they left unimaginable damage that threatened the very essence of life.
Concerned and worried, Kai prayed to Great Spirit Makonima for guidance. He prayed intently for a long time. But, he got no answer. The dream was now beginning to trouble Toshau Kai. It was so disturbing that he decided he had to do something. He had to stop what he now saw was certain destruction to the environment and his people.
Kai pondered. His dream was so powerful and prophetic, he decided to make the ultimate sacrifice.
On his appointed time, he got into his canoe. Carried by the swift moving tide, the canoe gathered momentum and glided nearer to the top of the fast flowing falls. All alone, he reached the point of no-return. Surrounded by thundering roar and cooling mist, Kai was launched into the bowel and bosom of the powerful and beloved falls.
Kaieteur Falls was then named after Toshau Kai.
Today, gold mining is desecrating the ecosystem of Kaieteur Falls.
Though, this happened a long time ago, Kai's sacrifice, points to a major concern shared by many indigenous peoples. Today we see, what he was so troubled by. Kai, in a strange way was burdened years ago by what now burden many of us. Though he lived centuries ago, what he represented then is relevant today. From the spirit world, he still sends a message about the concerns of present day indigenous peoples and many others who love nature.
His sacrifice continues to fights for the Rights of the Environment. And, by giving his name to Kaieteur Falls, we are reminded of his sacrifice.
Perhaps, Makonima couldn't answer Toushau Kai's prayers. Maybe, Kai's personal sacrifice, was the only way Makonima could remind us humans of the need to safeguard Kaieteur Falls. Kai's ultimate sacrifice brings to our attention, the enormity of environmental pollution to Kaieteur and many other pristine places.
No wonder, it is said: 'the more we know of how gold is mined, the less it glitters.'
We Love our land....Words from Wapichan elder
'We depend on our traditional lands to obtain almost everything we need for craft-work and construction. Here we ﬁnd our housing materials, clay to make pots, and weaving ﬁbres. Most of us go to the bush to collect these materials. We do not have to spend money on these things. That is why we love our land.’
Wapichan elder, Baitoon, 2005 (Guyana, South America)
“Ta’mekae tewa-beelechay kapon ya muk, tutauching ba kong bak waymatok”
"A celebration of indigenous survival and solidarity."
Governance by Toshaos and village councils as they relate to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)