Craft, indigenous cuisine, basketry and traditional vestments took centre stage as the Carib community celebrated Amerindian Heritage Day in the precincts of the Santa Rosa RC Church, Arima, on Friday. The cultural extravaganza featured Maypole dancing, drumming, singing, chanting and the playing of wooden musical instruments. The celebrations began at pre-dawn with a smoke signal ceremony at the base of the Hyarima statue. Among those attending were contingents of Surinamese, Dominican and Guyanese Amerindians. They added their local arts and craft to the cultural potpourri. Amerindian visitors fielded questions about the mores, customs and folk traditions of the Amerindian.
On Thursday, Santa Rosa Carib queen Jennifer Cassar said Amerindian Heritage Day was celebrated to remind indigenous people about the contribution of ancestors of First Nation peoples. She said: "We cannot get a holiday so it is a day to remind us of our ancestors who were there before us and to sensitise us to the contribution of our ancestors. That is the only day we have at this point to commemorate the memory of most of our ancestors and exhibit the local craft." Special tribute was paid to tribal queen Hummingbird Ramirez from Miami, USA. Members of the Orisha movement were also in attendance.
Apart from the Santa Rosa activity, events were launched at the Arima Town Hall. School children from the community learned about the contribution of First Nation peoples. Canadian High Commissioner Karen Mc Donald also hosted the contingents at a Canada sponsored Culture of the Cloth exhibition at the National Museum, Keate Street, Port-of-Spain on Wednesday.
Peters: They have contributed greatly to society
In his congratulatory message, Peters lauded First Nation peoples for their contribution to T&T. He said: "The First Nation peoples have contributed greatly to our multi-cultural society. With their presence, most evident in our place names like Tunapuna, Caroni and Chaguanas, we realise their contribution to national history. I hope First Nation peoples would pass on their rich heritage to the next generation and the legacies would live on forever.
He noted the Santa Rosa community has been struggling assiduously to stabilise issues like land settlement, protection of sacred sites, raising public awareness, promoting education, curriculum revival and cultural exchanges. Peters urged them to continue to negotiate outcomes for the benefit of the Santa Rosa community.