Saturday, May 27, 2017

Legacy Lives On

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Cristo Adonis, shaman of the Arima Carib community in Trinidad.

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Members of the Surinamese indigenous culture group, Waiono do a ceremonial dance.

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of the Spaniards against his people in St Joseph. Hyarima is considered by the Santa Rosa Carib Community as this country's first national hero.

The week of activities included educational school tours, a taste of Amerindian cuisine, lectures, a smoke ceremony and heritage fair. The fair featured interactive games, dances and a petting zoo.

For Cristo Adonis, shaman of the Arima Carib community in Trinidad, the spirit of the indigenous people is as vibrant today as it was centuries ago.

"We are strong," he said. "We have remained with the knowledge of medicinal plants, although (these plants) are being destroyed every day when the hills are cut down. But we remain strong."

Adonis wished to remind the public that there were still people of indigenous descent here in this country, that they were strong and can contribute a lot to this land which was originally theirs.

"We can do a lot education wise because a lot of the history that was written, we know for a fact that those things were written by the European people from their point of view. So we can teach our young people the proper history of indigenous people. We can also teach a lot about the environment because that is our legacy. That is what we know. We are part of nature. I think the powers that be could adopt some of the principles of the indigenous people."

Adonis says that before Christopher Columbus landed in Trinidad there were over 40,000 people living here but the descendants of these peoples have since dispersed across the region.

"Trinidad was always a melting pot," he said.

Some of the things which have survived, he added, were the spiritual smoke ceremony, foods, and certain implements. Unfortunately, he said it has been a challenge for these people to gain recognition in modern society.

"It has been an uphill climb. I think it all started when people started saying that the Caribs were cannibals. There were a lot of young people who did not want to be associated with that. Although we were here first but in a minority, people hardly placed focus on us. The proper documentation on our way of life need to be placed in a proper perspective."

He lamented that whilst many traditional crafts have been lost over the passage of time, he is satisfied that those which have endured are being kept alive.

"We have lost the language because our people were forced to learn Spanish then forced to learn English." He added: "But we have survived for over 500 years so our (traditions) will carry on."