Amerindian Heritge Month an outstanding success

A GIS Feature by Rohmena Chung
Guyana Chronicle
October 5, 2000

AMERINDIAN Heritage Month celebration climaxed on September 30 with the main activities taking place at Santa Rosa, (Region One); St. Cuthbert's Mission, (Region Four); St. Francis' Mission (Region Six) and St. Ignatius (Region Nine).

Heritage Month is an annual celebration started in 1997 when September was dedicated to Amerindians by the late President Cheddi Jagan. He was instrumental in the launching of Amerindian Heritage Month and it has now become an annual event in the national Guyana calendar.

Dr. Jagan engineered the recognition of the Amerindian people and diligently pursued that goal until his death. But his programme to improve the lives of Amerindian is continuing.

During last month Amerindians were engaged in many cultural activities. This year Amerindians celebrated with the theme "Promoting our culture - Securing our future."

Santa Rosa was chosen as the Amerindian Heritage Month Village for the year.

Santa Rosa was chosen because it is regarded as a role model for other Amerindian communities. It has a population of about 7,000 residents. Heritage Day celebration at Santa Rosa on September 10 was attended by President Bharrat Jagdeo. Thousands of hinterland persons attended the celebration and made it a great success.

On September 3, there was a glorious Inter-Faith Thanksgiving Service which saw Amerindian brothers and sisters coming together and reflecting on where they were, where they are and where they are going.

On September 24, a Jubilee Mass for Amerindians was conducted at the Brickdam Cathedral and was attended by President Jagdeo, among other dignitaries.

Mr. Oswald Hussein an Amerindian from St. Cuthbert's Mission held a successful Art Exhibition at Castellani House on September 14 to mark his achievements as a artist and sculptor. Mr. Hussein is one of Guyana's outstanding artists and sculptors.

The exhibition attracted local and international artistes and his pieces are admired by many countrywide. More of his paintings and sculptures were displayed on Heritage day at St. Cuthbert's Mission on Saturday, September 30. Heritage Month at St. Ignatius (Region Nine) ended with a beauty pageant in which a bevy of lovely young ladies from within the Region were engaged in keen competition for the crown.

Copping the prestigious title of Miss Amerindian Heritage was 17-year-old Bernadette Fernandes of Potarinau. She also won a prize for the best indigenous costume and is to enjoy an all-expenses paid weekend at Baracara White Water Resort. She will also benefit from a six-month scholarship at an education institution sponsored by Vanessa Investments.

Saturday's programme in Region Nine included a market day as well as an exhibition and sale of intricately designed Amerindian handicraft and artifacts, foods and beverages. At St. Cuthbert's Mission the programme was extensive with cultural items performed by the villagers.

Minister of Culture Youth and Sports, Gail Teixeira was among the 5,000 visitors. Meanwhile, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Vibert De Souza joined in the celebration at Moraikobai (Region Five). The programme was colourful and concluded with a Miss Washigi Pageant.

Twelve young beauties of the community took part in this pageant. It was divided into two categories - traditional and evening wear. Around midnight, 11-year-old Ameena Hendricks was crowned Miss Washigi 2000.

Other communities which celebrated Amerindian Heritage Day were Mainstay/Whyaka and Santa Mission.

Amerindians are taking a steps to preserve their environment. On September 30, residents at Santa Rosa observed Conservation/Environmental Day. They will be playing a vital role in preserving the sea turtles at Shell Beach.

During this month Guyana Broadcasting Corporation also aired programmes of Amerindian dialect. These programmes were for persons who are interested in learning Amerindian dialects.

Although Amerindian Heritage Month was launched only four years ago, its significance has been increasing year after year. The thousands of Guyanese Amerindians and non-Amerindians who participated in the various activities from Rupununi to Orealla, from St. Cuthbert's to Santa Aratak can proudly claim that Amerindian Heritage Month 2000 was an outstanding success.

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