The Struggle for Recognition of the Indigenous Voice in Guyanese Politics – Janette Bulkan

September is Indigenous Heritage Month in Guyana

By Janette Bulkan – University of British Columbia , Vancouver , Canada

ABSTRACT: In Guyana’s racialised geography, Amerindians live in scattered villages in the vast hinterland that covers 90% of the country. Amerindian iconography is appropriated in statemaking, even while Amerindians themselves are consigned to a patron–client relationship with the dominant ‘coastlander’ society. In the late 1950s, Amerindians made up only 4% of the national population but voted as a bloc in the national elections of 1957, 1961 and 1964, rallying around Amerindians, coastlanders, reserves, mining, Venezuelan land claim, Rupununi Uprising, proportional representation, government-organised non-governmental organisations,
Guyana Action Party the first Amerindian member of the legislature.           

Their unified position allowed their political leaders to negotiate a commitment to the settlement of Amerindian land claims as a condition of Independence in 1966. After losing its parliamentary majority in 2011, the coastlander-based party in power has been working to disrupt cohesion among Amerindian community leaders.

The government uses a variety of funds to reward community leaders who will sign pre-prepared resolutions at the statutory National Toshaos Council meetings, and denies funds to leaders and communities that protest at government neglect and mismanagement of the traditional areas claimed by the indigenous peoples.

Read more: The_Struggle_for_Recognition_of_the_Indigenous Voice

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