I write this article about my beloved 34 year-old cousin Daniel Clackett in the UK and his beautiful wife Charlotte Cheriton Clackett, if you saw Daniel on the street you would think he is just another white Englishman (never judge a book by it's cover), so Daniel could easily hide his Amerindian heritage and adopt the escapist philosophy (that many sadly do) which says "leave the past in the past - what does any of that have to do with ME today? - I shall pretend to be that which I can 'visually pass' for".....but Daniel does not think this way, he knows that you cannot escape your genetic heritage (only hide it from others in some cases) - how can you? It literally formed the building blocks that created the person you are today - both biologically AND spiritually. Here is the excerpt from the marriage of Daniel Clackett to Charlotte Cheriton, on Friday 25th August 2014 - in Gaucin, Spain. Officiated by the Reverend Kevin Williams, read by his beloved grandmother Miriam DeWever; Matriarch of this part of the 100+ Eagle Clan descendants in the UK:
"It is with great pleasure that we are all here today to witness the marriage of Daniel and Charlotte, one of commitment to each other - for them to share their lives together.
Daniel asked me, as Matriarch of our family and in celebration of their union, if I would like to do a little speech for them....of-course, this request was with Charlotte's approval!
I must admit, I felt quite honored to fulfill this role with, I might add, some feeling of trepidation...but I will now endeavor to fulfill this task in the best way I can.
Daniel and I met up a few weeks ago and when I asked him if there was anything in particular he would like me to say, his reply was "Nan, you can say what you like! I trust you! Perhaps you could say something about our ancestors - that would be nice - and different!".
I am sure we are all familiar with the TV programme 'Who do you think you are'...so I now share with you Daniel's heritage on my father's side of the family - Daniel's Great Grandfather - which, needless to say, Daniel is extremely proud of.
This heritage is the Lokono-Arawak Amerindian Tribal Nation, specifically our Eagle Clan who came from - and lived along the Demerara River, which was known as 'British Guiana' in the days of the English colonization in South America.
Our heritage has been traced back by oral history tradition to around 1596 - when we were still inhabiting the Lokono-Arawak village of Waia (meaning 'Clay') as members of the Jaguar Clan - near the mouth of the Demerara River.
In 1600 our first Chief (Kafotay) of the Eagle Clan Arawaks (Bariria Korobahado Lokono) was born, his name was Wiwakaleme - meaning 'Light from the Stars'...it is said that he had great spiritual powers and wisdom, which, inevitably, increased with age. It is said that he could cause his spirit to leave his physical body and travel great distances, seeing persons and events that happened elsewhere, and be able to describe them in great detail to those who would listen. It was also said that he had a gift of being able to see future events by way of prophetic dreams, he always prayed for guidance from the Great Holy Spirit (Adaiahuli).
In 1692 Chief Wiwakaleme handed over the Chieftaincy and the upper Demerara River Chiefdom (Isauka) to his son Haubariria (Harpy Eagle) - who became our first Hereditary Chief (Isau)...Chief Wiwakaleme died at the grand old age of 99 in the year 1699.
In 1728 Chief Harpy Eagle died and his son Bultata (Red Headed Hawk) became our second Hereditary Chief of the Eagle Clan. He fought various skirmishes with the Kalina-Carib and Kapongon-Akawaio tribes who lived in the southern headwaters of the Upper Demerara River at the time.
In 1798 Chief Toratora (White-Necked Hawk) was already leading the Eagle Clan and was our third Hereditary Chief, in this same year he married the daughter of a Chief of the Makushi tribe of the southern Pakaraima mountains called 'Takuiba' - who was his principal wife.
In 1823 Chief Toratora's son 'Jaguar Running' was born, he got this first name because when his Makushi mother was giving birth - she saw a Jaguar run through the village, so she named her baby son 'Jaguar Running'...but he was given a new name when he assumed the Hereditary Chieftaincy in 1841 (when a Measles and Smallpox epidemic killed his mother and father) as a young man of 18....it was at this time was was given a new name 'Amorotahe Haubariria' (Flying Harpy Eagle)...he was Daniel's Great-great-great grandfather.
In 1879 our last Hereditary Chief Flying Harpy Eagle (Amototahe Haubariria) second to last child was born (she had a younger sister who also survived - who married a Chinese man in Guyana, but nothing more is known of her)...this was my father's mother - my grandmother - Daniel's great-great grandmother - at Isauka (the Chiefdom) which is remembered today only as 'Saka landing' by a few aging upper Demerara river dwellers. She was born traditionally and had a traditional Lokono-Arawak name which was 'Shoko Laliwa' (meaning 'Little Yellow Butterfly')...and she lived to see the world she was born into - a mostly naked traditional Lokono society (the last one in British Guiana), where her bloodline had led the people by right of birth for centuries....which is a huge responsibility to any traditionalist who knows that you will answer to your ancestors when you pass into the spiritual world - if you failed to lead your people well.
As a young child Little Yellow Butterfly experienced a Measles and Smallpox epidemic befall her people which killed 90% of them, including her mother and older siblings.
She witnessed her birthplace of the principal village of the Demerara River Chiefdom of her ancestors - be abandoned. No-one ever lived at 'Saka landing' after this time.
In 1889 at 10 years of age Little Yellow Butterfly was adopted and baptized into the Anglican Church by the Missionary Priest Reverend William George Gardiner Austin (1835-1904) - son of William Piercy Austin - Anglican Bishop of Guyana. Reverend Austin gave her a new English name 'Marian Luckie' (Marian in honor of Mary the mother of Jesus, and 'Luckie' because she was lucky to have survived the Epidemic and get to know Jesus - in the Reverend's opinion).
'Marian' was the first person in our Eagle Clan to become Christianized, wear clothes, and receive a western education.
After finishing a basic education and learning to read and write and speak English, she returned to Malalai village where she learned from her aging father as much as she could about traditional Lokono-Arawak spirituality and wisdom; and she kept her tribal spirituality for the rest of her life.
It was during this time when she was 24 in 1903 just after her father died - that she was seen by a young mixed race Dutch businessman - who was delivering trade goods from McKenzie town (now called 'Linden') to Muritaro Mission - where 'Marian' was visiting her first cousins who lived there and who had been given the Surname 'Powley' (Irene Ezilda Powley was one of them, the 'Campbell' family of Botoba are her descendants and also our cousins) by Reverend Austin.
His name was Vivian Arnold DeWever, and he fell instantly in love with 'Marian' and they soon thereafter wed with the support and encouragement of Rev. William G. G. Austin. The couple moved to Georgetown where Vivian had inherited his fathers successful business...'Marian's father old Chief Flying Harpy Eagle died on the 21st of January 1903 at the age of 80 - before ever seeing any of his grandchildren alive....he had wanted his daughter to marry an Amerindian man (of any tribe) so he could pass the Hereditary Chieftaincy on to his son-in-law - as he wanted the line of their ancestors to continue so his spirit could rest in peace.
In September 1920 His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales (who later became Edward VIII) visited British Guiana - and a ball was held in his honor in the Assembly Rooms.
Among the colonial society socialites who were invited as guests to attend were Vivian and Marian, she was introduced to His Royal Highness by the then Governor (and friend of Vivian) as 'Princess Marian - daughter of the last Arawak Chief'.
In reality - Chief Flying Harpy Eagle could not pass his hereditary authority on to her due to the fact that she was female, and his eldest son who would have been the heir was dead, and his son-in-law Vivian was not Amerindian - so he could not inherit the position of Chief either (as these were the only two ways one could become a Chief in our Tribe).
In the Lokono-Arawak language there is no word for 'Prince' or 'Princess'...the Chief of a Hereditary Chief was just known as the son or daughter of the Chief...and all our Chiefs were hereditary when we lived traditionally.
However, since Marian was publicly introduced to the Prince of Wales as also being a hereditary noble, and at his request she and Vivian were seated next to him - and he danced with her during the Ball.....since that night she has been referred to by other members of the Eagle Clan as 'Princess Marian'.
Between 1907 - 1916 'Princess Marian' and Vivian had seven children - all born in British Guiana (and one - first daughter Ena Ira who died at 4 years old - was buried there as well).
The second child of Vivian and Marian was born on 28th October 1908, he was my father David Arnold DeWever (Daniel's Great Grandfather). He came to England as a 17 year old, and he later served in the Merchant Navy during World War II between 1941 - 1946, gaining seven war medals.
He was a prolific violin and mandolin player and when the war was over, I remember as a young child of 9 years old - going to Trafalgar Square on VE Day to celebrate the end of the war, and it was absolutely packed with people, and my father perched himself on one of the big stone lions and played his mandolin to his hearts content - with all around him singing joyously.
My mother and the rest of us (his children) felt so proud of him, he could not read music but played it 'by ear' - and Daniel does the same; I like to think that at least those musical genes were passed down to him by his Great Grandfather - who passed away on 5th May 1995 at the grand old age of 87...when Daniel was only 15 years young.
If it is true...that the spirits of our ancestors watch over us - I hope Great Grandfather, Great Grandmother, Nanny and Grandad Tup are around us here today - enjoying this celebration and the honoring of just a small part of his life and the life of our ancestors.
The last surviving child of 'Princess Marian' was my father's younger sister, our lovely Great Aunt Hannah - who went to the spirit world on 4th May 2013 at the grand old age of 99 years....how strange it is to me that our very first Chief Wiwakaleme (Light from the stars) and the last of our Guyana born Lokono ancestors both lived to that glorious age!
In conclusion of this part of my speech, and sending a special 'Thank You' to Damon Gerard Corrie - our cousin in Barbados who has committed over 20 years of his life to tracing back our heritage and history, and for writing the following blessing in the Lokono-Arawak language, I would like to honour our family's noble Arawak ancestors by speaking the next few words in the Lokono language:
"Oloko toh wahbo-urayata day ba Ikaha ajiaha anoorka toho kasakabo,
Da...kena thormokoa ba yahono, toa ashikaha hoo biama - Charlotte kena Daniel - wai boko bia adee anshihi bia abara - ababa-olokodee ba yoho mawcheebay"
TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH:
(In the commitment of your marriage vows taken today, I...and all our family, are giving you two - Charlotte and Daniel - our blessing for greater love for each other - throughout your many tomorrows").
Thank you all for being so patient in listening to our tribal history, but for it to make any sense I could not, after many attempts, break it down to any less time.
25th April 2014