I have known him since he was a teenage adolescent still attending school in Georgetown, in fact during the whirlwind romance of my wife and myself when we were ourselves adolescents in 1992 (I was 19 and she was 17) and we had literally met for the first time (on December 4th) 7 days before we married each other on December 11th 1992.....it was Pierre's father whom I had to be interrogated by....it is traditional for a young man who asks a girl to marry him, to first get permission from her mother & father - who first require the young man to be thoroughly questioned by a respected uncle....and Pierre's father was this respected uncle.
I was sweating bullets, as the purpose of this was to determine if the suitor was 100% SERIOUS about the love he claimed to profess for the girl he asked to marry, and truth be told - I had only been talking to her for a few days (we had not even known each other for a week yet - and here I was - this guy who came from out of the blue and wanted people to take him seriously with the life of a chaste maiden of the tribe...the odds of being deemed 'credible' were stacked HIGH against me) and I did not have any track record of affection to prove yet lol...I just knew that I wanted us to become husband & wife and begin a family of our own together...this was the one for me!
His father approved of me (and his mother was so impressed she even said "I wish I had a daughter of my own to marry you"), so my wife's parents allowed me to marry their daughter....and the rest of my life and involvement in the tribe is - as they say - history....with 23+ years and 5 children together.
So since then, I have watched this young man grow up to become a serious-minded and dedicated history-making leader of his people, he was the youngest elected Lokono-Arawak Chief, he was the first elected Lokono-Arawak Chief to represent the tribe at the level of the Organization of American States (OAS)....and now he is the first elected Chief (whether current or former) of the Lokono-Arawak Tribe to receive the highly prized Tribal Link Foundation Project Access - Global Capacity Building training for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues...not even the Ministers of Indigenous Affairs of Guyana (or any country for that matter) have ever received this training, so with me and my eldest son Hatuey (who is also a Pakuri born Lokono-Arawak) - we are the ONLY 3 Lokono-Arawaks to have so-far obtained this training; and it has helped us to understand how the UN and International Legal System works - and how to use it for the maximum benefit - better than anyone else who has not received this training.
In the year 2012 Pierre married my beautiful niece Christella Junor (a former Beauty Queen of the Tribe who represented Pakuri at a National Indigenous Pageant)
One thing I have come to Greatly appreciate about this young leader, is how - even before he married my niece, way back in his tenure as our youngest Chief, he demonstrated the ability to act in a selfless manner, and he was never reluctant to give credit to me or anyone else (even people who did not support him) - who was helping the community, I knew this from a Council meeting where he publicly thanked me for helping the Tribe secure a grant from the European Union (and I had just helped him write one part of the 5 part grant application....he could have easily acted like other leaders who seem incapable of sharing the spotlight - and take credit for themselves at every opportunity).
This is how a leader is supposed to act, in a humble and non-egotistical manner, always giving credit where it is due - regardless of whether you personally 'like' someone or not, for you do not encourage anyone to keep helping if they feel that their efforts are not appreciated - or are being taken for granted. Diplomacy means reaching out and building coalitions and solidarity, not harbouring or displaying petty jealousies or animosity for others who are contributing to the tribe in various ways....but the great thing is - it is NEVER too late to change course in how you deal with others (especially key people) and begin a relationship anew and make a step forward for the higher good of all....the needs of the collective is what matters most.
ABOUT THE TRIBAL LINK PROJECT ACCESS TRAINING:
Chief Pierre was surprised to learn of the far greater extent of Indigenous Rights as enshrined in the United Nations Declaration and in International Law - than he was ever informed about by any Guyana government, which was meticulously revealed to him during his training; and he found the trainers (such as Andrea Carmen of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) and Roberto Borrero - President of the United Confederation of Taino People), the mentors, and the interactive easy to follow format, to be incredibly inspiring and empowering, and he has new insights about how better he could serve the interests of the tribe in the present and future.
The icing on the cake for him was the new friends and allies he made with the other fellow Indigenous students of both genders and all ages - from around the world, and the links of solidarity he was able to forge in the Global Indigenous Caucus with many powerful Indigenous entities.....and he is already thinking about cultural exchanges and other inter-tribal activities, and as a member of the respected Council of Chiefs (comprised of Ex-elected Chiefs) who as a body offer advice on best practices to our current elected Chief - His Excellency Lenox Shuman - he will be offering new insights he gleaned to the present Chief and Council.
BRIEF HISTORY & GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT PAKURI LOKONO-ARAWAK TERRITORY (taken from information posted online at www.pantribalconfederacy.com in 2013):
Considered the Amerindian Cultural Capital of Guyana, and the most politically advanced Amerindian community in Guyana with the International Political interests of Pakuri Arawak Territory officially represented at the Organisation of American States (OAS) and United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) - during the tenure of Chief David Simon, Chief Pierre Andrews, and Chief Ernest Dundas (with their consent) by Damon Gerard Corrie, a descendant heir of Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (Flying Harpy Eagle) of the upper Demerara River, father of Princess Marian (of the Eagle Clan Arawaks of the Upper Demerara River) who emigrated into exile to Barbados island in the Caribbean in 1925, and died and was buried there in Westbury cemetery in 1928.
Mr Corrie also designed a flag for the Lokono-Arawak Tribal Nation which is gaining popularity locally, regionally, and Internationally. No other Amerindian tribe in Guyana has designed it's own flag nor has the International presence of Pakuri Arawak Territory.
Pakuri Village Lokono-Arawak Territory was founded in 1883 by Johnson Ferguson and his brother Emanuel (they changed the family surname to 'Bernard' after the first Anglican Missionaries arrived in 1889), Johnson also became the first 'Kafotay' (which means 'Chief' in the Lokono-Arawak language). The original name 'Pakuri' that they gave to the territory was due to the Platonia sp. trees that were then plentiful in the area. The village was renamed 'St. Cuthbert's Mission' when the first Anglican Missionary priests arrived at the village and founded a Mission there on 20th March 1889 on Saint Cuthbert's Day.
The first founding family of Pakuri was the Ferguson/Bernard family, two brothers (and their wives and children) who left their parents in Moraikobai on the Mahaicony River and walked over the savannas to the Pakuri area (where they used to hunt and fish previously) in 1883 - to permanently settle. The parents of the Ferguson brothers were still living traditionally in 1844 when the Anglican Missionaries reached Moraikobai on the Mahaicony river; 30 miles East of Pakuri across the savanna.
The Kattow family received this Surname in 1889 from the Anglican Missionaries when they were Christianised, they were the last remnant survivors of the now culturally extinct Panapi Tribe (now heavily intermixed with Lokono-Arawak at Pakuri) - which was a closely related Arawakan tribe in Guyana. The Panapi were living in the headwaters area of the Abary & Mahaicony Rivers - about 70 miles south of Pakuri and Moraikobai by the early 1800's; but their tribes existence was first recorded by Captain Keymis of England in 1596 - and at that time the Panapi tribe was living nearer to the mouths of the Mahaicony and Abary Rivers. After retreating ever further south on these rivers in the proceeding 200 years, the surviving remnant Panapi began to slowly migrate northwards, moving on when soil fertility and game had become exhausted, on the Mahaica river until they reached Pakuri in 1884 - and were allowed to settle with the permission of the Ferguson family.
The Dundas family crossed the savanna from Moraikobai in 1885 to join the Fergusson family and became the 3rd founding family of Pakuri. Like the Fergusons, the parents of the first Dundas settlers of Pakuri were still living traditionally in 1844 when the Anglican Missionaries reached Moraikobai on the Mahaicony river; 30 miles East of Pakuri across the savanna.
The Simon family (3 brothers) arrived at Pakuri in 1886 and became the 4th founding family. These 3 brothers were the last surviving children of Koyaha Maka (Spirit Macaw) - the Semechi (Medicine man) of the Eagle Clan Arawaks (Bariria Korobahado Lokono) of the upper Demerara. They were encouraged to migrate to the new Christian Amerindian village of Pakuri on the Mahaica river by Reverend William Percy Austin who baptised them at Muritaro; and he helped to arrange their travel from the Demerara to the Mahaicony by boat - from whence they walked over the savannas to reach Pakuri. Any Pakurian with the blood of any of these 3 Simon brothers is by right of descent - an Eagle Clan Arawak. Like the Ferguson, Kattow and Dundas founders before them, these 3 Simon brothers were also the first ones in their family to become Christianised by Anglican Missionary priests from England (who first trained at Codrington College Anglican Seminary School in Barbados - before being dispatched to the interior of Guyana).
In a twist of irony, local tribesman & resident Cuthbert Simon is credited with saving the territory from becoming the property of the Anglican Church in the 1900's, as a Village Council member at the time he advised the then Chief NOT to agree to sign the land over to the Church - and by doing so he saved it as the exclusive perpetual property of the tribe; Cuthbert Simon died at the age of 89 in April 21st (at 8pm) 2012 as the eldest male resident and expert speaker of the Lokono-Arawak language of the territory in modern times.
CHRONOLOGY OF THE CHIEFS OF PAKURI
His Excellency Chief Johnson Fergusson (Hereditary Rule)
His Excellency Chief Emmanuel Fergusson/Bernard (Hereditary Rule)
His Excellency Chief Austin Clenkian (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Clifford Shuman (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Reuben Shuman (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Leyland Clenkian (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Michael Simon (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Ernest Dundas (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief David Simon (Democratic Rule) * International Representation at the OAS via Damon Corrie
His Excellency Chief Pierre Andrews (Democratic Rule) * International Representation at the OAS & UN via Damon Corrie
His Excellency Chief Ernest Dundas (2nd term, Democratic Rule) * International Representation at the OAS & UN via Damon Corrie
His Excellency Chief Luke Simon (Democratic Rule)
His Excellency Chief Lenox Shuman (Current, Democratic Rule)
* An official recommendation (#1) to a previous Village Council was made by Damon Corrie (as special advisor to Chief Ernest Dundas, Chief David Simon, & Chief Pierre Andrews) to have a 'Council of Chiefs' be formed to meet with whomever is the current Chief and provide him/her counsel on previous best practices to assist in the ongoing good governance of the Tribe; as well as these other recommendations:
- (#2) To officially use the Lokono-Arawak title Kafotay and the English Title Chief - because the word Toshao is NOT a Lokono-Arawak title, and all Tribes in Guyana speak English, so the correct traditional title in the Lokono-Arawak Language and the correct title in the English Language would make the most sense for the people of Pakuri to use.
- (#3) To officially accord the title of Chief - as a matter of respect , when addressing or referring to - ANY former or current Chief, just as previous Presidents of America are STILL referred to as 'President' for the rest of their lives.
(UPDATE - 2 of these recommendations - numbers 1 & 3 - have been officially implemented by current elected Chief Lenox Shuman who has established many progressive initiatives)
AREA - 240 square miles / 621.60 square kilometres, population density 2.7 per square kilometre, but all residents concentrated in one main village and satellite homesteads in a central area 1 mile wide by 3 miles long. Roughly 200 households.
GEOGRAPHY - Rivers, streams, swamps, ponds, savannas, coastal jungle, some low rolling hills.
LOCATION - Upper Mahaica River, Region #4 on East bank & Region #5 on West Bank, Republic of Guyana; South America. The nearest large population centres/settlements are the capital city Georgetown (57 miles north-north west), Mahaica Town (65 miles away north by river), Moraikobai Lokono-Arawak Territory (30 miles to the East), and Long Creek (14 miles away west).
POPULATION - 1750 persons, 98% of whom are Lokono-Arawaks, 1% other tribes (14 Carib, 1 Patamona, 1 Wai-Wai, 1 Makushi); 1% non-Amerindian (17 East Indians).
GOVERNMENT - Tribal Autonomous Village Council - un-paid voluntary service. Amerindian communities in Guyana are being encouraged nation-wide to use the noun 'Toshao' (which means 'Chief' in another Amerindian language) as the official title for their leaders. The Chief heads the Tribal Government and he/she alone gets a stipend of US$150.00 (GY$30,000) per month from Government of Guyana. One Chief is democratically elected once every 3 years, and are voted in by the local naturalised population. The Village Council is made up of nine members including the Chief; a Deputy Chief, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. Village Council meetings are held monthly, on the last Saturday of each month. Type - Best classified as Indigenous Socialism, private free enterprise allowed, Health Care free, Education free, all lands held in common and freely allocated by the Village Council to members of the community (only naturalised Amerindian/Amerindian descent i.e persons BORN in the community qualify for allocations of land) according to their needs and abilities to utilise it in a way that benefits the community as a whole - such as for farming,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES - Timber, Wood Sculpting, Hand Crafts, Eco-Tourism
LANGUAGES - English primarily, Lokono-Arawak secondarily (only fluently spoken by persons of the age 50 years and older).
EDUCATION - Nursery, Primary, Secondary.
ELECTRICITY - Limited supply from community owned diesel generator - locals subscribe to the service and these funds are used to purchase fuel and for maintenance. Some Solar generated electricity at individual homes.
WATER - Drinking & Cooking water from underground artesian well piped directly to various homes in the central village and to a few public taps throughout the community, the housing scheme - obtained through the efforts of Mrs. Bibi Andrews (deceased) who was the mother of Chief Pierre Andrews - located at the eastern end of the road that runs into the community from the Soesdyke-Linden Highway to the west; where residents collect water in buckets.
UNEMPLOYMENT - Estimated at around 25%.
Internationally & Nationally recognised artist George Simon is the most famous Pakurian alive.
Internationally & Nationally recognised wood sculpting artists include: George Simon, Oswald Simon, Telford Taylor, Foster Simon, Lynus Clenkian, Roland Taylor and Leyland Clenkian.
Internationally & Nationally recognised Judo Athlete - Mr. Chris Simon, member of the Guyana 2012 Olympics Team.
Nationally & locally recognised musician - Mr. Julian Kattow aka 'The Mighty Pakuri'.
Nationally & locally recognised Mucru basketry & Traditional weapons artists include: Joseph Simon, and Sidney Daniels (deceased).
Nationally & locally recognised Palm Straw Hammock artists include: Olive Simon (deceased), Charlotte Dundas-O'Selmo.
Nationally & locally recognised Cassava beer/wine makers include: Etheldreda Andrews-Simon, Shirley Daniels-Dundas.
Mr. Lennox Shuman, first Private Aircraft Pilot (1998), and first Commercial Airline Pilot (1999).
Mr. Orlando Shuman, first fully qualified Teacher (2009)
Ms. Shivanie Hendricks, first Medical Doctor (2013
SEE PHOTOS OF PAKURI LOKONO-ARAWAK TERRITORY HERE:
Damon Gerard Corrie
Project Access 12th Annual Global Capacity-Building Training Workshop for Indigenous Peoples, New York, May 4-6 2016.