IN today’s society, many aspects of Amerindian culture, including their dialect, rituals, practices, and language are still being practised.
The Pepperpot Magazine spoke with Kaphon Hastings, an advocate among the Amerindian Peoples, who spoke particularly about the importance of the preseveration of the Akawaio dialect, cultural practices, and rituals.
Hastings believes that Amerindians must truly embrace their culture. “We are not at the point where we need to be, culturally, and the onus is on our people to get to that place,” he said, adding: “I am trying to revisit parts of my culture, through academic means or cultural means, or maybe through having more deliberate conversations with community leaders, especially my community leaders, but on a large scale, we are rediscovering what was lost.”
Hastings hails from an Amerindian community in the Upper Mazaruni, in Region Seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni). He describes himself as the go-to person when it comes to Amerindian culture.
According to him, the Amerindian communities must continue to place a strong emphasis on their language, and have a great knowledge of who they are as a people. For most Amerindians, their language speaks greatly to their personality, and they need to see themselves for who they are as a people.
AKAWAIO RITUALISTIC PRACTICES
During September, which is referred to as the dry season, there is the traditional practice of poisoning where the ponds and creeks will start to dry up.
“You have a lot of poisoning activities being done; it used to be a lot more than now, but you still have some that happen, even this year. Nevertheless, it is one of the main things that Akawaios do around this time,” Hastings said.
According to the young naturalist, plants play a major role in Amerindian culture; it is embedded in their ritualistic practice.
“Here now, they use tubers, but when compared to other Amerindian groups like the Arawaks, you might have a slight difference, because the Arawaks mostly use leaves, which has a similar effect on fishes. But the practices are the same, and since agriculture plays a major role in their lives, the Akawaios look at plant behaviour,” Hastings told Pepperpot.
Another practice that is prevalent at this time of year is the spawning of sardines. This is a practice where Akawaios look at the level of the creeks, and take opportunities for their investments.
But for those who are ritualistic, he noted that the tradition is still practised among the older Amerindians, where the use of the traditional plants is observed.
All aspects of Amerindian culture considered, Hastings said that as a part of the culture, much emphasis should be placed on not only preserving Amerindian culture, but also finding ways to make them recognised in modern times.