LOKONO-ARAWAK TRIBAL NATION OF PAKURI TERRITORY – CULTURAL CAPITAL OF THE TRIBE by Damon CorrieTweet
“This is how my Lokono ancestors lived up until 125 years ago (by 1889 when my own traditionally named great grandmother was 10 years old and was Christianised and clothed) – ‘mostly naked & with traditional names Lokono society’ had been replaced with ‘mostly clothed with Biblical names Lokono society’ by Anglican Christian Missionaries trained at Codrington College in Barbados – who were still beating Lokono for speaking their own language in school in Guyana up until 50 years ago)….that is why when I take my traditionally named children back to tribal lands I dedicate a period of days for my family to live off the land EXACTLY as our ancestors were illustrated here AND I AM PROUD TO DO SO! Nothing re-connects you to the ancestors like living the same way they did in EVERY way possible…..big talk about being ‘proud’ of your ancestors – yet being ashamed to dress, eat & live like them for even a few days each year- is the hallmark of a hypocrite as far as I am concerned. We spend 51 weeks of every year dressed and living like imitation Europeans….why can’t we spend that one other week dressed and living like our own Lokono ancestors?” ~Damon Corrie
NB – Historical note – it was these same traditional Lokono illustrated here from the Moraikobai Village of the same Mahaicony River in Guyana; who started the Pakuri Lokono-Territory village of Damon’s wife and children 20 years after this English artist first captured their images. So this is part of the ancestral historical record of every Pakuri Lokono-Arawak as well.
PAKURI ARAWAK TERRITORY aka ST. CUTHBERT’S MISSION
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.
HISTORY – 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 (Current, Democratic Rule)
* An official recommendation 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:
– 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.
– 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.
(None of these recommendations have been officially implemented as yet).
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 – 1700 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$100.00 (GY$20,000) 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) – 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 20%.
Internationally & Nationally recognized artist George Simon is the most famous Pakurian alive.
Internationally & Nationally recognized wood sculpting artists include: George Simon, Oswald Simon, Telford Taylor, Foster Simon, Lynus Clenkian, Roland Taylor and Leyland Clenkian.
Internationally & Nationally recognized Judo Athlete – Mr. Chris Simon, member of the Guyana 2012 Olympics Team.
Nationally & locally recognized musician – Mr. Julian Kattow aka ‘The Mighty Pakuri’.
Nationally & locally recognized Mucru basketry & Traditional weapons artists include: Joseph Simon, and Sidney Daniels (deceased).
Nationally & locally recognized Palm Straw Hammock artists include: Olive Simon (deceased), Charlotte Dundas-O’Selmo.
Nationally & locally recognized 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
Taino and Arawak works on display at UN OAS Still Negotiating Indigenous Rights Declaration
Modern Arawak Life in Photographs
THE LOKONO-ARAWAK PRO-TRADITIONALIST MOVEMENT LED BY DAMON CORRIE
Damon Gerard Corrie’s involvement with Pakuri began in 1992 when he married Shirling Simon Corrie, a descendant of one of the 3 Simon brothers who were the 4th founding family of Pakuri, Damon himself is a 4th generation maternal descendant of the Upper Demerara Lokono Hereditary Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (Flying Harpy Eagle) who’s right hand man was the Semechi (Medecine Man) Koyaha Maka (Spirit Macaw) – who’s 3 sons were Christanized (as Anglicans) and given the surname ‘Simon’ by the Anglican Missionary priest Rev, Wiliam Percy Austin of the Demerara River evangelization campaign.
Damon has become the most widely known pro-traditionalist Lokono-Arawak descendant in the diaspora of the Tribal Nation, and has dedicated his life to re-instilling a sense of ‘total pride’ in the Lokono-Arawak ancestral heritage among the Lokono of today, and he is the only Lokono alive today that leads ‘ancestral wisdom’ retreats in the remote areas of the 240 square mile Pakuri territory – where traditionalist supporters can temporarily live for a number of days or weeks in the total cultural manner of their ancestors captured in the 1844 illustration above…..hunting with bows & arrows, fishing, gathering, in the virtually clothes-less attire of their ancestors with body paint temporary tattoos, feather headresses and becoming one with nature.
The grave (and photo below) of Damon’s great grandmother – the daughter of Hereditary Chief Amorotahe Haubariria (Flying Harpy Eagle) who was called ‘Princess Marian’ by the English (her traditional Lokono-Arawak name was ‘Shoko Laliwa’/Little Yellow Butterfly until she was 10 years old and was Christianised and renamed ‘Marian’).
Damon Gerard Corrie
Heir to the Hereditary Chieftaincy of the Eagle Clan Lokono-Arawaks of Guyana, and Founder & President of the Pan-Tribal Confederacy of Indigenous Tribal Nations, co-founder and President of the Caribbean Amerindian Development Organization (CADO), CARICOM Commissioner on the Indigenous Commission for Communications Technologies in the Americas (ICCTA), member of the Indigenous Working Group on the Draft Declaration with the Organization of American States (OAS) since 2000, registered participant of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) since 2008, Chief of the Barbados chapter of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP); and autodidact journalist contributor to LastRealIndians (LRI) International Indigenous Media New site.
You can follow Damon @ http://damongerardcorrie.blogspot.com/