Indigenous Heritage 2020: Elders are the community’s historians

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Elders are important members of Indigenous communities. They possess decades of knowledge linked to the history of their village and the many cultural and livelihood practices that are passed to the younger generation through demonstrating know-how, storytelling and other cultural activities such as dancing or ceremonial rituals. One wise proverb truthfully states: “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground”.

Community elders – both male and female – have a wealth of knowledge which, especially today, is at a great risk of being lost forever. Strongly linked to this is the fact that many elders only know how to speak their mother tongue. As such, with the younger generation having sometimes not learnt their Indigenous language (for various reasons), a barrier is created that hinders the ability of elders to pass on their knowledge. This is of growing concern, and opportunities to interview and document information that elders have to share is important for strengthening traditional knowledge for all.

As part of the Darwin Initiative Traditional Knowledge in Conservation project, today’s video features the community of Parikwarinawa who took some time to interview their elders on their knowledge of how their village came to be called ‘Parikwarinawa’ and the brief history of the village.

Please enjoy this video entitled ‘History of Parikwarinawa’:

Follow Rebecca Xavier:
Rebecca Xavier is a proud Amerindian woman, a descendant of the Wapishana nation. She has a sound primary school education, followed by experiences in the Wowetta Youth Environmental Club, and then further education at the Bina Hill Institute, Annai where she trained in ICT, agriculture, basic maths, English and leadership skills. She is fluent in Wapishana, Makushi and English, and has worked for the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), a local Indigenous community-based organization, in different roles over the last twelve years.