Indigenous Heritage 2020: Story of Horse Pond

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Storytelling is one way in which Indigenous people pass knowledge down through the generations. It is an ongoing process linking the past to the present, and the present to the past and future. Storytelling is therefore important in transmitting essential and critical knowledge for survival and ensuring a healthy and sustainable community. Stories have many functions. They help to provide guidance on how people should behave and understand their responsibilities to their neighbours and the environment. They acknowledge the changes to the environment, food sources and people that occur over generations And they transmit history and culture – while some tales can be considered myths and legends, they tell stories of the history of how people lived and their experiences. This allows the next generation to honour their sacrifices and learn from their mistakes.

As part of the Darwin Initiative Traditional Knowledge in Conservation project, today’s video features the story of ‘Horse Pond’ as told by elders from the village of Katota:

This story may be considered a myth and linked to the traditional spiritual beliefs of people and the powers of the Piaimen (shaman). The story tells of a boy who, while out fishing at a pond, saw a creature described to be like that of a horse, but with webbed feet. Other parts of the story tell of people who lived under the water capturing a young girl from the village who look after the horse-like creatures. This apparently led to the village Piaiman taking steps to make the pond safe for community members to continue using the pond.

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.