Ministry of Education, Guyana

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Tuesday, 13 September 2016 19:22

Walter Roth hosts exciting exhifair in observance of Amerindian Heritage Month

 Guyana has a rich indigenous heritage that is being celebrated during September – the month designated Indigenous Heritage Month.  The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport added to this celebration by hosting its annual Amerindian Myths, Legends and Oral Traditions programme. The activity also included a fair as such it was dubbed an ‘Exhifair’. 

Guyana has a rich indigenous heritage that is being celebrated during September – the month designated Indigenous Heritage Month.  The Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology and the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport added to this celebration by hosting its annual Amerindian Myths, Legends and Oral Traditions programme. The activity also included a fair as such it was dubbed an ‘Exhifair’.

This event is a momentous and historic because it is done in observance of Indigenous Heritage month, but more particularly, during the year of Guyana’s 50th Independence Anniversary.

In her remarks, the Minister within the Ministry of Education, Hon. Nicolette Henry recognized that the Walter Roth Museum of Anthropology is the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. “This museum is the preserver of our Amerindian legacy. This museum contains a wealth of historic information and artefacts of our indigenous people and provides firsthand and accurate information of the Amerindian tribes of Guyana.  We, therefore, wish to acknowledge the works of our pioneer archaeologists who have explored Guyana and provided us with such a rich legacy,” Minister Henry highlighted.

She added that special mention must be made of Dr. Dennis Williams, because it was his collections that founded the museum in 1974.

The Minister recognized that only 25 % of Guyana has been explored. “I trust that soon the other 75% can be, so that the gems that are still hidden can be unearthed and be added to our present treasures. It would be quite an achievement if this exhifair can awaken within our youth some interest in this field; thus making a name for themselves in the field of archaeology,” the Minister emphasized.

Minister Henry explained that the archaeological findings, paintings, music, poetry and fashion define who we are as a people, and provide an account of our history for the next generation. “From the beginning of this beautiful country, the inspired works of our archaeologists, artists and artisans, have reflected the ingenuity, creativity and beauty of this nation, and we need to preserve this legacy,” she recognized.

The Minister expressed her hope that the items on display will be appreciated and also motivate and inspire, especially the young people to create a future for themselves in the art community, be it as a hobby or a profession.

The objectives for the Exhifair are to highlight the contributions made by Guyanese Archaeologists, to spark interest in the minds of young people about Archaeology thereby hosting various exercises about the same and generally to edify the public in this discipline since it is very much underexploited by Guyanese.

The Exhifair would span a total of four (4) days commencing at 10:00-15:00hrs from September 13th-16th, 2016. Since the theme is Archaeological Discoveries 1966-2015, the Museum will accommodate different agencies such as Volunteer Support Platform- Department of Youth, Amerindian Research Unit-University of Guyana to lend their expertise and enthusiasm to the Exhifair.

Guyana’s first female resident archeologist, Ms. Louisa Daggers, Coordinator of the Amerindian Research Unit – University of Guyana in her presentation explained that archaeology “is a service that enables academics and practitioners to inform the public of our past, while enabling the public to be involved.”

Ms. Daggers indicated that archaeological research in Guyana dates back some 160 years ago beginning with British explorers – Sir Everand Im Thurn, Barrington Brown, Walter Roth and Osgood. In 1945 there was a total of 71 recorded sites.

She disclosed that over the last 50 years Guyana has made significant contributions to the development of pre-historic archaeology, scientific research and public participation in archaeology. Some of the important contributors are Dr. Denis Williams, Poonai, George Simon, Gerrard Periara and Louisa Daggers.

Thus far there are 460 documented sites; 22 of which were recorded over the last four years.

“We have the responsibility of leading the way with the establishment of national archaeological policies, which will give adequate guidance to researchers, law enforcement agencies and the public,” Daggers stated.

Given that it is Indigenous Heritage Month; aspects of indigenous life would be portrayed using craft work, food and demonstrations via a miniature indigenous village setting. In addition various archaeological exercises would be conducted catering for nursery, primary and secondary schools as well as the general public. Some of these include archaeological pit testing of a plot in the yard, which is basically an excavation exercise; above ground surveys and ceramic analysis.

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