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Thursday 19 October 2017
Letters to the Editor

Saluting the First People

THE EDITOR: With everything there must be a beginning, even in the population of a nation. Trinidad and Tobago is no exception. Before Christopher Columbus set foot on our shores in 1492, there were already inhabitants; the Amerindians we correctly refer to as “First people.”

History clearly teaches us that with the arrival of the Spanish, life suddenly took a drastic turn for the worse for thousands of these inhabitants–men, women and children. They we plundered captured and their possessions taken away from them and forced to work on plantations by those who conquered them. Despite the harsh and brutal treatment that was handed out to them, they survived and thousands of years later traces of their lineage are still present with us in Trinidad and Tobago.

The “First People” are here to stay and, with great joy, October 13 has been declared a public holiday in honour of them. We salute and celebrate their input into our island. They have left their mark for names such as Arima, Mayaro, Chaguanas, Guayaguayare, Mucurapo and many others. Also natural features such as Aripo and Tamana caves and Oropouche and Ortoire rivers along with plants and animals such as carat and timite palms, tobacco, cacao, manicou, agouti and lappe still bear the names given to them by the “First People.” They paved the way for many things that we enjoy today. Like true pioneers, they endured the pain and hardship but left a legacy for others to draw from. In my humble view as a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago I suggest that we do not allow them to be forgotten, all efforts should be done to preserve what is left so future generations will not just hear but see their contribution to our society. So once more I salute them all “First People” and encourage those who are working to keep their presence alive in whatever way.

Arnold Gopeesingh, Saddle Road, San Juan

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