The Santa Rosa First Peoples Community is the only organized area of Amerindian Survival in Trinidad and Tobago
Our ancestors came to Trinidad from South America more than 7000 years ago. To them Trinidad was Caeri, meaning simply “the island” as distinct from the mainland which had been their original home. By the time Columbus arrived on our southern shores in 1498 there were more than 40,000 Amerindians living here. These belonged to five distinct groups: Arauca, Garini, Nepuyo, Shebaio and Yaio.
The Santa Rosa First Peoples Community is the only organized area of the Amerindian Survival in Trinidad and Tobago. The Community was formally recognized as representative of the Indigenous Amerindians of the twin-island state by the National Government in 1990. The Council is led by a Chief, Ricardo Bharath Hernandez, the Carib Queen, presently Jennifer Cassar, and a Pyai, Cristo Adonis.
The Santa Rosa First Peoples Community based in Arima, Trinidad. All members are identified on the basis of lineage and residence. The lineage component is the most significant marker of belonging and elders in the Community have a remarkable genealogical memory. Certain family names are associated with those of Amerindian ancestry- Borneo, Campo, Calderon, Castillo, Hernandez, Lopez, Martinez, Peña, and Belcon.
The Santa Rosa First Peoples (Carib) Community of Arima, after approx. 176 years of losing all of their physical property as a result of colonial exploitation and greed, was granted a 25 acres parcel of land along the hill slopes of the Northern Range on the Blanchisseuse Road, just outside of the main commercial area of the Borough of Arima. The land has been granted for the specific purpose of the establishment of a Model Amerindian Heritage Village and Living Museum.
The Santa Rosa Festival, a celebration within the Catholic Church that harks back to Arima’s days as an Amerindian Mission village, is hailed as one of the Borough’s main cultural events, one that marks Arima’s special identity as an area maintaining, to some degree, its Spanish, Catholic, Amerindian and Parang traditions, all intertwined. Saint Rose is honoured as “The Divine Patron of Arima.
On Becoming Visible towards Meaningful Recognition
This is a most historic moment for the First Peoples of Trinidad & Tobago, as the State has provided us with a platform for the whole nation never to forget the indignities our people suffered, and the contributions they have made to nation building. The First Peoples now have an equal opportunity as the others to speak of the genocide of several native races, the inhumane treatment of their ancestors; and to remind the Nation that their Ancestors laid the first foundations towards the building of this country.