Guyana Arawaks Seek Apology From Spain

On October 12th 2001, an extraordinary letter was sent from Barbados in the West Indies to Spain, extraordinary because it was sent by a descendant of the last Hereditary Arawak Chief in Guyana (Chief Amorotaheh Haubariria - who died in 1887) to a descendant of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella - the Monarchs who sponsored the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus ...a voyage that ultimately led to the destruction of Arawak civilization.

Barbadian born Damon Gerard Corrie - in his capacity as Hereditary Paramount Chief of the Eagle Clan Arawaks of Guyana, is petitioning His Royal Highness King Juan Carlos of Spain for a formal acknowledgment of the tragic demise of the Arawak nation as a result of the misunderstandings and misconduct of a minority of Royally empowered Spaniards in the late 15th - early 16th centuries.

The pre-Columbian Caribbean population of Arawaks is estimated to have been in the vicinity of 10 million - most of whom inhabited the Greater Antilles, the Bahamas had 140,000 and Trinidad about 10,000 Arawaks (as well as other tribes). Today all that remain of this once most numerous of all Native American peoples are 17,750 survivors; 15,500 of whom reside in Guyana, 2,000 in Surinam and 250 in Venezuela near the Guyana border.

Some fire-brands may argue that 28 year-old Corrie who is of Guyana Arawak ancestry, is being too diplomatic in light of the holocaust unleashed first in the 'New World' upon his Caribbean Arawak kinsmen, but as Mr. Corrie states "No amount of finger pointing and lamentations could ever undo what has been done, and I am more interested in revealing to the world that the Royal mentality has changed in the past five centuries; even the Pope has apologized for his predecessors...and I sincerely believe that His Majesty feels remorse for what happened to ALL the tribal peoples as a result of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

This is the second time that Corrie has attempted to elicit a response from King Juan Carlos, on January 28th 1997 - on the heels of his historic December 7th 1996 signing of a symbolic peace treaty with former Chief Hillary Frederick of the Carib Nation of Dominica (the Arawaks and Caribs were ancient enemies), he sent a letter to His Highness (via the Spanish Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica) requesting a similar ceremonial peace treaty with Spain. " I just wanted to close that sad chapter in world history with Spain as I had done with the Caribs, Chief Frederick and I were even prepared to fly to Spain to conclude the signing with His Majesty...reporters from all the major North American & European news networks were waiting for us to inform them that King Juan Carlos would participate; but instead I received a letter from the Spanish Ambassador Fernando de la Serna in Jamaica informing me that 'The Kingdom of Spain does not recognize these kinds of Tribal Confederations'." That was a great dissapointment for the Arawaks and Caribs who genuinely thought that the simplicity of their request combined with the goodwill and compassion it would have showcased to the world - would have been readily embraced by the Spanish authorities.

Not certain that the request was ever forwarded to the right people -Chief Corrie has this time opted to send his correspondence directly to his Majesty; perhaps a new beginning is in the air for the peoples of Spain and the indigenous nations of the Americas.



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