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In Guyana, the Amerindian children of Haut-Maroni must follow the program of the French national education system precisely. This French department totally assumes a policy of assimilation. Today, because there are no middle schools, children must leave their village at age 11 to go to school on the coast, a brutal change for them. Once they’re there, the lack of appropriate structures, discrimination and solitude are the reason for their academic failures that push them home. But since these young people didn’t have a traditional education, don’t speak the native language well and end up being rejected by their community, it means that their suicide rate is 20 times higher than that in continental France. It is for these young people who are losing their points of reference that Ti’iwan has become involved in the schools.

“When I was little, a teacher told us our ancestors were the Gauls and I said to him: “But what are Gauls?”

Rosine teaches at the Camopi middle school. The biggest community of France is an isolated village deep in the Amazon forest.

Rosine is filled with dreams of shared learning but is confronted by the tough reality in the schools: there aren’t enough teachers, the local ones are worn out and the curriculum is unsuitable.

To this malaise is added the dramas of gold mining, unemployment and poverty that affects Amerindians and that nothing seems to be able to stop. Rosine is frustrated, she cries out in anger.

In 2016 during the strikes that shook Guyana, the French government made promises but the Amerindians didn’t see any results.

These “Amers-indians” (a pun on “Bitter Indians”) fight to preserve their identity within the French Republic and want to have their rights respected in the same way as all other citizens of continental France.

“France is not interested in Amerindians …

I would even refer to this as a genocide.”

“When our rights are respected I will shut up”

Le jaguar et le tamanoir (the jaguar and the giant anteater) a book of Teko stories by Ti’iwan Couchilli at éditions de L’Harmattan.

 

Les abandonnés de la République Française : (the abondonned peoples of the French Republic) the life and death of Amerindians in French Guyana by Yves Gehri, Alexandra Mathieu and Christophe Gruner at éditions Albin Michel.

 

D'une rive à l'autre (from one bank to another) by Miquel Dewer-Plana is a co-publication of Blume and Artem-Cetera. Each diptych in this portfolio is accompanied by a testimony of the person in the photo. The book defines an image of a world in movement and a mutating culture filled with fear and anguish but also speaks of dreams and perspectives for the future.

 

 

 

The GrDA collective puts indigenous people’s stories on stage. In this project, Sylvana Opoya talks about her double identity, the two worlds she grew up and evolved in, their strengths and fragile points … and her village. She addresses these questions: how do we get involved in our territories? And how can one become a Wayana?

http://legdra.fr/fr/information/christophe-rulhes-julien-cassier

ROSINE, UN CRY OF ANGER

TO KNOW MORE

SCHOOLS THAT ARE INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE REALITIES OF AMERINDIANS

SYLVANA, THE FIRST AMERINDIAN ACTRESS

Her name is Sylvana Opoya. After studying modern literature at the University of Cayenne, she returned to her native village of Taluen on the Maroni River where she teaches her maternal language. She dreams of being the chief of her village and also of being the first Amerindian actress to be known internationally. The young woman is currently preparing a play with the GdRA collective on this double culture so dear to her heart.

Today, she juggles her two identities and invents a new one that is unique and universal.

“I am French. I live like French people. But I am a Wayana, just a Wayana, a child of nature.”

Numbers:

About Ti’iwan Couchilli

Documentaire "Amérindiens Wayana un peuple entre deux mondes"

On roof circles

Bibliography:

Theatre :

THE FIRST TEKO WOMAN SCULPTOR WHO WORKS IN WOOD

The daughter and granddaughter of Teko-wayana Amerindian shamans, Ti’iwan Couchili is an artist and storyteller. Her childhood along the banks of the Tampok river in southwestern Guyana was nourished by ancient tales and myths.

 

Today Ti’iwan is the first Teko woman sculptor who works in wood. In her work, she takes inspiration from the traditional culture of decorating communal, unwalled wood shelters - or carbets - with human skulls (war trophies) or Wayana roof circles. These exceptional pieces made from the disks of cheese producers are decorated with paintings that represent the Indians’ protective spirits. Thus Ti’iwan saves an entire heritage from being forgotten as she reinvents it.

“I alert public opinion by saying that paintings are not just pretty to look at but that there are also real things going on”

In French Guyana, 3,000 Amerindians in the Amazon forest survive amidst a general indifference. They are the great oversights of the French Republic and have the unfortunate situation of living on land sought after for its mineral resources. They are victims of illegal gold mining that creates a climate of violence and insecurity.

In addition, since they became French in 1969, the Amerindians lost their traditional lifestyles and skills. They must deal with a double culture that they didn’t choose themselves.

Today they are losing their reference points. Alcohol and drugs eat away at their bodies and souls and the suicide rate is 20 times higher than France’s national rate.

The malaise is deep and Amerindians dream of having their own identity while being French: this is their ultimate combat.

“Guyana has really been abandonned”

ARTIST OF INDIGENOUS ART 

AMERINDIANS, OR 3,6%

 OF THE POPULATION INCLUDING

3000 LIVING IN THE FOREST

TONS OF GOLD

IS APPROXIMATELY WHAT IS PRODUCED BY ILLEGAL GOLD MINING THANKS TO CLANDESTINE WORKERS WHO MAY BE AS MANY AS 10.000

POVERTY RATE

IN FRENCH GUYANA

INHABITANTS OF

FRENCH GUYANA

HECTARES OF FOREST HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY THE EXTRACTION OF GOLD SINCE 2001

UNEMPLOYMENT RATE

IN FRENCH GUYANA

TIMES HIGHER :

THE SUICIDE RATE AMONG AMERINDIANS IN FRENCH GUYANA COMPARED WITH THOSE IN CONTINENTAL FRANCE

%

X

,3 %

THE PORTRAIT

THE PORTRAIT

AT SCHOOL

AT SCHOOL

SYLVANA

SYLVANA

ROSINE, A CRY OF ANGER

ROSINE, A CRY OF ANGER

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TI'IWAN      COUCHILI

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TITRE-symbole-quebec

TI'IWAN      COUCHILI

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ROSINE, A CRY OF ANGER

CRÉDITS

THE FIRST AMERINDIAN ACTRESS

AT SCHOOL

LEARN MORE

THE PORTRAIT

THE SUBJECT

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